Just after Jesus Christ ascended into heaven after His resurrection, angels proclaimed to His disciples that He would return again one day to reign on the earth for 1,000 years. From that time to this, Christians throughout the world have eagerly awaited His return. The period of time just preceding Christ’s return is called the “last days.” It is the specified time, period, or age in which the necessary prerequisites to the Second Coming will occur.
The Last Days
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently referred to at times as “The Mormon Church” by the media) teaches that we are now living in the last days. The last days are the days of the dispensation of the fullness of times that is referred to in Ephesians 1:10, when God will gather together in one all things in Christ. Through Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of Mormonism, all the truth that was made known to all the holy prophets since the world began has been gathered together in one. Mormons believe that these are the days when the signs of the Second Coming are shown forth, the days of “restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:21.) We are now living in that period of time, and the great restitution (or restoration) is in process.
The Signs of the Times
Ancient and modern scriptures contain many prophecies about the events that will occur prior to the Second Coming of the Savior. The Old and New Testaments contain the words of the prophets and also the words of Jesus and His apostles regarding the last days. More signs of the times can be found in The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, which is the religious history of a Christian people who inhabited the Americas during ancient times. Another source of information is The Doctrine and Covenants, a book of revelations given to Joseph Smith and subsequent prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. For more information about the canon of Mormon scripture, click here.
The following signs of the times are all taken from the scriptures, and from the teachings of modern-day prophets. These are signs that have already been or are in the process of being fulfilled:
1. There will be false prophets deceiving the people. Satan will have his followers. This is happening now.
2. There will be priestcrafts. This is also happening now.
He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themsevles up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. (The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 26:29)
3. The restitution of all things. This is the restoration of the fullness of the gospel of Christ. All the truths taught by God to His prophets from Adam to the present can be found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Church of Jesus Christ was restored by the Lord Himself, and is the same Church He set up among the early Saints at the time of His earthly ministry, with prophets, apostles, and continuous revelation being received for our direction. The Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and the priesthood has been restored to the earth. The process of the restoration of all things continues today.
4. A new book of ancient scripture will come forth. As prophesied in Ezekiel 37: 16–17, The Book of Mormon, Another Witness of Jesus Christ has been translated from ancient records by the gift and power of God. The Book of Mormon is the stick, or scroll, of Ephraim, since the ancient people who wrote it were descendants of Joseph. It adds its witness to that of the Holy Bible (The Stick of Judah). This fulfills the prophecy that both would be one in our hand.
5. A messenger will precede the Messiah’s second coming. Just as John the Baptist “prepared the way of the Lord” before Christ’s birth, another messenger will prepare the way before His second coming. This messenger was Joseph Smith, just as John the Baptist was the messenger for the Lord’s mortal ministry. John returned personally to ordain and baptize Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on May 15, 1829. He bestowed upon them the Aaronic Priesthood,which is the priesthood of outer ordinances. Later, Peter, James and John came and ordained them to the Melchizedek Priesthood, which is the higher priesthood. It was given to Peter by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, thus bestowing upon Peter and then Joseph Smith the power to act and speak for God on earth.
6. Elijah the Prophet will return, beginning the gathering of the dead. On April 3, 1836, Elijah the Prophet appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple in Ohio, fulfilling the prophecy given in Malachi 4:5–6. This visit is recorded in The Doctrine and Covenants, section 110. Elijah came to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.” He brought and restored the sealing keys to Joseph Smith, which make it possible for families to be sealed together for time and for all eternity in the temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormons also seek out their ancestors to perform saving ordinances for them in the temple, such as baptism for the dead. Families are sealed to their deceased ancestors so that their relationships can endure beyond the grave. The prophecy of Elijah’s return has been fulfilled.
7. The elements will be in commotion. It is obvious from the history of hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis during the past decade that this prophecy is now happening and is on the increase. The Doctrine and Covenants 88: 87–91 is one of many places where you will find prophecies of famines, pestilences, earthquakes, etc. which will occur during the last days.
8. There will be plagues and pollutions. Revelation 16 describes various plagues to be poured out upon the earth prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ. This is currently taking place.
9. Many will be without natural affection. 2 Timothy 3: 1–4 states that “men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection.” There is a now a general decline in morality, along with a loss and lessening of standards and values. This includes increasing blasphemy and mockery of sacred things.
10. Satan will assault the family. Satan, who is called the “father of lies,” is attacking the family, leading to the breakdown of families, rising divorce rates, children being born to unwed parents, absentee parents, and children who are abused and neglected. Abortion also kills large numbers of unborn children. This sign of the times is being fulfilled now.
11. Conspiring Men in the Last Days. Drug lords and others in our time conspire to enslave men to addictions of various sorts that can ultimately destroy both the addicts and their families. More than 150 years ago, God warned His people in a revelation to the prophet Joseph Smith to avoid addictive substances. This revelation, known as the Word of Wisdom, can be found in The Doctrine and Covenants section 89. There will also be secret combinations of men in the last days, seeking power and wealth through murder, extortion, bribery, etc.
12. The love of many shall wax cold (Matthew 24:12).There is now in the world an increase of violence and mobs.
14. There will be wars and rumors of war (Satan rages in the hearts of men). Wars and rumors of war have been pervasive since the time of Christ. The massive wars of the 20th century, however, introduced an all-encompassing type of warfare that was unprecedented in history. As prophecied in The Doctrine and Covenants section 1, verse 35, peace has indeed been taken from the earth.
15. Israel, including the lost ten tribes and the houses of Judah and of Joseph, will be gathered from the four corners of the earth. There are many Old Testament prophecies about the restoration of the tribes of Israel to the faith and to the homelands of their fathers in the last days. Likewise, the Lamanites, who are the native American descendants of the people who wrote The Book of Mormon, are members of the house of Joseph and will be restored to the faith of their fathers in the last days. The restoration of Israel as a country, along with the continued preaching of the gospel among the native peoples of North and South America, are evidence of the fulfillment of this prophecy. The lost ten tribes are also returning to the Lord as the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached throughout the world, in every nation and tongue.
Other signs of the times have been prophesied but have not yet taken place, although in some cases it appears that the stage is now being set for their fulfillment. Some of them are as follows:
1. The war between Gog and Magog, including the battle of Armageddon and the battle for Jerusalem. The final battles are described throughout the Book of Revelation in The New Testament. The Army attacking will be held off for 42 months by two prophets, calling down plagues and destruction on them. The prophets will be killed, lie in the streets 3 days then rise again.
2. The sun shall be darkened, the moon shall be turned to blood, and stars shall fall from heaven. These events are prophesied in many locations, including Acts 2:20 and The Doctrine and Covenants 45:42.
3. The Saints will be caught up to meet the Savior in the cloud as He descends. See The Doctrine and Covenants section 88:96–97.
4. The wicked will be burned by fire.
5. Christ will descend to reign upon the earth for 1,000 years.
6. Satan will be bound
How can we prepare for such turbulent events? Both panic and complacency are pervasive. Adverse economic conditions have caused many lose their jobs and thus hurt their ability to care for their families. Raging violence is causing fear. In The Doctrine and Covenants 38:30, it says, “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear”. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been admonished by church leaders to be self sufficient, including a reserve of food and water in case of unemployment, emergency, or economic collapse. Most importantly, however, is our spiritual preparation. Jesus has said that in the last days, His disciples “shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:32). Our homes and places of worship are holy places if we keep the commandments so that the Lord’s Spirit can be there. We can keep the wickedness and turmoil of the world from harming us and our families by the choices we make in what we read, watch, do, and say within the walls of our own homes. We can trust that God is always watching over us, even in the darkest of times:
And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:4-7)
The ten virgins in Christ’s parable waited a long time for the Bridegroom to come. When He finally arrived, those who had prepared by keeping extra oil for their lamps were able to enter into the wedding feast and rejoice with Him. Let us be aware of the signs of the times, but let us not be afraid. Instead, we can prepare physically and spiritually for the great events, prophesied throughout the history of the world, which are now taking place. Then we will not fear. Instead, we can stand steadfast while the world rages around us, and rejoice with our Lord and Savior when He comes to earth again.