There are four distinct appearances of Christ associated with the Second Coming, not just one. The greatest, as far as we are concerned, will be when He comes to the New Jerusalem. I have written extensively on the gathering that will take place there, and how to prepare personally to be there. The gathering has already begun in the sense that people are being invited to join the Latter-day kingdom, become the “Elect” of the kingdom, and prepare themselves to do this great latter-day work of building Zion. (D&C 29:7; D&C 33:6; D&C 58:45)
These people who are presently gathering in this way are identified by their patriarchal blessings as members of the House of Israel. So, this is a gathering of Israel. Right now the gathering is spiritual. Largely we are gathering to the latter-day temples to make covenants and receive promises that will qualify us for membership in Zion. (For an in-depth discussion of these principles, read: The Triumph of Zion, by John Pontius, CFI, available on Amazon.com)
The time will come when we will be instructed to physically gather to what is now Missouri. That call will come from the living brethren, but it will only come to those who have gone through the prior spiritual preparations.
“Let no one suppose that the Ten Tribes, having been gathered by the elders of Israel so as to return in a body; let no one suppose that because they bring their scriptures with them; let no one suppose that because prophets mingle among them—let no one suppose that any of this shall happen independent of the senior apostle of God on earth who holds the keys of gathering and who is authorized to use them as the Spirit directs. There is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth, and there is one prophet and one presiding officer of the earthly kingdom, and he has rule over all of the Lord’s affairs in all the earth.” (McConkie, The Millennial Messiah, p 203)
Once we are gathered there we will engage in the great work of physically gathering “the elect” from out of the earth and bringing them to Zion. This will occur during a time of great upheaval in the earth. There will be ongoing wars throughout the world, but the “Saints” will be safe in Zion. Zion will be protected by the power of God. (D&C 115:5-6)
“The Holy Word affirms that Israel gathers to Zion to escape the abomination of desolation that shall be poured out upon the wicked world in the last days. In Zion there will be safety; in the world, naught but sorrow and tribulation and desolation.” (McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 573)
Joseph Smith taught:
“Without Zion, and a place of deliverance, we must fall; because the time is near when the sun will be darkened, and the moon turn to blood, and the stars fall from heaven, and the earth reel to and fro. Then, if this is the case, and if we are not sanctified and gathered to the places God has appointed, with all our former professions and our great love for the Bible, we must fall; we cannot stand; we cannot be saved; for God will gather out His Saints from the Gentiles, and then comes desolation and destruction, and none can escape except the pure in heart who are gathered.” (Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 52)
How long will we arrive in Zion prior to the actual Second Coming? We do not know, but it will be long enough prior to build a city, populate it, become translated and thus to form the 144,000, gather all of the elect without missing a soul – all before the general Second Coming occurs. That could take 15-20 years. It is interest that Revelation chapter 8 shows us that just after the opening of the 7th seal, that there will be silence in heaven for 1/2 hour before the horror of the Tribulations begin. That 1/2 hour in equivalent in God’s time (1 day = 1000 years for man) to 21 years. The 1/2 hour of silence, of relative quiet before the last great woes are poured out upon the world may mean something in addition to this, but it is certainly well-placed to give us the time we need to organize ourselves, gather in the elect and prepare for His last great Coming in glory.
Appearance at the Temple in New Jerusalem
The Second Coming’s first appearance will be when Jesus Christ comes suddenly to the temple which we will build in the New Jerusalem. (Malachi 3:1; 3 Nephi. 24:1; D&C 36:8; 133:2; JS-H 1:36). Before Christ appears in His temple there, we must first build and populate Zion, and then build the temple there. Expecting Christ to return to a Zion that does not yet exist is like waiting for the doorbell to ring on a house we have not yet built. It also must be that those who will see Him there, within His great, latter-day temple, will be those who have not only qualified to enter the temple, but those who have further qualified themselves to be in the presence of God.
The Holy Word affirms:
“Righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall 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.” (Moses 7:62).
When Jesus Christ appears to those at the New Jerusalem, it will be a private and quiet coming. It will only be known to those who have gathered there, and who can see the spiritual changes His residency there will cause. One of these is that there will be pillars of fire above the temple and dwelling places of Zion. From that moment on, the Millennium will begin in Zion, though the earth will escalate in evil, warfare and destruction outside of Zion. Peace will only be found in Zion, and from there it will spread through all the earth during the Millennial era.
Next on the Un-Blog: “The Second Coming at Jerusalem”
© January 2012, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.