the Sign of Thy Coming?”
Jesus foretells the impending destruction of Jerusalem.
Jesus describes the signs that will precede the Second Coming.
A study of this lesson will help us recognize the signs that will precede the
Savior’s Second Coming and to encourage us to prepare ourselves for this great
Scripture references for study:
Smith—Matthew (Matthew 24)
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 21 Handout (PDF
The Impending Destruction of Jerusalem
Jesus' final teaching in the temple.
MATTHEW 23:37-39. Jesus laments over doomed Jerusalem.
Bruce R. McConkie on verse 38: "The House of the Lord, constructed to
meet Mosaic needs, is no longer needed in the eternal scheme of things.
Jesus is establishing new ordinances--sacramental emblems instead of sacrificial
offering, among others--and the need for the old temple is over. He is
now giving it back to men; it is no longer 'my house,' but 'your house'."
(Mortal Messiah, 3:408)
"And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple;
and his disciples came to him, for to hear him, saying: Master, show us
concerning the buildings of the temple, as thou hast said--They shall be
thrown down, and left unto you desolate. And Jesus said unto them: See ye not all
these things, and do ye not understand them? Verily I say unto you, there
shall not be left here, upon this temple, one stone upon another that shall
not be thrown down. And Jesus left them, and went upon the
Mount of Olives. And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples
came unto him privately, saying: Tell us when shall these things be which
thou hast said concerning the destruction of the temple, and the Jews;
and 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?"
Bruce R. McConkie: "Upon that holy mount, east of Jerusalem -- from
which the Risen Lord shall soon ascend unto his Father, and where at the
day of his glorious return he shall again place his feet -- there Jesus
and the Twelve rested quietly after an arduous day in the wicked city below
them. Alone there, apart from the maddening throngs of Passover pilgrims
and separated from the cursed leaders of a damned people, Jesus was prepared
to teach and the Twelve to receive the mysteries of the kingdom. Thoughts
of the doomed temple and of the Lord's return to receive the glad acclaim,
'Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord, in the clouds of heaven,
and all the holy angels with him,' are uppermost in the minds of the spiritual
giants there seated. They propose to the Lord two questions:
"1. 'Tell us, when shall these things be
which thou hast said concerning the destruction of the temple, and the
"2. 'And 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.)'" (Mortal Messiah, 3:424)
This discourse on the Mount of Olives is also known as the Olivet Discourse.
The discourse comprises Matthew 24 and 25. Matthew 24 contains answers
to the questions raised by the Twelve. Matthew 25 contains parables related
to the Last Days, including the Parable of the Ten Virgins.
"Over time, the verses in this chapter have been changed and rearranged,
making it sometimes difficult to understand which event a particular verse
describes. Fortunately, as part of his inspired translation of the Bible,
Joseph Smith clarified the two prophecies and restored additional information.
His inspired translation of Matthew 24 is found in Joseph Smith--Matthew
in the Pearl of Great Price." (Teacher's Manual, p87)
We will use Joseph Smith--Matthew in our discussion.
The Dispensation of Persecution & Martyrdom
WHAT DID JESUS PROPHESY ABOUT THE TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM AND THE CITY ITSELF?
That "there shall not be left here, upon this temple, one stone upon
another that shall not be thrown down" (v3).
Verse 12 refers to the "abomination of desolation" or the destruction
of Jerusalem (spoken of by Daniel).
JS-MATTHEW 1:5-10. Signs to precede the destruction
WHAT SIGNS DID THE SAVIOR PROPHESY WOULD PRECEDE THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM?
It is important to note that in these verses, Jesus is prophesying about
the events that would precede the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jews.
Verse 7 refers to the early Christians. This description of the suffering
of the early Christians in Rome was written: "Covered with the skins
of wild beasts, they were doomed to die by the mangling of dogs, or by
being nailed to crosses; or to be set on fire and burnt after twilight
by way of nightly illumination." (see Mortal Messiah, 3:428)
WHAT BEHAVIORS AND ATTITUDES ARE COMMON IN A GENERATION WHERE INIQUITY
"many shall come in my name, saying--I am Christ--and shall deceive
"then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall
hate one another" (v8).
"iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (v10).
Though these signs were prophesied to precede the destruction of ancient
Jerusalem, these signs should also serve as a warning in all ages. Do we see
these signs in our own day?
JS-MATTHEW 1:11-15. How to avoid destruction.
WHAT DID JESUS TELL HIS FOLLOWERS TO DO TO AVOID DESTRUCTION?
Remain steadfast (v11).
Stand in holy places (v12).
Flee rapidly from Judea (v13-15).
THE LORD COUNSELED HIS PEOPLE, WHEN THEY SAW THIS DESTRUCTION, TO STAND
IN THE HOLY PLACE. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Bruce R. McConkie: "The counsel that the saints should then 'stand in
the holy place' means that they should assemble together were they could
receive prophetic guidance that would preserve them from the desolations
of the day. The place of their assembly became holy because of the righteousness
of the holy ones who comprised the Lord's congregation." (Mortal Messiah,
HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO US IN THIS DAY?
When we gather together as "righteous" saints to hear the counsel of the
Lord's servants we also stand in holy places. We stand in "the holy place"
when we gather in Sunday meetings and conferences to learn the will of
the Lord. Standing in "the holy place" arms us against the rising tide
of wickedness that leads to eventual destruction.
"Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth,
that thy light may be a standard for the nations; And that the gathering together upon the
land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be 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 115:5-6)
Jerusalem and the Abomination of Desolation.
"For then, in those days, shall be great tribulation
on the Jews, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, such as was not before
sent upon Israel, of God, since the beginning of their kingdom until this
time; no, nor ever shall be sent again upon Israel. All things which have befallen them are
only the beginning of the sorrows which shall come upon them."
Bruce R. McConkie: "Whatever may be said of the sufferings and sorrows
and death of the Lord's saints in the age of martyrdom, it was but a type
and a shadow of the vengeance and slaughter destined to be poured out upon
the Jews of that generation. The synagogues in which apostles were scourged
would soon be drenched in the blood of those who wielded the lash. The
currents of hatred that swept many of Jesus' disciples to untimely deaths
would soon become a great tidal wave of anger and animosity against the
Jewish people that would destroy their city, overrun their nation, and
scatter their people. Those who with Roman hands crucified their King at
Jerusalem would soon themselves be hanging by the thousands upon Roman
crosses in that same benighted area." (Mortal Messiah, 3:429)
The ancient Jews did not believe their great city and temple could
be destroyed. As noted by Elder McConkie, the Lord's prophecies were fulfilled.
In 66 A.D. the Jews revolted against the Romans. They believed the Messiah
would come and help them in battle. By 70 A.D. the Romans had destroyed
the entire city.
What happened to the ancient Jews should serve
as a warning to us in our day. I once read that the reason history repeats
itself is because no one listened the first time. The Lord will not allow
wickedness to continue. The ancients of the Old Testament and Book of Mormon
times stand as witnesses of this fact. "And thus we see that the Lord
did visit them in the fulness of his wrath, and their wickedness and abominations
had prepared a way for their everlasting destruction" (Ether 14:25).
There have been times when I have wondered if the things
that happened to the Jews could happen in our
time. It just doesn't seem possible that such a thing could happen in our
time and to our society. And, I suppose, that is what these ancient Jews
thought. And, yet, the Lord has spoken to us in our time and issued the
warning, "And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants
of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake,
and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall
the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation,
and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath
made a full end of all nations" (D&C 87:6).
We must not take the Lord's warning lightly.
We must do as he has instructed, "Wherefore, stand ye in holy places,
and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh
quickly, saith the Lord" (D&C 87:8).
Signs To Precede The Second Coming
After teaching of the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus turns the subject of his
discourse from ancient times to the Last Days, the time preceding the Second
Coming (see v21).
"For in those days there shall also arise false Christs, and false
prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch, that, if possible,
they shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant."
WHAT EVIDENCE DO WE SEE THAT THIS PROPHECY IS BEING FULFILLED?
Bruce R. McConkie: "False Christs are false systems of religion, false
ways of worship, false claims as to how and in what manner men may be saved,
all of which are taught by false ministers who are false prophets. And
such is the state of modern Christendom." (A New Witness for the Articles
of Faith, p626)
Elder McConkie: "On every hand there are those who suppose they know
how to save society, to save nations, to save souls. They preach all sorts
of gospels -- a social gospel; a racial gospel; a gospel of freedom or
communism, of socialism or free enterprise, of military preparedness or
reliance upon the wispy promises of foreign foes; a gospel of salvation
by grace alone or of this or that doctrine. Streets and stadiums and temples
are overrun, as the ancient prophets foretold, with the false ministers
and teachers and politicians of the latter days." (A New Witness for
the Articles of Faith, p626)
HOW CAN WE PROTECT OURSELVES FROM BEING DECEIVED BY FALSE PROPHETS?
"And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived" (v37).
"Behold, I speak these things unto you for the elect's sake; and
you also shall hear of wars, and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled,
for all I have told you must come to pass; but the end is not yet."
"And they shall hear of wars, and rumors of wars."
WHAT EVIDENCE DO YOU SEE THAT THIS PROPHECY IS BEING FULFILLED?
THE LORD SAID THAT WE SHOULD "BE NOT TROUBLED" BY ALL OF THIS. HOW CAN
WE FIND PEACE DURING TROUBLED TIMES?
"Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth
and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot
prevail. Behold, I do not condemn you; go your
ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded
you. Look unto me in every thought; doubt not,
fear not." (D&C 6:34-36)
M. Russell Ballard: "Although the prophecies tell us that these things
are to take place, more and more people are expressing great alarm at what
appears to be an acceleration of worldwide calamity.... Admittedly we have
ample reason to be deeply concerned because we see no immediate answers
to the seemingly unsolvable problems confronting the human family. But
regardless of this dark picture, which will ultimately get worse, we must
never allow ourselves to give up hope!...
"...The Lord is in control. He knows the
end from the beginning. He has given us adequate instruction, that if followed,
will see us safely through any crisis. His purposes will be fulfilled,
and someday we will understand the eternal reasons for all of these events.
Therefore, today we must be careful not to overreact, nor should we be
caught up in extreme preparations; but what we must do is keep the commandments
of God and never lose hope!
"But where do we find hope in the midst
of such turmoil and catastrophe? Quite simply, our one hope for spiritual
safety during these turbulent times is to turn our minds and our hearts
to Jesus Christ.... Armed with the shield of faith, we can overcome many
of our daily challenges and overpower our greatest weaknesses and fears,
knowing that if we do our best to keep the commandments of God, come what
may, we will be all right." (Ensign, Nov. 1992, pp31-32)
"And now I show unto you a parable. Behold, wheresoever the carcass
is, there will the eagles be gathered together; so likewise shall mine
elect be gathered from the four quarters of the earth." (v27)
James E. Talmage: "The 'body,' as that of the Church, is rendered 'carcase'
in both authorized and revised versions." (Jesus The Christ, p532)
Bruce R. McConkie: "And so we see the eagles of Israel scattered
by the four winds from one end of heaven to the other. We see them flying
in the skies of all nations in search of spiritual food, waiting for a
day when life-assuring morsels will come into view. They are free, independent
thinkers, anxious to escape the darkness of the night and to soar into
the dawn of a new day. The creeds of men do not feed their souls. They
are not at rest in the lands of their scattering. They yearn for that which
their fathers enjoyed in the days of their ancient glory.
"Then the food that will feed their souls
is made available. The gospel is restored; the Book of Mormon comes forth;
the gifts and graces enjoyed by the ancients are again found on earth.
It is time for Israel to come home. The eagles are invited to feast upon
the good word of God. They seek the food that satisfies the soul. They
descend from their lofty heights of worldliness and feast upon those things
of which men may eat and never hunger more. The gospel gathers Israel,
and where it is, there the eagles of Israel shall be found." (The Millennial
"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." (v31)
HOW ARE THESE PROPHECIES BEING FULFILLED TODAY?
The fulfillment of these verses began after the organization of the Church
when the first brethren went on missions to preach the good news of the
Restoration. What we see today is a quickening of what began almost two
centuries ago. Consider this quickening.
Membership: In the year of my birth, the membership
of the Church stood at just over 1 million members. When I went on my mission
in 1971, membership surpassed the 3 million mark. At the end of 2015, membership
stood at over 15 million.
Stakes: In the month of my birth (December 1951),
the 191st stake of the Church was created. About a year before my mission, the
500th stake was organized. At the end of 2014, there were 3,114 stakes in the Church.
Temples: I believe there were 8 working temples
at the time of my birth. By the time I went on my mission there were 5
more, with 2 under construction. At the end of 2014, there were 144 temples in
statistics are indicators of growth. What is
even more significant in fulfilling this prophecy is how the face of the
Church and missionary work has changed. The number of missionaries serving
has increased significantly since I left on my mission in 1971. In the year of my birth,
the vast majority of the Church membership lived in the intermountain west.
Now, more than half of the membership lives outside of the United States.
There are now branches of the Church in such exotic places as the Ukraine,
Ghana, India, Thailand, Peru, etc. What is significant, is that so much
of this change has taken place in the past few years. The Lord's prophecy
is rapidly being fulfilled.
"Behold I speak for mine elect's sake; for nation shall rise
against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there shall be famines, and
pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. And again, because iniquity shall abound,
the love of men shall wax cold; but he that shall not be overcome, the
same shall be saved." (v29-30)
WHAT EVIDENCE DO WE SEE THAT THESE PROPHECIES ARE BEING FULFILLED?
As we have seen a quickening in the extension of the gospel to the inhabitants
of the earth, we have also seen a quickening in the fulfillment of these verses. As we look back at the 20th Century, we see a century that was the most brutal in the history of mankind. Two great
wars were fought causing the deaths of tens of millions of people. Hundreds
of smaller wars and conflicts have been waged and continue to this day.
The numbers and intensity of natural disasters seem
to be increasing. Elder Ballard, in his October 1992 Conference address,
indicated that disastrous earthquakes increased in every decade of the 20th
century over the previous decade, except for the 1940s. This trend appears to be
continuing in the 21st century with powerful quakes in Indonesia and Japan
creating massive tsunamis, along with devastating quakes in other parts of the
world. The intensity of storms seems to be increasing as we view the power of
hurricanes like those of Andrew and Katrina or massive typhoons in the western
Iniquity seems to be growing as evidenced
in the media culture. What we see in the movies today, was not believed
possible only a few years ago. Television brings into our homes a culture
that is the antithesis of what righteous people stand for. Brutality is
glorified. Immorality is made to look desirable. It is becoming increasingly
evident around us. There is ample evidence that the love of men continues
to wax cold when we see disasters such as the Oklahoma bombing, school shootings, and the tragedy of September 11th.
Bruce R. McConkie: "Ours is the dispensation of desolation and war that
will be climaxed by a worldwide Armageddon of butchery and blood at the
very hour of the coming of the Son of Man. Jesus speaks thus for the elect's
sake; none others can read the signs of the times. Carnal men will consider
war as a way of life and a norm of society, not as a scourge sent of God
to cleanse the earth preparatory to the return of his Son.
"Nor is war all we face; as the crusades
of carnage increase, so will the plagues and pestilence. Famine and disease
will stalk the earth. And for some reason, as yet undiscovered by modern
geologists, earthquakes will increase in number and intensity. These are
the last days, and the judgments of God are at hand.
"All this will be because iniquity abounds.
Sin is the father of all the ills poured out upon mankind." (Mortal
HOW CAN WE PREPARE FOR THE CHALLENGES BROUGHT ON BY THE FULFILLMENT OF
As previously discussed, the Lord taught his followers to "stand in the
WHAT ARE SOME HOLY PLACES IN WHICH WE MAY STAND? HOW WILL THESE PLACES
PROTECT US DURING THE DIFFICULTIES OF THE LAST DAYS?
Ezra Taft Benson: "Holy men and holy women 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'." (Come Unto Christ, p115)
Consider these notes from Old
Testament Lesson 48:
If we have studied the scriptures and the words of the prophets, we know
that difficult times are ahead. Brothers Blaine and Brenton Yorgason wrote
a wonderful book entitled Spiritual Survival In The Last Days. In
the first section of the book the Yorgason brothers outline some of the
difficulties that will challenge us as we approach the time of the Second
Coming. They then list some practices that will enable us to spiritually
survive through these difficult times. These include:
Gaining a personal testimony.
Sincere and humble repentance.
Following the Lord's living prophets, which includes:
President Wilford Woodruff: "Lay up your wheat and other provisions
against a day of need, for the day will come when they will be wanted and
no mistake about it. We shall want bread, and the Gentiles will want bread,
and if we are wise we shall have something to feed them and ourselves when
famine comes." (JD, 18:121)
President Gordon B. Hinckley: "I am suggesting that the time has come
to get out houses in order....
"I urge you, brethren, to look to the condition
of your finances. I urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline
yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt to the extent possible. Pay
off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from bondage."
(Ensign, Nov. 1998, pp53-54)
Living the Word of Wisdom.
Receive personal revelation.
Strive to rear spiritually unified families.
"And again, I say unto you that the enemy in the secret
chambers seeketh your lives. Ye hear of wars in far countries, and
you say that there will soon be great wars in far countries, but ye know
not the hearts of men in your own land. I tell you these things because of your
prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness
of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which
shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake
the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear." (D&C
The Second Coming
The abomination of desolation at the Second Coming.
JS-MATTHEW 1:33-36. Sign of the Son of Man.
Bruce R. McConkie: "Jerusalem, this time besieged by the armies of the
earth, shall be direly desolated. But this time there will be a different
destiny. The Lord himself will come to fight her battles; a remnant of
the people will be saved; and the Gentile Jerusalem will become again a
Jewish Jerusalem. Sodomic influences will be consumed with devouring fire,
and the New Jerusalem will become, in all her glory and magnificence, the
spiritual capital of the world." (Mortal Messiah, 3:447)
The glories attending our Lord's return.
When will the Son of Man come?
Bruce R. McConkie: "So shall it be with the destruction of the wicked,
which is the end of the world. Such shall come without warning, as a thief
in the night, where the wicked and ungodly are concerned. But with the
elect of God, it is quite another matter. Though they do not know the day
or the hour, yet the season and the generation are clearly revealed. It
shall be the season and the generation in which the signs of the times
are manifest." (Mortal Messiah, 3:455)
Watch, Pray, Take Heed, Be Ready!
JS-MATTHEW 1:49-50. Blessed are those busy in
WHAT CAN WE DO TO PREPARE FOR HIS COMING?
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
While living in the Pacific Northwest, I enjoyed many sunny and beautiful days
during the spring of the year. It was easy on such a day to forget
that in the Northwest, the rain will return. Inhabitants of
this region must pay attention to the weather forecast and keep an eye
on the sky or they might be caught unprepared in a rainstorm.
Several years ago, I took my daughter and a
friend on a bicycle ride of about 50 miles in preparation for riding
in the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. When we left home, the sky
was overcast, not untypical for late spring and early summer. Those overcast
days did not necessarily mean rain. We left home without preparing sufficiently
for rainy weather. Less than halfway into the ride it started to drizzle.
We continued on and so did the rain. Eventually, we became so cold that
we had to call home for a ride.
Another time, my son and I were preparing
for a cross-country bicycle ride and set out on a 100 miler. It had been
raining that morning, but the rain had stopped and the sky was starting to clear. The
was for improved weather. What we failed to check was the weather for the entire
route. We ended up riding into a cold spring rain and we were woefully unprepared.
We thought we could ride through it. Not so. Unfortunately, we became so cold that we dared
not continue further. In fact, we were so cold that we did not dare wait
for a ride from home (at least a couple hours) so we returned to the nearest
town and checked into a motel for the night. Fortunately, the weather did
clear and we continued our ride the following day.
Most of us have had experiences of getting
caught in inclement weather unprepared because we either failed to check
the forecast or we failed to heed it. In the Olivet Discourse, the Savior
has given us the forecast. We need to, from time to time, compare the forecast
to current conditions and make adjustments in our preparation. It is one
thing to get caught unprepared in the rain, it will be quite another if
we are caught unprepared as the events of the last days continue to unfold.
While making the above bicycle trips we were seeking out dry places to
give us shelter from the storm. The great storm described by the Master
has started and we need to seek out "holy places" to give us refuge from the
Record your thoughts on the signs leading up the the second coming. What can
you do to be better prepared for the difficult times that will precede the
return of the Savior?
Resources Used In This Lesson
A New Witness for the Articles of Faith by Bruce R. McConkie.
Come Unto Christ by Ezra Taft Benson.
Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage.
Journal of Discourses (JD).
The Millennial Messiah by Bruce R. McConkie.
The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, Volume
3, by Bruce R. McConkie.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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