Recently, having a free evening, I watched on television a series of news programs. Each dealt with conflict and sorrow and oppression in the world.
Turning off the television set, I walked past the piano in the living room and picked up the hymn book. There I read these choice words, written long ago by Parley P. Pratt (1807–1857, former Apostle) which echo my own feelings:
Come, O thou King of Kings
We’ve waited long for thee,
With healing in thy wings
To set thy people free.
Come, thou desire of nations, come;
Let Israel now be gathered home.
Come, make an end to sin
And cleanse the earth by fire,
And righteousness bring in,
That Saints may tune the lyre
With songs of joy, a happier strain,
To welcome in thy peaceful reign.
“Come, O Thou King of Kings,” Hymns no. 20
Among the things I know and of which I am sure is that fact that he will come again. There is a beautiful and impressive mural on the east wall of the lobby of the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City, Utah in which is portrayed the resurrected Lord giving final instruction to eleven of his apostles. At that time he instructed them concerning their future responsibility to take the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. (See Rev. 14:6.)
“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
“And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
“Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go …” (Acts 1:9–11.)
I know also that when he shall come the second time he shall come in glory, in contrast with the way he came in the meridian of time (D&C 20:26). The first time, he who had been the great Jehovah, the Creator of the earth and the God who spoke to the prophets of old, condescended to come as a babe born in a manger in Bethlehem of Judea. He walked the dusty roads of Palestine, “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3). He yielded himself into the hands of wicked men and was crucified on Golgotha’s hill. (See Matt. 27:33.)
Now, in this period of time, the Lord has declared that “The time is soon at hand that I shall come in a cloud with power and great glory.
“And it shall be a great day at the time of my coming, for all nations shall tremble.
“But before that great day shall come, the sun shall be darkened and the moon be turned into blood; and the stars shall refuse their shining, and some shall fall, and great destructions await the wicked.” (D&C 34:7–9.) There is a phrase in that quotation that intrigues me: “All nations shall tremble.” Man in his arrogance and the great nations in their boastful power think themselves invincible but their leaders have not read enough of history.
More than forty years ago I was a missionary in the British Isles. That was the time of the British Empire when it could truthfully be said that the sun never set on British soil, and when the British flag waved over a fourth of the world. In those days the peace of the world was peace in the British Empire. Now the British Empire is gone; its parts are independent nations, and the British Empire, symbolized by the lion that roared so loudly, is old and sick and weak.
It is easy for me to believe that the nations shall tremble when the Son of God comes again to claim his kingdom, for when that day arrives, “The Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall He sit upon the throne of glory:
“And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. (Matt. 25: 31–32.) There will be a judgment not only of the nations but also of the people. “Behold,” said the Lord, “now it is called today until the coming of the Son of man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.
“For after today cometh the burning … all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of Hosts; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon.” (D&C 64:23–24). Some years ago one of our brethren spoke of the payment of tithing as “fire insurance”; that statement evoked laughter. Nonetheless, the word of the Lord is clear that those who do not keep the commandments and obey the laws of God shall be burned at the time of his coming. For that shall be a day of judgment and a day of sifting, a day of separating the good from the evil. In my personal opinion no event has occurred in all the history of the earth as dreadful as will be the day of the Second Coming—no event as filled with the destructive forces of nature, as consequential for the nations of the earth, as terrible for the wicked, or as wonderful for the righteous.
It will be a time of great and terrible fears, of cataclysmic upheavals of nature, of weeping and wailing (D&C 19:5), of repentance that comes too late, and of crying out unto the Lord for mercy. But for those who in that judgment are found acceptable, it will be a day for thanksgiving, for the Lord shall come with his angels, and the apostles who were with him in Jerusalem, and those who have been resurrected. Further, the graves of the righteous will be opened and they shall come forth. (See D&C 88:97.) Then will begin the great millennium (D&C 43:30) period of a thousand years when Satan shall be bound and the Lord shall reign over his people. Can you imagine the wonder and the beauty of that era when the adversary shall not have influence? Think of his influence upon you now and reflect on the peace of that time when you will be free from such influence. There will be quiet and goodness where now there is contention and evil.
I know that you are familiar with all of this and with much more of that which is found in the scriptures, but I have felt impressed to repeat it as a reminder to each of us of the faith and the certainty that we have of these coming events. To know when these events will occur would take from us much of the self-discipline needed to daily obey the principles of the gospel.
Most of us seldom think of these millennial events, and perhaps it is well we do not. Certainly there is no point in speculating concerning the day and the hour in which they will occur. Let us instead live each day so that if the Lord does come while we are yet upon the earth we shall be worthy of that change which will occur as in the twinkling of an eye and under which we shall be changed from mortal to immortal beings. And if we should die before he comes, then—if our lives have conformed to his teachings—we shall arise in that resurrection morning and be partakers of the marvelous experiences designed for those who shall live and work with the Savior in that promised Millennium. We need not fear the day of his coming; the purpose of the Church is to provide the incentive and the opportunity for us to conduct our lives in such a way that those who are members of the kingdom of God will become members of the kingdom of heaven when he establishes that kingdom on the earth. May I suggest just two or three things which, if followed, will assist.
The prophet Micah declared: “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8). There is enough for a long sermon in that one command. Let me talk about one point only: “To love mercy.” As an example, may I read a paragraph from a letter I received from a young woman who is engaged in this kind of activity as president of the Relief Society.
Yesterday [she writes] I spent most of the day picking up welfare groceries and delivering them. One of the two cases I called on was tragic. She is a woman who, years ago, was in a fire and her head was badly injured. For years she has undergone constructive surgery and has a number of pins holding her scalp together. She is divorced, and in order to support herself and her four-year-old girl, she works doing any small job she can find, until she is through surgery and can return to school to complete her training as a dietician. She has no car and relies solely on her bicycle for transportation in this great and busy city. She has ridden that bike all winter, with her little girl on the back, sometimes going as many as 48 kilometers in a day to get to and from a small job.
A week ago she slid on a patch of ice while riding her bicycle, fell, struck her head, and suffered a concussion. She refused to go to the hospital because she had no money to pay medical bills, so she remained in her apartment, suffering from pain until her sister found her and got medical help. Her mother was able to assist her just a little. Her home teacher happened to call and discovered her plight. When I, as the Relief Society president, called her, I discovered she had no food in the house, no medication for her diabetes, and no money. So yesterday I went to deliver the groceries and take her some medication. What an opportunity to serve someone so desperately in need!
Love mercy; obey the commandment of the Lord by imparting your substance for the work of this kingdom. Now let me share with you a testimony spoken by a man once poor in his childhood and now prosperous in his old age. He stood before the congregation and said,
“When I was a boy, on a summer’s day I would lie out in the alfalfa patch and chew on twigs and look up at the sky and wonder where the windows of heaven were that my parents had spoken of. I couldn’t see them in the clouds, and I thought they must be somewhere in the blue sky. I wondered how the windows could be opened so I could get a Boy Scout uniform and a pony and a bicycle. I never got these things, but I have come to see how the windows of heaven are opened as I have received the kindness of good and generous neighbors and friends in this ward in which we live.”
Finally, pertaining to this general subject, let me read a few more words of revelation: a few words of commandment, and a few more words of promise. The commandment: “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly.” The promise: “Then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God.” (D&C 121:45.) I have thought of that statement a great deal. It has been my privilege to meet a number of presidents of the United States and leaders, rulers, and governors in other lands, and it is a reassuring feeling to be able to stand in the presence of such men with confidence. As I have thought of that, I have also thought how marvelous it will be if someday I might stand with confidence in the presence of God.
“The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion,” the Lord continues in this statement, “and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever”—including, I should like to add, that time when the Lord comes at the great day of sifting and separation of the righteous from the wicked. My brothers and sisters, of these things I testify, relying on the revealed word of the Lord; and I humbly pray with sincere desire that each of us may so live our lives here and now that we may have neither fear nor worry concerning that great and dreadful day of his coming. God bless us in our search for truth and peace and strength, I humbly pray in the name of Him who shall surely come at a time we know not, but whose coming shall be as certain as the coming of the sun in the morning—in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. Tell a personal experience about the importance of obedience to gospel principles. Ask family members to share their feelings about the part obedience should play in their lives.
2. Are there some scriptural verses or other quotations in this article that the family might read aloud, or some supplemental scriptures you might like to read to them?
3. Discuss ways in which family members could “love mercy” and “walk humbly” with the Lord.
4. What commandment does President Hinckley refer to that will help us to “stand with confidence” in the presence of God? Discuss with family members ways in which they could better incorporate this commandment in their lives.
5. Would this discussion be better after talking with the head of the house before the visit?