The Bible and the Book of Mormon prophesy of the conditions and events that will precede the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Shortly after the Church moved from New York to Ohio, Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 45. In the part of the revelation that is covered in this lesson, the Savior provided details about the time preceding His Second Coming. He expanded on truths He had taught His disciples on the Mount of Olives (see Matthew 24).
Begin the lesson by asking the following question:
How can you tell when it is about to rain?
Explain that just as there are indicators that help us know when rain will fall, there are also indicators, or signs, that help us know when the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will occur.
Write the following on the board: The Signs of the Second Coming.
Explain that in the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 45, the Lord described some of the signs that would alert us to the approach of His Second Coming.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:16–17 silently, looking for what the Lord’s disciples asked Him about and what He said He would show them.
What did the disciples ask the Lord to teach them about?
What did the Lord say He would show His disciples? (How the day of redemption would come and how scattered Israel would be restored.)
To help students identify signs that the Savior said would precede His Second Coming, write the following references on the board:
Divide students into pairs, and assign each pair one of the passages on the board. Ask them to read the verses together, looking for the signs mentioned in those verses. Before they begin, you may want to point out that some of the signs have already been fulfilled.
After sufficient time, ask each pair to report their findings to the class. Invite a student to write their responses under the heading “The Signs of the Second Coming” on the board. As needed, use the information in the next two paragraphs to help students understand the prophecies.
In Doctrine and Covenants 45:18–24, we read of prophecies that have already been fulfilled. The events prophesied in these verses occurred shortly after the Savior’s death and Resurrection. Note that verse 20 refers to the temple built by Herod the Great in Jerusalem. It was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70.
In Doctrine and Covenants 45:25–46, we read of prophecies to be fulfilled in this dispensation, before the Savior’s Second Coming. In this passage, the phrase “the times of the Gentiles” (D&C 45:25, 28, 30) refers to the gospel being preached first to the Gentiles in the latter days. Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that Joseph Smith “was of the Gentiles, meaning that he was a citizen of a Gentile Nation and also that he was not a Jew. … Indeed, the gospel has come forth in the last days in the times of the Gentiles and, in large measure, will not go to the Jews until the Gentile fulness comes in. (D. & C. 45:28–30.)” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 311).
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:34 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the disciples in Jesus Christ’s time felt when He told them about the signs of His Second Coming.
How do you feel when you consider the signs of the Second Coming?
Explain that learning about the signs of the Second Coming can help us live without speculation, fear, or anxiety. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:35–38 silently to learn why the Lord gave these signs. (Before students read, you might want to explain that in Israel, the fig tree is the last tree to sprout leaves in the spring and does so late in the season.)
Why is it important to be able to recognize when “the hour is nigh,” or that the Second Coming is imminent?
Write on the board Doctrine and Covenants 45:32, 39. Invite students to read these verses with their partners and identify what followers of Jesus Christ will do to be ready for His coming.
What can we do to be prepared for the Lord’s coming?
Write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we stand in holy places and watch for the signs, we will …
Based on what we have studied so far, how would you complete this statement? (The following is one way students might complete the principle: If we stand in holy places and watch for the signs, we will be ready for the Lord’s Second Coming. Finish writing the principle on the board.)
How do you think a follower of Jesus Christ can “stand in holy places”? Where are some places in your life that you consider “holy places”?
To help students increase their understanding of what it means to stand in holy places, invite a student to read the following statement aloud. Encourage the class to listen for what it means to stand in holy places:
“‘Holy places’ may have more to do with how one lives than where one lives. If we live worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, then we stand in a holy place. … A holy place is any place where a person enjoys the Spirit of God” (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 196).
How can we stand in holy places while we are surrounded by the wickedness of the world?
Consider displaying the picture The Second Coming (Gospel Art Book , no. 66; see also LDS.org). Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 45:44–46 by explaining that those who are prepared for the Savior’s coming will see Him come in glory. The righteous who have died before His coming will be resurrected and rise up to meet Him. Faithful Saints who are alive on the earth will also be caught up to meet Him (see D&C 88:96–98).
Display or invite students to turn to Map 1 (“Physical Map of the Holy Land”) in the Bible Maps section of their scriptures. Point out the location of the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem, and explain that Doctrine and Covenants 45:48 refers to this important place in Israel. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:48 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what will happen to this mount and to the earth when the Savior returns.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:49–50. Ask the class to follow along and search for what else will happen at the Second Coming.
What will happen to the nations of the earth at the Second Coming?
Whom do you think “they that have laughed” refers to?
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:51–53 silently, looking for how the Jews will respond when the Lord comes to the Mount of Olives.
Why will the Jews weep when the Lord returns?
To help students understand additional ways to prepare for the Lord’s Second Coming, show the picture Parable of the Ten Virgins (Gospel Art Book , no. 53; see also LDS.org). Ask students if any of them can recount the parable of the ten virgins. If necessary, invite a student to read the parable aloud from Matthew 25:1–13.
In what ways were five of the virgins wise?
How does this parable relate to the Savior’s Second Coming?
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:56–57 silently, looking for how the parable of the ten virgins will be fulfilled.
How will this parable be fulfilled at the Second Coming?
To help students further understand the parable of the ten virgins, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for what the ten virgins represent:
“The arithmetic of this parable is chilling. The ten virgins obviously represent members of Christ’s Church, for all were invited to the wedding feast and all knew what was required to be admitted when the bridegroom came. But only half were ready when he came” (“Preparation for the Second Coming,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 8).
According to verse 57, what must we do in order to be prepared for the Lord’s coming? (Students should identify the following principle: If we receive the truth and take the Holy Spirit to be our guide, we will abide the Savior’s Second Coming. Write the principle on the board.)
Invite students to think about the principle on the board and ponder times when they have accepted the truth or followed the Holy Spirit. Invite a few to share their experiences.
How do you think your experiences with receiving the truth and following the Holy Spirit can help you be prepared to meet the Lord at His Second Coming?
Invite students to use the principles written on the board to set a goal that will help them be prepared for the Savior’s coming.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:55, 58–59 silently to discover additional blessings that will come to those who are prepared for and abide the day of the Second Coming. Ask them to report what they find.
Explain that President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasized the importance of having the Spirit in troubled times. Invite a student to read the following statement aloud, and invite the class to listen for how President Packer said we can feel about living in the time preceding the Second Coming:
“We live in troubled times—very troubled times. We hope, we pray, for better days. But that is not to be. The prophecies tell us that. We will not as a people, as families, or as individuals be exempt from the trials to come. …
“We need not live in fear of the future. We have every reason to rejoice and little reason to fear. If we follow the promptings of the Spirit, we will be safe, whatever the future holds. We will be shown what to do” (“The Cloven Tongues of Fire,” Ensign, May 2000, 8).
Ask students to share something they learned about the Second Coming from this lesson. You may want to share your feelings as well.