Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The urgency of final gathering before the 2nd coming

This he spake, signifying the gathering of his saints; and of angels descending and gathering the remainder unto them; the one from the bed, the other from the grinding, and the other from the field, whithersoever he listeth. (JST Luke 17:38)

These words come from the Joseph Smith Translation of Luke 17 when Jesus is giving the signs to watch for before His Second Coming.

I’ve posted about this before (see Jesus's comparison of Noah’s day, Lot’s day, and the day of the 2nd coming with JST), highlighting that it talks about a physical gathering of the Saints to a location—Zion—for safety.  (Currently we are in the middle of a spiritual gathering of Israel into stakes of Zion and we don’t yet have the city of Zion to gather to, yet at some point in the future we will build and have that city.)   Something stuck out to me about the places the Saints will be gathered from.   This verse says “from the bed…from the grinding…from the field.”  As I thought about those locations, I realized they represented how the Saints would be summoned urgently while they were in the middle of some very basic activities—sleeping, making food, and working for a living. 

Visualize what would be your reaction if at 2AM you were sleeping soundly, and suddenly the phone rings (or the doorbell rings).  You sleepily climb out of bed grumbling, “Who could be calling (or visiting) at this hour?!”  You are told, “You’ve got to get out now!  It’s time!  We have to get to Zion before it is too late!  This place is about to be destroyed!”  Would you treat it as a joke?  Or would you be inclined to say that you’d much rather wait until morning because you are too tired right now?  Or would you be willing to go?  

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is located world-wide now, so any message so urgent would catch the Saints at various times of the day and a significant number of the Saints in the middle of the night.

Or imagine you are in the middle of making dinner and the message comes that it is time to leave for Zion.  Would you be able to leave the kitchen, food still on the counter, and go without finishing your preparations or eating?  The message is going to be an interruption of whatever we are doing and it will take faith to drop everything and leave.  (I really don’t like leaving things unfinished, so I already know this will be hard for me.)  We will have to trust that we will be able to get food along the way.

Or what if you are at work, and at, say, 10AM someone comes and tells you it’s time to leave for Zion right now or you’ll be destroyed.  It will take real faith to obey because after all, it will require you to completely desert the source of your income and livelihood, and if the message turns out to be false, you will have jeopardized your employment.   You’ll have to trust that you’ll be able to find a job to support yourself when you get to Zion.   (And just think, those of us with kids would have to pull them out of school immediately.)

Clearly the message from this verse is that when angels come to gather the Saints together, it will seem like an inconvenient interruption and we will need to be prepared for that aspect of it.  This is why Christ wanted us to know what to look for, so we’d be watching.  We’re more likely to be ready when we’re watching for it.


ji said...

When the Saints were gathering to Missouri, and later to Utah, the counsel of the Doctrine and Covenants and the words of the prophets were not to go in haste, not hurriedly, but only after one was ready and had made the needful preparations. If there is another call to gather, I think the same instruction will be given.

Michaela Stephens said...

ji, I totally see your point, and it is especially true from a logistical standpoint that it is silly to overwhelm a region with a whole bunch of people when there is no room for them. In the 1830s especially, Missouri was frontier; there just wasn't much there. I agree, the move in the initial stages will be very controlled and in such a way as to prepare the way for those to come in the future. However, you can see in various places in the scriptures too that there will be a final "great division" between the righteous and the wicked and that's when I anticipate the urgent call will be.

Already we have had two different types of gathering in this dispensation--gathering the Saints together in physical proximity to designated cities in America and then a spiritual gathering to stakes in various parts of the world as Saints remain where they already live. We can anticipate more gatherings in such a way that all the words of the prophets and Christ will be fulfilled.