I don’t think there is any subject I have studied more over the years than the Signs of the Times, especially as they relate to the Second Advent of the Lord which seems to be fast approaching. I once did a word study of all the phrases I could find to describe the Second Coming and used it as the basis for several years of research in preparation to write a fictional book, Red Sky. It prompted me to put together my doctrinal foundation for the book which serves as a good summary of my beliefs.
The vast majority of my posts over the past ten years have been in some way related to the idea that we live in the latter days, thus the name of the blog. I distinguish the Last Days from the Latter Days mostly by the idea of the decline of modern American civilization and the collapse of the government of the United States. I also equate this with the passing of the day of the gentiles, as prophesied in the Book of Mormon. We are on the cusp of the last days of tribulation.
The Rapture in LDS Theology
Growing up in the LDS Church, I did not hear the term “rapture” used much, if at all. It certainly wasn’t in the official curriculum. “Second Coming” was the phrase commonly used. I thought perhaps it was just a California thing but Carol answered the same way. She never heard of the concept of the rapture while growing up in Utah. I think I first took a serious look at the idea of the rapture when my mother shared some observations from reading the book series, Left Behind.
I’m not sure I would go so far as some have to label the rapture a false doctrine that will cause many to stumble. I know the idea is based on Matt 24:40 where “one shall be taken, and the other left,” which is the premise of the Left Behind books and movies. I do believe there is something to the idea of being taken up, which in modern terms we might call levitation. I even wrote a short fictional piece exploring the thought. And yes, I fully accept the resurrection as a reality.
Caught Up To Meet Him
This 1973 article by Sydney B. Sperry does an excellent job of describing what we believe about being caught up to meet our returning Redeemer, which I consider to be the rapture. He includes multiple verses in several sections of the Doctrine and Covenants which support the idea as doctrine. In short, and contrary to what our friends on the LDS Freedom Forum have shared, being caught up is something clearly revealed to Joseph as truth. Perhaps it’s the timing of the event they question.
Having been heavily influenced by the writings of Immanuel Velikovsky with further extrapolation by Anthony Larson, it is my belief that when the Lord returns with the City of Enoch, we will experience a great and terrible day of fire and destruction of cataclysmic proportions. The Lord has declared “they that come shall burn them.” The righteous living upon the earth at that day must, of necessity, be caught up to meet the Savior and the City of Enoch, else they will be burned at His coming.
Insights From Matthew 24
Perhaps no other scripture provides greater insight into the return of the Messiah than does chapter 24 of Matthew, which has been further clarified by Joseph Smith in his inspired work on the discourse. In this chapter, Jesus teaches of the Last Days, especially in verses 23 through 37. He proclaims the Sign of the Son of Man in heaven and states that all the earth shall see it. Joseph taught, “What will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet…” And so it is…the City of Enoch.
The New Jerusalem, or Zion of the Last Days will be caught up to meet Zion from the days of Enoch. It seems to me that if we want to be caught up to be with those who dwell in everlasting burnings, we must rise up and walk in the paths of Heaven. Just as Moses was caught up unto a high mountain to speak with the Lord face to face, we too must ascend on high to converse with the Lord in order to abide the day of His Coming. We must be comfortable being in the presence of Holy beings.
LDS View of the Book of Revelation
A small sampling of articles in the Ensign from 1975 (Bruce R. McConkie) from 1983 and from 2015, provide ample instruction of the LDS acceptance and value placed on the Book of Revelation. Although the vision is difficult for most people of Western cultures to understand, we accept it as scripture. There have been many who have written their own exegesis of the work and offered it to the world. The most interesting to me is that offered by Anthony Larson, relying heavily on his first three books.
I offered a short review of Anthony’s book on Goodreads back in 2013. I very much enjoyed his interpretations but feel that the views of others are just as valid. His are certainly unique. It requires a substantial investment to understand the Electric Universe model. Some have written me that Anthony forced his interpretation to fit John’s vision, but given what I have come to understand from those who have seen that same vision, I find the book to be remarkable and refreshing as well as very unique.
The Seven Year Tribulation
Another common tenet of Christian Eschatology is the seven year tribulation. I have read numerous explanations of the seventy weeks from Daniel 9:22-27 as well as Revelation 11:2 and 13:5. I can see why so many have determined that both are referring to a specific period of time divided into two halves with the later 3 ½ years being the more turbulent and distressing. However, I can also see why some have called this a dismal swamp of critical exegesis. I guess I don’t interpret the scriptures with such exactness.
I’m more inclined to see the use of the 3 ½ years as a symbol of being not yet complete or fulfilled. Seven is the symbolic number of completion or fulfillment. Thus, 3 ½ years, to my simple way of thinking means the events being described are in the process of being fulfilled at that point in the vision. If they were complete the number used would have been seven as in seven seals, seven angels and seven vials. I don’t know if my views are Kosher LDS, but then I’m not LDS anymore. I think symbolic here, not literal.
The Antichrist and a One-World Religion
I’m not too much of a believer in the establishment of a one-world religion by force. I’m also not convinced there is a single antichrist. I see an antichrist as anyone and anything that is opposed to the mission and redeeming power of Christ. It could be an institution that denies their members the right to worship Christ as they believe He has commanded them. It could be a government that does not allow the gospel of Jesus Christ to be preached in its fullness. An antichrist is anyone who offers salvation in any way other than through Jesus Christ.
However, I do believe the time will come when all will see eye to eye and all the earth will come to accept Jesus Christ as the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Those living during the Millennium may not accept Christ as their personal Savior and Redeemer, but they will bow the knee and acknowledge Him as the rightful heir of the throne of God, both in heaven and on earth. The Savior may not remain on the Earth during the Millennium but when He comes to visit, ALL people will accept His direction and counsel regarding the affairs of the nations.
Preparation for the Last Days
A common question raised when one studies the Last Days is what we can do to be prepared. While I don’t discount the need for physical preparation such as food storage and a savings account, I wonder if those will be what sustains us when the prophesied dissolution of civilization into tribes comes to pass. Food storage is great for a local disaster or say, trucks unable to get in to your area to replenish the store shelves. Food storage comes in handy when experiencing an extended period of unemployment and there is a need to cut expenses as much as possible.
But will we be able to take our food storage with us if the need becomes evident we have to get out of town and flee unto Zion? Perhaps. There is a long-standing Mormon tradition that includes walking back to Missouri to build Zion. Well, I am not convinced Missouri is the place where Zion is going to be built, but that’s a discussion for another day. The best preparation for the trials of the Last Days is spiritual. I would hope we are doing all within our power to understand the Lord’s strange act and our place in whatever He has planned. We need to know.
A Partial List of Some of the Signs
- The lost ten tribes will return (D&C 133:26-33)
- The times of the gentile will be fulfilled (D&C 45:22-28)
- A full end of all nations including the United States (D&C 87:6)
- The Jews will accept Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah (2 Ne 30:7, D&C 45:51-53)
- The Lord will send the prophet Elijah before He returns (Mal 4:5-6)
- The Sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood (Joel 2:28-32)
- Earthquakes, thunderings, lightenings, tempests (D&C 88:88-91)
- Waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds (also D&C 88:90)
- There will be signs and wonders on earth and in the heavens (D&C 45:36-40)
- The New Jerusalem will be built in the Americas (D&C 45:66-69)
- The Abomination of Desolation will take place again (Matt 24:15)
- A great hailstorm will destroy the crops of the earth (D&C 29:16)
- There will be a great earthquake such as never before (Rev 16:18)
- The battle of Armageddon (Rev 16:14-16)
- The meeting at Adam-ondi-Ahman (D&C 107:53-57)
- Two prophets will be killed in Jerusalem (Rev 11:3, D&C 77:15)
- The Mount of Olives will be split in two (D&C 45:48, Zech 14:1-5)
- The sign of the coming of the Son of Man (Matt 24:29-31, TPJS 286-287)
- Everyone will see Christ when he comes (Rev 1:7, Rev 6:14-16)
- The righteous will be taken up to meet the coming Lord (D&C 88:96-98)
- The wicked will be burned (D&C 86:7)
Ten External References
- Fair Mormon: Do Mormons Believe in the Rapture
- Mormon Wiki: Mormon Doctrine on The Rapture
- LDS Scriptures: Second Coming of Jesus Christ
- LDS.org Topics: Second Coming of Jesus Christ
- Ask Gramps: What Do Mormons Believe About the Rapture
- LDS Living: Things That Must Happen Before the End of the World
- What Do Mormons Believe: Do Mormons Believe in the Rapture
- Wikipedia: Second Coming (LDS Church)
- LDS Freedom Forum: The Falsehood of the Rapture Exposed
- And Another: This False Doctrine Will Cause Many to Stumble
A few books on the Last Days and the Second Coming
- Lund, Gerald N. (1971), The Coming of the Lord, Salt lake City, UT: Bookcraft
- Crowther, Duane S. (1962), Prophecy – Key to the Future, Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft
- Parry, Donald W. and Jay A. (1999), Understanding the Signs of the Times, Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book
- Brewster, Hoyt W. Jr. (1994), Behold, I Come Quickly, Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book
- Ridges, David J. (2009), 65 Signs of the Times, Springville, UT: CFI an Imprint of Cedar Fort Inc.
- Gileadi, Avraham (1991), The Last Days Types and Shadows, American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications
- Larson, Anthony E. (1981), And the Moon Shall Turn to Blood, Newport Beach, CA: Crown Summit Books
- Larson, Anthony E. (1983), And the Earth Shall Reel To and Fro, Orem, UT: Zedek Books
- Larson, Anthony E. (1985), And There Shall Be a New Heaven and a New Earth, Orem, UT: Zedek Books
- Larson, Anthony E. (1987), The Plainest Book: Revelation, Orem, UT: Zedek Books
Posts from Latter-day Commentary on the subject of the Last Days
- They That Come Shall Burn Them, 6 Jun 2015
- Remembering – Myths are History, 22 Mar 2015
- Let Them Serve as Signs, 3 Mar 2015
- Wars and Rumors of Wars, 8 Mar 2015
- Bringing On The Apocalypse, 9 Mar 2014
- Jesus Teaches of the Last Days, 13 Jan 2014
- Changes in Heaven and on Earth, 14 Sep 2013
- Visualizing the Day of the Lord, 8 Aug 2013
- Blogging the End of the World, 11 Jul 2013
- A New Star Will Soon Shine Forth, 9 Mar 2013
- And the Moon Shall Turn to Blood, 18 Jan 2013
- Visions of Glory and the Last Days, 13 Jan 2013
- Looking to the Future, 17 Nov 2012
- Ten Signs of the Second Coming, 17 Sep 2012
- It Came From Behind the Sun, 8 Nov 2011
- When Prophets Need to Know, 30 Oct 2009
- The End of the World is not Imminent, 2 May 2009
- Armageddon – on Earth and in Heaven, 26 Mar 2009
- The Day of the Lord Will Come Quickly, 30 Aug 2008
- Forgotten Signs of the Last Days, 22 Aug 2008
- The Last Days are Upon us, 24 Jul 2008
- Signs of the Times and the Second Coming, 23 Mar 2008
- There shall be Greater Signs in Heaven, 10 Mar 2008
- Just Where Exactly are the Lost Ten Tribes, 1 Mar 2008
- And the Stars Shall Fall From Heaven, 29 Feb 2008
- And the Moon Shall Turn to Blood, 28 Feb 2008
- The Electric Universe – Fact or Fiction, 31 Jan 2008
- Has the Prophecy in Joel 2:31 Been Fulfilled, 28 Jan 2008
- What Kind of Warnings do we Prefer 26 Jan 2008
- Eschatology – The Study of What, 23 Jan 2008
- Miracles and Natural Laws, 22 Jan 2008
- The Desolation of Abomination, 17 Jan 2008
- Mormon Doctrine – Prophecy and the Last Days, 12 Jan 2008