Strength in Understanding the Signs of the Times

scripture-study-258662-wallpaperIn the Book of Revelation, chapter 13, there is much to learn and ponder. The chapter begins by talking about a beast that rises out of the sea. This beast has seven heads and ten horns. The dragon, who is Satan, then gives power unto the beast. Interestingly enough, one of the heads of the beast has a wound that has been healed. All the world wonders at the beast and worships Satan and the Beast. In verses six and seven, still speaking about the beast with the wounded head, it says:

6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

Another beast then comes that has great power. In verse 14, it says of the second beast,

14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

The beast with the wounded head is able to get the whole world to worship him. The end of the chapter describes what happens once the world worships the beast:

16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

In short, unless the people of the world receive a mark in their hands or foreheads, they may not buy or sell. The mark in their hands or foreheads can be interpreted as people’s thoughts and deeds. Knowing that we are in the last days, how then does this relate to us?

file4601279829740Today, the United States of America and much of the whole world seems to be at a tipping point that relates very well to these scriptures. There’s a powerful political lobby that has infiltrated every part of our society and spread quickly across the world. It began on the coasts, in Manhattan, N.Y., in an incidence known as Stonewall and has spread its influence throughout the world. Today, if a person or business is not willing to go along with the demands of a powerfully orchestrated group, they may be refused employment, fired, sued, and stripped of their livelihood.  As time goes on, it has become pretty clear that this will get much worse.

We’ve seen the suppressive influence with photographers, florists, bakers, fertility doctors, computer programmers, wedding churches, and property owners. Everyone on both sides of the issue expects the suppression to not only continue, but to broaden in scope.

On May 9th, Alliance Defending Freedom, referring to unique problems caused by the LGBT lobby in Canada, posted a warning to the American people on their Facebook page. They wrote:

Americans need to prepare for the same sort of surveillance-society if the Supreme Court rules to ban marriage as a male-female institution. It means that no matter what you believe, the government will be free to regulate your speech, your writing, your associations, and whether or not you may express your conscience. Americans also need to understand that the endgame for some in the LGBT rights movement involves centralized state power—and the end of First Amendment freedoms.

Prophecy Concerning the Loss of Freedom in America

For years, radicals, sociologists, and people in government have tried to destroy the rights guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States of America. Through powerful lobbying, they are finally succeeding.

But well before Alliance Defending Freedom began a defense fund to defend religious and speech rights of people around the world, before anyone knew that the break-down of marriage and the rise of same-sex marriage would lead to the limitation and possible destruction of religious freedom, Latter-day Saint prophets had been giving similar warnings.

proclamationIn 1995, the first presidency of the Church warned:

“The disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

As early as in General Conference Oct. 1952, the Prophet David O. McKay warned:

“During the first half of the twentieth century,” said President McKay, “we have traveled far into the soul-destroying land … and made strange alliances through and made strange alliances through which we have become involved in almost continuous hot and cold wars over the whole of the earth. In this retreat from freedom the voices of protesting citizens have been drowned by raucous riots of intolerance and abuse from those who led the retreat and their millions of gullible youth, who are marching merrily to their doom, carrying banners on which are emblazoned such intriguing and misapplied labels as social justice, equality, reform, patriotism, social welfare.” (Quoted from Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1963, pp. 109-114).

In General Conference April 1963, Ezra Taft Benson quoted a warning from J. Rueben Clark:

“… the ownership of the things which are necessary to feed your families is going to be taken away from us. I tell you freedom of speech will go, freedom of the press will go, and freedom of religion will go.

I have warned you against propaganda and hate. We are in the midst of the greatest exhibition of propaganda that the world has ever seen, and all directed toward one end. Just do not believe all you read” (Conf. Rep., October 3, 1941, p. 16 and Ward Teaching Message, July 1961) (Quoted from Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1963, pp. 109-114).

In the same conference, Ezra Taft Benson offered his own warning:

I became alarmed as I reviewed what has happened in our schools under so-called “progressive education.” What about the loss of patriotism, faith in God, and the teachings of character building principles once so much a part of our education? We have all but “forced Americanism out of the classroom to make way for temporary trivialities”(Delove, Chicago Tribune, Oct. 9, 1960, pg 130).

I remembered President Joseph F. Smith’s warning of the three dangers to the Church from within, viz., the flattery of prominent men, sexual impurity, and false educational ideas (Gospel Doctrine, p. 312).

Then there came to me the words of that courageous American patriot J. Edgar Hoover: “Today as never before, America has need for men and women who possess the moral strength and courage of our forefathers—modern-day patriots, with pride in our country and faith in freedom . . .” (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1963, pp. 109-114).

The Book of Mormon has also spoken about this several times:

ether2-9“And now,” warned Moroni, “we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity” (Ether 2:9).

Ken Connelly, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, wrote about how gay marriage is destroying freedom in America. He stated, “Any failure to accept this new vision of marriage—any failure to publicly bend the knee to this new orthodoxy—will result in very public and very damaging punishments.” These punishments, Connelly explains, are loss of tax exempt status for religious institutions, eventually extending to religions, no freedom for business owners, loss of free speech and freedom of the press, and loss of freedom of religion. Perhaps without the symbolic “mark of the beast in each person’s hand or forehead”, people may eventually not be able to buy or sell. This prophecy written 2,000 years ago, by Jesus’ beloved apostle John, seems to have begun to be fulfilled.

Hope in Divine Destiny

Yet, all hope is not lost. The Book of Mormon is clear about the promises of America.  Second Nephi 1:20 declares, “And he hath said that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land.”

In the April 2015 General Conference, Quentin L. Cook taught:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has never been stronger. The number of members removing their names from the records of the Church has always been very small and is significantly less in recent years than in the past. The increase in demonstrably measurable areas, such as endowed members with a current temple recommend, adult full-tithe payers, and those serving missions, has been dramatic. Let me say again, the Church has never been stronger” (Quentin L. Cook, The Lord Is My Light, Apr. 2015).

The tenth Article of Faith affirms the divine destiny of the Americas:

“We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.”

Our Responsibility

Ezra Taft Benson has reminded us of our responsibility concerning our freedom and our land. He’s cautioned:

Never before has the land of Zion appeared so vulnerable to so powerful an enemy as the Americas do at present. And our vulnerability is directly attributable to our loss of active faith in the God of this land, who has decreed that we must worship Him or be swept off. Too many Americans have lost sight of the truth that God is our source of freedom—the Lawgiver—and that personal righteousness is the most important essential to preserving our freedom. So, I say with all the energy of my soul that unless we as citizens of this nation forsake our sins, political and otherwise, and return to the fundamental principles of Christianity and of constitutional government, we will lose our political liberties, our free institutions, and will stand in jeopardy before God” (Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning, Oct. 1979).

He continued,

BensonfreedomI testify to you that God’s hand has been in our destiny. I testify that freedom as we know it today is being threatened as never before in our history. I further witness that this land—the Americas—must be protected, its Constitution upheld, for this is a land foreordained to be the Zion of our God. He expects us as members of the Church and bearers of His priesthood to do all we can to preserve our liberty.

May God bless us that, with His help, we will not fail to bring to pass His purposes on earth (Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning, Oct. 1979).

We cannot do nothing. The Lord expects us to preserve the freedom of this land and to build up Zion. Each of us as members of the Church must make an effort toward personal righteousness and pray to know what we must do as individuals to help maintain the liberty of this blessed land.

Third Nephi: A Type for the Latter-days

We are not the only society that has faced such great odds. In 3 Nephi 7 we learn that in the space of a few  years wicked people destroyed the government, the prophets were stoned and cast out, the majority of the people were angered by healings and miracles from the prophets, and only a few righteous people remained in the land. Yet, once the Savior came and taught the gospel, the people were all converted and they lived in peace and righteousness with no poor among them for nearly 200 years.

The righteous Nephites knew the prophecies that affected their day and the days ahead. Those who looked for the signs given to them from the prophets, gained spiritual strength that helped them to remain righteous through dark times.

In our day, we have some frightening prophecies. Isaiah and Revelations and others, have prophesied of darkness and destruction in the latter-days. But they also prophesy of Zion and the second coming of our Lord and Savior. Searching these prophecies gives us a clear understanding of where the Lord stands and where He wants us to stand. Like the Nephites, these prophecies can lend us the strength we need to successfully navigate dark times.

The Nephites stood strong and continued to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ despite immense wickedness all around them, and after a time of trial, they saw and conversed with the Savior and built a Zion society. We can be like the righteous Nephites remaining faithful even when it seems like the world around us is falling apart. Reading and understanding the signs of our days given to us in the scriptures can help us to faithfully do what we must to prepare our hearts to receive Zion and the presence of the Savior in His glorious second coming.

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Diane Robertson

Diane Robertson

Diane Robertson is just a plain old ordinary person with nothing terribly special about her. She's a homeschooling mother blessed with 11 kids, Diane spends most days in yoga pants taking care of her children, teaching, cooking, and cleaning while never actually doing yoga. Motherhood has helped Diane develop a passion for protecting the family and children. She blogs about political family issues at unitedfamiliesinternational.wordpress.com and journals about her family at thoserobertsons.blogspot.com
Diane Robertson

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4 thoughts on “Strength in Understanding the Signs of the Times

  1. Josh

    I’ve been studying these topics with a certain degree of tenacity as of late. I’m never willing to state that this or that prophecy is being fulfilled, but I do agree that it seems clear that we can rightly say there is possible fulfillment in what is happening around us.

    I hadn’t thought of the mark of the beast in those terms before, so I appreciate that fresh perspective.
    It is also apparent that a potential path for the battle of Armageddon is being paved right before our eyes with ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban. Might we be nearing the entrance point to the 7 tears of tribulation spoken of by John? I don’t know. There is still much work to do in preaching the gospel, yet we know that the Lord is hastening His work. And I’ve always wondered what He meant by Him cutting his work short. We have the technology to preach the gospel to every creature in a relatively short amount of time.

    It is both a terrifying and amazing time to be alive. I’ve never suffered negative consequences for speaking out about marriage, and I’ve been consistently speaking out about it since the beginnings of proposition 8 in California. But that could change. All the more reason to be spiritually and physically prepared with a year’s supply of food/water and finances.

  2. Jason

    I’ve always felt that Revelation 13 ought to be interpreted as you explained it here, so I’m really glad I’m not alone in that! It’s interesting to note that the number “six hundred threescore and six” (not the same as “six – six – six”, which is not the number Revelation 13:18 is referring to) only shows up two other times in all the standard works, and both are in reference to the same thing: the weight of gold talents that came to Solomon in one year (see 1 Kings 10:14 and 2 Chronicles 9:13). This might mean nothing, or it might be a hint to the part that says, “Let him that hath understanding … for it is the number of a man.” Either way, that, along with the “that no man might buy or sell” part, sure seems to imply that, like you said, the incentives being used to take away our freedoms are financially-based.

    Like Benjamin Franklin (probably) said, “Those willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.” Many times now, I’ve had to make a choice between keeping my integrity and keeping my job, and I’m happy to say that I’ve kept my integrity, and been incredibly blessed in my poverty and unemployment (though I am blessed to have a job now). My point is the Mark of the Beast can be seen all around us, as it’s tied to the root of all evil. And as Elder Oaks reminded us in this last General Conference, the root of all evil is not money itself, but the *love* of money (1 Timothy 6:10), and trading freedom for supposed security is one of the major things people are willing to do out of their love for mammon.

  3. Steven Montgomery

    Regarding the “mark of the beast” in Revelation 13, I once wrote an article on the subject here:

    https://sites.google.com/site/heavenlybanner/other-articles-writings-or-reprints/666-of-men-marks-beasts-and-the-sealing-power

    Which I’ve included below (but you’re welcome to visit the site above as the images don’t come through in replies):

    An investigation into the number “666” and the “Mark of the Beast” from an LDS and Biblical perspective.

    One of the overarching themes of the Book of Revelation deals with the victory that Jesus Christ and the righteous have over Satan, Babylon and mankind’s twin nemesis, Spiritual and Physical Death. The righteous, we are informed by Revelation 15:2 are those who gain victory over the “Beast” and thus qualify to live on this earth in its Celestial Glory.

    John informs us in Revelation that that those who accept Christ and overcome Satan are sealed up unto eternal life by having Christ’s name written on their foreheads (see Rev. 7:3 and 22:4). Under the law of Moses the Israelites were commanded to wear phylacteries on their hands or frontlets upon their foreheads which were little boxes that contained certain scriptures written inside them as a “sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in thy mouth” or in other words that the righteous were to treasure up the words of Christ in their heart and soul and to physically bind these items on their hands or foreheads as a sign of this fact (see Exodus 13:9,16; Deut. 6:8; 11:18).

    Satan, as the great counterfeiter, also “seals” his followers with a mark in their hand or forehead. But what is this mark and what does it represent? Is it an actual physical mark or merely symbolic? Is it, as some Christian evangelicals claim, a biochip or some other device inserted into the hand or forehead of individuals by the agents of a New World Order, in order to control people economically? Or does it represent something entirely different? Further, what characterizes those who have the mark?
    As fellow Latter-day Saints perhaps the first thing we should do is examine what the Prophets and Apostles might have written or said about the subject. Surprisingly, very little has been said or written. And what is written, such as this from the Kirtland Diary of Wilford Woodruff, takes an entirely different tangent than those who believe the “Mark of the Beast” is the institution of an economic arm of the New World Order:

    “O ye Priest of Baal. O, ye gentile religionest O. ye inhabitants of Babylon possessing the Mark of the Beast What knowledge have ye of the ordinances or blessings or virtues of the house & Church of God” —–The Kirtland Diary of Wilford Woodruff
    Wilford Woodruff was referring to those outside the Church and who were partakers of spiritual Babylon’s fruits and glories. If the “Mark of the Beast” was some sort of economic control, and was important to warn us about, don’t you think a Prophet or Apostle might have written or said something regarding the subject? Especially since it is prophetic pattern for God to give his children plenty of warning notice?

    Let me offer then a different explanation. As a result of the fall of Adam and without the atonement of Jesus Christ, man is carnal sensual and devilish. Thus Satan causes “ALL, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond” to receive his mark” in their right hand or in their forehead. Since this is a “mark” which affects all mankind it clearly cannot be an actual physical one. It is symbolic. Thus It represents man in his fallen mortal state and without the atonement of Jesus Christ, who truly cannot “buy or sell” without the mark of Satan (see Rev. 13:16-18; 14:1, 9-11; 17:5).

    It is also significant to note in Rev. 14:9-11, that those who thus follow Satan and receive his mark on their forehead or hand, suffer the “wrath of God”, are “tormented with fire and brimstone”, and the “smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever”–quite a punishment just for accepting a “mark” for food, as some Christian fundamentalists believe, especially if one did so without knowledge or innocently! Reading these scriptures in context just doesn’t bear this viewpoint up. It should be obvious that the “punishment” mentioned here is the “hell” that all of Satan’s followers receive after the last judgment.

    Also of note is the mention in Rev. 17:5 that spiritual Babylon will have the words “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” written on her forehead. Do the Christian fundamentalists really believe that there will be a great Babylon arise up with these literal words on her forehead?

    Well, what about the number of the beasts name, 666? Consistent with Moses 6:63, which states that “all things are created and made to bear record of” Christ, or in some manner testifying of the gospel plan, the number 6 to the Jews represented Man under sin. For example man was created on the 6th day. Cain’s descendants are listed to the 6th generation. There are 66 generations listed from King David to Joseph. The “Man of Sin” or Satan is represented by the number 666. The 6th letter of the Hebrew Alphabet is the letter “vav” which is the sign of the nail.

    The number 7, on the other hand, represented God’s seal, often called the perfect number by the ancients. For example, god sanctified the 7th day and blessed it. The week has 7 days. The 7th day was the Old Testament Holy Day or Sabbath. Joshua ordered his people to march around Jericho 7 days with 7 priests, and 7 times on the 7th day. 7 is also significant in the natural creation. The musical scale has 7 full notes. Pure light is broken into 7 colors by a prism or rainbow. Jesus Christ received 7 wounds on his body.

    Furthermore, in connection with the number 666, It’s interesting to consider that the jewish cabalistic magic square (those square mathematical puzzles which when added up either horizontally or vertically add up to the same number) of the sun (or Son!) when totaled adds up to 666. Additionally when the 12 (symbolic of the twelve disciples) diagonal squares (the letter x or sign of Christ) are added they each total 111 which when both are added to 666 become 888 (111 + 111 + 666 = 888), one of the gematria values of Jesus. In addition a circle can fit in the magic square whose circumference is exactly 1480, another gematria value of Christ.

    So it seems that the magic square serves as a perfect symbolism of Jesus Christ overcoming the Natural Man, the man of sin or 666, through the atonement (the x or cross) and of Revelations 15:2 or those who like Christ attain the “victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, [and] over the number of his name.” Again, the symbolism involved in Revelation concerning the “Mark of the Beast” hardly seems like biochips or the like to me.

    Interestingly enough “six hundred threescore and six” in also mentioned in four places in the Old Testament. In 1 Kings 10:14 and 2 Chronicles 9:13, King Solomon, the archetype of “WORLDLY WISDOM” and possessing the knack for solving “RIDDLES”, receives according to these verses exactly “six hundred threescore and six” talents of gold yet we understand that this is only part of the total amount that Solomon received. Why is “Six hundred threescore and six” singled out for special attention? Is the Lord trying to tell us something, challenging us or taunting us?

    Additionally Ezra Chapter 2 gives an account of the “children of the province” who return out of captivity of Babylon. Then verse 13 mentions that the children of “ADONIKAM” number six hundred three score and six! But this is not all, Nehemiah 7:18 parallels Ezra 2:13 but the number in the King James Version is mentioned as six hundred threescore and seven! Why the difference? Is the Lord trying to get our attention? Or did a scribe deliberatly change it to six hundred three score and seven hoping to avoid the stigma associated with six hundred threescore and six? To make things even more peculiar Joseph Smith in the Joseph Smith translation (You’ll need the full Joseph Smith Translation, as the complete translation is not in the appendix of the official church edition) corrects Nehemiah 7:18 to read as Ezra 2:13, six hundred threescore and six! Something strange seems to be going on here! To further peculiarize things the word ADONIKAM in Hebrew means “Risen Lord” (Strong’s number 140) as if to symbolize to us that we need to make a similar exit out of Babylon to truly become children of the “Risen Lord”!

    Finally, when “searching ” the scriptures, the jewish rabbinical literature states (and in keeping with the tenet of seeking to understand after the manner of the Jews, see 2 Nephi 25) that when one encounters a number in the scriptures this serves as a marker or flag to highlight a message of importance within the text. I find it interesting therefore to consider Alma 11: 22-25 in light of our current consideration of the number 6 or 666. In these verses Zeezrom tempts Amulek to deny God by offering him 6 Onties of silver (Remember that the number 6 to the Jews represented man under sin). Amulek responds by stating to Zeezrom, in effect, don’t you know that “the righteous yieldeth to no such temptations?” Then he exposes Zeezrom’s deception by revealing that he, Zeezrom, had it in his heart to get Amulek to “deny the true and living God.” Amulek’s controversy with Zeezrom, it seems to me, serve as a further witness of the verses we read about in Revelation and further emphasizes our need to resist Satan’s power and “mark” by living righteous lives. Thus we see that both Christ and Satan seal up their followers either to eternal life on one hand or spiritual death on the other.

    In conclusion, most fundamental Christians believe that the Mark of the Beast is some sort of economic control over the person getting the mark. I can find NOTHING in LDS belief, either from the scriptures or the words of the Prophets and Apostles which agree with fundamental Christianity in that understanding. Nothing.

    But maybe this lack of commentary by LDS Leadership on the number “666” or the “Mark of the Beast” is indicative of the Lord not commanding in all things? I don’t buy that. I don’t belive the Lord operates that way, especially in such an important matter affecting so many in their eternal destiny.

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