Second Coming: The Fall of Rome and Civilization

Public Domain

The Consummation of Empire from The Course of the Empire by Thomas Cole (1835–36).

Nearly 50 years ago, Elder Ezra Taft Benson warned us of the consequences of the degradation of values in society.

In his April 1973 conference talk, he shared a quote from the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859), a contemporary of the Prophet Joseph Smith. After a visit to America, de Tocqueville wrote in his multi-volume work Democracy in America:

I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in her fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. (As quoted in Prophets, Principles and National Survival, compiled by Jerreld L. Newquist [Salt Lake City, Publishers Press, 1964], 60; emphasis added.)

I believe many modern Americans are still good in the sense that they uphold moral values as given in the word of God, but we are witnessing the near culmination of a decades-long erosion of these values. Such views are not held up as they once were; in fact, they are shouted down by a growing intolerance that is teetering on the edge of fascism.

Elder Benson then went on to highlight some points from another famous book:

In 1787 Edward Gibbon completed his noble work The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Here is the way he accounted for the fall:

  1. The undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society.

  2. Higher and higher taxes and the spending of public monies for free bread and circuses for the populace.

  3. The mad craze for pleasure, sports becoming every year more and more exciting and brutal.

  4. The building of gigantic armaments when the real enemy was within the decadence of the people.

  5. The decay of religion—faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life, and becoming impotent to warn and guide the people.

Is there a parallel for us in America today? Could the same reasons that destroyed Rome destroy America and possibly other countries of the free world? (Emphasis added.)

Consider also this quote from Ramsay MacMullen’s Corruption and the Decline of Rome
([Yale University Press, 1988], 281) found on the History Today website. Anything ringing a bell for you here?

Bribery and abuses always occurred, of course. But by the fourth and fifth centuries they had become the norm: no longer abuses of a system, but an alternative system in itself. The cash nexus overrode[d] all other ties. Everything was bought and sold: public office including army commands and bishoprics, judges’ verdicts, tax assessments, access to authority on every level, and particularly the emperor. The traditional web of obligations became a marketplace of power, ruled only by naked self-interest. (Emphasis added.)

Growing corruption in governments, including the possibility of treason, is often sidestepped or ignored by today’s mainstream media, which may be complicit. This is a strong indicator that we’re approaching a season of unmatched economic and political turmoil, not unlike the last years of the Roman empire. Stay tuned.

The prophets never panic and neither should we. Now is the time, however, to prayerfully prepare our families and homes for the winds of adversity. But be assured, as sure as there are tribulations ahead, guidance, protection, and peace are also readily available to those who take the Holy Spirit as their guide and treasure up the words of life (see D&C 45:57 and Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37). Such will not be deceived.

Let us be at peace, but let us also act.

“In the Last Days” Free on Kindle, April 22–23

In-the-Last-Days-KindleIn the Last Days, a book that originated on this blog, will be free on Amazon Kindle on Sunday and Monday, April 22 and 23, 2018, in honor of World Book Day. The paperback is now $3.86. I made a commitment several years ago to keep this book very low priced.

I also recently upgraded the format of the book.

Here’s a brief description:

This guide is for newcomers to the topic who wish to examine a wide variety of scriptural passages that cast light on the Last Days, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the Millennium, and the end of the world. Students of the Second Coming won’t find anything sensational, highly speculative, or particularly new or groundbreaking in this book.

Though not exhaustive, the guide walks through many of the major events surrounding the Second Coming of Christ, mainly through the Standard Works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price—but also through some archaeological, historical, and statistical sources. (It’s a compilation of posts from the blog “Put on the Armor of Light,” written between September 2014 and November 2015.)

In the Last Days has sold thousands of copies and has hit #1 on Amazon in several categories. It was written from the heart. Get is free here.

Second Coming: Secret Combinations in Our Day

Courtesy LDS Media Library

Consider the fate of Ammonihah after they rejected the living prophets, Alma and Amulek.

So, what is a secret combination? This term is introduced to us by Nephi the son of Lehi in the second book of the Book of Mormon:

“[The devil] stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.” (2 Ne. 9:9.)

According to the Guide to the Scriptures, a secret combination is “an organization of people bound together by oaths to carry out the evil purposes of the group.” Satan has inspired the creation of such societies in the hearts of men and women from the beginning of time (see Helaman 6:21–31). Moses tells us that these secret organizations started in the days of Cain who murdered his brother Abel to obtain his property (see Moses 5:51).

Secret combinations are still among us. That’s an understatement to be sure. Many would like to label these as conspiracy theories. I admit such theories abound and some cannot be reliably verified, but as Ezra Taft Benson said:

This most correct book on earth [the Book of Mormon] states that the downfall of two great American civilizations [the Jaredites and the Nephites] came as a result of secret conspiracies whose desire was to overthrow the freedom of the people . . . There is no conspiracy theory in the Book of Mormon —it is a conspiracy fact.” —Ezra Taft Benson, “Civic Standards for the Faithful Saints,” April 1972 (emphasis added)

(Please consider reading or listening to Elder Benson’s entire talk.)

What are some examples of modern conspiracies? They’re not apparent, but they’re prevalent. They’re often not openly reported by the media, but there are plenty of clues all around us. Here are a few to consider:

  • Unusual, unexplained deaths of politicians or those close to them.
  • Widespread, endemic spying via social media.
  • Human trafficking and pedophile rings.
  • International weapons deals.
  • Voter fraud.
  • Staged disasters or wars to forward a secret, political agenda.
  • Bribery and coverups.
  • Secret funding of news reporting.

As outlandish as these may seem or as some may characterize them, all these crimes and atrocities, and others like them, will come to light in due time. Mark my word.

The rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow; for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed. (D&C 1:3.)

Yes, it’s hard to believe that the intoxicatedly wealthy, business magnates, movie stars, world leaders, and celebrities could be involved in such things. I am sure we will all be very surprised and even shocked when these things begin to come into full light.

Moroni son of Mormon warned us centuries ago that:

Whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not. Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be. (Ether 8:22–23.)

I believe that the Book of Mormon is a textbook for the last days. As Elder Benson said, secret combinations and their works of murder to get gain brought about the entire destruction of both the Jaredite and Nephite civilizations. They could destroy our civilization as well.

What of our times? What is happening to our civilization? Is it possible that secret combinations have grown up around us, undetected?

And he [the Lord] had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared, that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them. And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity. (Ether 2:8–9; emphasis added.)

What are we to do? We can seek, follow, and obey the true and living God, humble ourselves, repent, and offer to Him the one gift, the one sacrifice, that He wants most from us, a broken heart and a contrite spirit (see D&C 59:8;). If we do these things, we have nothing to fear and all will be well, not matter what happens.

I’m not one to get caught up in popular trends and I don’t go overboard about crazy theories, but I can smell some rotting fruit. It’s beyond ripeness and it stinks to high heaven.

And others will he [Satan] pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. (2 Nephi 28:21.)

No, all is not well in Zion. We have had these warnings in our hands for nearly 200 years—it’s time to plant them in our hearts. Now would be a great time to prayerfully open our eyes and prepare. It’s on my mind every single day.

“Behold the Man” Free Today

Behold the Man Kindle Cover Behold the Man: A Biblical Narrative of the Last Days of Jesus Christ is free today on Kindle. Happy Easter!

Here’s the the back cover text:

“The Passion of Jesus Christ is the greatest tragedy and triumph in history. I have never found anything to compare with it. This book began over three decades ago as a study of the events surrounding the Passion—the last week of the mortal life of Jesus Christ, as found in the New Testament.

“In 1986, I began to piece together the enormous puzzle of the Passion as told in the gospels. The testimonies of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each provide unique details about the events leading to Jesus’ death. My goal in writing this book was to: (1) identify the unique details from each of the accounts relating to the Passion; (2) to unify that material; and (3) to present it in an easy-to-read, narrative or story format.

“The source for this book is simply the Authorized King James Version of the New Testament. While completely based on scripture, I have updated the punctuation and paragraphing in the text, altered some capitalization and pronouns, and added quotation marks where appropriate. I have also added conjunctive or transitional words, without setting them off in brackets, and deleted some words, to help the flow of the narrative.”

You can download your free Kindle copy here. I hope you have a wonderful day.

Easter 1986

Put on the Armor of Light

Courtesy LDS Media LibrarySmoke rose impatiently
through pearly blossoms,
like the prayers of the saints,

and the tonic of flowers
begged him to overthrow
darker persuasions.

From a faded tulip chair, he
looked up at me and said,
“Why seek ye the living among the dead?”

He inhaled the light and fragrant day, and, sitting back, rested mute bones against impossibility.

Michael James Fitzgerald

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The Quiet Day

Courtesy LDS Media Library

The bewildering quiet
brought unfathomed grief.

Pilate, in a chamber alone,
hands in loose tunic pockets,
mulled his wife’s day-old dream
as stale wine.

Exhausted by treason,
he granting a watch
with absent eyes.

Then the Arimthean, silenced by
duplicitous council,
despised the Death he could not stop,
and plotted benevolent revenge.

Mary, raging against her own blind instinct,
denied the Master’s
sudden disappearance

While two angels,
on the outskirts of reason,
waited for the sun to rise.

Michael James Fitzgerald

Ye Have Made It a Den of Thieves

Courtezy LDS Media Library

Here’s we think happened on Monday of Holy Week or the last week of Jesus’ mortal life . . .

As Jesus returned from Bethany to the city Jerusalem with His disciples the following  morning, He saw a fig tree from a distance. He walked up to the tree to see if it had any fruit, though it was far too early in the season for ripe figs. When He found the tree barren, He said, in the hearing of His disciples, “Let no man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever.” (Matt. 21:18–19; Mark 12:12–14.)

When Jesus went into the temple of God, He began to cast out all those who bought and sold within the temple’s sacred precincts, overthrowing their tables and chairs, not allowing anyone to carry any vessel through the temple. He said to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer?’ But ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matt. 21:12–13; Mark 11:15–17; Luke 19:45–46.)

When the religious authorities saw Him do these amazing things, and witnessed the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were very displeased, and said to Jesus, “Hearest thou what these say?” But Jesus answered them, “Yea; have ye never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?’”

Jesus taught the people daily in the temple, but the those of the religious establishment were jealous and looked for ways to discredit and ultimately kill Him. They feared Him, but they couldn’t figure out what to do yet, because He was so popular in the eyes of the people. The common people flocked to Him and were amazed at the doctrine He taught and listened to Him attentively. (Matt. 21:14–16; Mark 11:18; Luke 19:47–48.)

When they passed by the fig tree later, they saw that it had dried up and withered away, just as the nation who was about to reject Him would likewise perish.