“Atonement, literally at-one-ment, is a word introduced into English in 1526 by William Tyndale as he translated the Greek New Testament into English; specifically, he used the word at-one-ment to translate the Greek word (katallasso) which means ‘reconciliation’ or ‘to come back into a relationship after a period of estrangement.’ Reconciliation, a word with Latin roots, means literally, ‘to be seated together again.’ This word points to what is happening to man—he has fallen from a relationship, even many relationships, and from a knowledge of the oneness of the premortal children and of divine society. The scriptures tell us that man came from a heavenly society and fell, by his birth, into a state of spiritual death (see Helaman 14:16), alienated from his Heavenly Father by the nature of the Fall. Christ wrought the atonement to restore us to the heavenly society. So we might say that the word rendered atonement by the early biblical translators could have been more accurately rendered re-at-one-ment or reunion. Christ wrought the great Reunion. . . . The Hebrew word for atonement includes the meaning ‘reconciliation,’ but scholars find additional meanings such as ‘cover’ (even ’embrace’).” (M. Catherine Thomas, Light in the Wilderness [Orem, Utah:Amalphi Publishing, 2008], 173–174.)
A woman who gave the closing prayer in our sacrament meeting today thanked the Lord for “believing in us and having faith in us,” His children. I am not sure I have ever thought of it in that way, but when she said it, I felt in my heart that it was true.
When He visited the Nephites in the New World, the Savior told them that He would establish His
people in a place called the New Jerusalem, and that the city would established “in this land”:
And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you. (3 Nephi 20:22; see also 3 Nephi 21:22–25.)
Where is “this land”? We know from modern revelation that the city of New Jerusalem or Zion will be established in the last days on the American continent (see Articles of Faith 1:10). In the Book of Mormon, Moroni spoke of the ancient writings of Ether on the subject (see Ether 13:1–11). He wrote that “that after the waters [of Noah] had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord” (v. 2) and that “a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph” (v. 6).
In the early days of the restored Church, the Lord commanded that the saints gather there at “a land of peace, a city of refuge”:
Wherefore I, the Lord, have said, gather ye out from the eastern lands, assemble ye yourselves together ye elders of my church; go ye forth into the western countries, call upon the inhabitants to repent, and inasmuch as they do repent, build up churches unto me. And with one heart and with one mind, gather up your riches that ye may purchase an inheritance which shall hereafter be appointed unto you. And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God; and the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion. (D&C 45:64–67; emphasis added.)
What did the Lord mean by the “western countries”? Where will this city be? We are told that it will be in Jackson County, Missouri, and in the counties round about.
And in order that all things be prepared before you, observe the commandment which I have given concerning these things—which saith, or teacheth, to purchase all the lands with money, which can be purchased for money, in the region round about the land which I have appointed to be the land of Zion, for the beginning of the gathering of my saints; all the land which can be purchased in Jackson county, and the counties round about, and leave the residue in mine hand. (D&C 101:69–71; see also D&C 42:9, 35, 62–67; D&C 84:2–4; D&C 105:28–32; emphasis added.)
It is near the center of the United States of America—indeed, the Lord calls it “the center place” (see D&C57:3–5)—a place of safety established for and by His saints. It will be during a time of war.
And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety. And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another. And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand. (D&C 45:68–70.)
The Savior also said that after Zion is established, “then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst” (see 3 Nephi 20:25). The Lord also told Enoch that He would “prepare . . . an Holy City . . . that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem” and that Enoch and “all [his] city [would] meet them there, and . . . receive them into [their] bosom” (see Moses 7:62–64).
The apostle John wrote of the New Jerusalem descending from heaven, apparently after the Millennium:
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:2–3.)
His description of this heavenly city is glorious. Like our father Jacob, we look “for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (see Hebrews 11:10).
But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (Hebrew 11:16.)
Finally, let me note that the prophet Ezekiel also wrote of a holy city with a temple called “The Lord Is There” (see Ezekiel 48:35). This city would be set up after the Lord’s Second Coming (see Ezekiel chapters 36–48), but there are indications that this city may be established after the Millennium. It is also possible that the city he describes is the old Jerusalem, which will also be built up (see Ether 13:11).
(You can also find a list of all Second Coming posts on this blog here.)
Yesterday, a sister missionary told me the story of a young woman who grew up in her ward. She was disconnected from the other girls. She dressed “goth” — everything was black, including lipstick. She didn’t want to be with the other young women because she didn’t feel like she fit in.
Then one day, the parents of the sister missionary said to the girl who dressed goth (with the permission of the girl’s parents), “We want to take you shopping. We will pay for your clothes. Do you want to go?” The girl said yes and they went shopping.
Well, the girl picked out a whole new wardrobe, a whole new look. Lots of bright colors. It was fun!
Then something happened. The girl started looking at herself differently. She started feeling differently about herself. She started to attend Young Women. She found a new place in the world—because of the way she chose to dress and because of how that made her feel about herself.
She remained active. Later, she went on a mission. And when she came home, she married in the temple.
Those missionary’s parents. They were guardian angels.
What is it about the clothes we wear and what they say about us? Our clothes—and the lack of them—are often a reflection of what is going on inside. They can also influence what is going on inside, and what goes on outside. It all starts on the inside, though.
I used to interview missionaries when they got home from their missions. Among other things, I’d say to them, “Don’t go shaggy.” Why? Because shaggy is as shaggy does. Shaggy looks invite shaggy behavior.
It’s not about the clothes, really. It’s about how you choose to feel about yourself and the effect it has on you.
Just as a flood destroyed the earth and its inhabitants in Noah’s day (see Genesis 7), prophets have told us that the earth will be destroyed by fire in a future day. Perhaps not far in the future.
This is not happy news. It’s a terrifying prospect, really. Incomprehensible, a disaster of epic proportion. But it is well attested in scripture. And because it comes from scripture, it’s not just a possibility and it’s more than probability. It’s a prophecy, and, soon or late, prophecy comes to pass.
In the last book of the Old Testament, we read an important question:
But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. (Malachi 3:2–4.)
How will He be like a refiner’s fire? Isaiah spoke of a time in the last days when the earth would be defiled by sin and the inhabitants burned:
The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left. (Isaiah 24:5–6; emphasis added.)
Malachi’s well-known prophecy about the burning of the earth tells us that the wicked will be as stubble, as the fields after harvest:
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. (Malachi 4:1; compare D&C 29:9; D&C 64:24; and D&C 133:64.)
The apostle Peter wrote in his second epistle that the earth and the wicked works therein will be burned up:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10.)
How will the earth be burned? The prophet Nahum tells us that the earth will be burned at the presence of the Lord.
The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. (Nahum 1:5; emphasis added.)
Modern revelation also testifies that the presence of the Lord will be as a “fire that burneth”:
And it shall be answered upon their heads; for the presence of the Lord shall be as the melting fire that burneth, and as the fire which causeth the waters to boil. (D&C 133:41; see also D&C 88:94; emphasis added.)
And another place the Doctrine and Covenants says:
And the saints also shall hardly escape; nevertheless, I, the Lord, am with them, and will come down in heaven from the presence of my Father and consume the wicked with unquenchable fire. (D&C 63:34; emphasis added.)
How is He like a refiner’s fire? Perhaps because the light and power of His presence will have a purifying effect on the righteous and a destructive effect on the wicked.
Nephi tells us that the fire will actually be a protection to the righteous:
Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire. (1 Nephi 22:17; see also vs. 22–23.)
Finally, the Lord’s protection will be effective:
And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 4:3.)
When the saints, living and dead, are “caught up together . . . to meet the Lord in the air” (see 1 Thessalonians 4:17), they will be protected from the destruction that will take place on earth. How the two events go together, I am not sure. But I think they do go together.
I’ve just uploaded another draft of a list of scriptural passages about the Second Coming of Christ. The original version listed 78 passages; this one has 112.
You can download the PDF here. You can also view the SlideShare version here. The original post from November 15, 2014 is here. I am sure I will continue to add to this list as time passes, but this is what I’ve found so far.
I’d also like to highlight a new page on this blog that links to all posts about the Second Coming on Put on the Armor of Light.
If you’d like to write to me about these posts, with comments, suggestions, or questions, please contact me here.
As always, thank you for reading!
At Christ’s Second Coming, faithful saints, both those on earth as mortals and those in their graves, will be caught up to meet him in the clouds. What is the so-called “rapture” and when will it take place?
We know that Jesus will not be alone when He comes. Jude, the Lord’s brother, quotes Enoch, telling us that Jesus “cometh with ten thousands of his saints” (see Jude 1:14; compare 1 Thessalonians 3:13).
The traditional Christian source text for the “rapture” is found in 1 Thessalonians:
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:14–17; emphasis added.)
It appears that the time of being “caught up . . . in the clouds” will take place at the same time that Christ actually comes. He hinted at this dramatic time in His Olivet discourse when He said:
Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (Matthew 24:40–41; emphasis added.)
Modern revelation also speaks of this amazing day:
And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him. And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven—they are Christ’s, the first fruits, they who shall descend with him first, and they who are on the earth and in their graves, who are first caught up to meet him; and all this by the voice of the sounding of the trump of the angel of God. (D&C 88:96–98; compare D&C 109:75; see also D&C 78:20–21; emphasis added.)
So when Christ comes again, He will come with thousands of saints and will be joined by thousands of saints who are yet mortal or who have not yet been resurrected. Those who will be resurrected at this time will be “first caught up to meet him.”
What a spectacular moment that will be. But an even more important moment is this moment. What can we do, you and I, right now at this moment to better prepare ourselves for the great and dreadful day (see Malachi 4:5)?
Note: A new page on this site lists all the posts on this blog that discuss the Second Coming.