A full solar eclipse, massive wildfires in the West and Pacific Northwest, growing threats over North Korea, Hurricane Harvey, the largest solar flares in 12 years, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose, Hurricane Katia, a “strongest in a century” 8.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico, 260 cluster earthquakes in Idaho, the genocide and crisis in Burma, rapid moral decline, religious freedom under strenuous attack, mobs of extreme groups marching in the streets, apostasy within our membership, false teachers and false teachings. The list goes on and on. Many of these signs and wonders have been happening all within a matter of days and weeks, while others have been on the steady incline and are nearing the tipping point.
We may rightly wonder if the God of Heaven and Earth is speaking to us through “the testimony of earthquakes … and the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds” (D&C 88).
It is surreal to know we are truly in the last days. In Nephite times preceding the coming of the Savior, 3 Nephi says that “the people began to look with great earnestness for the sign which had been given by the prophet” while others had “great doubtings and disputations” “notwithstanding so many signs had been given.” As followers of Jesus Christ, we would do well to look earnestly for the signs of His coming as prophesied—both the “great and terrible.”
Signs of the Last Days
Many scriptures testify of the signs and wonders that will precede the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Here are a few that seemed to stand out on LDS.org under the section “Last Days”:
“He that feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man,” signs that will be shown “in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath” D&C 45:39–40.
“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” Luke 21:25-26.
“Heavens shall shake and the earth shall tremble” D&C 43:18.
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive … and led away with divers lusts.
Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” 2 Timothy 3:1-7.
This paints a pretty somber picture, doesn’t it? But keep reading; there is hope in the midst of all this!
Preparation for the Second Coming
Thirteen years ago, Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave a talk in General Conference titled “Preparation for the Second Coming” in which he teaches about the signs and wonders we should be watching for in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Here are a few points he made:
- The scriptures are rich in references to the Second Coming, an event eagerly awaited by the righteous and dreaded or denied by the wicked. The faithful of all ages have pondered the sequence and meaning of the many events prophesied to precede and follow this hinge point of history.
Biblical and modern prophecies give many signs of the Second Coming. These include:
The fullness of the gospel restored and preached in all the world for a witness to all nations.
False Christs and false prophets, deceiving many.
Wars and rumors of wars, with nation rising against nation.
Earthquakes in divers places.
Famine and pestilence.
An overflowing scourge, a desolating sickness covering the land.
The whole earth in commotion.
Men’s hearts failing them.
- Another sign of the times is the gathering of the faithful (see D&C 133:4). … With the creation of stakes and the construction of temples in most nations with sizable populations of the faithful, the current commandment is not to gather to one place but to gather in stakes in our own homelands. There the faithful can enjoy the full blessings of eternity in a house of the Lord. There, in their own homelands, they can obey the Lord’s command to enlarge the borders of His people and strengthen her stakes (see D&C 101:21; D&C 133:9, 14). In this way, the stakes of Zion are “for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth” (D&C 115:6).
- We are living in the prophesied time “when peace shall be taken from the earth” (D&C 1:35), when “all things shall be in commotion” and “men’s hearts shall fail them” (D&C 88:91). There are many temporal causes of commotion, including wars and natural disasters, but an even greater cause of current “commotion” is spiritual.
- Evil that used to be localized and covered like a boil is now legalized and paraded like a banner. The most fundamental roots and bulwarks of civilization are questioned or attacked. Nations disavow their religious heritage. Marriage and family responsibilities are discarded as impediments to personal indulgence. The movies and magazines and television that shape our attitudes are filled with stories or images that portray the children of God as predatory beasts or, at best, as trivial creations pursuing little more than personal pleasure. And too many of us accept this as entertainment.
- Even among those who profess to believe in right and wrong, there are “them that call evil good, and good evil”.
Compensatory spiritual power for the righteous
While we know that the world is currently in commotion, we also need to focus on the fact that the Lord is working in power all across the earth. Yes, “there will be increased light and power from heaven, and there will be even more terrible wickedness and turmoil and confusion.”(Link) And yet the Lord is hastening His work, and He is preparing the earth and His kingdom and us for His return. We have more temples, more stakes of Zion and more Church resources for goodness and strength than ever before. We will be spiritually protected as we stand in holy places and refuse to be moved—despite the spiritual whirlwinds that pound relentlessly on the doors of our hearts and minds. While the storms rage outside, we can seek safety refuge, for example, in our holy temples, which are peaceful and full of light. We require this kind of divine protection from spiritual storms—storms that will increase in both intensity and frequency as the Savior’s return gets closer and closer.
One of the most empowering and encouraging things I’ve ever heard on this topic came from Elder Neil A. Anderson when he taught:
You may think that my message is sounding a little gloomy, but stay with me. Hope is on the way.
The Lord has long anticipated this important period of human history. He knows the end from the beginning. The Savior has assured us in our day, “Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you.”
As we find our way in a world less attentive to the commandments of God, we will certainly be prayerful, but we need not be overly alarmed. The Lord will bless His Saints with the added spiritual power necessary to meet the challenges of our day.
Here is my major theme this morning: As evil increases in the world, there is a compensatory spiritual power for the righteous. As the world slides from its spiritual moorings, the Lord prepares the way for those who seek Him, offering them greater assurance, greater confirmation, and greater confidence in the spiritual direction they are traveling. (Link)
We know that there will be many more signs and wonders as we get nearer and nearer to the Second Coming. We can (and should!) go forward with confidence and faith, knowing that if we are righteous, we will have an extra measure of spiritual power to compensate for “the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets” “upon individuals, communities, and nations.” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
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