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Another Interpretation of The End of the World

This week an article came out that was probably the worst piece of journalism I have seen in a long time.  It was called, “End of the World?  What President Packer Said About It.”  The article begins with a loose, unresearched, unexplained summary of possible superstitious reasons that are leading people to “hysteria” in preparing for the end of the world, then goes on to use quotes by Elder Ballard and President Packer to reassure readers that “there is still some time for us”.  Below are direct words from Days of Tribulation.

We live in the last days.  I think we can all agree on that point.  How are these days characterized?  We know they are characterized by wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilence, and earthquake (Matt 24:6-7).  We all know we have been counseled by the prophets to be prepared, but how many of us can say we actually have the counseled year’s supply?

If we know we live in the last days and we know we have been counseled to be prepared, where is the disconnect?  I’ll be honest and say my disconnect was in the prosperity, convenience, and security I enjoy, and have always enjoyed.  We have been enormously blessed in this, the promised land of America.  The wars, rumors of wars, and calamities we see are almost always overseas, and rarely, if ever, have an effect on our day-to-day, other than contributing donations or missing loved ones who may be serving in the military on our behalf.

So where did the urgency come from?  I’m embarrassed to admit that for me, it did take a “near-death-experience” (NDE) book to wake me up.  I read Visions of Glory, which is an anonymous account by a man who goes by the pseudonym of “Spencer.”  The book recounts many of the new and interesting things he experienced as a Spirit, but then goes on to talk about coming calamities and how they play a role in the rise of the New Jerusalem.

People either love or hate this book.  I loved it.  Why?  Because to me it was not a message of fear.  To me it was a message of hope.

As a little girl I was always interested in the signs of the times.  I remember writing down a list with my dad’s help and studying Gospel Principles to see what has come to pass and what will be.  Perhaps this is what sparked my interest in reading Visions of Glory in the first place.  But having studied the signs of the times in a rudimentary form with a child’s understanding, I did have cause to ponder now, what it would take for us to be prepared to build the New Jerusalem, and what changes were necessary for us as a people to increase our spirituality to the necessary point where we could eventually welcome Christ back to the earth.

At this point, my ponderings led me to another NDE book.  “A Greater Tomorrow” by Julie Rowe.  She also saw coming calamities and her own personal journey through them.  The consistency between the accounts was unsettling.  Could these “tribulations” really happen in my lifetime?  Both Spencer and Julie were older than me, so it seemed the answer was likely yes–if these people were not paranoid schizophrenics, that is.

What really stood out from Julie’s account was the notion of a call to the Saints to gather to places of refuge–that things would eventually get so bad, we would need to leave our homes and gather in tents in the mountains to be protected from plagues and other calamities.  Never had I ever considered the fact that I might have to leave my home.  I am not a camper, nor am I in any way “outdoorsy.”  I figured I would always have my home, or at least a church building to shelter me.  But here’s the kicker: it made sense to me.  It made sense to me that the Lord would have a way to protect his people–if things were to get as bad as they described, and that this trial would require a leap of faith and a testimony of the living prophet.  A flood of examples began to enter my mind from the scriptures…Lehi, Moses, Noah, the pioneers…they were all called out in a similar way in order to be preserved.

This is when I really started to turn to the scriptures and the words of the prophets for further light and knowledge.  I had not studied the last days since my childhood–and we didn’t have the internet back then–so my journey began.

The first item on my docket was to study the prophecies on America.  It truly reminded me of what a blessing it is to live here.  But as I read, I realized the promises of the Lord to protect America are conditional upon our righteousness!

In June 2015 SCOTUS made the decision to allow gay marriage in our country.  I could see from the cycle of pride pattern in the Book of Mormon that as the laws of our country diverge from the laws of God, His blessing of prosperity and protection over this country is revoked. When people grow in pride and wickedness, rejecting the warnings of the prophet, we become ripe for destruction
Mosiah 29:27

27 And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.

But we have many laws that do not reflect God’s laws.  Why would rejecting the Lord’s covenant of marriage be significant in any way?

The Proclamation on the Family plainly states: “…we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

I believe we will be held responsible as a nation for the disintegration of the family–that calamities are coming to our land

“Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen here. Those who believe this are either not acquainted with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them. Those who smugly think these calamities will not happen, that they somehow will be set aside because of the righteousness of the Saints, are deceived and will rue the day they harbored such a delusion. (Ezra Taft Benson, “Prepare for the Days of Tribulation,” Ensign, November, 1980.)

What are the days of tribulation?

This last quote came from a talk called “Prepare for the Days of Tribulation” by President Ezra Taft Benson.  This term “days of tribulation” seemed to stand out to me through much of what I had read.  The days of tribulation are characterized in the scriptures as a time when:

Mark 13:12-23: “brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.  And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.  But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judæa flee to the mountains:  And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:  And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.  But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!  And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.  For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.  And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.  And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:  For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.  But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.”

Is this the end of the world?  Honestly it depends on what you consider the end of the world.  I don’t believe the world will ever end.  But is there a change coming?  You bet there is.

Henry B. Eyring – Raise the Bar (BYU-Idaho Talk – January 2005)   “Change is also accelerating in the world around us. Some of that change, like that in this university, is for the better. But much of the acceleration in the world is in troubles long prophesied for the last days. Each time you watch the evening news, you see stark evidence of that. You remember this scripture: “For behold, at that day shall he [meaning Satan] rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good” (2 Nephi 28:20).  The Lord told us in the time of the Prophet Joseph that war would be poured out upon all nations. We see tragic fulfillment of that prophecy, bringing with it increased suffering to the innocent.  The giant earthquake, and the tsunamis it sent crashing into the coasts around the Indian Ocean, is just the beginning and a part of what is to come, terrible as it was. You remember the words from the Doctrine and Covenants which now seems so accurate:  And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people.  For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.  And also cometh 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.  And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people (Doctrine and Covenants 88: 88-91).  Fear shall come upon all people. But you and I know that the Lord has prepared places of safety to which He is eager to guide us.”

Do we know when Lord will come?  Of course not!  Anyone claiming to know would be automatically discredited in my mind according to the scripture:

JS-Matt 1:40  “But of that day, and hour, no one knoweth; no, not the angels of God in heaven, but my Father only.”

In fact, this is the very thing the misinformed article quoted Elder Ballard as saying.  Never have I heard anyone say they know when the Second Coming will be–at least not in any of the accounts I have read, which by now are many.  But we must distinguish that this scripture refers to the Second Coming, not the days of tribulation.  To try and figure out if we are on the verge of the days of tribulation takes quite a lot of study.  In fact, we are commanded to watch for the signs:

Matthew 24: 43-44  “But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.  Therefore be ye also ready.”

 

What of President Packer’s quote?  

“It is a marvelous time to be alive. The world is not going to come to an end anytime soon. You are going to have time to stand, as I stand now, talking about your children and your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren.

Do we or do we not believe in having children through the Millennium?  We do!  We have over a thousand years to continue our posterity, and even then it doesn’t need to end.  The article assumes that President Packer’s words on living a productive life and getting married means our children will do so in the same conditions we are doing it. Why do we assume that this cannot be during the days of tribulation?  Perhaps you could even say that for the righteous, raising a family in the days of tribulation will be even more productive than now because we will living more righteously to meet the trials of that day.  We need not fear that our children will not have the lives we have.  Their future is bright!  The days of tribulation and the cleansing of America will only make way for a more righteous existence on this earth.  We need to have greater faith in the plan of our loving Heavenly Father.  It is Satan that wants us to fear.  We have nothing to fear if we will but trust Him.

Another recent article highlighted an internal memo sent to the seminary and institute teachers in CES.  They asked that Julie Rowe’s book not be used in CES curriculums because “The experiences she shares are her own personal experiences and do not necessarily reflect Church doctrine or they may distort Church doctrine.”  This also made perfect sense to me because our youth need to focus on the scriptures and learn our doctrines.  The personal experiences of others, while enlightening, are not doctrine and should not be treated as such.

Is there any reason to consider the possibility of a call out to places of refuge in the last days?

I was shocked as I continued my research to only find further validation for these claims:

Elder H. Aldridge (Second Quorum of the Seventy) LDS Business College Devotional, February 8th, 2005 “We must both learn what these signs are and then identify them correctly when they occur. They can and will strengthen our faith in Christ and His prophets, if we know the scriptures. Just as in the days of Noah, a way is already prepared for the escape of the Lord’s elect Latter-Day Saints, if they are in tune with His prophets.

Brigham Young

“An inland Empire will be established in these valleys of the mountains, which will be a place of refuge for millions of people to gather to, when the great day of the judgments of God comes upon the earth, and the righteous come here for safety. Our people will go East…, West, North and South, but the day will come, when they will be glad to come back. We will be shut out from the rest of the world.”

 

Joseph Smith The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section 2, P.71 “…for without Zion, and a place of deliverance, we must fall; because the time is near when the sun will be darkened, and the moon turn to blood, and the stars fall from the heaven, and the earth reel to and fro. Then, if this is the case, and if we are not sanctified and gathered to the places God has appointed, with all our former professions and our great love for the Bible, we must fall; we cannot stand; we cannot be saved; for God will gather out his saints from the Gentiles, and then comes desolation and destruction, and none can escape except the pure in heart who are gathered.”

 

Joseph Smith DHC 4:272 “In addition to all temporal blessings, there is no other way for the Saints to be saved in these last days, than by gathering….”

AofF 10: “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel…”  (Wait, literal as in symbolic?  Or literal as in literal?)

Harold B. Lee Conference Report, April 1948 “Thus, clearly, the Lord has placed the responsibility for directing the work of gathering in the hands of the leaders of the Church to whom he will reveal his will where and when such gatherings would take place in the future. It would be well before the frightening events concerning the fulfillment of all God’s promises and predictions are upon us, that the Saints in every land prepare themselves and look forward to the instruction that shall come to them from the First Presidency of this Church as to where they shall be gathered and not be disturbed in their feelings until such instruction is given to them as it is revealed by the Lord to the proper authority.”

I love this last quote.  We don’t need to freak out.  We really don’t.  We need to prepare, and wait, and be ready.  The article accuses people preparing of “hysteria.”  It really is ironic that people assume if you are preparing, you are being overly fearful.  But I can testify from my own experience that preparing has only given me more peace and comfort, and an increased faith in my Heavenly Father to protect me and my family.


I think the thing that bothered me most about the misinformed article was that it was serving the purposes of the adversary by lulling people into carnal security.

 

2 Nephi 28:21  “And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.”

 

Brothers and Sisters, we cannot be fooled into thinking this!  Consider the source of the original articles this one was based on.  One was written by the Salt Lake Tribune and the other by KUTV, both notorious for their anti-Mormon agenda!  These articles were not endorsed by the Church through Deseret News or KSL!  Can we really take these quotes by Elder Ballard and President Packer and twist them into believing we have not been warned???  

Ezra Taft Benson:

“Should the Lord decide at this time to cleanse the Church …a famine in this land of one year’s duration could wipe out a large percentage of slothful members, including some ward and stake officers. Yet we cannot say we have not been warned.”

 

Dallin H. Oaks:

“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.

We need to make both temporal and spiritual preparation for the events prophesied at the time of the Second Coming. And the preparation most likely to be neglected is the one less visible and more difficult–the spiritual.”

 

Joseph B. Wirthlin:

In terms of the sin, evil and wickedness, upon the earth, we could liken our time to the days of Noah before the flood.

 

Marion G. Romney:

“…We will see the day when we will live on what we produce.” General Conference April 1975.

Ezra Taft Benson:

“For nearly six thousand years, God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the Second Coming of the Lord…God has saved for the final inning some of His strongest and most valiant children, who will help bear off the kingdom triumphantly. That is where you come in, for you are the generation that must be prepared to meet your God.”

Gordon B. Hinckley:

“The kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God on the earth will be combined together at Christ’s coming – and that time is not far distant. How I wish we could get the vision of this work, the genius of it, and realize the nearness of that great event. I am sure it would have a sobering effect upon us if we realized what is before us.”

 

Vaughn J. Featherstone:

“The darkest clouds in history are on the horizon. They are being driven with fierce Satanic winds in our direction. Earthquakes, famines pestilence, disease, plagues will soon be upon us, but we trust in our God and He will spare us and take us under His wing.”

 

Boyd K. Packer:

“I am sorry to tell you that it will not get better.” President Packer goes on to say: “I know of nothing in the history of the Church, or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds in wickedness and depravity that which surrounds us now. Words of profanity, vulgarity, and blasphemy are heard everywhere. Unspeakable wickedness and perversion were once hidden in dark places; now they are in the open, and even accorded legal protection. At Sodom and Gomorrah these things were localized. Now, they are spread across the world, and they are among us.”

Thomas S. Monson:

“We live in turbulent times.  Often the future is unknown; therefore, it behooves us to prepare for uncertainties.  When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past.”

 

Spencer W. Kimball:

“We encourage families to have on hand a year’s supply; and we say it over and over and repeat over and over the scripture of the Lord where He says, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

We cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into carnal security!  What is carnal security?  This is the security we enjoy from our material possessions.  We certainly have been blessed, with homes, cars, money, stores, and food of all varieties at our convenience, to be had at a moment’s notice.  Is it so hard to imagine that the Lord would ask us to sacrifice these things?

Mark 10: 17-22 “And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?  And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.  Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.  And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.  Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.  And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

Why would the Lord expect anything less of us than the rich man or the pioneers?  Go to the temple.  Remember.  The covenants we make there are in every way connected to this requirement.  And the blessings we receive endow us with the power from on high to endure tribulation!

 

Is it so hard to believe that the time of our prosperity is limited?  How I would love to believe that all I ever will need to worry about in my life is the color of paint on my living room walls, trying to get my kid’s favorite toy on Black Friday, or choosing which restaurant I feel like eating at.  There is no basis for this assumption!

 

What has been the result of all this frivolity and prosperity?  I will answer with two words: pride and dissension.  Did we not all feel it last Conference when those people stood to object against our dear prophets and apostles?  It made me wonder if there will ever be another conference without these objections.  We are on the downward slope of the pride cycle.  The evidence of this is overwhelming!

On September 13th, a regional stake conference was held in Utah County featuring the following key messages:

 

  1. We must be better about understanding the Gospel by searching for patterns in the Book of Mormon and using prayer to enlighten our minds
  2. We must be better about keeping the Sabbath Day as a sign that we are the covenant people of the Lord.

 

If we cannot distinguish ourselves from everyone else in the world, how are we to expect his blessing of protection?

Mosiah Hancock recorded a dream of Brigham Young of the last days: “He had seen in sorrow, in a dream, or in dreams, this people clothed in the fashions of Babylon and drinking in the spirit of Babylon until one could hardly tell a Saint from a black-leg.  And he felt like shouting, “To your tents, Oh Israel!” because it was the only thing that could keep this people pure…Many of this people for the sake of riches and popularity, will sell themselves for that which will canker their souls and lead them down to misery and despair.  It would be better for them to dwell in wigwams among the Indians than to dwell with the gentiles and miss the glories which God wishes them to obtain.”

How are we distinguishing ourselves as the Lord’s people?  Sister Burton said the world ignores the Sabbath day as any other day.  Are we the same?

 

Elder Ballard went on in the Regional Conference to talk about our unprecedented prosperity as a people.  What is interesting about this statement?

Heber C. Kimball prophesied of this exact time.  “A spirit of speculation and extravagance will take possession of the Saints, and the result will be financial bondage…” (Pretty sure we’re there.) “Persecution comes next, and all true Latter-day Saints will be tested to the limit.  Many will apostatize, and others will stand still not knowing what to do.”

 

Looks like we have persecution to look forward to.

Elder Ballard mentioned the following, “I remind you of Jesus’ prophecy regarding the last days in which we now live: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”[7] We are saddened when we witness some of the “very elect” deceived as Jesus warned.”

 

We need to realize that God is directing this Church.  His leaders are keenly aware of who these false Christs are, and we have all seen these people excommunicated for trying to lead others astray.  This has not happened to Julie Rowe.  Her NDE is a personal experience she felt prompted to share, and it has helped hundreds of people focus their lives more seriously on the Gospel.  True, it is not considered Church doctrine, but there are few gospel-centered books outside of the scriptures that are.  I have no doubt she would be excommunicated if she were leading people astray.  

One interesting quote comes up as I’ve pondered the notion of false Christs.  In October Conference 2013, Elder Hales said, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was given long before we experienced the challenges now facing the family. “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles” was prepared in advance of when we will need it most.”

 

This is a very interesting statement!  It seems as though sometime soon in our future, there will be confusion surrounding who Christ is, which I find very surprising.  It is interesting to note in light of this quote that the entire visiting teaching theme for this past year has been on the Divine Attributes of Jesus Christ.

So, the event we ought to be looking for is the persecution of the Saints due to false Christs.  Some of us have already felt this to a degree regarding same-sex marriage and women and the priesthood, but it will gain momentum as the relevance of the Living Christ becomes just as vital as the Proclamation has become.

Why is this significant?

One phrase that has repeatedly come up in my studies on the last days has been “the times of the Gentiles” and “the fulfilling of the times of the Gentiles.”

  1. The “times of the Gentiles” were issued in starting with the restoration of the gospel.  It is a time when the gospel is meant to go forth to the Gentile (or Christian) nations.  The wars during this period will be preparatory wars that open the way for the Gospel to be preached in different lands.  (Ex. Fall of the Iron Curtain etc.) We are currently living in the times of the Gentiles.

D&C 45:28  “And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel;”

Elder Hallstrom spoke in the Conference about how the Lord is hastening the work in his vineyard.  We see evidence of it in the number of missionaries and the rise of temples.  This is important as the times of the Gentiles are rapidly coming to an end.

  1.  The “fulfilling of the times of the Gentiles” is when the Gentile nations eventually reject the Gospel.

D&C 45:29-30  “But they receive it not, for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men.  And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

Orson Pratt wrote:

Having established his kingdom, he offers it first to these Gentile nations, if they will receive it; and when they shall account themselves unworthy of the kingdom, unworthy of eternal life, unworthy of the message which God has sent to them, and shall persecute his servants and his people all the day long, and shall close up their sanctuaries, their Churches, their chapels, their meeting houses, and their places of worship against this message, and when it can no longer find place among them, so as to bring them to a knowledge and understanding of the truth, the Lord will, after a while, designate by revelation, and say unto his servants, “It is enough.  You have been faithful in laboring in my vineyard, for the last time;” for it was the decree of heaven, that this shall be the last time, that he will labor in his vineyard.  It is the eleventh hour, the last warning that will be given to the nations of the earth, first to the Gentiles, and then to the House of Israel.” (JD 20:146)

Orson Pratt spoke of a time when the Lord will call the missionaries home.  After the Gentile nations have rejected the Gospel the Lord will tell his servants to:

“Come home, come out from the midst of these Gentile nations, where you have labored and borne testimony for so long a period; come out from among them, for they are not worthy; they do not receive the message that I have sent forth, they do not repent of their sins; come out from their midst, their times are fulfilled.” (JD 18:64)

So the persecution that is coming on the Saints will be so severe that the missionaries will be called home!  The “fulfilling of the times of the Gentiles” is an important chronological event.  It marks the end of the period of preparatory wars and the beginning of the wars of destruction.  These are wars that are not intended to open the way for the preaching of the Gospel but serve as punishment to the Gentiles for rejecting the Gospel.

  1.  After the missionaries are called home from the Gentile nations, the Gospel will go forth among the Jews.  (Wars of Destruction)

Heber C. Kimball “The judgments of God will be poured out upon the wicked to the extent that our elders from far and near will be called home.  Or, in other words, the gospel will be taken from the Gentiles and later on will be carried to the Jews…Then the Prophet Joseph and others will make their appearance and those who have remained faithful will be selected to return to Jackson County, Missouri, and take part in the upbuilding of that beautiful city, the New Jerusalem.” (Prophetic Sayings of Heber C. Kimball to Amanda Wilcox, BYU)

Matthew 20:16  “So the last shall be first, and the first last…”  The Jews received the Gospel first before the Gentiles, in the time of Christ.  In the last days the Gentiles will receive the Gospel first and the Jews will be last.

Great calamities are prophesied after “the fulfilling of the times of the Gentiles,” including terrible earthquakes and a desolating plague.

D&C 45: 30-33 “And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.  And there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land.  But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die.  And there shall be earthquakes also in divers places, and many desolations; yet men will harden their hearts against me, and they will take up the sword, one against another, and they will kill one another.”

This is scripturally prophetic.  The time of our prosperity is running out.

Perhaps it doesn’t matter to some that I have read hundreds of accounts since Spencer and Julie’s that have testified of seeing the days of tribulation–through personal dreams or visions, that people have received specific direction from Heavenly Father through prayer on how to protect their families, that others have shared snippets of patriarchal blessings that speak of the days of tribulation or fleeing to places of refuge, or that there are parents whose missionaries are dreaming of coming home early.  But as President Hinckley stated in October 2001, “The vision of Joel has been fulfilled wherein he declared:  “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:”

Why do we believe in the gift of revelation and visions and then persecute those who actually have this gift because they are not the prophet?  Are we not all entitled to personal revelation?  The gift of prophecy is a gift of the Spirit and therefore accessible to all through the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Anna was considered a prophetess in her time.  Why?  Not because she held the keys of the priesthood as the head of the Church in her time.  That is not consistent with doctrine.  It is likely because she had the gift of prophecy.  We need to stop persecuting these individuals and start learning our scriptures.  Because they are plain in their prophecies.

Matthew 5:18  “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

People foolishly assume that the prophets will tell us in General Conference exactly when to expect an earthquake (for example), if there is to be one.  Did they tell Nepal when their earthquake would come?  Or Japan of their tsunami?  This is not the way God works.  He has asked us, and is asking us through his ordained prophet to be prepared.  

In the Sept 2014 issue of the Ensign the First Presidency message was entitled, “Are We Prepared?” This was the message the Lord wanted shared with all members of the Church through home teaching.  That alone is significant.

Harold B. Lee stated, “There are among us many loose writings predicting the calamities which are about to overtake us.  Some of these have been publicized as though they were necessary to wake up the world to the horrors about to overtake us.  Many of these are from sources upon which there cannot be unquestioned reliance.  We need no such publications to be forewarned, if we were only conversant with what the scriptures have already spoken to us in plainness.” (Conference Report Oct, 1972)

PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THE GREAT DAY OF THE LORD- new era May1982

SIGNS AND WARNING IN THE LAST DAYS- EZRA TAFT BENSON-1981Every generation, I suppose, sees the time in which they live as being exceptional. The truth of the matter is, you do live in a most exceptional time in the history of mankind. You young people will see events transpire which were prophesied from the beginning of the world. Prophets of old have seen your days and rejoiced in them. And yet, you will face challenges and circumstances, the severity of which has been unparalleled in generations past. For this you must be prepared.I wish to present to you some thoughts about the times in which you live and about the quality of faith you will need to survive some of the difficulties yet to be experienced. I speak as one who loves you and has been given a responsibility, with my Brethren, “to testify and warn” about the impending crises facing mankind.During the last week of our Lord’s mortal life, He was privately approached on the Mount of Olives by His disciples. They asked Him two questions, the first of which was: “Tell us, when shall these things be which thou hast said concerning the destruction of the temple, and the Jews?” (JST, Matt. 24:4).The basis for their earnest inquiry was a prophecy by Jesus that had left even the disciples stunned. While standing in the temple precincts, Jesus had declared: “There shall not be left here upon this temple, one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (JST, Matt. 24:2).The temple in Jerusalem was a magnificent structure. It rested on the same site as the temple of Solomon, which had been largely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in the siege of Jerusalem. With the help of King Cyrus the Great, whom the Lord inspired, the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity and erected a second temple, though much inferior to Solomon’s. Later, Herod the Great became the leader and undertook to reconstruct the temple. He spared no expense or labor to restore that building to the beauty and magnificence of the days of Solomon. The project took about 46 years to complete, six years longer than the Salt Lake Temple in pioneer days. According to Josephus, a Jewish historian, some of the stones used in the foundation were prodigious in size, measuring approximately 60 feet in length. Can you imagine how improbable it must have seemed to Jesus’ disciples that one stone would not be left on another? Yet, 37 years later when the Romans invaded Jerusalem, that prophecy was literally fulfilled. It is said that after Roman soldiers burned the temple, they dug up the foundation stones in the hopes of finding a treasure buried there.The Savior also prophesied concerning the fate of the Jewish nation: “This people shall be destroyed and scattered among all nations.“And it shall come to pass, that this generation of Jews shall not pass away until every desolation which I have told you concerning them shall come to pass.” (D&C 45:19, 21.)That desolation came as predicted. In A.D. 66 the Jews rebelled against the Romans. The Roman army invaded Judea, and in one of the most bloody and horrible sieges in history, Jerusalem was eventually overcome. The siege lasted for about four years. During that time, it was estimated that over one million Jews were killed and 97,000 were taken captive and sold as slaves.Thus, you see, in just four decades following the crucifixion, the nation, the city, and the temple were all destroyed! As one modern historian recorded, “The destruction of the temple marked the end … of the Jewish state … Judea was almost shorn of Jews, and those that remained lived on the edge of starvation.” (Will Durrant, The Story of Civilization, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944, 3:545.)Later in the first century A.D., the Jews, under the leadership of a false messiah, again attempted to recover their homeland. The Romans also crushed that rebellion; Judea was laid waste; and the remaining Jews were scattered throughout the empire. Again the historian chronicles the literal fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy:“No other people has ever known so long an exile, or so hard a fate … Scattered into every province and beyond, condemned to poverty and humiliation, unbefriended even by philosophers and saints, they retired from public affairs into private study and worship.” (Durrant, The Story of Civilization, 3:549.)The prophecy of Jesus was sure and certain: “This people shall be destroyed and scattered among all nations.” A lesson drawn from the Jewish catastrophe, and applicable to our times, was given by the Lord Himself in modern revelation: “My word shall not pass away; but shall all be fulfilled” (JST, Matt. 24:36).The second question asked by the disciples on the Mount of Olives, and the one pertinent to our time, was: “What is the sign of thy coming; and of the end of the world? (or the destruction of the wicked, which is the end of the world.)” (JST, Matt. 24:4.)The Lord has designated these days in which we live as the “times of the Gentiles.” The Gentile nations are the so-called Christian nations—North and South America and the European nations from which we came. The “times of the Gentiles” refers to that period of time extending from when the gospel was restored to the world (1830) to when the gospel will again be preached to the Jews—after the Gentiles have rejected it. This is how the Lord explained it:“And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel;“But they receive it not; for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men.“And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” (D&C 45:28–30; italics added.)We will know when the times of the Gentiles are approaching fulfillment by these signs:“And in that day shall be heard of wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them, and they shall say that Christ delayeth his coming until the end of the earth.“And the love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound.” (D&C 45:26–27.)“And again, this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come, or the destruction of the wicked” (JST, Matt. 24:32).Are we not witnessing the fulfillment of these signs today? The gospel is being extended to all nations which permit our missionaries to penetrate their countries. The Church is prospering and growing. Yet in undiminished fury, and with an anxiety that his time is short—and it is—Satan, that great adversary to all men, is attempting to destroy all we hold dear. The greatest system of slavery ever devised by the forces of evil—communism—has been imposed on over one billion of the earth’s inhabitants. We constantly hear or read of wars and rumors of wars. Atheism, agnosticism, immorality, and dishonesty are flaunted in our society. Desertions, cruelty, divorce, and infidelity have become commonplace, leading to a disintegration of the family. Truly we live in the times of which the Savior spoke, when “the love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound.”The rejection of the testimony of the servants of God by the nations of the world will bring the consequence of greater calamities, for the Lord himself declared:“For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.“And also cometh 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.“And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them, for fear shall come upon all people.” (D&C 88:89–91.)“And there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land.“But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die.“And there shall be earthquakes also in divers places, and many desolations; yet men will harden their hearts against me, and they will take up the sword, one against another, and they will kill one another.” (D&C 45:31–33.)The world will present a scene of conflict such as has never been experienced before. Still, men’s hearts will be hardened to the revelations from heaven. Even greater signs shall then be given to manifest the approaching great day of the Lord.“And they shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath.“And they shall behold blood, and fire, and vapors of smoke.“And before the day of the Lord shall come, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon be turned into blood, and the stars fall from heaven.” (D&C 45:40–42.)I realize this is an unpleasant topic on which to dwell. I take no delight in its portrayal, nor do I look forward to the day when calamities shall come upon mankind. But these words are not my own; the Lord has spoken them. Knowing what we know as His servants, can we hesitate to raise a warning voice to all who will listen that they may be prepared for the days ahead? Silence in the face of such calamity is sin!But to an otherwise gloomy picture there is a bright side—the coming of our Lord in all His glory. His coming will be both glorious and terrible, depending on the spiritual condition of those who remain.One appearance will be to the righteous Saints who have gathered to the New Jerusalem here in America. In this place of refuge they will be safe from the wrath of the Lord which will be poured out without measure on all nations.Modern revelation provides this description:“And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.“And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety.“And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another.” (D&C 45:67–69.)Another appearance of the Lord will be to the Jews. To these beleaguered sons of Judah, surrounded by hostile Gentile armies, who again threaten to overrun Jerusalem, the Savior—their Messiah—will set His feet on the Mount of Olives, “and it shall cleave in twain, and the earth shall tremble, and reel to and fro, and the heavens also shall shake” (D&C 45:47–48).The Lord Himself will then rout the Gentile armies, decimating their forces (see Ezek. 38, 39). Judah will be spared, no longer to be persecuted and scattered. The Jews will then approach their Deliverer and ask, “What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet?”“… I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God.“And then shall they weep because of their iniquities; then shall they lament because they persecuted their king.” (D&C 45:51–53.)What a touching drama this will be! Jesus—Prophet, Messiah, King—will be welcomed in His own country!Jerusalem will become an eternal city of peace!The sons of Judah will see this promise fulfilled: “After their pain [the tribe of Judah] shall be sanctified in holiness before the Lord, to dwell in his presence day and night, forever and ever” (D&C 133:35).Yet another appearance of Christ will be to the rest of the world. Here is His description of His coming:“The Lord shall be red in his apparel, and his garments like him that treadeth in the wine-vat.“And so great shall be the glory of his presence that the sun shall hide his face in shame, and the moon shall withhold its light, and the stars shall be hurled from their places.” (D&C 133:48–49.)All nations will see Him “in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory; with all the holy angels. …“And the Lord shall utter his voice, and all the ends of the earth shall hear it; and the nations of the earth shall mourn, and they that have laughed shall see their folly.“And calamity shall cover the mocker, and the scorner shall be consumed; and they that have watched for iniquity shall be hewn down and cast into the fire.” (D&C 45:44, 49–50.)When the Savior spoke of these signs and prophecies to His disciples in Jerusalem, they were apprehensive. He said to them, “Be not troubled, for, when all these things shall come to pass, ye may know that the promises which have been made unto you shall be fulfilled” (D&C 45:35; italics added).Youth of Zion, do you realize you are living in the days of the fulfillment of these signs and wonders? You are among those who will see many of these prophecies fulfilled. Just as certain as was the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem and the scattering of the Jews, so shall these words of the Savior be certain to your generation.We know not the day nor the hour of His coming, but of this you may feel assured: You stand close to the great day of the Lord! In His words of modern revelation, we say to you, “Seek the face of the Lord, always” (D&C 101:38).You will live in the midst of economic, political and spiritual instability. When you see these signs—unmistakable evidences that His coming is nigh—be not troubled, but, “stand … in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come” (D&C 87:8). Holy men stand in holy places and these holy places include our temples, our chapels, our homes, and the stakes of Zion, which are, as the Lord declares, “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).Heed the Lord’s counsel to the Saints of this dispensation: “Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord” (D&C 133:10).This preparation must consist of more than just casual membership in the Church. You must learn to be guided by personal revelation and the counsel of the living prophet so you will not be deceived. Our Lord has indicated who, among Church members, will stand when He appears:“And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins.“For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.“And the earth shall be given unto them for an inheritance; and they shall multiply and wax strong, and their children shall grow up without sin unto salvation.“For the Lord shall be in their midst, and his glory shall be upon them, and he will be their king and their lawgiver.” (D&C 45:56–59; italics added.)President Wilford Woodruff further prophesied in 1894:“Can you tell me where the people are who will be shielded and protected from these great calamities and judgments which are even now at our door? I’ll tell you. The priesthood of God who honor their priesthood and who are worthy of their blessings are the only ones who shall have this safety and protection. They are the only mortal beings. No other people have a right to be shielded from these judgments. They are at our doors; not even this people will escape them entirely.” (Wilford Woodruff, Young Women’s Journal, 5:512, June 1894.)If you are to preserve your blessings, it is not enough for you to just be free and independent, to capitalize on your advantages so that they accrue to your well-being and prosperity. You must protect and safeguard the freedom you have. You must be wise and virtuous. You must govern your natures by the doctrines of His kingdom. You must be valiant in your testimony of Christ, by keeping all His commandments.Will you be among those who are faithful to the end? Will you endure? Are you prepared? Can you live in the world and not partake of the sins of the world? Will you “arise and shine forth” as the Lord has commanded? Will you be a light and “standard for the nations”? We know you can. We pray you will. We have every confidence that you, “the rising generation,” will not falter. I repeat: You were valiant spirits reserved for this exceptional time. Make the choice. Rise to the task of this momentous hour!As a special witness of our Lord, I humbly declare to you that He lives, that He is close to His servants. His word “shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by his own voice or by the voice of his servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38.)

Posted by Ormoc Stake on Wednesday, September 3, 2014

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