Politically Unprepared Mormon Virgins

The LDS Church has made another statement about illegal immigration, emphasizing their disapproval of “mass expulsion,” among other things.  I saw a news story yesterday about it and how, apparently, Church headquarters is being inundated by calls from conservative church members who are outraged by what they see as a betrayal of their principles. 

I won’t rehash what I’ve said about this before, but here’s a scripture-based illustration of my point:

In my neck of the woods, our Sunday School lesson next week will be about Jesus’s parable of the ten virgins.  In this story, ten women were going to meet their bridegroom.  Five had prepared, and five hadn’t.  When the surprise announcement was made that the hour for the wedding was at hand, the prepared five got to go in, but the other five were left with no groom but regret. 

The interpretation of this parable for Latter-day Saints has always been pretty standard: it’s meant to teach us about preparing for the Second Coming.  Since all ten women had clearly accepted the invitation to go to the wedding, they all represent members of the Lord’s church.  The sobering warning in the parable is that only about half of us–even half of those who are at least nominally on board with the Church–might be ready for the rewards we want when the final day comes. 

There are plenty of reasons why those five virgins (and many more Latter-day Saints) might be slack in their preparation for the Lord’s return, but in light of the blowback over the Church’s recent political stances, I wonder if some of those virgins might represent good people who let their faith be compromised by being offended by the Church’s positions on gay marriage and illegal immigration.

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The Pattern Of Our Spiritual Journey

I’ve been reading James Ferrell’s The Hidden Christ, which is extremely excellent, and I just read chapter 19, “The Dispensation’s of the Lord’s People,” where he gives a chiastic chart of Earth’s history.  It’s very good, and it reminded me of something I’ve been thinking about for a month or so, since my wife and I had a discussion about what the Earth will be like after the Second Coming. 

That got me to researching, and some things clicked with me.  Below are some notes I’ve been putting together about these thoughts.  They represent my attempt to put some doctrinal concepts in a recognizable pattern, and it strongly emphasizes the role of Jesus Christ.  In fact, looking at our spiritual journey this way adds a powerful dimension to our understanding that, through the Atonement, Christ “descended below all things.”  We can see here that, literally, his suffering and distance from the Father were absolutely beyond even the worst of mankind’s experience.  It was also, again quite literally, the ultimate turning point in history. 

The only thing that confused me at first was the idea that, if Eden and the Millennium are Christ’s domain, then how could the Father also be present in the Garden of Eden?  I soon realized that God may go anywhere He wishes; it is we who are limited by veils and sin.  After all, didn’t both the Father and the Son appear personally to Joseph Smith in this fallen, telestial world?  Joseph Smith had to be transfigured for that to be possible, and I suppose Adam and Eve must have enjoyed a similar experience, in their innocent and immortal state, to behold the Father in the Garden. 

On a slightly less spiritual note, this map also highlights an aspect of good storytelling, which has also been on my mind lately.  I often think that basic story patterns are essentially encoded into us (think of Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces, as well as the fondness for using elemental stories to resonate with us in the scriptures and temple), and one of the most fundamental aspects of good story is that the hero must face a daunting, scary setback in the middle, even suffering a literal descent.  Think here of Odysseus going down to Hades, the discouraging tones of The Two Towers and The Empire Strikes Back (each the middle of an epic), or the predictable fight that the lovers must have in the middle of every romantic comedy, before they reconcile and reunite (sappy, but also another Atonement-centered device). 

Most of the “insights” on this chart aren’t very original, but I enjoyed drawing it up to see these things together in graphic form for the first time.  This is only a rough draft, and any refinement to it is welcome.  Click to enlarge. 

Proposed Chronology For The Book Of Revelation

The following is something I’ve been working on for a while; it represents my attempt to understand a very difficult book of poetic prophecy in a cohesive order and correlated to specific dates in these last days.  Obviously, my interpretation is viewed through the filter of LDS doctrine.  I feel that such study and observation is important because, to paraphrase the great Hugh Nibley, look at the name of our church–The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–our interest in the Second Coming is even emphasized in our name! 

If you’re not LDS or interested in such things, well…it’s still a nice outline!  : )

This is definitely a work in progress, and very subjective–my understanding is limited by study, resources, spiritual separation from God, and a rampaging video game habit when I was 15.  Any corrective feedback would be welcome.

 

Proposed LDS chronology for the Book of Revelation

harmonized with additional prophecies of the Second Coming from other scriptures

“And it shall come to pass that he that feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man.” D&C 45:39

 

I.Pre-existence; Rev. 12:4, 7-10– War in heaven

II. @4000-3000 BC; Rev. 6:1-2– First seal, dispensation of Enoch

III. @3000-2000 BC; Rev. 6:3-4– Second seal, great global wickedness

IV. @2000-1000 BC; Rev. 6:5-6– Third seal, great famine

V.@1000 BC- 1 AD; Rev. 6:7-8– Fourth seal, great wars and death

VI. @ 1 AD- 1000 AD; Rev. 6:9-11– Fifth seal, persecution of early Christian martyrs

VII. 1st century AD; Rev. 12:1-3, 5-6, 11-17– Satan wars against early Christian saints; great apostasy for

about 1,260 (years).

VIII. (during the sixth seal) 1820- present; Rev. 7:1-3, 14:6-7– Angels help restore the gospel and warn

the world.

IX. 1820’s- present; Rev. 14:14-16– Righteous hear the gospel and are gathered in.

X. 1830- present; Rev. 7:4-8– 144,000 high priests (12,000 of each tribe) have calling & election made

sure.

2008–You are here?

XI.End of the sixth seal (current era, but in the future); Rev. 6:12-17– physical signs of the Second

Coming begin (see D&C 88:87-90):

          A. 12– Earthquake (and pestilence and famine– JS-M 1:29; and fire and tempest– 2 Ne. 6:15)

          B. 12– Sun darkened (see Joel 2:31 and D&C 29:14)

          C. 12– Moon turns red as blood (JS-M 1:33)

          D. 13– Stars fall from the sky (D&C 34:9)

          E. 14– Heavens open

          F. 14– Mountains and islands move

          G. 15-17– Humanity fears

XII. Rev. 8:1- 9:21– Seventh seal opened (1/2 hour may equal 21 years); Angels sound 7 trumpets

(destructions to encourage repentance– D&C 77:12):

          A. 8:9; 1st- Hail and fire burn 1/3 of all plants D&C 29:16

          B. 8-9; 2nd- 1/3 of seas turn to blood

          C. 10-11; 3rd- a great, fiery star falls from heaven

          D. 12– 4th- 1/3 of heavens darkened

          E. 9:1-12; 5th (first wo)- Satan makes his followers (“locusts”) physically torment humanity for

five months

          F. 13-21; 6th (second wo)- Final war kills 1/3 of humanity

1. After second wo; Rev. 11:1-14– 2 prophets (apostles or 1st pres.- BRM) minister in

Jerusalem for 3 1/2 years, death, resurrection after three days.

G. Rev. 11:15-19– 7th trumpet: 24 elders from John’s day, now in heaven, worship and prophesy.

XIII.Rev. 15:1-16:12– Seven vials (final plagues- third wo?) poured out during seventh trumpet (XII,

G), near beginning of 7th seal (XII).

          A. 16:2; 1st- wicked afflicted with great sores– see Zechariah 14:12, D&C 29:19 for details

          B. 3; 2nd- all seas become blood, all sea life dies.

          C. 4-7; 3rd- rivers and fountains all become blood.

          D. 8-9; 4th- heat scorches earth

          E. 10-11; 5th- “darkness” (physical and/or spiritual) covers earth

          F. 12; 6th- Euphrates river dries up

1. Rev. 16: 13-16– Battle of Armageddon begins (Ezekiel 38:8-22, Joel 3:9-14, Zechariah 14:2-5)

G. 17-21; 7th vial- greatest earthquake, continents unite, earth levels out, great hail (Hag. 2:6-7, D&C 49:23)

XIV. During Armageddon:

A. Rev. 19:1-10– Victory song sung in heaven

B. Rev. 19:11-16– Second Coming of Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17– All righteous, living and dead, rise to meet Christ in the air; Jude 1:14-15– Christ comes with ten thousands of his saints; D&C 29:12-13–and with the Apostles, who will judge the world now; D&C 133:46-51– Christ shall declare his divinity and Atonement to the world; Zechariah 12:1-4, 14:4-5– Christ sets foot on Mt. of Olives during this war, it splits in two)

C. Rev. 19:17-21– Great final war is won (Zech. 12, 13– Jews recognize Christ, believe; Ezekiel 39:1-22– great devastation will take seven years to clean and repair), Satan and Antichrist cast into lake of fire.

XV. Rev. 14:8-13– Angels declare fall of Babylon

XVI. Rev. 14:17-20– Wicked destroyed (Malachi 3, 4, D&C 29:9– earth burned; 2 Peter 3:10, D&C 63:34– elements melt with fervent heat; D&C 29:21—great and abominable church cast down by devouring fire)

XVII. Rev. 18:1-24– Babylon is overthrown

XVIII. Rev. 20:1- 22:24– Satan bound, 1st resurrection, Christ reigns personally on earth for 1000 years (D&C 29:11),Satan loosed for “a little season” (1000 years? JFS; D&C 29:22), Satan and followers overcome and cast out eternally, final resurrection and judgment (D&C 29:26-28), new heaven and new earth come (D&C 29:23-25), New Jerusalem descends (Moses 7:63-64– Enoch’s Zion returns)

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Items in Revelation with unsure or general places in timeline of last days

  1. Rev. 10:1-11– John preaches gospel in last days (already begun among lost tribes; beginning or end of this mission unknown)

  2. Rev. 13:1-10– Satan and (Rev. 13:11-18) Antichrist gain political power over earthly governments and economics in last days (begun establishment during and/or after VII; must be in place by XIII)

  3. Rev. 14:1-5– Christ and 144,000 come to Zion (probably in Missouri– must occur between XII and XIV)

  4. D&C 45:26-30—wars and rumors of wars, people say Christ delays his coming, love of men waxes cold, iniquity abounds

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Other prophecies relevant to Revelation’s timeline of Second Coming with indeterminate placement

  1. Daniel 7:9-14– Christ to convene with Latter-day Saints and Adam at Adam-Ondi-Ahman; between XI and XIII

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Items in the Revelation of general description; do not fit in a timeline

1. Rev. 1-3– Introductory context and letters to contemporary congregations

2. Rev. 4:1-11– 24 elders of John’s day worship Christ in heaven in the future

3. Rev. 5:1-14– Lamb is worshipped in heaven

4. Rev. 7:9-17– Multitudes of exalted saints worship God in heaven

5. Rev. 17:1-18– Description of Babylon