How do you imagine Christ’s second coming, the next greatest upcoming event in the earth’s history?
To some extent, I’ve always imagined myself standing in a summer wheat field with “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” at full blast, excitedly staring into heaven as the Savior descends in His glory.
I realize my mind’s eye vision is flawed for several reasons, one being that I don’t even live near wheat fields anymore. And maybe instead of staring up into heaven, I’ll be descending out of heaven.
Whatever the case, I hope I’m not burning, drowning, or covered at that day. I’m planning to somehow witness the ultimate triumph of Good over evil.
I see lesser versions of this scene playing out all around me. The battle between good and evil infiltrates plots and story lines. It’s easy to find Gospel metaphors on the large screen and in literary scenes.
Sometimes I’m lulled into a sense of carnal security and complacently forget this battle isn’t just metaphorical. The war is real. And it’s a battle for our souls.
My friend recently shared how impactful the final scene of the 1963 film adaptation of William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” is to her.
Gale wrote, “It’s a perfect allegory for good and evil among members of the human race, and the ending is a perfect parable for the Second Coming of Christ.
A plane crashes on an island. It was carrying members of a church’s boys’ choir. They have to make do. The pilot is killed. The two really good boys are Piggy and Ralph. The other boys make an idol from a boar’s head (covered with flies) and worship it. They make lances and paint their bodies with war paint and essentially become savages.
They kill Piggy. They are chasing Ralph down the beach trying to kill him too, when the adults arrive and the jig is up. They are caught in the act, their guilt undeniable.
Ralph falls at the feet of the rescuer, who really doesn’t need to say a thing. It’s salvation for Ralph and condemnation for the others.”
What will I be doing at the moment Christ comes again? Will I be battling for my salvation? Will I have given in to savage mob-think?
When I stand transparent before Jesus Christ, will my heart betray guilt or goodness?
Standing with Confidence in the Presence of God, Now
Elder Jörg Klebingat posed some questions to help us evaluate if we could stand with confidence in the Lord’s presence today. He said:
“On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your spiritual confidence before God? Do you have a personal witness that your current offering as a Latter-day Saint is sufficient to inherit eternal life? Can you say within yourself that Heavenly Father is pleased with you?
What thoughts come to mind if you had a personal interview with your Savior one minute from now? Would sins, regrets, and shortcomings dominate your self-image, or would you simply experience joyful anticipation? Would you meet or avoid His gaze? Would you linger by the door or confidently walk up to Him?”
The Lord pleads with us to be one of the five wise virgins—prepared and ready for His coming.
He told Wilford Woodruff that the Church fulfilled the slumbering part of the parable of the 10 virgins and it was time for the Saints to rise up and prepare to meet the Bridegroom:
“The word of the Lord to me is that it is time for Zion to rise and let her light shine…as a church and kingdom we have slumbered and slept, and… we have slept long enough; and we have the privilege now of rising and trimming our lamps and putting oil in our vessels.”
Are we awake as a people? Are our lamps trimmed with oil, burning brightly, and ready for Christ’s Second Coming?”
Watch for Your Salvation
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh (Matthew 25:13).
Wouldn’t it just be easier to know the Second Coming’s date? We could all be ready then, right?
Samuel the Lamanite gave the Nephites a pretty specific time-frame for the Savior’s birth. They repented and prepared. Then, they got distracted and proud.
Eventually, in Lord of the Flies fashion, the Nephites decided to execute everyone who still believed in Christ’s coming.
“And they began to rejoice over their brethren, saying…your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain.
Now it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except the sign should come to pass, which had been given by Samuel the prophet” (3 Nephi 1:6, 9).
How easy was it to know who still believed? What was the demarcation between believers and non-believers?
Was it as clear as the difference between Ralph and Jack?
In response to Nephi’s pleading all-day prayer, the Lord answered,
“Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets” (3 Nephi 1:13).
Salvation arrived. And how did the mob react?
“And there were many, who had not believed the words of the prophets, who fell to the earth and became as if they were dead….
yea, in fine, all the people upon the face of the whole earth from the west to the east, both in the land north and in the land south, were so exceedingly astonished that they fell to the earth.
[A]nd they began to fear because of their iniquity and their unbelief” (3 Nephi 1:16-18).
Gordon B. Hinckley explained why we don’t know the date of the Second Coming of Christ.
“To know when these events will occur would take from us much of the self-discipline needed to daily obey the principles of the gospel.”
Instead of over, or under, stressing the day and hour of Christ’s return, President Hinckley counseled us to live our lives so that we can either meet Him when He comes, or be resurrected and arise when He comes.
“We need not fear the day of his coming; the purpose of the Church is to provide the incentive and the opportunity for us to conduct our lives in such a way that those who are members of the kingdom of God will become members of the kingdom of heaven when he establishes that kingdom on the earth….
God bless us in our search for truth and peace and strength, I humbly pray in the name of Him who shall surely come at a time we know not, but whose coming shall be as certain as the coming of the sun in the morning.”
So, while we’re fighting for our lives on the deserted island, it’s advantageous for us to not know the date of salvation.
But, unlike Ralph, we know redemptive Salvation will come.
Rejoicing in His Second Coming
Come, O thou King of Kings!
We’ve waited long for thee,
With healing in thy wings,
To set thy people free.
Come, thou desire of nations, come;
Let Israel now be gathered home.
Come, make an end to sin,
And cleanse the earth by fire,
And righteousness bring in,
That Saints may tune the lyre
With songs of joy, a happier strain,
To welcome in thy peaceful reign.
The Savior will return in a day of earthquakes in divers places, of all of nature in commotion, of darkened suns and blood-red moons and falling stars, of men’s hearts and love failing them, of confusion and darkness, of spiritual upheaval, and when everyone, except Zion, is at war.
But for the righteous, Elder Neil L. Andersen’s description of the great and terrible day is glorious and hopeful.
“The Lord has set His hand to prepare the world for His glorious return. These are days of great opportunity and important responsibilities. These are your days.
Those awaiting the Savior’s coming will ‘look for [Him].’ And He has promised, ‘I will come’! The righteous will see Him ‘in the clouds of heaven [with all the holy angels], clothed with power and great glory.’ ‘An angel shall sound his trump, and the saints … from the four quarters of the earth’ will ‘be caught up to meet him.’
Those ‘that have slept,’ meaning those worthy Saints who have died, ‘shall [also] come forth to meet [Him].’ The scripture reads, ‘The Lord [will] set his foot upon [the] mount,’ and ‘[He] shall utter his voice, and all the ends of the earth shall hear it.'”
As Latter-day Saints, we anxiously await Jesus’ Second Coming and rejoice to labor for His cause today.
But, can you imagine it? Where will you be, and how will you feel, when the Savior comes again? Are you racing down a beach, with wickedness at your back, winning the war for your soul?
He brings Salvation! He brings Exaltation! He brings mercy and justice, everlasting peace and eternal purpose.
If we watch and act today, and throughout our lives, then when we find ourselves on that beach face-planted into the sand, we will recognize His beautiful feet. We will find redemption. We will be home.