The Signs of the Times

Bruce R. McConkie

In every age the Lord sends forth clearly discernible signs and warnings so that those who are spiritually inclined can know of his hand-dealings with men. In the meridian of time, when Jewish tempters, members of "a wicked and adulterous generation," came desiring that "he would shew them a sign from heaven," he rebuked and derided them by asking, "Can ye not discern the signs of the times?" (Matt. 16:1-4.) To the faithful elders carrying the message of salvation to the world in this dispensation, the Lord has given this promise: "Unto you it shall be given to know the signs of the times, and the signs of the coming of the Son of Man." (D. & C. 68:11.)

As used in these scriptures, signs are the recognizable events or occurrences which identify present and which portend future events. They are omens, prodigies, wonders, and marvels of abnormal occurrence. Times means the age, era, period, or dispensation involved. Thus the signs of the times for our age or dispensation are the marvelous events differing in kind, extent, or magnitude from events of past times which identify the dispensation of the fulness of times and presage the Second Advent of our Lord. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Signs of the Times; Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, pp. 19-37.)

By the power of the Holy Ghost the faithful saints are able to discern the signs of the times, signs preparatory to and part of this final great dispensation, and among them are the following:

1. SPIRIT TO BE POURED OUT ON ALL FLESH. This promise, as pertaining to the last days, was made by Joel and renewed by Moroni when he appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith on Sept. 21, 1823. (Joel 2:28-32; Jos. Smith 2:41.) It has reference, not to the Holy Ghost, but to the pouring out of the Spirit of Christ, the spirit or light which enlighteneth every man born into the world. Those who hearken to this spirit and are led by its strivings come to the knowledge of the truth, accept the gospel, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (D. & C. 84:44-48.)

It was this spirit, the Light of Christ, which prepared the way for the opening of the dispensation of the fulness of times. Working in the hearts of men in the dark ages, it caused them to seek light, to translate the Bible, to break away (partially, at least) from the chains of religious darkness which bound their minds. This is the spirit, inspiring good men and honest truth seekers in every nation, which has led to the great discoveries, inventions, and technological advances of our modern civilization achievements withheld from former dispensations and made known only in the last days.

2. DISCOVERY AND USE OF PRINTING. Few tools were more effective than printing in paving the way for the great revival of learning, for the religious reformation, and for the breaking away of peoples and nations from religious domination. Without the discovery of movable type in about 1440 A.D. the barrier of gross darkness covering the apostate world could scarce have been pierced. One of the first books published was the Gutenberg Bible in 1456 A.D.

Perhaps no important discovery in world history ever faced such intense and bitter opposition as arose over the use and spread of printing. Civil and ecclesiastical tyrants feared the loss of their ill-held and evilly-exercised powers should knowledge and truth be made available to people generally. "We must root out printing," said the Vicar of Croydon from his pulpit, "or printing will root us out." (Progress of Man, pp. 206-215.)

But the destined ascendancy of truth was inevitable. Thomas Paine's Rights of Man, for instance, was one of the major forces in uniting the American colonists in their revolutionary struggle for freedom. But real freedom of the press itself was not assured for any reasonable segment of mankind until the final adoption of the Constitution of the United States in 1789.

3. PROTESTANT REFORMATION AND AGE OF RENAISSANCE. With the revival of learning and the rebirth in man's breast of a thirst for truth, the dark ages were doomed. Beginning in the 14th century, the Lord began to prepare those social, educational, religious, economic, and governmental conditions under which he could more easily restore the gospel for the last time among men. The spirit of inspiration rested upon Wycliffe, Huss, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Knox, and others, causing them to rebel against the religious evils of the day and seek to make the Bible and other truth available to all who would receive such. The age of Renaissance and Reformation were part of the Lord's program preparatory to ushering in his great latter-day work. (Progress of Man, pp. 196-237.)

4. DISCOVERY AND COLONIZATION OF AMERICA. The latter-day discovery and colonization of the American nation was part of the divine plan. This land, "choice above all other lands" (Ether 2:7-12), has been reserved in all ages for the particular peoples permitted to inhabit it. In the latter-days these inhabitants were to come from the nations of the Gentiles. Nephi saw the foundation of a great and abominable church among the nations of the Gentiles a church "most abominable above all other churches," a church whose foundation was the devil, a church separated from the seed of his brethren, the Lamanites, by many waters. He also beheld that the Spirit of God, meaning the Light of Christ, came down and wrought upon a man among the Gentiles (Columbus), inspiring and impelling him to lead out in the discovery of America.

Then Nephi saw the same spirit, "that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters." Following this view of the colonization of America, Nephi saw the Revolutionary War, with the new inhabiters of this new land being delivered by "the power of God," while the wrath of God rested upon "their mother Gentiles." (1 Ne. 13:1-19.)

5. ESTABLISHMENT OF THE AMERICAN NATION. We know by revelation that the United States was established as a nation by the Lord for two chief reasons: 1. So that the Book of Mormon, containing as it does the fulness of the gospel, might come forth with its message of salvation to both Jew (which includes the Lamanites) and Gentile. 2. So that the Lord's true Church might be set up again on earth, and thus have the way opened up for the fulfilling of the covenants made by the Lord with the house of Israel.

The resurrected Lord, in speaking to the Nephites of the signs whereby it might be known when the great latter-day work would commence, said that the Gentiles would be established in this land "as a free people by the power of the Father," so that the Book of Mormon record might come forth, and so "that the covenant of the Father may be fulfilled which he hath covenanted with his people, O house of Israel." (3 Ne. 21:4.) The nation so set up was to be on "a land of liberty unto the Gentiles." It was to be a nation in which no kings would be raised up, a nation which would be fortified "against all other nations," so that all who fought against it "shall perish, saith God. For he that raiseth up a king against me shall perish, for I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king, and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words." (2 Ne. 10:9-19.)

6. TRANSLATION AND PRINTING OF BIBLE. Without a knowledge on the part of the common people of the truths found in the Bible, the Lord could not have brought to pass his latter-day purposes. During the dark ages reading, writing, and a knowledge of the scriptures were confined, almost without exception, to the clergy. Because the people lacked the knowledge of the truth they were more easily kept in bondage by their civil and ecclesiastical overlords. And so the translation and printing of the Bible became a mighty force opening the door to progression and advancement in every field. (J. Paterson Smyth, How We Got Our Bible.)

7. ESTABLISHMENT OF U.S. CONSTITUTION. According to the Lord's plan of agency and freedom, certain "inherent and inalienable rights" belong to "all mankind." Hence, the Lord's interest in civil government; for, "No government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life." (D. & C. 98:4-10; 134.)

Free agency under law is of God; coercion and anarchy are of Lucifer. The Constitution, as the supreme law of the land, is designed to protect men in their natural and inalienable rights. Hence, it "should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh.

And for this purpose," saith the Lord, "have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood." (D. & C. 101:76-80.)

8. LATTER-DAY REVELATION. No sign of the times is more dramatic or expressive of such marvelous wonderment as revelation; and no sign is deserving of such attentive consideration by man as the opening of the heavens in latter-days. The voice of God is heard again. The Father and the Son appeared personally to the Prophet. Angels again minister to the faithful. The gift of the Holy Ghost is poured out on thousands of righteous church members. The President of the Church stands as a prophet, seer, and revelator to his people. Visions, revelations, gifts of the Spirit abound. By all these means the predictions of the ancient scriptures as pertaining to the last days are being fulfilled. What could anyone ask more as a sign of the times?

9. COMING FORTH OF THE BOOK OF MORMON. One of the great evidences of the Lord's goodness, mercy, and condescension toward his children on earth is found in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, a book containing a record of God's dealings with peoples and nations on the American continent who had the fulness of the gospel. The price in faith, toil, and blood which first preserved and then brought forth this record in our day is incalculable. Many prophets foretold events surrounding its preparation, preservation, and final coming forth in the latter-days as a sign that the times of restitution of all things had commenced. (Isa. 29; Ezek. 37; 2 Ne. 3; 27; 29; 3 Ne. 21; Morm. 8.)

10. OPPOSITION TO THE BOOK OF MORMON. Strange as it may seem to present day enemies of the truth, their very opposition to the receipt of more of the word of the Lord by way of the Book of Mormon is one of the signs of the times. Their opposition, summarized in the canting chant, "A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible," brings forth this severe rebuke from the Lord: "Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. ... Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word?" (2 Ne. 29.)

11. RESTORATION OF KEYS AND PRIESTHOOD. Without priesthood (which is the power and authority of God delegated to man on earth to act in all things for the salvation of men), and keys (which are the right and power of presidency, the right to direct the manner in which priesthood is to be used, and the means by which the door is opened for the gospel cause) the covenants of the Lord pertaining to the last days could not be fulfilled. Thus the restoration of the priesthood and its keys becomes a sign that the work reserved for the dispensation of dispensations has commenced. John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John, Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Elijah, Elias, Moses, and Moroni have all come restoring their keys, powers, and authorities. (D. & C. 13; 27; 128.)

12. RESTORATION OF THE GOSPEL. From the very beginning the Lord's prophets have known and spoken about the final restoration of the gospel in the last days. Isaiah devoted so many whole chapters to the great era of restoration and the events to transpire therein that he might well be called the ancient prophet of the restoration. (Isa. 2; 4; 5; 10; 11; 13; 18; 24; 29; 33; 34; 35; 51; 52; 54; 60; 63; 64; 65; 66.)

The promised restoration, destined to come by revelation and angelic ministration, was seen by John as taking place just before the day of judgment. (Rev. 14:6-8; D. & C. 133:36-41.) Indeed, the promised restoration is so extensively intertwined with the whole concept of the last days that no one can really believe these are the last days without believing also that the Lord has spoken again and is bringing to pass his strange act.

13. MESSENGER TO PRECEDE SECOND COMING. "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me," the Lord said speaking of his Second Coming. (Mal. 3:1-6.) Both John the Baptist and the Prophet Joseph Smith have ministered in our day in fulfilment of this ancient prediction. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 191-195.) The gospel itself is, also, a messenger preparing the way before the face of the Lord. (D. & C. 45:9.)

14. CHURCH AND KINGDOM SET UP AGAIN. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on earth. It is the kingdom set up without man's hands (meaning by revelation from heaven), and it was to come forth in the days of certain kings who reigned subsequent to the days of the Roman Empire; that is, it was to be set up in the last days. (Dan. 2:31-45.) The keys of the kingdom were given to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in June, 1829, and the formal organization of the kingdom took place on April 6, 1830. (D. & C. 20; 128:20.)

15. GROWTH OF THE CHURCH. For our day the Church was set up with this decree: It would stand forever; never again would there be universal apostasy; the kingdom would never be destroyed, left to other people, or sink into oblivion. This time the gospel and plan of salvation would remain; the newly established kingdom would in due course break in pieces all earthly kingdoms and would remain forever. (Dan. 2:44.)

Enoch saw that the restored kingdom would remain on earth to prepare a people for the Second Coming of the Lord. (Moses 7:60-66.) In confirming the known truth that the keys of the kingdom had been committed to man on the earth, the Lord gave the irrevocable assurance that the gospel would roll forth "until it has filled the whole earth." (D. & C. 65.) There will be an eventual millennial day when every living soul on earth will belong to the true Church, for the knowledge of God shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Isa. 11:9; Hab. 2:14), and pending that blessed consummation the present marvelous growth, expansion, and stability of the Church will shine forth as one of the signs of the times.

16. GATHERING OF ISRAEL. After the Church had been organized and perfected in New Testament times, after the apostles had been ordained and commissioned to carry the message of salvation to all the earth, after the resurrected Christ had spent 40 days with his disciples schooling them in all things necessary for their ministry, after all this and more, there yet remained one great promised event about which the disciples had not been informed.

Having in mind the many prophetic declarations relative to the gathering of scattered Israel, and on the occasion of our Lord's ascension into heaven, the apostles asked: "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" In reply the Lord said: "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power." (Acts 1:6-11.) In other words, the promised gathering of Israel was yet future; it was to occur in a time subsequent to New Testament times; the full restoration of the kingdom to Israel was reserved for the last days.

The keys of that gathering were conferred upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery by Moses on April 3, 1836, in the Kirtland Temple (D. & C. 110:11), and since that day the scattered remnants of Jacob have been leaving friends and temporal pursuits in all nations, and with the spirit of gathering resting mightily upon them, assembling with the saints who comprise the hosts of Latter-day Israel. The drawing power of the Church from all nations is one of the marvels of the ages.

17. TEN TRIBES TO RETURN. So far, the gathering of Israel has been limited primarily to the scattered sheep of Ephraim (who is ranked as the firstborn and as having the birthright), and to a few of Manasseh, Judah and other tribes. But the time is near when the lost tribes "who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord," and shall come to Zion "with songs of everlasting joy," to be crowned with blessings by those of Ephraim who stand at the head. (D. & C. 133:26-34.)

18. TIMES OF GENTILES BEING FULFILLED. Taking the dispensation of the meridian of time as a starting point, the gospel was preached first to the Jews and thereafter to the Gentiles. Then dropping down to the dispensation of the fulness of times we find the gospel message going first to the Gentiles, with a promise that it will hereafter go to the Jews. Thus the first shall be last and the last first. (1 Ne. 13:42.)

Now this era in which the Gentiles have precedence in receiving the gospel is called the times of the Gentiles. In it the non-Jews (meaning the other portions of scattered Israel, the portions found in the great Gentile nations of the earth) have the opportunity to accept the gospel and gain salvation before that right is to be given, in any substantial degree, at least, to the Jews. When the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, then the gospel will go to the Jews.

Obviously the fulfilling of the times of the Gentiles will not come at a specified moment; it will involve a period of time. We are living in that transition period. Our Lord told his disciples, speaking of the signs of his Second Coming, that "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." (Luke 21:24; D. & C. 45:24-30; Inspired Version, Luke 21:24-32.) In December, 1917, General Allenby of Great Britain captured Jerusalem almost without opposition and for the first time in nearly 1900 years that city came out from under infidel or Gentile domination and was made available for the return of the Jews.

19. RETURN OF JUDAH TO JERUSALEM. Judah is commanded to flee to Jerusalem in the last days (D. & C. 133:13), and their return is given as one of the signs that the times of the Gentiles is being fulfilled. (D. & C. 45:25.) To effect this return of the Jews to their native Palestine, the Lord has begun to work by what appear to men as natural causes. When England received the mandate of Palestine, Mr. Balfour, secretary of state for foreign affairs, issued a declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations. Great sums were spent by Britain and others to industrialize Palestine, renew the fertility of her soil, and build up her civilization. Hundreds of thousands of Jews returned to the land of their fathers and now an Israeli nation itself has been established there.

20. JEWS TO BEGIN TO BELIEVE IN CHRIST. "And it shall come to pass that the Jews which are scattered also shall begin to believe in Christ; and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land." (2 Ne. 30:7.) Much of the old Jewish bitterness against Christ has ceased; many now accept him as a great Rabbi, though not the Son of God. A few have accepted him in the full sense, coming into the true Church along with the gathered remnants of Ephraim and his fellows.

But the great conversion of the Jews, their return to the truth as a nation, is destined to follow the Second Coming of their Messiah. Those able to abide that day, in their extremity and mourning, will ask: "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." (D. & C. 45:51-52; Zech. 12:8-14; 13:6.)

21. BUILDING OF LATTER-DAY TEMPLES. This final dispensation is now and in greater measure is yet to be the great era of temple work and temple building. Isaiah foretold that the house of the Lord would be established in the tops of the mountains, in the American Zion, and that scattered Israel would flow unto it just before the Second Coming. (Isa. 2:1-5.) Micah repeated the same prophecy. (Micah 4:1-7.) Ezekiel foretold the placing of a similar holy sanctuary among gathered Israel in Palestine in the last days. (Ezekiel 37) And the Lord has given us renewed assurance that this same temple is to be erected in "the mountains of the Lord's house" in Jerusalem. (D. & C. 133:13.)

This latter-day building of temples holy sanctuaries apart from the world where sacred ordinances can be performed for the salvation and exaltation of men even as such temples were built and such ordinances performed anciently (D. & C. 124:25-42), is one of the great evidences of the divinity of this great latter-day work as well as one of the great signs of the last days.

22. LORD TO COME SUDDENLY TO TEMPLE. Malachi preserved for us the promise that the Lord would suddenly come to his temple in the last days prior to the great and dreadful day of the Lord, an event which actually took place, as far as the Kirtland Temple is concerned, on the 3rd of April in 1836. (Mal. 3:1; D. & C. 110:1-10.) This is one of those prophetic utterances destined for dual fulfilment, however, and the Lord yet again shall come suddenly to others of his temples, including the great temple to be erected in Jackson County.

23. SPIRIT OF ELIJAH AND GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH. A great change has taken place in this dispensation relative to genealogical research; since the coming of Elijah, the hearts of people everywhere, both in the Church and out, have turned to their fathers. The time when genealogical societies were first organized to any appreciable extent ties in so closely with the time of Elijah's return that it constitutes competent and relevant evidence that Elijah actually came. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, pp. 117-128.)

24. PERSECUTION OF THE SAINTS. Where the gospel is, there will be opposition and persecution, for Lucifer will not stand idly by while the work of God rolls forward. Hence, the saints have been tormented, pushed about, persecuted, reviled. The Missouri persecutions are one of the blackest pages in American history. Persecution is the heritage of the faithful; when men join the Church, it commences; when they leave the truth, their persecutors become their friends.

25. PERSECUTION OF THE JEWS. Because they rejected the truth and failed to keep the commandments of the Lord, all the curses enumerated by Moses came upon the Jews. "The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies," he said, so that thou "shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. ... And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee." (Deut. 28.) Similar predictions of their scattering and suffering were also made by our Lord during his ministry. (Luke 21:20-24; D. & C. 45:18-32.) And as we view present and past events, in what nations and kingdom have they not become a hiss and a byword? Where have they not been treated as the offscourings of the earth?

Yet with it all a remnant was to be preserved as a peculiar and distinct people. (What a miracle it is that the Jewish people continue as a distinct race in spite of all their persecution and suffering!) And when Jerusalem was no longer trodden down of the Gentiles, when the fulness of the Gentiles was fulfilled, they were to return to the land of their fathers. In Germany, Russia, Poland, and many nations, they have been slaughtered, burned, driven, and scourged; yet they have maintained their distinctive race and are now and will continue to return to Jerusalem. Indeed, their very persecutions have helped cause them to flee unto Jerusalem.

26. TRUE GOSPEL TO BE PREACHED IN ALL THE WORLD. Mormon missionaries work a modern miracle in carrying again to the world the same identical gospel preached by Christ and his apostles. (Jos. Smith 1:31; D. & C. 133:37.) Where else is there any church or organization which can call upon scores of thousands of its members to volunteer two or three or more years of their lives, pay their own expenses, and go forth carrying a message to the world? "And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days. And they shall go forth and none shall stay them, for I the Lord have commanded them." (D. & C. 1:4-5.)

27. WORLDLY KNOWLEDGE TO INCREASE. Never in the entire history of the world has there been anything to compare, even in slight degree, with the great flood of worldly knowledge that has swept the globe in modern times. Marvelous advances have taken place in every field scientific, historical, sociological, artistic, medicinal, governmental, economic, inventive, atomic, judicial, and so on ad infinitum all of which has been according to the great foreordained plan for man on earth. These advances were withheld and reserved for the final age of the earth's temporal continuance.

At "the time of the end," said Daniel, "many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." (Dan. 12:4.) But this great increase of latter-day knowledge was not foreseen as leading men to faith, testimony, and ultimate salvation. For "in the last days," said Paul, men shall be "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth," that is, the truth about God and salvation. (2 Tim. 3:1-7.)

28. SCIENTIFIC AND INVENTIVE PROGRESS. The promised latter-day increase of knowledge and learning is evidenced by the many inventions, engineering marvels, and mechanical undertakings of modern times. We have already seen the discovery and world-wide use of radio, television, telephones, and wireless; of steam engines, automobiles, airplanes, and railroads; of electricity, atomic energy, and destructive weapons; of medicinal advances, surgical achievements, and wonder drugs. Apparently some of the ancient prophets were even permitted to see the latter-day use of airplanes and armored tanks (Rev. 9:5-10), of trains and automobiles (Nah. 2:3-5), and perhaps other achievements, and to make records of their visions in such descriptive terms as were then available to them.

29. DISEASE, PLAGUE, PESTILENCE TO SWEEP EARTH. Despite medical advances, people are to suffer from diseases, plagues, and pestilences of undreamed proportions in the last days. Men's hearts shall fail them. (Luke 21:26.) New and unheard of diseases will attack the human system.

After the times of the Gentiles comes in there shall be an overflowing scourge, and "a desolating sickness shall cover the land." (D. & C. 45:31.) Also: "I the Lord God will send forth flies upon the face of the earth, which shall take hold of the inhabitants thereof, and shall eat their flesh, and shall cause maggots to come in upon them; And their tongues shall be stayed that they shall not utter against me; and their flesh shall fall from off their bones, and their eyes from their sockets." (D. & C. 29:18-19.) The plagues and pestilences of the past will be as nothing compared to what is yet to be as the great winding up scene approaches.

30. ELEMENTS IN COMMOTION. Our earth has been and will be subject to various physical conditions during the course of its existence. When first created, it came forth in a terrestrial or paradisiacal status, all land being in one place; then came the fall and the resultant telestial conditions now prevailing; and mighty changes were most certainly wrought by the universal flood and in the day when the continents were divided. We are now approaching the day when the earth is to be renewed and returned to its paradisiacal glory and when the islands are to become one land again.

Conditions and circumstances destined to prevail during this final pre-millennial period call for great commotion and upheaval among the very elements. This is the day when "there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places" (Jos. Smith 1:29; D. & C. 45:33); when there shall be "the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her [the earth], and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand." This is the day when we shall hear "the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds." (D. & C. 88:89-90.)

In our day there are to be dust storms, whirlwinds, tornadoes, floods, and "a great hailstorm sent forth to destroy the crops of the earth." (D. & C. 29:16.) And finally, incident to the final change back to its paradisiacal state, the very globe itself shall "tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man." (D. & C. 88:87.)

31. DISASTERS AND CALAMITIES TO ABOUND. Perils and calamities, daily instances of turmoil and violent death, and an increasing flood of disasters and dangers are symptomatic of the times. For instance: "There are many dangers upon the waters, and more especially hereafter," the saints learned by revelation back on August 12, 1831, following Elder William W. Phelps' daylight vision of the destroyer riding upon the face of the Missouri River. "For I, the Lord, have decreed in mine anger many destructions upon the waters; yea, and especially upon these waters .... Behold, I, the Lord, in the beginning blessed the waters; but in the last days, by the mouth of my servant John, I cursed the waters. Wherefore, the days will come that no flesh shall be safe upon the waters." (D. & C. 61:4-5, 14-15.)

32. STRIKES, ANARCHY, VIOLENCE, TO INCREASE. Not only do disasters and perils abound because of the unsettled conditions of the elements, but that same spirit of unrest is found among men themselves. The Lord's decree for this age is: "The whole earth shall be in commotion." (D. & C. 45:26.) Signs of this commotion are seen daily in the untempered strikes and labor troubles that rock the economic world; in the violence, compulsion, and destruction of property that attend these strikes; in the unholy plots against our freedoms and free institutions; in the anarchy, rebellion, and crime that flow from great political movements which seek to destroy the agency of man and overthrow the governments of the world by force and violence. Communism and every other brutal and evil association or form of government are signs of the times.

33. LATTER-DAY WICKEDNESS. Our Lord's epigrammatic announcement, "Iniquity shall abound" (Jos. Smith 1:30), as he described latter-day conditions, perfectly summarizes the prevailing world condition.

Crime and licentiousness of every sort are the common diet of a large portion of the inhabiters of our globe. Murder, robbery, rape, whoredoms, every form of sex immorality, and all forms of crimes against persons and property truly abound. Juvenile delinquency is a problem of substantial magnitude. Birth control is one of the great evils of the day. This is the time when the prediction of the Lord is fulfilled that men should say: "Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck." (Luke 23:29.) And all these iniquities receive anything but deterrence from the common run of movies, radio and television broadcasts, comic books, and other cheap and degrading so-called literary efforts.

34. SPIRIT CEASING TO STRIVE WITH WICKED. That spirit which enlightens every person born into the world, which is poured out in abundant measure to guide in bringing about latter-day progress and advancements, is now ceasing to strive with the wicked. "I, the Lord, am angry with the wicked; I am holding my Spirit from the inhabitants of the earth" (D. & C. 63:32), "for my Spirit shall not always strive with man, saith the Lord of Hosts." (D. & C. 1:33.)

Wickedness begets wickedness just as righteousness leads to an increase in righteousness. When men rebel, the spirit ceases to strive with them; finally they are left entirely to their own devices and to the influence of the devil, and then they are ripe for destruction. This is the course that worldly people are now following; the day of destruction will come at the Second Coming, for then the cup of iniquity of the wicked will be full.

Righteous nations of the past, turning from the Lord to iniquity, have followed this same course. Of the Jaredites it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord had ceased striving with them, and Satan had full power over the hearts of the people; for they were given up unto the hardness of their hearts, and the blindness of their minds that they might be destroyed." (Ether 15:19.) A similar condition came upon the Nephites. (Moro. 8:28; 9:4.) In this day the spirit will continue to be withdrawn until the whole vineyard will be burned, and the righteous only will escape destruction.

35. PEACE TAKEN FROM EARTH. On November 1, 1831, the Lord said: "The hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand, when peace shall be taken from the earth, and the devil shall have power over his own dominion." (D. & C. 1:35.) Later Elder George A. Smith left us this apt statement: "Peace is taken from the earth, and wrath and indignation among the people is the result; they care not for anything but to quarrel and destroy each other. The same spirit that dwelt in the breasts of the Nephites during the last battles that were fought by them on this continent, when they continued to fight until they were exterminated, is again on earth and is increasing." (Journal History, Sept. 23, 1855.) Never again will there be peace on earth until the Prince of Peace (returning in power and glory to destroy the warring nations) comes to bring it.

36. ANGELS NOW REAPING THE EARTH. In a revelation given January 2, 1831, the Lord announced: "The angels are waiting the great command to reap down the earth, to gather the tares that they may be burned; and, behold, the enemy is combined." (D. & C. 38:12.) A similar announcement was repeated on December 6, 1832. (D. & C. 86:5.)

These angels have now begun their work. This we learn through the spirit of inspiration that rested upon President Wilford Woodruff. June 24, 1894, he said: "God has held the angels of destruction for many years, lest they should reap down the wheat with the tares. But I want to tell you now, that those angels have left the portals of heaven, and they stand over this people and this nation now, and are hovering over the earth waiting to pour out the judgments. And from this very day they shall be poured out. Calamities and troubles are increasing in the earth, and there is a meaning to these things. ... Great changes are at our doors. The next 20 years will see mighty changes among the nations of the Earth." (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 230) It is interesting to note that almost 20 years later to the day, June 28, 1914, the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, thus initiating the first World War.

37. WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS. "I have sworn in my wrath, and decreed wars upon the face of the earth," the Lord has said as pertaining to our day, "and the wicked shall slay the wicked, and fear shall come upon every man." (D. & C. 63:33.) Again: "For behold, and lo, vengeance cometh speedily upon the ungodly as the whirlwind; and who shall escape it? The Lord's scourge shall pass over by night and by day, and the report thereof shall vex all people; yea, it shall not be stayed until the Lord come; For the indignation of the Lord is kindled against their abominations and all their wicked works." (D. & C. 97:22-24.)

On Christmas day, 1832, the Lord said that beginning with the rebellion of South Carolina, war would be poured out and would roll forth until it had "made a full end of all nations." (D. & C. 87.) Warfare as we know it, modern warfare, commenced with the Civil War. Probably there has not been a day since April 12, 1861, when the first shots were fired on Fort Sumpter, in which there has not been both war and preparation for war going on at some place on earth. When a shaky peace comes in one place, blood begins to flow in another, which condition will continue until it is climaxed by the great war when the Lord will have gathered all nations together in the Valley of Decision, and he himself will come to fight the battles of the righteous.

38. FAMINES, DEPRESSIONS, AND ECONOMIC TURMOIL. Because of iniquity and greed in the hearts of men, there will be depressions, famines, and a frantic search for temporal security a security sought without turning to the Lord or obeying his precepts. We may expect to see the insatiable desire to get something for nothing result in further class legislation and more socialistic experiments by governments. Economic inequalities will certainly give rise to further class warfare and bickering. There will be riots, bloodshed, hunger, commotion, turmoil, and panics. These are all signs of the times.

39. APOSTATE DARKNESS COVERS EARTH. With all their vaunted claims of being religious and with all their veneer of piety, the generality of men in the last days are to be in apostate darkness and subject to every form of evil. Any show of godliness is to be in form only, not in substance. As Paul wrote to Timothy:

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." (2 Tim. 3:1-5.) Also: "The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2 Tim. 4:3-4.)

Nephi spoke similarly in these words: "Behold, in the last days, or in the days of the Gentiles yea, behold all the nations of the Gentiles and also the Jews, both those who shall come upon this land [America] and those who shall be upon other lands, yea, even upon all the lands of the earth, behold, they will be drunken with iniquity and all manner of abominations And when that day shall come they shall be visited of the Lord of Hosts, with thunder and with earthquake, and with a great noise, and with storm, and with tempest, and with the flame of devouring fire." (2 Ne. 27:1-2.)

By modern revelation we are told: "Darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupt before my face. Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord." (D. & C. 112:23-24.)

Every observant person sees abundant present day evidence that these promised latter-day conditions now prevail. Men are blind to spiritual things because their deeds are evil. The philosophies of men (as, for example, evolution) find followers, while the revealed truths of the gospel are shunned. Who can claim that the "form of godliness" now prevailing has brought men near to that righteousness which is of him who said: "Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy"? (Lev. 19:2.)

40. MANY FALSE CHURCHES IN LATTER-DAYS. This is the great day of Satan's power. It is the day of false Christs, false prophets, false miracles, false religions, false doctrines, false philosophies. It is a day when fables take precedence over facts, when all but the very elect are deceived. Of this day our Lord said: "There shall also arise false Christ, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch, that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant." (Jos. Smith 1:22; Rev. 13:13-14.)

Moroni, writing with fervor and in power, described conditions that would exist when the Book of Mormon should come forth. Among other things he said: "It shall come in a day when it shall be said that miracles are done away; and it shall come even as if one should speak from the dead. And it shall come in a day when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness.

"Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches.

"Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be heard of fires, and tempests, and vapors of smoke in foreign lands; And there shall also be heard of wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places.

"Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations; when there shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day. But wo unto such for they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.

"Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins." (Morm. 8:26-41.)

41. REFUSAL OF MEN TO BELIEVE SIGNS OF TIMES. The very fact that men refuse to believe the many signs of the times is itself one of the signs promised to precede the advent of our Lord. Peter prophesied of this, saying: "There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." (2 Pet. 3:3-4.) That is, in effect, these scoffers are saying, "Why be so gullible as to believe that earthquakes, floods, famines, pestilence, wars, iniquity, and all similar conditions are signs of the last days? Have not these same conditions existed from the beginning of time?"

And how many there are, like the Jews of old, who fail to discern the signs of the times! (Matt. 16:1-4.) "Christ delayeth his coming," they say. (D. & C. 45:26.) Men eat and drink, marry and are given in marriage, the common affairs of day to day living continue, until suddenly ("as it was in the days of Noah, so it shall be also at the coming of the Son of Man") he is here! "For in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh." (Jos. Smith 1:40-48.)

42. SIGNS ON EARTH AND IN HEAVENS. "And it shall come to pass that he that feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man. And they shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath. And they shall behold blood, and fire, and vapors of smoke. And before the day of the Lord shall come, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon be turned into blood, and the stars fall from heaven." (D. & C. 45:39-42; Joel 2:30-31.)

Perhaps atomic and hydrogen bombs are a prelude to a yet greater fulfilment of this revelation. Certainly modern wonders as now seen in the heavens and on earth even those created by man's hands without (from the standpoint of the world) divine interposition had no counterpart either in kind or degree in days of old.

43. LAMANITES TO BLOSSOM AS THE ROSE. As part of the Lord's covenant people, a part on whom a curse fell because of the iniquity of their fathers, the Lamanites are yet to stand as a sign that the end is near. In March, 1831, the Lord revealed: "Before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose. Zion shall flourish upon the hills and rejoice upon the mountains, and shall be assembled together unto the place which I have appointed." (D. & C. 49:24-25.)

Some Lamanites, gathered into the fold of Christ, have already blossomed forth with all the fruits of righteousness appertaining to the gospel; the scales of darkness have begun to drop from their eyes, according to the promises (2 Ne. 30:6); and they will yet, as a people, become as white, delightsome, and desirable as their Nephite brethren ever were. Already Jacob (with Ephraim at the head) has flourished in the wilderness where Brigham Young led her, a wilderness which has since also begun to blossom as the rose. And already Zion has flourished upon the hills, rejoiced in the mountains, and commenced to assemble together in the appointed places.

44. THE GATHERING AT ADAM-ONDI-AHMAN. Before the great and dreadful day when the Lord is to return "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 1:8) there is to be an appearance at a place called Adam-ondi-Ahman. There Adam, the Ancient of Days, will sit in council with his children; there Christ will come, and to him shall be given "dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." (Dan. 7.)

The place where this gathering will take place has been specified by revelation (D. & C. 116), and so imminent is its occurrence that the Prophet Joseph Smith was led to remark, "This may take place before some of us leave this stage of action." (Teachings, p. 157.)

45. FINAL GREAT WAR TO ATTEND SECOND COMING. Our Lord will come in the midst of the greatest war the world has ever known. All nations will be gathered together at Jerusalem. The armies of the earth will be assembled in the Valley of Decision. Apparently those engaged in the conflict (possibly counting those in direct support of the fighting forces, meaning those making the armaments as well as these using them) will total 200,000,000. This will be the day when again the abomination of desolation will be fulfilled. (Zech. 12; 13; 14; Joel 3; Ezek. 38; 39; Rev. 9; D. & C. 29:14-21; Jos. Smith 1:32.) World conditions which point toward a time when the armies of the world shall wage war in the Holy Land are of great concern to the saints, for at the height of that conflict Christ will come and the great millennial era will be ushered in.

46. SORROW AND FEAR PRECEDE AND ACCOMPANY SECOND COMING. As the signs of the times unfold, as the plagues and desolations of the last days multiply, "There shall be weeping and wailing among the hosts of men." (D. & C. 29:15.) Fear of the future shall increase in the hearts of the wicked until they shall call on the rocks and the hills to fall on them and hide them "from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Rev. 6:12-17; Luke 23:30-31.) After the Lord finally comes, the spirit of grace and supplication shall be poured out on the remaining Jews; they shall learn that they crucified their King; and then "they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." (Zech. 12:10-14.)

47. FALL OF THE GREAT AND ABOMINABLE CHURCH. One of the final great events of our age is to be the fall and utter destruction of that great church which is not the Lord's Church, that great church "which is most abominable above all other churches." (1 Ne. 13:5.) "That great church, the mother of abominations, that made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, that persecuteth the saints of God, that shed their blood she who sitteth upon many waters, and upon the islands of the sea behold, she is the tares of the earth; she is bound in bundles; her bands are made strong, no man can loose them; therefore, she is ready to be burned." (D. & C. 88:94; 29:21; Ezek. 38; 39; Rev. 17; 18.)

48. SPECIAL MISSION IN JERUSALEM OF TWO LATTER-DAY PROPHETS. There are to be "two witnesses, ... two prophets that are to be raised up to the Jewish nation in the last days, at the time of the restoration." They are "to prophesy to the Jews after they are gathered and have built the city of Jerusalem in the land of their fathers." (D. & C. 77:15.) "And I will give power unto my two witnesses," the Lord says, "and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth."

"These have power to shut heaven," the record continues, "that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

"And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them." (Rev. 11.)

49. WICKED TO BE BURNED AS STUBBLE. As the final sign of the times, the final event incident to the ushering in of a new age, the vineyard (earth) is to be burned. The wicked shall be as stubble; every corruptible thing shall be consumed; the elements shall melt with fervent heat; only those living at least a terrestrial law will be permitted to remain on earth. (Mal. 4; D. & C. 29:9-10; 63:34,54; 101:23-31; 133:63-64.)

50. FINAL RESTITUTION OF ALL THINGS TO BE COMPLETED. With the ushering of the millennial era, the final restitution of all things will be completed. We will have a new heaven and a new earth a paradisiacal earth, one in which the sea has returned to its place in the north, with the continents becoming one land again. (D. & C. 101:23-31; 133:22-25; Isa. 65:17-25.)

The New Jerusalem will be built up and Enoch's returning city will join with it, as the Lord said unto Enoch: "Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other; And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest." (Moses 7:63-64.)

51. CHRIST TO REIGN PERSONALLY UPON EARTH. I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand." (D. & C. 29:11.) This will be the final consummation of the age; the world (as now constituted) will end; for "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." (Rev. 11:15.)

Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1958, 1966