by Richard D. Draper
As I have traveled on lecture tours around the church, I have found many of the Saints worried about the future. I have heard some of the younger generation say, “Oh, I hope I have passed on before the end comes.” The generation just older says, “Oh, I hope both me and my children have passed on.” The oldest generation says, “Oh, I hope me and my children and my grandchildren have all passed on before the end.” All I can say is, if all this hoping affects the future, there may never be a Second Coming.
But, is there really all that much to worry about? I must admit, right up front, that the future has its challenges, even for the Saints. However, ‘if ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30).
There is no doubt that destruction unleashed by an angry God will dominate the world’s end. The Book of Revelation catalogues both the end and the destruction.
Lack of repentance explains why the wrath and destructions. John recounts vast devastations unleashed by a huge army that cannot be touched by remorse or repentance: “the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was a third part of men killed” (Revelation 9:16-18).
John’s apocalyptic imagery symbolizes the vast forces of the unrepentant who will move against each other.
Not all the destructions will be man-made. John shows us an earth struck by “thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake” (Revelation 8:5). The angels of destruction throw “hail and fire mingled with blood” against it (Revelation 8:7). A “great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp” strikes the earth with unbelievable fury (Revelation 8:10). The airborne debris from the destruction dims the sun and causes the moon's eerie, blood-like glow.
In Revelation, we meet a world broken by man, by nature, and by God. Through John’s eyes, we see that our earth, as yet, has been but lightly brushed with the brutalizing which is to come. He shows us that humankind will be the primary engines in that brutalization. However, man will not work alone. Nature too will join in. Fear, pain, anguish, sorrow, horror, even madness will fill the souls of the unrepentant who are so unlucky as to live through this time.
Looking at Revelation, we too may ask, “who may abide the day of his coming: and who shall stand when he appeareth?” (Malachi 3:2). Admittedly, the deadly black and blood red threads of John’s tapestry are not pretty. Even so, his work is not without hope or promise. Beneath the garish and brutal colors lay warm and harmonious tones. Indeed, properly understood, the Book of Revelation is the book of promise for the righteous living in the last days. Its pages underscore one theme; it is not the God-fearing but the wicked who should be alarmed. As bad as conditions will get, the righteous are promised protection.
The Savior oversees the sun, the moon, and even the stars with all their world systems. He rules earth’s history and determines humankind’s destiny. As will be shown below, nothing goes beyond the limits He sets. He is indeed God, the Almighty.
Revelation stresses that God is fully righteous in moving against the wicked and unrepentant. God’s righteousness in acting comes from two factors.
First, it is specific in its execution. God’s wrath targets only the wicked, those who will not repent under any conditions. Those who fall under God’s bane are those who put their trust in the material, believing that they will be protected from the judgment of the great God because of their riches. Even though they will see clearly that their efforts are in vain, they will continue to resist God with every breath.
Second, the wrath that destroys the Lord’s enemies both vindicates and saves the faithful. God’s judgment against His enemies is also His reward to the faithful. Its execution affirms the correctness of their trust and the direction of their faith. The period of destruction begins in earnest when all peaceful attempts to redeem the world have failed.
The harvest of ruin will not be carried out by the Lord but by an angel of destruction. His target is not the fields but the vineyards. He is to "gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe" (v.18). Further, he is to cast the fruit "into the great wine press of the wrath of God" (v.19). The destruction will be tremendous and bitter.
Only After the Saints are Secured
Allow me to emphasize a point made above. The great destructions will not come until the Saints are securely gathered and the power of the Lord is upon them. Throughout the book of Revelation, the Saints are absent from every battlefield, missing from every fight. They live apart from the world of the destroyers and their destructions.
John does caution his readers, “If any man has an ear, let him hear. If anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints” (Revelation 13:9-10, author’s translation).
The Lord knows that the last days will be filled with anxiety. The righteous will not escape it. Yet in these verses, we see the Lord’s appeal and promise to His Saints.
The first phrase of the couplet teaches us that we must accept and endure what God has ordained, instead of fighting against it.
The second phrase warns us not to take the offensive in any war against Babylon. That is not to say that the Saints should not work against the enemies of righteousness, but our weapons must be the word of God and steadfast righteousness.
Thus, John says, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). Saintly patience is marked by obedience to the commandments and faith. That is what the Lord asks of us. As we respond, His power will overshadow us and we will know peace during despair and safety during trouble.
Home / For Latter-day Saints