I have often made my sister Tigersue of Tigersue's Jungle laugh with my prediction of just when the last day will be here. Actually fellow Saints and Believers do not fear. I haven't ever said a day I expect our Lord to return. What I have commented on is all of the predictions that people make with sundry dates for the end of the world that, for some reason, manage to find their way into serious news.
I have usually shrugged my shoulders, make one quick check that the Prophet hasn't said anything and then say, "well I think it is safe to assume that isn't going to be the day."
All facetiousness aside, while we don't know the exact day, I have long felt that we have had the type of His return in our hands since the Prophet Joseph Smith translated the miraculous and beautiful Book of Mormon. How many times have we been told of one of its magnificent purposes is to prepare a people to meet their God and not fully appreciated this aspect of that statement; the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the Earth? Yes, there are many ways it can prepare a people, up to a final judgment aspect. But, the one I want to focus on is the Last Days and Christ's Return.
I have also had a strange fascination with Hollywood and their twisting of the more evangelical beliefs of the Second Coming. These are of course based on the very image-laden Book of Revelation by John the Beloved. But the images are difficult and sometimes hard to understand. An example of the difficulty is the day that the husband-wife team of Jehovah's Witnesses and I had a conversation at my work.
The husband had a revolving group of wallpapers for his laptop computer that he would bring to play that usually had some very nice music. The theme for these wallpapers was the Book of Revelation. It included traditional definitions for those scenes that John, with his artist brush of words, paints for us. One was a rather gruesome picture of the woman and the beast tearing her apart. As a supervisor, I felt I had to mention that perhaps this one picture might be disturbing to others having to work around him. It was that gory. He turned to me, the heretic Mormon, and said, " Well you have to understand she is a very bad woman." His tone was very condescending. He was proud for the fact that he and his group (there were five of them) all read their scriptures out in the open. Some BYU students might bring their scripture to work for classes to try and get school work done. Most of us find work a distracting place to try and study our scriptures and just don't in general bring them there.
I was a little shocked at his inability to understand the LDS that he had been working around for a very long time. I could no longer resist and said, "You know she is a very bad woman, but the real problem is that you are so caught up in the imagery you are going to fully miss who that woman
really is." He was a little surprised, because in general we had been very quiet during his rather more preachy moments. He was well aware of our majority position in the community of Provo and Orem.
Like Hollywood and our traditional Protestant or Charismatic co-religionists, sometimes it is difficult for Mormons to understand ancient imagery. We want to understand the graphic words of the prophets such as Isaiah and John to help prepare for the Second Coming. what will we see at that time? What will it be like?
I say we are fully in those days now. I can't say when, or exactly what at each time, but I am certain life will look very much as it always has. If we aren't paying attention, we will miss the signs.See, for instance3 Nephi 7.
13 And so speedy was their march that it could not be impeded until they had gone forth out of the reach of the people. And thus ended the thirtieth year; and thus were the affairs of the people of Nephi.
14 And it came to pass in the *thirty and first year that they were divided into tribes, every man according to his family, kindred and friends; nevertheless they had come to an agreement that they would not go to war one with another; but they were not united as to their laws, and their manner of government, for they were established according to the minds of those who were their chiefs and their leaders. But they did establish very strict laws that one tribe should not trespass against another, insomuch that in some degree they had peace in the land; nevertheless, their hearts were turned from the Lord their God, and they did stone the prophets and did cast them out from among them.
15 And it came to pass that Nephi—having been visited by angels and also the voice of the Lord, therefore having seen angels, and being eye-witness, and having had power given unto him that he might know concerning the ministry of Christ, and also being eye-witness to their quick return from righteousness unto their wickedness and abominations;
16 Therefore, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds—went forth among them in that same year, and began to testify, boldly, repentance and remission of sins through faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.
17 And he did minister many things unto them; and all of them cannot be written, and a part of them would not suffice, therefore they are not written in this book. And Nephi did minister with power and with great authority.
18 And it came to pass that they were angry with him, even because he had greater power than they, for it were not possible that they could disbelieve his words, for so great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ that angels did minister unto him daily.
19 And in the name of Jesus did he cast out devils and unclean spirits; and even his brother did he raise from the dead, after he had been stoned and suffered death by the people.
20 And the people saw it, and did witness of it, and were angry with him because of his power; and he did also do many more miracles, in the sight of the people, in the name of Jesus.
21 And it came to pass that the thirty and first year did pass away, and there were but few who were converted unto the Lord; but as many as were converted did truly signify unto the people that they had been visited by the power and Spirit of God, which was in Jesus Christ, in whom they believed.
22 And as many as had devils cast out from them, and were healed of their sicknesses and their infirmities, did truly manifest unto the people that they had been wrought upon by the Spirit of God, and had been healed; and they did show forth signs also and did do some miracles among the people.
23 Thus passed away the *thirty and second year also. And Nephi did cry unto the people in the commencement of the thirty and third year; and he did preach unto them repentance and remission of sins.
24 Now I would have you to remember also, that there were none who were brought unto repentance who were not baptized with water.
25 Therefore, there were ordained of Nephi, men unto this ministry, that all such as should come unto them should be baptized with water, and this as a witness and a testimony before God, and unto the people, that they had repented and received a remission of their sins.
26 And there were many in the commencement of this year that were baptized unto repentance; and thus the more part of the year did pass away.
If you look at the preceding chapters of Third Nephi, it was only a great deal more of the same. People kept going on about their business. There were some hard things, some difficult things. Some were hard enough on the people that they repented; several times in what was a very short time frame. Still, life went on each day, even for the believers that were counting the days from the "day and a night and a day" experience.
It is so hard not to give into the thinking of the literal mark of 666, when instead John is attempting to tell us of the corruption of the true power of God as a symbol. It has been so easy for our more artistic friends to further corrupt what is ancient verbal imagery into a scene Satan likes a great deal better; the one where he is born to a woman gaining the body he is still railing that he will never have. It is easy at time for us as Saints to forget that often things happen while the rest of the world looks as it always has. Take for instance birth of Christ or the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. The world was told (given signs of both by prophets) they would happen. Yet, when they did, the miracles were of such everyday wonder much of the world still has never found it! Imagine, even in hindsight, looking at the deeply spiritual is still lacking for most of the world.
It is for this very purpose that we are to feast on the Scripture's words. Only by study, faith and prayers will we actually be able to discern events that will still look like business as usual for most of us. We have a great gift of the prophetic Book of Mormon and rejoicing should be ours.