The great day of the Lord is coming. We have been told what we need to do to prepare for it, but it seems like it is so far in the future. Surely preparing for that day isn’t as dire and as urgent as the scriptures make it sound.
The trouble with shortcuts
It is in most of our natures to become lazy and to look for shortcuts, even if they are just small ones. It takes great discipline to continue doing something difficult when we don’t see the end in sight, and we don’t fully understand the purpose behind what we are doing or why we have to continue doing what we have been told to do. I’ll give you a couple of examples.
Here on mormonbasics.com is a series of articles on how to perform priesthood ordinances. You can read about them here. Recently someone commented about a conversation he had with some other priesthood holders who felt that deviating from the wording prescribed by the prophets was okay. They didn’t see the need to be so formal in how the blessings and ordinances were performed. For example, if giving a blessing to a spouse, they saw no problem with substituting the word “Honey” or “Dear” for the formal full name of the one being blessed.
My response to these revisionists was that in all of recorded history when the God and Father of us all is recorded as speaking to anyone, He always calls them by name. Can you even imagine God the Father coming to someone and calling them Sweety or Pumpkin? If our Father has told the prophets that the proper way to use the priesthood is to call someone by name then that is what we should do.
Here is a scriptural example that is universal in its scope. Doctrine and Covenants 101:44–54 is a parable of a vineyard and those the Lord set to watch over his possessions. In this case, the 12 trees represent the tribes of Israel, or in other words, His people. Read these verses. I’ll make my point on the other side of the passage.
44 A certain nobleman had a spot of land, very choice; and he said unto his servants: Go ye unto my vineyard, even upon this very choice piece of land, and plant twelve olive trees;
45 And set watchmen round about them, and build a tower, that one may overlook the land round about, to be a watchman upon the tower, that mine olive trees may not be broken down when the enemy shall come to spoil and take upon themselves the fruit of my vineyard.
46 Now, the servants of the nobleman went and did as their lord commanded them, and planted the olive trees, and built a hedge round about, and set watchmen, and began to build a tower.
47 And while they were yet laying the foundation thereof, they began to say among themselves: And what need hath my lord of this tower?
48 And consulted for a long time, saying among themselves: What need hath my lord of this tower, seeing this is a time of peace?
49 Might not this money be given to the exchangers? For there is no need of these things.
50 And while they were at variance one with another they became very slothful, and they hearkened not unto the commandments of their lord.
51 And the enemy came by night, and broke down the hedge; and the servants of the nobleman arose and were affrighted, and fled; and the enemy destroyed their works, and broke down the olive trees.
52 Now, behold, the nobleman, the lord of the vineyard, called upon his servants, and said unto them, Why! what is the cause of this great evil?
53 Ought ye not to have done even as I commanded you, and—after ye had planted the vineyard, and built the hedge round about, and set watchmen upon the walls thereof—built the tower also, and set a watchman upon the tower, and watched for my vineyard, and not have fallen asleep, lest the enemy should come upon you?
54 And behold, the watchman upon the tower would have seen the enemy while he was yet afar off; and then ye could have made ready and kept the enemy from breaking down the hedge thereof, and saved my vineyard from the hands of the destroyer.
The Lord knew that his enemies would come to destroy that which was so precious to Him. He knew that if the servants would just build a hedge then a watchtower, they would be able to see the enemy afar off and be prepared for their arrival so they could defend his vineyard. But his servants didn’t have His vision. They reasoned among themselves that all the work of going the extra step of building a watchtower was pointless. Afterall, they had already built a sturdy hedge all around the vineyard, and they felt safe, so surely that was enough.
The Lord gave commands. He saw into the future and knew what would happen. He told his servants what they needed to do in order to remain safe. But the servants felt they knew better than their master. They did not follow through with their instructions, and they ultimately paid the price for their neglect. Unfortunately, so did the entire vineyard. It was destroyed because of the arrogance of those who had been called to labor in the vineyard for its protection.
Preparing for the great day of the Lord
The Lord knows the future. He has given us the instructions we need to be prepared for the enemies of our souls. He has provided ways for us to remain safe and protected. But, just like the servants in the parable, we need to be watchful. We need to carry out all the commands of our master, even those we don’t understand or grasp their purpose. We must trust that He knows what is needed and that he has provided us with everything we need to stay safe from harm.
We don’t know how much the Lord has revealed to those of previous dispensations about the last days and his Millennial reign. But we do have quite a lot of information that has been given to us through the prophets of this dispensation. The scriptural references of this lesson provide us with a treasure trove of information. The purpose of these revelations is to bolster our faith and give us something to look forward to.
We, like the servants in the parable, have been called to protect the Lord’s people, His children. That includes ourselves and our families. God is not concerned about property, but about souls. His harvest consists in the number of souls who are able to return to Him and find exaltation. This is why we are commanded to stand in holy places. The temples, and our Church buildings are holy places, but so too should our homes be holy. When we are told to prepare for the second coming of Christ, the most holy place we can stand in is our own home.
Is our home polluted by pornography, addictions, contention, or rebellion to spiritual truths? Are we making our home a sacred space by reading our scriptures each day, by praying individually and as a family? Are we attending our meetings and paying our tithes and offerings? Are we fulfilling our callings to the best of our abilities and reaching out to others to offer them opportunities for salvation? Are we learning to forgive those who hurt us? Are we filling our minds with noble thoughts and daily deeds of good?
Just as the Spirit will not enter the temple once it has been polluted by sin, so too He won’t enter our homes if we aren’t trying our best to make it a place that invites His presence. And like the servants in the parable, when the prophet, who is the voice of the Lord to us, tells us how we need to learn to live our lives, we need to heed his counsel and do our best to become those kinds of people.
In class you will, no doubt, cover all the things you would expect to be covered about the second coming of the Savior. You will talk about the events leading up to His return, the great wickedness of the world, and also the great blessings the Restoration of the gospel has given us to help us prepare for that return. But this is all academic if we are not willing to go and do what the Lord has commanded us to do in order to prepare our life and the lives of our loved ones for His return.
Those who will be caught up to meet him, and those who will be raised from their graves to meet him in the air will all be those who spent their lives living each day as though His return would be on the morrow. Every day was lived as though it was the last day they had to prepare. I’m not talking about panic preparation. I’m talking about rejoicing each day in the opportunities to be better today than we lived yesterday. It is taking pleasure in being good and in doing good. Being obedient to the commandments has to become the ruling principle of our lives. Once we have learned to find pleasure in strict obedience then it won’t matter whether we are alive or dead when the Lord comes, because the reward will be the same, a place at His side in the Celestial kingdom.