Thirty years ago, I encountered a book that changed my life. It introduced to me a unique way of interpreting and understanding prophetic phrases. Passages of scripture that previously mystified me with their obscurity became clear as day and have maintained that clarity ever since. I know of no other book that has impacted my thinking about the last days quite like Anthony Larson’s first book in the Prophecy Trilogy …And the Moon Shall Turn to Blood… The Very Last Days.
As I read the book for the first time I had numerous “ah ha” moments that caused me to open the scriptures to annotate them with new insights. Even after dozens of subsequent readings, I still get that same feeling of wonder each time I read it again. At 136 pages it only takes a few hours to read. For me, the insights from pondering the ideas presented continue for days. The book has led me to a multitude of discoveries about the history of this world and our future world events.
I always wondered why some things described in the scriptures seemed like magic. I knew God was not a magician and wondered if there couldn’t be a logical explanation for such things. Although I picked up the book because of my interest in the last days, I was surprised to learn how the miracles of the Exodus may have come about and how they can explain the prophesied events of the end times. In the process I was introduced to the ideas of Immanuel Velikovsky.
Controversial Theories of History
Even after thirty years of discussing this book with others, I still find the majority of people I encounter have never heard of Immanuel Velikovsky, the author of Worlds in Collision, a best-selling book first published in 1950. The public bought millions of copies. The academic and scientific community denounced it as pseudoscience and declared war on Velikovsky. Carl Sagan ridiculed Velikovsky at a famous 1974 science conference and in his TV show Cosmos.
I think the reason Velikovsky was denounced so vociferously was because he used biblical sources to supplement his other, more accepted histories to put forth his theories. That and the fact that he claimed Venus was ejected from Jupiter in the recent past. Carl Sagan especially had a field day with that one. I won’t get into the science arguments here. Just be aware that a large part of Anthony’s book is based on the idea of close encounters between Earth, Venus and Mars.
Even though both Velikovsky and Anthony Larson present their books as theories, because the ideas are so radical, they are attacked by those who supposedly know, based on science that such things could never be. If you are married to the idea that science has all the answers then you will find this book infuriating. If you are open to the possibility that what we currently accept as fact, even laws of the universe, may in fact also be theories, then you will gain much from this book.
Last Days Foretold
How much do you think about the prophesied events of the last days? If you’re like most people, it’s probably very little to not at all. Yet I suspect that within a few years, it’s a subject that will be on everyone’s mind, perhaps night and day. Why? Even though I’m in the latter part of my time here on earth, I am confident I will see some of the cataclysmic events foretold in the scriptures fulfilled before I die. When these things start happening, the whole world will change.
Social upheaval, economic collapse, government failure, breakdown of the communication and transportation infrastructure and all kinds of other events we worry about can all be explained without any reference to unusual cosmological or geological happenings. But when you throw in earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, plagues, new comets, showers of meteorites that are not predicted and all kinds of other unforeseen events in the earth and sky, people tend to panic.
In order to understand what is about to take place, Anthony Larson takes us back to the times of the Exodus as he examines the pillar of fire and smoke with a unique explanation. Once you have accepted this basic premise of his book, all the subsequent material, as fantastic as it may seem, comes into focus. In fact, if you can agree to this key component of the theory, you are in for a whole new world of possibilities about how the world works and what will soon come to pass.
Catastrophism and Uniformitarianism
I suppose the most objectionable part of the theory to readers of a purely scientific mind is the idea that the world has not always been the same. The prevailing belief of today’s scientific community is that the same gradual, almost imperceptible changes occurring in the earth around us today are the result of eons of the same slow forces at work. The argument is that lofty peaks, deep canyons, prairies, islands and great continents were all caused by gradual uniform forces.
Catastrophism, as opposed to Gradualism, purports that geologic changes come from sudden, dramatic upheavals. This implies that when change comes, it is catastrophic in nature. Up until the time of Darwin in the mid 1800’s, catastrophism was supported by science. The geologic record supports catastrophic change. The scriptures support catastrophism (2 Pet 3:3-4). It is difficult for modern thinkers to accept because we simply have no recent evidence to support it.
The cataclysmic events of the very last days have been dismissed by many in the scientific community because of this very reason. They are consumed with the idea that “all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” However, we are taught and believe that the heavens and the earth of old have changed and they will change again, probably within the very near future. The earth shall reel to and fro. There shall be a new heaven and a new earth.
Close Encounters of the Planetary Kind
The fundamental criticism from the scientific community against Velikovsky, and by extension Anthony Larson, was that its celestial mechanics were irreconcilable with Newtonian celestial mechanics, requiring planetary orbits which could not be made to conform to the laws of conservation of energy and conservation of angular momentum. In other words, there’s no way a large planet can come close to the earth before gravity pulls them apart (look up Roche Limit).
Velikovsky conceded that the behavior of the planets in his theories is not consistent with Newton’s laws of motion and universal gravitation. He proposed that electromagnetic forces could be the cause of the movement of the planets, although such forces between astronomical bodies are essentially zero as far as science can currently detect. This is another idea that will be helpful to readers of Anthony’s book in order to understand the events of the very last days.
The bottom line revelation and premise of the book is that our world in the past was visited by planets knocked out of their observed orbits. When they came close, they wrecked devastation upon the earth. I won’t give away the details in Anthony’s book. It is fascinating to read and ponder, especially if you are looking to make sense out of the many obscure phrases that the Lord uses in reference to events that are prophesied to come to pass just prior to His return.
Cataclysmic Events Prophesied
I have some favorite sections in the Doctrine and Covenants I like to read to remind me of the coming prophesied cataclysmic events we will all experience. I note they were all received early in Joseph’s years as the first prophet of this dispensation. They contain language that can make one uncomfortable, especially if you don’t like to think about upcoming end of the world stuff.
Verse 93 in section 88 has always intrigued me: “And immediately there shall appear a great sign in heaven, and all people shall see it together.” It makes reference to Matthew 24:30, where the Savior taught his disciples, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven… and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Joseph further elaborated on the Savior’s great sign. “. . . then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet, etc. But the Son of Man will come as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east.” Joseph’s interpretive statement has been hotly debated.
Signs of the Times
James Burgess recorded some additional detail as Joseph spoke: “So also is the coming of the Son of Man. The dawning of the morning makes its appearance in the east and moves along gradually. So also will the coming of the Son of Man be. It will be small at its first appearance and gradually becomes larger until every eye shall see it.” Very interesting wording, I think.
And from LeGrand Richards, 1951: “While I was president of the Southern States Mission, one of our missionaries wrote in from Florida and said, ‘President Richards, I have been reading about the signs of the coming of the Lord. When the sun darkens and the moon ceases to give its light and the stars fall from heaven, everybody will know that he is coming.” His answer:
“The newspapers might announce some great phenomenon in the heavens, misplacement of planets, that have caused this consternation, and scientists will have their explanation to make of it. Unless they have faith in the Living God, unless as Jesus said, they can read the signs of the times, they may not know anything about what is going on in the world.” In other words, it may not be such a good idea to trust what the science pundits are saying when it comes to this stuff.
The Grand Sign
I’ve thought a lot about this great sign or grand sign referred to by Jesus and the prophet Joseph and how we will perceive it when it happens. I think Joseph and LeGrand Richards nailed it. We will rely on our scientists to explain what is happening and take their word for it that it really is nothing unusual. Their explanations will be so logical that we would be foolish to doubt them. Or so they would have us believe. But those who have studied the signs of the times know better.
Joseph gave us a little insight into the timing of the grand sign. It really is one of the last things to happen before the Lord returns. He said that no one will see “the sign of the Son of Man … until after the sun shall have been darkened and the moon bathed in blood.” He also taught us that “The devil knows many signs, but does not know the sign of the Son of Man, or Jesus.”
Yet we know that “all people shall see it together.” OK, I think it’s obvious that it’s some sort of celestial manifestation. How else could everyone see it at the same time? I just can’t imagine it could be anything other than an approaching planet that looks like a comet just as Joseph said. I wonder what the world would be like if another planet came close to the earth. Could it happen?
And could the earth survive such a close encounter? If two planets came that close together, they would have a tremendous destructive force upon each other. Besides the electromagnetic interaction between the two planets, the gravitational forces would cause the tectonic plates to shift with violent movements. Volcanic activity would explode wherever the plates met. Surely the last days will be a day of burning as smoke and fire cover the earth with tremendous heat.
Think about what would happen if two large planets came close together. The rotation of the planets would change. The magnetic poles would align. The earthquake at such a movement would be tremendous. It would look like the stars were falling from the sky. The oceans would throw themselves beyond their normal bounds for miles and miles inland. Eventually they would race towards the other planet and stand up as if in a heap drawn by the magnetic embrace.
Does all this sound familiar? “The earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man … the stars shall … cast themselves down …” Or this: “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven …” And this: “The heavens shall shake and the earth shall tremble …” My favorite: “He shall command the great deep and it shall be driven back into the north countries …” These and many more scriptures are examined and explained in Anthony’s first book of his trilogy.
The Beginning of the End
It all starts with the approach of a large comet or a small planet with a tail. Of course, by the time you start hearing about all this, it will be too late. You’ve only got a few weeks or months left, depending on how soon it is discovered and announced. There is a lot that will happen before this great and dreadful day. That’s why I love prophecy. The Lord has given us so many signs.
Call me crazy for trying to marry what I know about science, astronomy and cosmology with what I believe from the scriptures about the last days. I am convinced that the Lord uses natural means to bring about his purposes. “Miracles cannot be in contravention of natural law, but are wrought through the operation of laws not universally or commonly recognized (Talmage).”
In other words, I think it’s plausible and beneficial to look for natural explanations for the signs of the last days, especially as they relate to the great and dreadful day. I’m thinking we’re going to be hearing and reading a lot more about this in the years to come. I know we’re not there yet but I for one intend to keep looking for those signs in the sky above and in the world around me.
Watch for these Signs
Anthony writes about each of these signs in his book. He does not attempt to put them in any chronological order. Note that none of these can be attributed to man. Some may attempt to ascribe them to global warming, but as we advance in the Lord’s agenda, it will become more and more obvious that there is no other explanation other than what we find in the scriptures. Yet I suppose until they actually see the Lord, some will continue to say it’s all due to natural causes.
1. Plagues, pestilences and famines, 2. Signs and wonders in heaven and earth, 3. Disasters, earthquakes and tornados, 4. Great hailstorm will destroy crops of earth, 5. Sun shall be darkened, 6. Moon shall turn to blood, 7. Earth shall reel to and fro, 8. Trumps shall sound both long and loud, 9. Great deep rolled back into north countries, 10. Great earthquake such as never before, 11. Return of the lost ten tribes, 12. Return of the City of Enoch, 13. Earth will be cleansed by fire, 14. New heaven and new earth
I don’t know about you but this stuff fascinates me. I want to know what to look for as the end of the world approaches. I am grateful the Lord has revealed it in advance. He loves us and has forewarned us. The adversary is doing all in his power to discredit the warnings, mainly through the opposition of the theories of science. Remember, scientific laws discovered by man are incomplete. There is so much we don’t understand about how God works through natural means.
The Prophecy Trilogy
I think you can tell I am excited by Anthony’s book. As I wrote in the beginning of this essay, it has made a profound difference in my life. It has changed my relationship with the Lord. It has strengthened my testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God. What’s even more exciting is that this is only the first book in a trilogy of additional insights and revelations from Anthony. If you think this book is exciting, wait until you read the next two books in the Prophecy trilogy.
Besides being influenced by Velikovsky, Anthony subscribes, as do I, to the theories of the Electric Universe. Regular readers of my blog will be familiar with my references to Dave Talbott and Wal Thornhill. If you have not heard of the Saturn Myth, look it up. If you want to know how Anthony has applied it to LDS theology, continue to read the other works in the prophecy trilogy. Each of the three books are about 150 pages in length and well written.
Beyond the prophecy trilogy, Anthony has authored two additional books about the last days that again, offer a unique perspective on revelation. One is a commentary on that very book entitled The Plainest Book: Revelation. The other is entitled Parallel Histories: The Nephites and the Americans. If you want to learn more about things happening in America today, and things yet to happen in this great nation before the return of the Lord, read and ponder this wonderful book.
Summary and Conclusion
I love Anthony’s books. I have read them over and over. I have read every entry on his blog and every article he published in other sources. I have attended his seminars, both in person and over the Internet. There is no doubt that he is controversial. He is also extremely confident that what he shares is helpful, strengthening and uplifting to members of the LDS church and others. I am one who happens to agree, even though I have read plenty of well written opposing viewpoints.
I feel so strongly about what I have learned from Anthony that I have committed to write a work of fiction based on what I have learned from him, from Velikovsky and from proponents of the Electric Universe. I have spent the last several years learning to write fiction. In my opinion, it is much more difficult to write good fiction than it is to write essays like these. My personal goal this year is to write each month two essays related to the last days and two chapters of fiction.
Thanks for reading my review. You can read others on Amazon, Goodreads and on Anthony’s website. In fact, you can read the first few chapters online for free. Anthony’s books sold well when they were first published. I believe they will see a resurgence of interest in the coming years. Yes, they are strange and unusual. Yes, they are controversial, even among the LDS community. But are they worth your time to read? Yes, I enthusiastically endorse these books.
Links to Anthony Larson’s materials:
Videos – http://youtube.com/user/toeknee1943/
Website – http://mormonprophecy.com/
Blog – http://mormonprophecy.blogspot.com/
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/keystomormonprophecy
Scribd – http://www.scribd.com/anthonyelarson
Filed under: Doctrine, Last Days | Tagged: Anthony Larson, Catastrophism, Controversy, Last Days, LDS Publishing, Prophecy, Signs of the times, Velikovsky | 27 Comments »