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.

Jesus Enters Jerusalem in Triumph

Courtesy LDS Media Library

Here’s what we know happened on Sunday of Holy Week, or the last week of Jesus’ mortal life . . .

A few days before the feast of Passover, Jesus and His apostles approached Jerusalem from the east on the Mount of Olives. They were near the villages of Bethany and Bethphage when He asked two of His disciples to go into a nearby village where, He said, “ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her, whereon yet never man sat: loose them, and bring them unto me.” He went on: “And if any man ask you, ‘Why do ye loose him?’ thus shall ye say unto him, ‘Because the Lord hath need of him.’ And straightway he will send them.”

The two disciples went into the village and did as Jesus asked. There they found an ass and her colt tied near a place where two roads met. As they untied the colt, the owners said, “What do ye, loosing the colt?”
 The disciples then said—with smiles, I think—“The Lord hath need of him.” When the owners heard that, they let them go, as if they recognized the origin of the request instantly. The disciples brought the ass and her colt to Jesus. They laid their garments on the unbroken colt and helped Jesus up onto his back
.

This was significant as riding on a donkey in this way was a sign of royalty. It was all done in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah who wrote, “Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.” The disciples didn’t understand the significance of this at the time, but after Jesus was resurrected and glorified, they remembered that these things had been written about Him.

As Jesus descended the west side of the Mount of Olives, nearing the Holy City, a huge crowd came out to meet Him. They laid their garments in the roadway and others cut down branches from off the trees and also laid them down in the way.
 Those who had witnessed the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in Bethany, spread this news of Him. For this reason, the people of Jerusalem came out to meet Him, because they had heard that he had done a Messianic miracle.

The multitude started to praise God with loud voices because of the great things they had witness Jesus do, crying out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the King that cometh in the name of the Lord.
 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven, and hosanna in the highest!”

The Pharisees didn’t like hearing Jesus receive such praise which indicated that He was the Messiah. They said, “Master, rebuke thy disciples.”
 But Jesus answered, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”
 The Pharisees weren’t happy with this response and said among themselves, “Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.”
 Trouble was definitely brewing.

When he came near Jerusalem, He started to cry. He said, looking at the city, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes.
 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee. And they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”

When He came into city, many were moved and said among themselves, “Who is this?” Some answered, “This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” He went into the temple and had a look around. As the evening grew on, He went back to Bethany with the Twelve and spent the night there. (See Zech. 9:9; Matt. 21:10–11, 17; Mark 11:11; Luke 19:41–44
.)

Patterns in Near Death Experiences

Courtesy LDS Media Library

Elijah Ascending into Heaven, by W. H. Margetson

Over the last year or so, I’ve been studying near-death experiences in depth. I’ve read or listened to books, watched movies, listened to or watched more than 40 NDEs on video, and discovered a repository of nearly 4,500 NDE stories, originating in over 30 languages. And in years past, I’ve met and spoken in depth with several people who have had these experiences themselves.

I’m totally assured that NDEs are real. There’s overwhelming evidence that they are. I can’t write them off as coincidences and “hallucinations” and be honest with myself.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot and have drawn up some notes on the fascinating patterns that emerged from my study. Here are a few highlights.

  • At the moment of death, they almost instantly discover themselves standing next to their bodies or looking down at their bodies from above, and people and activities around them.
  • They often lose interest in what is happening to their earthly bodies.
  • They almost always report an incredible sense of well-being, a complete absence of pain, and little interest in life in the mortal world.
  • They are often greeted by beings of light, some of whom they know personally, some who are vaguely familiar, some unknown. These beings are often referred to as angels or spirit guides.
  • Some encounter beings of darkness, but once the beings of light appear, the dark entities scatter and disappear.
  • As they describe these encounters with other beings, after returning to their bodies, family members often recognize these beings as a relative, such as a grandparent.
  • Many find themselves in something they call a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel, they often see a light and are drawn to it. (Not everyone who has an NDE enters or sees this tunnel.)
  • Once they arrive at the end of the tunnel, they describe the place as heaven or paradise. The unearthly colors are much more vivid, varied, and vibrant than they have seen before. They see gardens, buildings, and streets much like on earth, but much more orderly, clean, and ornate.
  • When they communicate with these beings, there is no need to talk with their mouths. They can communicate through thoughts.
  • Movement is also as easy as thought. They can travel over great distances just by thinking of where they want to go.
  • They find the experience very difficult to describe in words, especially in terms of the peace, joy, and beauty they experience, but often call it the most real experience of their lives and that life on earth is more of a dream.
  • Almost all describe a feeling of absolute love, unlike anything they have ever imagined. This love remains with them throughout their lives.
  • Many but not all come in contact with a radiant, loving being who they identify as Jesus Christ and have conversations with Him. They describe Him as infinitely kind, caring, supportive, accepting, and positive. He never condemns them, but occasionally gently chastises them—and they know they had it coming. Some are amazed by His sense of humor!
  • A good number experience a detailed, rapid life review, something that they view on a screen of sorts. They see all the good and bad they have done to others. A recurring theme is relationships with others, as if that is the most important thing we can accomplish on earth—loving, respectful relationships.
  • Some are asked if they want to stay while others are told them must return. Most are reluctant to leave the place that most feels like home.
  • When their spirits reenter their bodies, it is often coupled with a jolt and a sudden return of pain.
  • Some report instant, miraculous healings from diseases or illnesses upon returning to their bodies. Some healings take longer, but are much more rapid and successful than doctors anticipate.
  • All report a completely changed view of life with no emphasis on material things and great focus on relationships and loving and serving others. Atheists and agnostics can’t continue in their old paradigms.
  • Many, after a period of silence, feel compelled to share their stories of grace, healing, and redemption.
  • A few take on an inflated view of themselves, reject their traditional faith or interpret their experience through restricted, orthodox views. Most are very honest, authentic, and vulnerable about their NDE, but some distort their experience and use it for personal and financial gain.

To me, the evidence is overwhelming: our bodies may die, but our spirits continue; heaven is real and so is our Creator; death is nothing to fear or be worried about.

P.S. I’m currently listening to a book published in 1395 AD. It was written by Julian of Norwich and is called Revelations of Divine Love, the first book in history written in English by a woman. Julian’s “showings” or visions resemble those who have had NDEs.

P.P.S I wonder what Stephen Hawking thinks about the existence of an afterlife and God now? I hope I can personally ask him someday.