Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Coming of Christ (Part 2) Parable of the Fig Tree

We all look forward to the coming of Christ to usher in a period of peace and security. We would like to bask in the light of a Millennial Terrestrial life and have our children grow up in righteousness. When should we look for the coming of Christ is the big question? We are all familiar with the scripture that says the no man knows the day or the hour,

Matt 24:36
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

The Prophet Joseph Smith felt that it would be revealed to the Prophet when the coming of Christ would be,

Remarks on the coming of the Son of Man by Joseph Smith the Prophet. Made in Nauvoo Christ says no man knoweth the day or the hour when the Son of Man cometh. This is a sweeping argument for sectarianism against the latter day ism. Did Christ speak this as a general principle throughout all generations Oh no he spoke in the present tense no man that was then liveing upon the footstool of God knew the day or the hour But he did not say that there was no man throughout all generations that should not know the day or the hour. No for this would be in flat contradiction with other scripture for the prophet says that God will do nothing but what he will reveal unto his servants the prophets consequently if it is not made known to the Prophets it will not come to pass . . .
(Joseph Smith, The Words of Joseph Smith:, The Contemporary Accounts of the nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, compiled and edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980], 180-181)

The most important help that the Savior gave to help us understand the time of his coming were these statements concerning the fig tree,

Matt 24:32
32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer [is] nigh:

D&C 45:36-39
36 And when the light shall begin to break forth, it shall be with them like unto a parable which I will show you--
37 Ye look and behold the figtrees, and ye see them with your eyes, and ye say when they begin to shoot forth, and their leaves are yet tender, that summer is now nigh at hand;
38 Even so it shall be in that day when they shall see all these things, then shall they know that the hour is nigh.
39 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.

The Prophet Joseph smith taught that the coming of the Son of Man could not come until the judgments spoken of had commenced,

The coming of the Son of Man never will be-never can be till the judgments spoken of for this hour are poured out: which judgments are commenced. . . . It is not the design of the Almighty to come upon the earth and crush it and grind it to powder, but he will reveal it to His servants the prophets.
(Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith, p.286)

As pointed out in the Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual p. 398,

The signs of the Lord’s coming may be classified into two main categories: (1) Signs that are part of the Restoration of the gospel and its eventual expansion throughout the world; and (2) signs that are part of the increase of evils and the calamities and judgments to come upon the world. These two movements are taking place simultaneously in the last days. President Spencer W. Kimball said that “the progress of the church will be paralleled by a growing wickedness among mankind” and, citing Brigham Young, “in proportion to the spread of the gospel among the nations of the earth so would the power of Satan rise” (in Church News, 30 June 1979, p. 5).

The purpose of the next several posts is to examine some of the signs that must be in place before the coming of Christ. We have already seen in the previous post that there are three major appearances of Christ that must take place before he comes in glory to the whole world: (1) His coming at Adam-Ondi-Ahman, (2) His coming to the New Jerusalem, and (3) His coming to the Old Jerusalem. We will look at these three comings first in the next three posts.

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