Eschatology – The study of what?
I’m amazed at the interest and response of so many to the YouTube video (beware of the immature, rude and profane comments) about the TU24 asteroid due to pass by the earth in a few days (Jan 29 2008). The best response is from Phil Plait, the author of the Bad Astronomy blog. Phil has a vested interest in all the hullabaloo. He quit his job as an astronomer to capitalize on the interest on the subject with his upcoming book “Death From the Skies.” I’m looking forward to reading his book when it comes out.
I learned a new word the other day – eschatology. It means the study of the last days, and in particular, the events leading up to the prophesied end of the world. I like the qualified definition of the word in Wikipedia. The author of the article clarifies that the word can be more correctly translated as ‘the end of an age’. I think that many people who have not thought about it do not realize that the second coming of the Savior is not the end of the world. The end of the world is after the millennium, which is ushered in by the Savior’s advent.
“For not many days hence and the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man; and the sun shall hide his face, and shall refuse to give light; and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that falleth from off a fig-tree.” (D&C 88:87) “…I will rend their kingdoms; I will not only shake the earth, but the starry heavens will tremble. For I, the Lord, have put forth my hand to exert the powers of heaven…” (D&C 84:118-119)
I am of the opinion that we are going to be hearing and reading a lot more in the days to come about the events of the last days. We are going to see the disbelievers mocking those who see the hand of God in the signs that will start to appear with greater frequency in the heavens. The Lord has foretold it and we should not be surprised by either the signs or the response of people who mock those who believe in the signs (see Matthew 24). Those signs include earthquakes, famines, disease, plagues, pestilences, unrest, wars, disasters and the elements in commotion.
Why should we study and understand the prophesied events of the last days? When people around the world are in distress and agitation over these things we can be at peace as we rely on our knowledge and testimony that all these things are foreknown and foretold. We do not need to be surprised or overly concerned. We can go about our business in faith and patience as we wait upon the Lord, knowing that these things will help prepare the hearts of the faithful.
Perhaps a rereading of Elder Oaks’ General Conference talk of April 2004 is in order. It is entitled, “Preparation for the Second Coming.” What do you think? Can the commotion about this asteroid be considered one of the signs of the times?