Matthew 24:2 There shall not be left here one stone upon another
While we might imagine that Herod's temple was built with relatively small stones or bricks, this was not the case at all. These stones were huge. Josephus wrote, "Now the temple was built of stones that were white and strong, and each of their length was twenty-five cubits, their height was eight, and their breadth about twelve." (Antiquities of the Jews, Book XV, 11:3) That means that each stone measured 45 feet by 14 feet by 21.5 feet (see BD-"cubit"). Only an incredible destruction could have leveled such a magnificent structure!
Ezra Taft Benson
"Herod the Great...undertook to reconstruct the temple. He spared no expense or labor to restore that building to the beauty and magnificence of the days of Solomon. The project took about forty-six years to complete, six years longer than the Salt Lake Temple in pioneer days. According to Josephus, a Jewish historian, some of the stones used in the foundation were prodigious in size, measuring approximately sixty feet in length. Can you imagine how improbable it must have seemed to Jesus' disciples that one stone would not be left on another? Yet, thirty-seven years later, when the Romans invaded Jerusalem, that prophecy was literally fulfilled. It is said that after Roman soldiers burned the temple, they dug up the foundation stones in the hopes of finding a treasure buried there." (Come unto Christ, 109.)
"When Jesus Christ said there should not be left one stone upon another in the temple that should not be thrown down, the Jewish nation did not believe it, neither would they receive such testimony; but they looked at outward circumstances, and were ready to say, 'Who can prevail against us? What nation like unto our nation? We have held the giving of the law, the oracles, and the Urim and Thummim; the lawgiver has never departed from between our feet; we have held the power of government from generation to generation; and what nation hath power now to prevail against us?'" (History of the Church, 6:24-25)
Bruce R. McConkie
"The prophetic announcement of the desolation and destruction of the temple was thus more than the death knell of a building, even of a sacred building that was the 'Father's house.' It was in fact a prediction of gloom and doom upon a nation. It was the announcement of the final end of a dispensation, the end of a kingdom, the end of the Lord's people as a distinct nation." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:637.)
Matthew 24:3 when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming?
Whether they realized it or not, the disciples were asking two separate questions: 1) when will the destruction of the temple occur, and 2) what events will precede the Second Coming? It is crucial to an understanding of this chapter that these two questions are kept separate. In the inspired version of Matthew 24, the Lord's answers are clearly separated:
· verses 5-20 deal with the destruction of the Jews and the Temple
· verses 21-36 deal with the events attending Christ's Second Coming.
In the King James Version, the answers to these questions are not separated. Without the inspired version, it is almost impossible to correctly interpret which passages refer to the first Jewish destruction and which refer to the second. With the inspired version, we understand that most of these verses apply to both time periods. The second event is, in many respects, a repetition of the first:
'and again, after the tribulation of those days...if any man shall say unto you Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe him not;
...and again, because iniquity shall abound, the love of men shall wax cold;
...And again, this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached
...And again shall the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, be fulfilled.' (JS-Matt 1:21, 30-32, emphasis added)
Bruce R. McConkie
"Apparently the disciples thought these two events would be closely related in time. In reply Jesus will speak of events and not of time, and the key to understanding the whole discourse is to know which statements of our Lord pertain to the day of the ancient apostles and which to those ages following their ministries." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:640.)
Matthew 24:5 many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ
"'For many shall come in my name, saying-I am Christ-and shall deceive many...he that remaineth steadfast and is not overcome, the same shall be saved.'
"These statements of warning Christ directed specifically to His disciples, for they were to be fulfilled in their lifetime. That many did come claiming to be Christ is attested to by sacred and secular history. There was, for instance, Simon Magus, who drew many people after him, Menander, Dositheus, and Theudas; the false apostles referred to by Paul; and others including Hymeneus and Philetus. Josephus, a contemporary, made record of 'a body of wicked men, who deceived and deluded the people under pretense of divine inspiration, who prevailed with the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them into the wilderness, pretending that God would there show them the signals of victory.'" (Hyrum L. Andrus, Doctrinal Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price, 416.)
Matthew 24:6 ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars...but the end is not yet
When a Sunday School class is asked to name some of the signs of the times, one of the first signs mentioned is "wars and rumors of wars." Yet, conflict after conflict passes by and yet the Lord has not come. Didn't the saints in the days of World War I conclude, "certainly, this must be the end of the world"? And what of the saints of World War II, didn't they wonder if theirs was the final conflict? Well, the prophets of their day were not deceived. They understood that war was to be poured out on all nations beginning with the conflict of the American Civil War, 'the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place (South Carolina)...And thus with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn....until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations.' (DC 87:2, 6) The Lord has made it clear that when we see these things-even world wars-we are to conclude that 'the end is not yet,' for these are but 'the beginning of sorrows.' (v. 8)
Elder Francis M. Lyman
"...it is important that those who have received authority from heaven should be like watch-men upon the walls of Zion, and speak forth to the multitude when God commands, and say, be not troubled, for the end is not yet. Be not troubled because there are wars and rumors of wars in the earth, for these things must be; but let us attend to our labor and let us pray that this cup of trouble and war may pass." (Conference Report, April 1898, Afternoon Session)
Charles W. Penrose
"...the end is not yet, and the work has yet to be done and there is more for us to do, that we may be indeed assistants in the salvation of mankind in these troublous times that have come upon the world (World War I). Our boys who go forth to the front representing us, go out in that spirit, as saviors who have come out of Mount Zion, bearing with them the spirit of Zion, setting a good example to their comrades, taking a course which will show that we are a people that observe the laws of health and of strength and of virility of manhood, living clean lives, setting a good example to the world, and they are objects of the admiration of others who do not practice such good things." (Conference Report, April 1918, First Day-Morning Session 18.)
Matt 24:7 there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places
Regarding pestilences (plague-like sicknesses) and earthquakes, the D&C records, 'And there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness (possibly AIDS) shall cover the land. But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die. And there shall be earthquakes also in divers places, and many desolations; yet men will harden their hearts against me...' (DC 45:31-33). Concerning famines to come in the latter days, consider the following:
Gordon B. Hinckley
"As we have been counseled for more than 60 years, let us have some food set aside that would sustain us for a time in case of need. But let us not panic nor go to extremes...I cannot forget the great lesson of Pharaoh's dream of the fat and lean kine and of the full and withered stalks of corn.
"I cannot dismiss from my mind the grim warnings of the Lord as set forth in the 24th chapter of Matthew. I am familiar, as are you, with the declarations of modern revelation that the time will come when the earth will be cleansed and there will be indescribable distress, with weeping and mourning and lamentation (see DC 112:24).
"Now I do not wish to be an alarmist. I do not wish to be a prophet of doom. I am optimistic. I do not believe the time is here when an all-consuming calamity will overtake us. I earnestly pray that it may not. There is so much of the Lord's work yet to be done. We, and our children after us, must do it." (Conference Report, Ensign, Oct. 2001, 73-74)
"The rainbow is not to be seen. It is a sign of the commencement of famine, pestilence, and so forth, and that the coming of the Messiah is not far distant...
"I have asked of the Lord concerning His coming; and while asking the Lord, He gave a sign and said, 'In the days of Noah I set a bow in the heavens as a sign and token that in any year that the bow should be seen the Lord would not come; but there should be seed time and harvest during that year: but whenever you see the bow withdrawn, it shall be a token that there shall be famine, pestilence, and great distress among the nations.'" (Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible, ed. by Kent P. Jackson, 112-113)
Matt 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you
Parley P. Pratt
"Jesus was talking to Peter, James, and John, and to the rest of his immediate followers. 'They will lay their hands on you, Peter, on you, James, and on you, John, and also upon others, and they will persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and into prisons, and you shall be brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.' And of which, I need not observe, was literally fulfilled in that age, the New Testament itself bearing record of it in part; 'this shall turn to you for a testimony.' That is as much as to say, when this happens to you that I have foretold, it will be a witness and a testimony-it will be another proof; therefore, instead of mourning about it, and feeling down-hearted, understand that I have before told you it must be. And when you are brought before rulers for my name's sake, do not study up a speech beforehand to speak in self-defence, for I will give you a mouth, and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to gainsay nor resist." (Journal of Discourses, 3: 131.)
Matt 24:10 then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another
James E. Talmage
"Their [the apostles'] labors would be complicated and opposed by the revolutionary propaganda of many false prophets, and differences of creed would disrupt families, and engender such bitterness that brothers would betray one another, and children would rise against their parents. accusing them of heresies and delivering them up to death. Even among those who had professed discipleship to Christ many would be offended and hatred would abound; love for the gospel would wax cold, and iniquity would be rampant among men." (Jesus the Christ, p. 571.)
Matt 24:12 the love of many shall wax cold
"Devoid of the Spirit, one's love and respect for God and others diminish and begin to 'wax cold.' Those who have no conscience or regard of others view human life with no special reverence but rather as being expendable as deemed necessary. The most extreme and abominable result of love waxing cold is that not only can one shed innocent blood without repulsion but also can actually receive pleasure in doing it. This was the case with the Nephites, and Mormon's account serves as a warning to us of the wickedness that will prevail in the last days, when men's hearts fail them and the love of many shall wax cold. Delighting in bloodshed epitomizes the awful depths to which a person or society can fall when they are spiritually 'past feeling' (1 Nephi 17:45)." (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 4: 228.)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Since the scriptures, ancient and modern, speak of the time when because 'iniquity shall bound, the love of many shall wax cold,' can we really ignore iniquity, when it diminishes our capacity to love our fellowmen-in a world where the need for love exceeds the mortal supply? How we see each other and our situations determines how much we feel each other's elbows, how much we will excuse, endure, and expect from others." (The Smallest Part, 34)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Because iniquity is increasing in the world, however, not only will the love of many wax cold, but so will mercy and compassion decline (see Matt. 24:12; D&C 45:27). Yet mercy is such a precious, enabling, and essential virtue, hence 'whosoever repenteth shall find mercy, and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved' (Alma 32:13; see also Luke 6:36; Matt. 5:7). We surely need mercy in order to be able to endure. The virtues are all linked together, interwoven with a tensile strength, which keeps all things 'fitly framed together' (Eph. 2:21; 4:16)." (One More Strain of Praise, 57.)
Matt 24:13 he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved
"Can you tell me where the people are who will be shielded and protected from these great calamities and judgments which are even now at our doors? I'll tell you. The priesthood of God who honor their priesthood, and who are worthy of their blessings are the only ones who shall have this safety and protection. They are the only mortal beings. No other people have a right to be shielded from these judgments. They are at our very doors; not even this people will escape them entirely. They will come down like the judgments of Sodom and Gomorrah. And none but the priesthood will be safe from their fury." (Wilford Woodruff, in Young Woman's Journal, Aug. 1894, p. 512. as taken from Milton R. Hunter, Pearl of Great Price Commentary: A Selection From the Revelations, Translations, and Narrations of Joseph Smith, 313-314)
Joseph Fielding Smith
"Do not think for a moment that the days of trial are over. They are not. If we keep the commandments of the Lord, we shall prosper, we shall be blessed; the plagues, the calamities that have been promised will be poured out upon the peoples of the earth, and we shall escape them, yea, they shall pass us by.
"But remember the Lord says if we fail to keep his word, if we walk in the ways of the world, they will not pass us by, but we shall be visited with floods and with fire, with sword and with plague and destruction. We may escape these things through faithfulness. Israel of old might have escaped through faithfulness." (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:34, as taken from Milton R. Hunter, Pearl of Great Price Commentary: A Selection From the Revelations, Translations, and Narrations of Joseph Smith, 313-314)
Matt 24:14 this gospel...shall be preached in all the world...then shall the end come
What is one of the single most important signs of the times? That the gospel is preached to all nations. The Lord says once that happens, then shall the end come, or the destruction of the wicked. To what degree must the gospel be preached? It must be preached such that the nation has received a witness. This is different than prophecies which state that every ear will hear the gospel, 'that every man shall hear the fullness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language' (DC 90:11, see also DC 88:104). This degree of missionary work will take place during the Millennium and not before. For our purposes, we must watch and see when all the nations of the earth have received a witness, for 'after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people. For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes...And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of temptests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds' (DC 88:88-90)
"...so shall it be in the end of the world; that is, as the servants of God go forth warning the nations, both priests and people, and as they harden their hearts and reject the light of truth, these first being delivered over to the buffetings of Satan, and the law and the testimony being closed up, as it was in the case of the Jews, they are left in darkness, and delivered over unto the day of burning; thus being bound up by their creeds, and their bands being made strong by their priests, are prepared for the fulfillment of the saying of the Savior-'The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire, there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.'" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 100-101)
Gordon B. Hinckley
"Looking to the future, the challenges we see facing the Church are immense. The Lord himself has declared that this work will roll forth to fill the whole earth, in preparation for the coming of the Savior to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. Much has been done, but much more remains to be done. All of the work of the past is but prelude to the work of the future. In lands where the gospel has been taught for a century and more, the numbers of the Saints are still relatively small. And in the earth's most populated nations the doors are presently closed. But somehow, under the power of the Almighty, they will in his time be opened, for this gospel 'shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations' before the end shall come. (Matthew 24:14.) There must be much more dedication, devotion, consecration. There must be a great expansion and a great acceleration." (Be Thou an Example, 116.)
Matthew 24:15-22 ye...shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel
Daniel was taken prisoner to Babylon when Jerusalem had been sacked and the temple destroyed. To him was given prophecies regarding future destructions on Jerusalem, called the abomination of desolation. Although not clear from Daniel's prophecies (Dan 9:24-27; 12:1-13), the desolation is to occur twice. The First Desolation of Abomination occurred when the Romans sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD. This destruction becomes a type for the Second Desolation of Abomination which will occur just prior to the coming of the Lord.
When the Savior trudged the path to Golgotha, he turned to the weeping women and warned, 'Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck' (Lu 23:28-29). He was referencing the great destruction which was to come upon that generation.
Matthew 24:15-22 is a warning to those who are caught in the desolation spoken of. The destruction would be so swift that they would hardly be able to run fast enough (see v. 16-20). Bruce R. McConkie stated, "But what of the saints who dwelt in Jerusalem in that gloomy day? They heeded Jesus' warning and fled in haste. Guided by revelation, as true saints always are, they fled to Pella in Perea and were spared." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:644-645)
For those who were less fortunate, a terrifying fate awaited. The Roman soldiers laid siege on the city, ambushing anyone who went out to gather food. Others who tried to escape were captured, tortured, and crucified. The soldiers would catch about 500 people a day and crucify them until there were no more crosses left and no more room to put them up. (see Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 5, 11:1)
Others who deserted to their Arab neighbors would swallow all their gold as a means of transport while they made their escape. Hoping for help and amnesty, these unfortunate souls headed for Arabian and Syrian camps. But the Arabs and Syrians quickly learned that the Jews were coming to them with bellies full of gold. Josephus records, "So the multitude of the Arabians, with the Syrians, cut up those that came as supplicants, and searched their bellies. Nor does it seem to me that any misery befell the Jews that was more terrible than this, since in one night about two thousand of these deserters were thus dissected." (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 5, 13:4)
"Then did the famine widen its progress, and devoured the people by whole houses and families; the upper rooms were full of women and children that were dying by famine; and the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of the aged; the children also and the young men wandered about the market-places like shadows, all swelled with famine, and fell down dead wheresoever their misery seized them." (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 5, 12:3)
Moses prophesied that if the Israelites were wicked, they would be cursed with a famine which would be so severe that some would eat their own children (Deut. 28:53). Josephus records the pathetic fulfillment of Moses' words. One woman, after cursing her suckling infant, "slew her son; and then roasted him, and ate the one half of him, and kept the other half by her concealed." Her neighbors came in response to the smell and found out what the woman had done. "Hereupon they were seized with a horror and amazement of mind, and stood astonished at the sight...After which, those men went out trembling, being never so much affrighted at anything as they were at this, and with some difficulty they left the rest of that meat to the mother." (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 5, 13:4) Indeed, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck' (Lu 23:28:29).
But those days of destruction were shortened and some Jews did survive. All told, 97,000 were taken captive, and an incredible 1,100,000 were killed. Such was the First Desolation of Abomination-but another awaits the Jewish nation.
Mark E. Petersen
"And what a desolation it was! As the Roman legions swept through the Holy Land only a few years later and wiped out Jerusalem, it was such a catastrophe that it fully reflected the Savior's prediction when he said. 'Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.' (Matthew 24:21.)
"As Josephus describes it in his writings, it is dreadful to contemplate, even after almost two thousand years." (Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 12.)
Matthew 24:23 if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not
Elder John Morgan
"We heard at our recent conference that there were right in our own Territory a number of individuals who claimed to be Christ, and who were going among the people telling them that Christ had come and that He lived in a certain section of the country. Doubtless, if we had the correct number of those who have come since He was upon the earth, declaring themselves as Christ, we would be astonished. There has been a great number of them; and in this day they seem to be multiplying." (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, vol. 4, John Morgan, April 15th, 1894)
J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
"I think perhaps when we first read these extracts we may think that the Savior is talking primarily of a person, somebody to come to impersonate the Christ and claim to be the Christ. It seems to me, however, from the way in which these records are made and what they say, that the Savior also had in mind anyone who would come and say to you, 'This is Christ that I teach; that is Christ that I teach; that is the Christian doctrine.'" (Behold the Lamb of God, 254.)
Matthew 24:24 if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect
Many shall be deceived by the false prophets of the last days, but the elect will not be deceived. The scripture says, 'if it were possible,' but it is not. Latter-day prophets tell us that the elect cannot be deceived.
Elder Jedediah M. Grant
"The Priesthood is a power we should respect, reverence, and obey, no matter in whose hands it is. Let Lucifer mix in truths with error, and work great signs and wonders to deceive the very elect, but it is not possible. Why? Because they have learned the Priesthood, and they possess the power thereof that cannot be shaken. Let the Rappers go ahead, then, for it is not possible for them to deceive the elect of God; and let the witch of Endor, and all other witches and wizards, with the prince and power of the air at their head, do their best, if we keep the commandments of God we shall continually soar far above their power and influence." (Journal of Discourses, 2: 16.)
"Until we have perfect love, we are liable to fall. And when we have a testimony that our names are sealed in the Lamb's book of life, we have perfect love, and then it is impossible for false Christs to deceive us."
"When a man goes about prophesying and commands men to obey his teachings, he must be either a true or false prophet. False prophets always arise to oppose the true prophets, and they will prophesy so very near the truth that they will deceive almost the very chosen ones." Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible, ed. by Kent P. Jackson, 108)
Marion G. Romney
"This is a day of great conflict between truth and error. Satan is having a field day with the souls of men. Anti-christs stalk the earth in all lands, including our own. False philosophies and doctrines emanating from the prince of darkness are being presented in such appealing manner as almost to deceive the very elect. There is only one sure way to divine the truth from the error. That is to learn what the mind and will of the Father is on these matters, and then do it. You will find it declared on many issues in the messages of the First Presidency given in the general conferences." (Conference Report, April 1945, Afternoon Meeting 90 - 91.)
Ezra Taft Benson
"There is a conspiracy of evil. The source of it all is Satan and his hosts. He has a great power over men to 'lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken' to the voice of the Lord (Moses 4:4). His evil influence may be manifest through governments; through false educational, political, economic, religious, and social philosophies; through secret societies and organizations; and through myriads of other forms. His power and influence are so great that, if possible, he would deceive the very elect (see Matthew 24:24). As the second coming of the Lord approaches, Satan's work will intensify through numerous insidious deceptions. (CR April 1978, Ensign 8 [May 1978]: 33.)
"We know that Satan has great power to deceive, and because of this, we must be aware. The safeguard against his sophistry and deception has been specified by revelation. We are to give heed to the words of eternal life. In other words, we must understand and live by the revelations the Lord has granted to His prophets. These are contained in the four standard works and the written and public declarations of our current prophet. ("Three Imperative Responsibilities," London England Area Conference, 19-20 June 1976.)" (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 404-405.)
Matthew 24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east...so shall also the coming of the Son of man be
"How are we to see it? As the lighting up of the morning or the dawning of the morning cometh from the east and shineth unto the west, so also is the coming of the Son of Man. The dawning of the morning makes its appearance in the east and moves along gradually. So also will the coming of the Son of Man be. It will be small at its first appearance and gradually become larger until every eye shall see it. Shall the Saints understand it? Oh yes. Paul says so [1 Thes. 5:4-5]. Shall the wicked understand? Oh no. They [will] attribute it to a natural cause. They will probably suppose it is two great comets coming in contact with each other. It will be small at first and will grow larger and larger until it will be all in a blaze, so that every eye shall see it." (Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible, ed. by Kent P. Jackson, 112-113)
Matthew 24:28 wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together
Bruce R. McConkie
"In the parable, as here given, the carcass is the body of the Church to which the eagles, who are Israel, shall fly to find nourishment. 'The gathering of Israel is first spiritual and second temporal. It is spiritual in that the lost sheep of Israel are first 'restored to the true Church and fold of God,' meaning that they come to a true knowledge of the God of Israel, accept the gospel which he has restored in latter days, and join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is temporal in that these converts are then 'gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and... established in all their lands of promise' (2 Nephi 9:2; 25:15-18; Jeremiah 16:14-21), meaning that the house of Joseph will be established in America, the house of Judah in Palestine, and that the Lost Tribes will come to Ephraim in America to receive their blessings in due course. (D&C 133.)" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 280)
Matthew 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened...
Not uncommonly, someone will declare that this prophecy has been fulfilled. They usually reference solar eclipses, lunar eclipses, and meteor showers. While this prophecy probably will have multiple fulfillments, we can't help but think that a very dramatic and unequivocal sign still awaits us. Think of what happened in the New World at the Savior's birth-36 hours of daylight. What happened at his death-three days of utter darkness. Should we think that this sign would be any less dramatic?
The scriptures speak of many signs in the heaven and on the earth, but this particular sign is different. That the sun should be darkened, the moon turned to blood, and the stars fall from the heavens is a sign that is repeated over and over in the scriptures (see Ezek. 32:7, Joel 2:31; 3:15, Matt 24:29; Mark 13:24-25, Lu. 21:25, Acts 2:20, Rev. 6:12; 8:12, DC 29:14; 34:9; 45:42; 88:87; 133:49). How many other signs or doctrines are repeated in 14 different places? Certainly, the fulfillment of this scripture will be as dramatic as anything we have ever seen, for when it occurs, 'the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man' (DC 88:87).
Joseph Fielding Smith
"Eventually the sun is to be turned into darkness and the moon as blood and then shall come the great and dreadful day of the Lord. Some of these signs have been given; some are yet to come. The sun has not yet been darkened. We are informed that this will be one of the last acts just preceding the coming of the Lord." (Conference Report, April 1966, First Day-Morning Meeting 13.)
Matt 24:30 then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven
"...then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet, etc. But the Son of Man will come as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east." (Teachings, pp. 286-287.)
Matthew 24:31 his angels...shall gather together his elect...from one end of heaven to the other
When the Lord comes again, many of the saints will have gathered to the newly built city of Zion. There will the eagles be gathered (v. 28). However, many saints will still be living in the various stakes of Zion. These will literally be gathered to Zion or Jerusalem. Furthermore, the scripture states that the angels will gather the elect from 'one end of heaven to the other.' Why doesn't it say "one end of the earth to the other"? The elect of the city of Enoch have been taken to heaven by the Lord. They too must be gathered by these angels and brought to the New Jerusalem according to the scripture:
'...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.
And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other' (Moses 7:62-63).
Matthew 24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree
"It is well known that the fruit-buds of a fig tree appear earlier than do the leaves, and that by the time the tree is in full foliage the figs are well advanced toward maturity" (James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 487). The appearance of the leaves, then, signifies that 'the Lord of the vineyard had preserved unto himself the natural fruit, which was most precious unto him from the beginning' (Jacob 5:74). Those who understand the parable of the fig tree will not be surprised by the arrival of the summer harvest, for 'the poor and the meek...shall be looking forth for the time of my coming, for it is nigh at hand-And they shall learn the parable of the fig-tree, for even now already summer is nigh' (DC 35:15-16). Neal A. Maxwell commented, "The 'summer' Jesus cited is now upon us, and you and I must not complain of the heat. Nor, indeed, should we let that heat, as Alma counseled, wither our individual tree of testimony. If we neglect to nourish the tree, 'when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it,' it can prove fatal. ("Alma 32:38Alma 32:38.)" (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, 123.)
Bruce R. McConkie
"In giving the Parable of the Fig Tree, Jesus both reveals and keeps hidden the time of his coming. The parable is perfect for his purposes. It announces that he will most assuredly return in the 'season' when the promised signs are shown. But it refrains from specifying the day or the hour when the figs will be harvested, thus leaving men in a state of expectant hope, ever keeping themselves ready for the coming harvest." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:664.)
Matthew 24:33 when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near
Parley P. Pratt
"Now you behold the apple tree and all the trees, when they begin to shoot forth their leaves, ye know of your own selves that summer is nigh at hand; and so likewise when ye shall see great earthquakes, famine, pestilence, and plagues of every kind; the sea breaking beyond its bounds and all things in commotion; the nations distressed with perplexity; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking for the things which are coming on the earth; when you see signs in the heaven above, and in the earth beneath, blood, and fire and vapor of smoke, the sun turned to darkness, the moon to blood, and stars hurled from their courses; when you see the Jews gathering to Jerusalem, and the armies of the nations gathering against them to battle, you may know, with a perfect knowledge that Christ's coming is near, even at the doors." (A Voice of Warning, 46 - 47.)
Matthew 24:34 This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled
The Joseph Smith Translation clarifies this statement. The events discussed in JST-Matt 1:22-33 are events that will take place within one generation of the Second Coming.
Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away
Joseph Fielding Smith
"This passing away does not mean that the earth will cease to be. It is merely the cleansing process from the temporal condition to the eternal condition where death will come to an end. To the Prophet Joseph Smith the Lord made this matter perfectly clear in the following words:
And not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost, for it is the workmanship of mine hand.' (DC 29:22-25)" (Man, His Origin and Destiny, 30.)
Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man
This scripture defines what can't be known and also what can be known. We should not try to define the hour nor the day, but as we get closer, the Lord's timetable will become increasingly more obvious. While no one will know the day nor the hour, the faithful may know the year, the month, and maybe even the week. In the parable of the ten virgins, they did not know the hour when the Bridegroom was to come, but they knew that it was time to go forth and meet Him. (Matt 25:1-13) So will it be with the elect at his coming. The key is to listen to the Brethren and not a self-appointed scriptural guru.
"There may be men that will know within a year-that will have revelation to say within one or two years when the Lord shall appear. I do not know that there is anything against this.
"But the great question is, brethren and sisters, Are we ready?-are we perfect enough for this day? Are we honest enough? and are we filled with integrity enough to be ready for the Saviour and his holy angels? Is there a sufficiency of union? Have we that firmness in our minds that we can stand in their presence-that we can look them in the eye and say that all is right?" (Journal of Discourses, 8: 49 - 50.)
George Q. Cannon
"It was said yesterday that no man knoweth the day nor the hour. This is true. But I will tell you what men can know. They can know that such and such a time is not the time. Men can prophesy that 1891 is not the year...There are several revelations which speak plainly upon this point...There are a great many events to take place that have not yet occurred; and the Savior will not come until they do take place. Be assured of this, and be not concerned in your minds and agitated on these matters, because it is easy to understand that there are many things yet to be fulfilled before that grand and glorious event will come." (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, vol. 2, Oct 5th 1890)
Neal A. Maxwell
"How quickly and easily the few are misled! Such members may know superficially of the doctrines of the kingdom, but their root system is shallow. Though able to provide doctrinal recitation, they seem not to know either the implications or interconnections of those doctrines.
"For instance, instead of wisely noticing the warning leaves on the fig tree, a few proceed to fixate on the specific timing of Jesus' second coming. Yet the Savior clearly stated, 'But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only' (Matthew 24:36).
"Clearly, since even the angels in heaven-an otherwise reasonably well-informed group-do not know, we should be wary of mortals obsessed with calendaring. So often modern gnostics who in one exotic way or another pretend to be 'in the know' are, in fact, spiritually 'out of touch'! Meanwhile, mature members will take time both to smell the flowers and also watch the leaves on the fig tree to see when 'summer is nigh' (Matthew 24:32-33)." (Lord, Increase Our Faith, 94.)
Matthew 24:37 as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be
Sterling W. Sill
"Apparently Noah's day was quite a day; some of its chief characteristics were the people's lack of preparation and their disbelief in God. As in our own day, the antediluvians thought that the heavens were sealed and that God would never again reveal himself. It must have sounded a little bit ridiculous to them when on a warm cloudless day Noah prophesied that a flood would come and destroy their entire society if they did not repent, but we are in a similar situation. And even though the combined sins of Sodom Babylon, and ancient Rome all glare at us from our own newspaper headlines, yet we are far from changing our ways. Instead, many people of our day are contending for a type of behavior that condones alcoholism, immorality, and a wide variety of deviations from God's laws." (Conference Report, April 1966, First Day-Morning Meeting 21.)
Matthew 24:40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left
Bruce R. McConkie
"These words can be used in a dual way. They can be applied to the destruction of the wicked in the day of burning, when only the righteous abide the day, or they can be applied to the gathering of the remainder of the elect by the angels, when they are caught up to meet their Lord, with those who are unworthy of such a quickening being left on earth. Luke makes this latter application to words of the same meaning and then explains: 'This he [Jesus] 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. For verily there shall be new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. And there shall be no unclean thing; for the earth becoming old, even as a garment, having waxed in corruption, wherefore it vanisheth away, and the footstool remaineth sanctified, cleansed from all sin.' (JST Luke 17:38-40.)" (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man, 686.)
Matthew 24:42-44 The Lord to come as a thief in the night only to the wicked
Bruce R. McConkie
"It is true that no man knoweth the day nor the hour of his return - 'no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only' (Matt. 24:36), as he himself expressed it - but those who treasure up his word will not be deceived as to the time of that glorious day, nor as to the events to precede and to attend it. (Jos. Smith 1:37.) The righteous will be able to read the signs of the times. To those in darkness he will come suddenly, unexpectedly, 'as a thief in the night,' but to 'the children of light' who 'are not of the night, nor of darkness,' as Paul expressed it, that day will not overtake them 'as a thief.' They will recognize the signs as certainly as a woman in travail foreknows the approximate time of her child's birth. (1 Thess. 5:1-6.)" (Mormon Doctrine, 688.)
Matthew 24:46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing
"Do we allow ourselves a mistaken luxury, thinking there is plenty of time to put our lives in order? Do we rationalize that there is still so much to do before the Savior's Second Coming that we feel no need to rush? After all, the Gospel must be preached to all nations, the gathering must continue, the ten tribes must return, temples must yet be built in Jerusalem and Jackson County, and a host of other things must be fulfilled. It certainly sounds as if there is plenty of time. Perhaps we have even heard a modern prophet say Jesus would not likely come in his lifetime, the lifetime of his children, and maybe not even in the lifetime of his grandchildren. So why worry? Alas, this is the point of the parable.
'... if that evil servant shall say in his heart: My lord delayeth his coming ... The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and shall appoint him his portion with the hypocrites; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And thus cometh the end of the wicked ...' (JS-M 1:51-55).
"Thank the Lord for this marvelous prophecy, for this latter-day voice of warning! We must not delay our preparation. We must be less concerned about when the Lord will come, and more about being prepared to go." (George A. Horton, Jr. The Pearl of Great Price: Revelations from God, ed. by H. Donl Peterson and Charles D. Tate, Jr., 210.)
Matthew 24:48-51 if that evil servant...shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken
Elder Erastus Snow
"Now, it is not impossible, nor yet improbable, that there will be some among the Latter-day Saints who are called of God and appointed to this work, and who are set over their fellow servants to give them meat in due season, who will be found negligent, who will have forgotten their high and holy calling, who will have laid off their armor of righteousness, who will have become slothful and weary in well doing, and who will have taken to eating and drinking with the drunken and smiting their fellow-servants; but as surely as any such are found among the servants of God, they will be overtaken when the day of the Lord cometh, and their portion will be appointed with hypocrites and unbelievers. But we hope better things of the Elders of Israel, of Presidents of Stakes, of Bishops, of High Counselors, of High Priests, of Seventies, of Priests, Teachers and Deacons, and of all the Latter-day Saints; for we have all been made partakers of this Priesthood, and the blessings of the Lord, directly or indirectly, have been conferred upon us." (Journal of Discourses, 25: 30 - 32.)