Second Coming

by Gerald Lund

In Jewish and Christian thought there are two basic ways of viewing the coming of the Messiah. Some consider promises of a Messiah and a millennial era symbolic of a time when men will finally learn to live in peace and harmony and the world will enter a new age of enlightenment and progress; no one individual nor any one specific event will usher in this age. THE CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints opposes this view and agrees with the many other Jewish and Christian groups who affirm that there is an actual Messiah, that he will come at some future time to the earth, and that only through his coming and the events associated therewith will a millennial age of peace, harmony, and joy begin. Jews look for the first coming of the Messiah; Latter-day Saints and other Christians for the second coming of Jesus Christ.

second comingThe scriptures, both biblical and modern, abundantly testify that the era just preceding the second advent of the Savior will be "perilous" (2 Tim. 3:1) and filled with "tribulation" (Matt. 24:29). At that time "the devil shall have power over his own dominion" (D&C 1:35). The resulting judgments upon the wicked are part of the preparations for the Millennium.

The righteous as well as the unenlightened will experience these times of tribulation. LDS sources teach that the Lord will gather the righteous together in "holy places" (D&C 101:22), which include Zion and her stakes (D&C 115:6). These places are described in terms of "peace," "refuge," and "safety for the saints of the Most High God" (D&C 45:66). The promise is that God "will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous. Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power…Wherefore, the righteous need not fear" (1 Ne. 22:16-17).

Attempts to predict the time of the coming of the Messiah are legion in both Jewish and Christian traditions. Latter-day Saints consider the second coming "near, even at the doors" (D&C 110:16). But they also accept the decree of scripture that "the hour and the day [of Christ's coming] no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he comes" (D&C 49:7 [italics added]; cf. Matt. 24:36).

With many other Christians, Mormons believe the second coming will be preceded by the battle of Armageddon and by Christ's appearance on the Mount of Olives (see Last Days). Of this event the Doctrine and Covenants says:

And then shall the Jews look upon me and say: What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet? Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God. And then shall they weep because of their iniquities; then shall they lament because they persecuted their king [D&C 45:51-53; cf. Zech. 13:6].

"From that day forward," it has been proclaimed, "the Jews as a nation become holy and their city and sanctuary become holy. There also the Messiah establishes his throne and seat of government" (Clark, p. 258).

Before Christ's coming in glory, "there shall be silence in the heaven for the space of half an hour; and immediately after shall the curtain of heaven be unfolded…and the face of the Lord shall be unveiled" (D&C 88:95). This apparently is the time when "all flesh shall see me together" (D&C 101:23; Rev. 1:7).

The Doctrine and Covenants declares that "the earth shall pass away so as by fire" (D&C 43:32). Some have conjectured that this could occur through a nuclear holocaust. Though certain apocalyptic passages may seem to describe the effects of nuclear warfare (e.g., Isa. 34:1-10), a modern revelation teaches that the "fire" of the Second Coming is the actual presence of the Savior, a celestial glory comparable to the glory of the sun (D&C 76:70) or a "consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29; cf. Mal. 3:2; 4:1). "So great shall be the glory of his presence that the sun shall hide his face in shame" (D&C 133:49). "The presence of the Lord shall be as the melting fire that burneth, and as the fire which causeth the waters to boil" (D&C 133:41; cf. Isa. 64:2; JS—H 1:37). "Element shall melt with fervent heat" (D&C 101:25) and "the mountains shall flow down at thy presence" (D&C 133:44). The Doctrine and Covenants repeats Isaiah's declaration that "the Lord shall be red in his apparel, and his garments like him that treadeth in the wine-vat" (D&C 133:48; cf. Isa. 63:2).

The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Saints that those living on the earth at the time of Christ's appearing would be caught up to meet him (1 Thess. 4:16-17). The Doctrine and Covenants, using similar language, adds that these righteous saints will be "quickened" and will join those "who have slept in their graves," who will also "be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven" (D&C 88:96-97; see Resurrection). Christ will descend to earth "in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).

With the coming of Christ, the millennial era of peace, harmony, and righteousness will begin. Satan will then have "no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth" (1 Ne. 22:26; see also Millennium).

(See Basic Beliefs; Teachings About Jesus Christ home page)

Bibliography

Clark, James R., comp. "Proclamation of the Twelve." In Messages of the First Presidency, Vol. l, p. 258. Salt Lake City, 1965.

Lund, Gerald N. The Coming of the Lord. Salt Lake City, 1971.

McConkie, Bruce R. The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man. Salt Lake City, 1982.

Smith, Joseph Fielding. The Signs of the Times. Salt Lake City, 1964.