To the teachers out there, sorry if this one is coming a day late and a dollar short. Our ward is a month behind on these due to Stake & Ward Conferences. Mea culpa.
Sometimes we forget that the early restored church focused a lot on the millenium, which many of them believed was imminent. As if they didn’t have enough stress!
This lesson is mostly a compilation of various prophecies about the second coming and the millenium. Here are the ones specifically referenced in the manual:
- The Civil War, starting in South Carolina (some might say still going strong in South Carolina)
- Wars poured out upon all nations (two major world wars plus a host of others – the 20th century has often been called a century of warfare)
- Famine, plague, earthquakes, thunderbolt & lightning (the first three are standard CNN fare; the last two are part of the Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody)
- A seer raised up by God (although Mormons consider this to be Joseph Smith, the Bickertonites, another branch of Mormonism, are still looking for this seer)
- The moon will turn to blood (I always wonder whether this means it will be red which is a common scientific phenomenon or whether someone will be murdered on the moon, which might be a good premise for a sci-fi novel)
- The Son of Man will descend in the clouds of heaven (not to burst Charles Manson’s bubble, but I don’t think he qualifies based on this description alone)
- The wicked will be destroyed off the face of the earth (or does this mean that the play Wicked will finally end its Broadway run? See how enigmatic prophesies can be!)
- Judah must return (Jews for Jesus?)
- Jerusalem be rebuilt (this would be a lot easier if it weren’t a war zone)
- A temple will be built in Jerusalem with water issuing from under the temple (a wellspring or someone left the water running in the bathroom?)
- The waters of the Dead Sea will be healed (I assume this means freshwater instead of brackish, but maybe it has something to do with overfishing–see today’s AM post for more discussion on this point)
- The sun will turn to darkness (hey, that happens every night!)
- Earthquakes in diverse places (pretty common nowadays)
- The seas will heave beyond their bounds (sounds like global warming)
- There will be “one grand sign” of the Son of Man in heaven that people will mistakenly say is a comet or planet
- Contrary to popular belief, all flesh will be subject to suffer from disease and famine, including the righteous (sorry if this isn’t in your plans . . .)
After the Second Coming, here are the prophecies regarding the millenium:
- Christ will reign personally (this doesn’t sound like there will be an election since the majority of the planet is still not Christian; or maybe he will just be really persuasive.)
- The earth will be renewed (like a library book?) and receive its paradisaical glory (this is the only place you ever see that word paradisaical)
- The nations will dwell in peace for 1000 years (that would be a nice change)
- The earth will be as a sea of glass, one great Urim & Thummim, and when we look in it we will see as we are seen (So, if the internet is a Urim & Thummim, maybe this is like Facebook?)
The lesson talks about some of the good things about focusing on the Second Coming & Millenium:
- It motivates us to live the commandments and be good people.
- It provides a sense of urgency to fulfill the three missions of the church.
- For those enduring trials, there is an end in sight.
But there are also some potential negative side effects of this focus:
- Developing a complacent attitude that “this world” is temporary anyway and doesn’t matter; hardly an effective way to foster our stewardship of this earth (e.g. why recycle?).
- An expectation of reward for good deeds (rather than doing things out of a love of God & our fellow human beings). This is kind of like the Santa Claus effect on children–10 months out of the year they behave like troglodytes, but they are perfect angels once Christmas is around the corner.
- A hyperbolic worldview in which danger lurks at every corner and there is a war for our souls at every turn; fear is not a good basis for Christian charity toward others or rational, balanced decision-making.
What are your thoughts as you think about the Second Coming and the Millenium? Do you make an extra effort to be good when the moon turns red due to a solar eclipse when there are dust particles in the air? Does thinking about the Second Coming motivate you to be a better person or is it too “out there” to contemplate? Discuss.