Lesson 48: “The Great and Dreadful Day of the Lord”

Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 225–29


Purpose

To encourage class members to (1) prepare for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, (2) pay an honest tithe and generous offerings, and (3) experience the blessings that come because of the sealing power of the priesthood.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the passages from Zechariah 10–14 and Malachi that are discussed in this lesson.

  2. 2.

    Additional reading: Doctrine and Covenants 45.

  3. 3.

    You may want to write some of the scripture references from the first part of the lesson on separate pieces of paper to distribute to class members.

  4. 4.

    If you use the attention activity, obtain the picture The Second Coming (62562; Gospel Art Picture Kit 238).

  5. 5.

    Obtain a copy of the New Testament Class Member Study Guide (31392) for each person in your class. (The ward should have ordered these study guides as part of the annual curriculum order; a member of the bishopric should give them to the Sunday School presidency.)

Suggested Lesson Development

Attention Activity

You may want to use the following activity (or one of your own) to begin the lesson.

Show the picture The Second Coming. Then ask the following questions:

  • What feelings do you have when you hear words like Second Coming, last days, or signs of the times? The scriptures refer to the Second Coming as a “great and dreadful day” (Malachi 4:5). How can it be both?

    President Ezra Taft Benson said, “[The Savior’s] coming will be both glorious and terrible, depending on the spiritual condition of those who remain” (“Prepare Yourself for the Great Day of the Lord,” New Era, May 1982, 49).

Explain that this lesson includes discussions about (1) the prophecies that Zechariah and Malachi made about the last days and (2) our preparation for the Second Coming.

Scripture Discussion and Application

As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. Zechariah and Malachi prophesy of many events of the last days.

Discuss some of the following prophecies from Zechariah and Malachi, which describe events of the last days. If you have prepared pieces of paper with the scripture references written on them, distribute them to class members. Have class members read each passage and tell what it teaches. If the passage gives information that can help us prepare for the Second Coming, discuss how we can apply it.

Prophecies that have been fulfilled in preparation for the Second Coming

  1. a.

    Malachi 3:1. Malachi prophesied that a messenger would prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord’s mortal ministry, and Joseph Smith is the messenger who prepared the way for the Second Coming (see Matthew 11:10; Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:193–95, 3:10–14).

  2. b.

    Malachi 4:5–6. Malachi prophesied that the prophet Elijah would return before the Second Coming to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. This prophecy was fulfilled when Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple, restoring the keys of the sealing power (D&C 110:13–16). Possible application: We should search out the names of our ancestors and perform ordinances for them in the temple (this is discussed in more detail later in the lesson).

  • Why is it helpful to know that some of the prophecies of the Second Coming have already been fulfilled?

Prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled before the Savior comes

  1. a.

    Zechariah 10:6–8. The people of Judah and Joseph will be gathered, and the people of Ephraim will become mighty. The Lord will “hiss,” or call, for his people and gather them. Possible application: We can assist in this gathering by sharing the gospel with others.

  2. b.

    Zechariah 12:2–3, 8–9. A great war will be fought in and around Jerusalem, but the Lord will intervene and save the inhabitants of Jerusalem from destruction. Possible application: We should trust God to defend his people during the difficulties of the last days.

  3. c.

    Zechariah 14:8. Living waters will flow from the temple in Jerusalem and will heal the Dead Sea and the Judean wilderness (see also Ezekiel 47:1, 8–9).

  • Many of the prophecies of the last days include tragedies such as war, natural disasters, and widespread wickedness. How can we maintain hope when we hear of these prophecies and witness their fulfillment? (See D&C 38:28–30.)

Prophecies that will be fulfilled when the Savior comes

  1. a.

    Zechariah 14:3–4. The Savior will stand on the Mount of Olives, and the mount will be divided in half (see also D&C 45:48).

  2. b.

    Zechariah 12:10; 13:6. The Jewish people living at the time of Jerusalem’s deliverance will see Jesus Christ and will mourn because they as a people have rejected him as the Messiah (see also D&C 45:51–53).

  3. c.

    Zechariah 13:2. False idols, unclean spirits, and false prophets will be destroyed.

  4. d.

    Zechariah 14:5. The righteous who are alive on the earth will be caught up to meet the Savior. The righteous who have died will be resurrected and will also be caught up to meet him (see also D&C 88:96–98).

  5. e.

    Zechariah 14:9. The Lord will be king over all the earth and will rule during the Millennium.

  6. f.

    Zechariah 14:12–13; Malachi 3:13–18; 4:1–3. The wicked will be destroyed, and the righteous will be spared (see also 1 Nephi 22:15–17, 19).

  • Why do you think the Lord has revealed these prophecies about the latter days, the Second Coming, and the Millennium? (See D&C 45:34–44.) How can we prepare for the Second Coming of the Savior? (See D&C 45:56–57.)

    President Ezra Taft Benson said: “As we live the commandments of God, we can look forward with joyful anticipation to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and know that through our efforts we are worthy, with our loved ones, to dwell in His presence for all eternity. Surely nothing is too hard to gain this great goal. We cannot let down for a moment. We must prove, every day of our lives, that we are willing to do the will of the Lord—to spread the restored gospel, to bear testimony to the world, to share the gospel with others” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 341).

  • How does it help you to know that righteousness will eventually triumph over wickedness?

2. Malachi teaches about the blessings that come to those who pay tithes and offerings.

Teach and discuss Malachi 3:8–12.

  • How do people “rob God” by not paying tithes and offerings?

  • What does it mean to pay a full tithe?

    The First Presidency has stated: “The simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay ‘one-tenth of all their interest annually,’ which is understood to mean income. No one is justified in making any other statement than this” (First Presidency letter, 19 Mar. 1970; see also D&C 119:1–4).

  • What blessings has the Lord promised us if we pay tithing? (See Malachi 3:10–12.) How has the Lord blessed you as you have paid tithes and offerings?

  • What should be our motivation for paying tithes and offerings?

    After referring to the blessings the Lord gives to tithe payers, President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

    “Now, do not get me wrong. I am not here to say that if you pay an honest tithing you will realize your dream of a fine house, a Rolls Royce, and a condominium in Hawaii. The Lord will open the windows of heaven according to our need, and not according to our greed. If we are paying tithing to get rich, we are doing it for the wrong reason. The basic purpose for tithing is to provide the Church with the means needed to carry on His work” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1982, 60; or Ensign, May 1982, 40).

  • Why is it sometimes a challenge to obey the law of tithing? What can be done to overcome that challenge?

3. Malachi prophesies of Elijah’s return to the earth to restore the keys of the sealing power.

Teach and discuss Malachi 4:5–6.

  • Malachi prophesied that the prophet Elijah would come to the earth before the Lord’s Second Coming (Malachi 4:6). How was this prophecy fulfilled? (See D&C 110:13–16. Elijah appeared in the Kirtland Temple and restored to Joseph Smith the keys of the sealing power.) What does it mean to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers”? (It means to be sealed to all our ancestors—our “fathers”—and to all our posterity—our “children”—forever. Because of the sealing power of the priesthood and the temple ordinances for the living and the dead, families can be bound together for eternity.)

  • How have you felt your heart turn to your ancestors as you have done family history and temple work for them? How do the promises of temple covenants turn your heart to your parents, spouse, and children?

  • The message in Malachi 4:5–6 is taught in each of the standard works (Luke 1:17; 3 Nephi 25:5–6; D&C 2:1–3; Joseph Smith—History 1:37–39). Why do you think this message is repeated so often?

Conclusion

Bear testimony of the things you have chosen to discuss in the lesson. As a conclusion to this year’s course of study, you may also want to express your gratitude for the teachings in the Old Testament.

Give each class member a copy of the New Testament Class Member Study Guide (31392; see “Preparation,” page 225). Explain that next year’s course of study is the New Testament. Encourage members to begin using the study guide to prepare for next week’s lesson and to study the New Testament with their families.

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. Prophesied appearances of the Savior

  • At least seven latter-day appearances of the Savior have been foretold in the scriptures. How many of them can you identify?

The following information will help to answer this question:

  1. a.

    To the Prophet Joseph Smith in the First Vision (Acts 3:19–21; Joseph Smith—History 1:15–17).

  2. b.

    In his latter-day temples (Malachi 3:1; D&C 133:1–2).

  3. c.

    In the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman (D&C 116; Daniel 7:13–14, 22; see also D&C 107:53–56, which describes a past meeting at Adam-ondi-Ahman that is similar to the meeting that will take place there).

  4. d.

    In Jerusalem during a worldwide conflict known as the battle of Armageddon (Ezekiel 38–39; Zechariah 12–14; Revelation 11; D&C 45:47–53).

  5. e.

    In the city of New Jerusalem, at Independence, Missouri (3 Nephi 21:24–26).

  6. f.

    To the righteous at the time of his Second Coming (Zechariah 14:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17; D&C 88:96–98).

  7. g.

    To the wicked (D&C 133:42–51).

2. When will the Second Coming occur?

The Lord has made clear that while he will surely come again, no person knows the exact time (D&C 39:20–21; 49:7).

Elder Richard L. Evans said: “Some of the brethren … approached [President Wilford Woodruff] and … inquired of him as to when he felt the end would be—when would be the coming of the Master? These, I think, are not his exact words, but they convey the spirit of his reported reply: ‘I would live as if it were to be tomorrow—but I am still planting cherry trees!’ I think we may well take this as a page for our own book and live as if the end might be tomorrow—and still plant cherry trees! In worrying about things that are beyond our reach, we should not overlook our opportunities with our own families and friends; in worrying about possible eventualities we should not neglect the things that need to be done here and now, and that are within our reach” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1950, 105–6).