We currently live in the last days before the second appearance of Jesus Christ to all the world. Many of us may have mixed feelings about that day, or of the preceding times and seasons. After all, we read from the Holy Scriptures of perhaps disconcerting calamities and destruction that are to precede that day, which is also known as the Great and Dreadful Day of the Lord. So, it is understandable why we would have these mixed feelings of excitement for the Lord’s return and global rule in righteousness, but also fear of the calamities to come beforehand. However, a greater understanding of what the scriptures tell us further about the last days can offer those of us who seek to find ourselves on the right hand of God during that time some greater peace of mind.
First of all, we can acknowledge and identify the prophecies recorded regarding some of the signs that were to precede the Second Coming that have already been fulfilled. Some examples of such signs are wars and rumors of wars, nations rising up against each other, and also natural disasters such as earthquakes and famines (Matthew 24:6-7). Christ Himself said of these things, “…but the end is not yet…All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
Jesus also told His apostles that the gospel would be preached in all the World “as a witness unto all nations,” just before the end would come (Matthew 24:14). This effectively began with the “times of refreshing” as spoken of by Peter in which there would be a “restitution of all things,” (Acts 3:19-21) also known today as the Resoration of the Gospel, by way of the prophet Joseph Smith. From the humble beginnings of the restored church of Jesus Christ, that same gospel today has been introduced to nearly every nation on earth, and by the miraculous power of God it will reach all people, even to the corners of the Earth.
In parallel to this marvelous work of the gospel being preached in all the world, there will continue to be much tribulation in the world. Mens’ hearts shall fail them, and in a state of iniquity they shall rebel against God and grow in hatred towards one another (Matthew 24:9-12). Events will occur that will bring the great nations of the earth to their knees in utter destruction, anarchy and chaos (Isaiah 48-49; 2 Nephi 22). It is quite disconcerting to read the afflictions that will come upon mankind in those days. So, we might ask ourselves at this point, “What is to done that we may be spared of these calamities, or protected from them? Where or to whom can we turn for peace?”
Recall the words of Paul, the apostle, to the Thessolonian saints about the time in which we now live:
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness (1Thessolonians 5:1-5).
There are many in the world today that aren’t aware of, disbelieve or even do not take interest in this particular subject, or even in religion at that. To them the end will come like Paul tells “as a thief in the night,” or rather surprisingly. How many of us today could say or think, considering how advanced our societies are in science and technology, that such a sudden, dramatic change could take place, or why it would? But the prophets and scriptures are very plain and clear that it will be so, and thus it will be upon these people, or in other words, the unprepared and wicked, that the calamities prophesied will fall.
Paul describes those of us who follow God and His Christ, both in faith and in works, as “the children of light” which implies that we will be able to see and recognize both temporally and spiritually the signs of the times. Paul then gives us a charge: “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6). So, here we learn that part of following God in this sense requires that we are watchful, and not passive. We cannot simply rely on God to just save us in a state of passiveness and ignorance. That is not, and never has been the pattern of divine deliverance. In order to become part of Israel, or the Lord’s people, we are required to be faithful to the gospel, watchful of the signs, and to prepare ourselves both temporally and spiritually. We must also follow and heed the council of the Lord’s anointed prophets.
In addition to his eloquent, messianical utterances and prophesies of Jesus Christ, the prophet Isaiah speaks also of the divine deliverance of Israel, or the Lord’s people in the last days in many instances of his book found in the Old Testament. There he mentions the miraculous works that should be done among the Lord’s chosen people in these days and ultimately their divine deliverance from the destruction which is to come to the earth and its inhabitants. Nephi, another ancient prophet from the Book of Mormon, and his brother Jacob, expound upon his words in various incidents where they give us such clarification as this:
For the time soon cometh that the fulness of the wrath of God shall be poured out upon all the children of men; for he will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous.
Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire (1Nephi 22:16-17).
Furthermore, in a revelation given to the prophet Joseph Smith regarding the saints in these the latter days, the Lord made this declaration:
I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear (Doctrine & Covenants 38:30).
We can and ought to prepare now while there is yet daylight left today, for “the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). We should not pray to know what day the Day of the Lord will be, for it is written and given to us already that “of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven” (Matthew 24:36). Rather, we should pray to know what we can do today in order for us to be numbered among Israel, or the Lord’s people whom He will protect and spare in that truly great and dreadful day. May we take time to consider these things, and plan our preparations. May we live and act in sobriety. May we be watchful, not only of the signs, but also of ourselves; our thoughts, words, and deeds. May we learn to have patience, long suffering and charity towards our fellow men. And finally, may we always remember our Lord and Savior, and turn to Him in these last days, that we may become His holy people and be delivered by His holy grace. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).