This is an expression I know we hear a lot in The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints. I hear it a lot from my Christian friends of other denominations as well. Christ’s parable of the wise and foolish virgins is talking about this very idea. In the parable all ten were members of Christ’s church. And all desired to be invited to attend and participate. But of the ten, only the five wise were prepared to meet Christ.
Being prepared to meet Christ means not only having oil in our lamps, but having oil in our vessels with our lamps (see Matthew 25:1–13 & D&C 33:17). And the oil symbolizes what Christ requires of us to be considered “wise” or worthy to be there. It is who we are at that time. Spiritual preparedness consists of the condition of our heart, and how loyal it is to Him; how single our hearts are to Christ’s glory.
Jesus Christ made this statement to his disciples “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). This statement is the essence of what we are discussing in this article. To be prepared to meet Christ means we have truly set our hearts on Him. We have not put any other worldly desire or ambition ahead of Christ and His will. To be ready we must truly love him above all else.
What Will Christ’s Coming Be Like
To truly understand who we need to become and what the condition of our hearts need to be in that day it helps to learn a bit more about the winding up scene just before Christ’s coming in glory. Most people in the church today think of the second coming of Christ as a one time event that will happen “as a thief in the night”. But it is the tribulations part that comes like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2-6). “The day of the Lord”, meaning the day of Christ’s second coming, is a series of events over a period of years, including years of tribulations, culminating with His final coming in the clouds in glory.
Similarly, most Christians believe that we need to convert as much of the world as we can in order to prepare the world for Christ’s second coming. While this is one of our missions, and very very important, who we really need to convert is ourselves in order to prepare the world (and ourselves) for the second coming. The Lord can’t come until Zion is built and its inhabitants are ready (worthy) to receive Him. “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city” (Isaiah 52:1).
The Need To Build Zion
When Christ comes he will be coming to put the capstone on, a topic that will be discussed more in a later article. Suffice it to say here the capstone is the receiving of temple blessings in actual fact directly from Christ himself. This is one of the main reasons why Christ will “suddenly come to his temple” (Malachi 3:1).
When Christ comes in glory He will come as “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords” (1 Tim 6:15, Rev 19:16) having already subdued “all enemies under his feet” (D&C 58:22). In order to reign as “King of Kings” there have to be other “Kings” to rule over. Since the Lord will have made “a full end of all nations” (Jeremiah 30:11) by this time, the “Kings” the Lord is talking about reigning as “King” over, are those who were anointed as “Kings” without condition within the House Of The Lord, the temple. These will include mortal, translated and resurrected beings.
An interesting side note in this regard is how the prophecies of this time refer sometimes to the term “Mountain” in association to “Zion”, and this general time period. The term “Mountain” or phrase “Mountain Of The Lord’s House” (Isaiah 2:2, Micah 4:1) in this context is talking about the temple.
Zion built upon her mount is Zion built upon and supported by the temple, and the ordinances that go on within it. Zion is a temple people and the covenants of the House Of The Lord will permeate the city, culture and people. To be prepared to see that day, “the day of the lord”, we need to be worthy of these blessings; we need to be a Zion people. Being a Zion people means being worthy to receive the fullness of the priesthood in the Lord’s holy temple to become a member of “the church of the Firstborn” (Heb 12:22-23).
The 3 Main Groups Of People In That Day
In reading the prophecies of Isaiah and other prophets about this winding up time period there appears to be three main groups of people discussed. These are 1. the Zion believers, i.e. those worthy or striving and very close to being worthy to build Zion, 2. the less valiant believers in Christ, and 3. the wicked who get destroyed. We will take a closer look at each of these three groups of people and what they are like.
1. The Zion Believers
At the beginning of the days of tribulations (Matthew 24:21) there will be many natural disasters, wars and the wicked killing the wicked. Isaiah prophesies both about his day and time and the end times. He uses the “King of Assyria” (Isaiah 7) of his day as a type for (or example of) the last day’s “Beast” or “Anti-Christ” (as mentioned in other scriptures) that “take[s] peace from the earth” (Rev 6:4). This end time beast will lead the most powerful army (consisting of many countries) and weaponry ever amassed in this earth and will attempt to conquer the world militarily. After killing many and causing much destruction these armies will then turn on and begin to kill each other.
In that day, once the wars and tribulations have already started, the Lord will begin to set up Zion as a place to protect His people from these troubles. The most righteous on the Earth will be called to build Zion. The Lord will have a prophet on the Earth at that time whom Isaiah calls the “righteous man from the east”, the “arm of the Lord” and the Lord’s “servant”, whose mission it is to organize and lead this effort on behalf of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 41:2, Isaiah 51:9-16, & Isaiah 49:6). It appears John references this same end time prophet, or an angel who ministers to this prophet, whom John refers to as the “angel ascending from the east” (Rev 7:2).
This end time prophet works (with the Lord’s help) to find and call the 144,000 and seal these “servants of our God in their foreheads” (Rev 7:3). This sealing in their foreheads means that these servants receive the “fullness of the priesthood” through the new and everlasting covenant in the Lord’s holy temple without condition. They then have a change wrought upon their bodies called “being translated” (like John the beloved was) so that they can endure the dangers and tribulations going on during that time period.
The mission of the 144,000 translated servants of God is to search out the righteous people (whom I call “the Zion believers”) scattered throughout the entire world and bring them (like Moses led the children of Israel) out of captivity and danger to Zion. The righteous hear the words of the 144,000 and follow them.
This is the time Isaiah is talking about in (Isaiah 52:12) where the Lord says “For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rearward”. In other words the Lord is saying that the 144,000 will take their time and be sure and find every last repentant soul who will come. They don’t need to hurry because the Lord will be protecting them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night just as the Lord did in Moses’ day (Ex 13:21-22).
These are the people of the earth who are righteous enough, or who can become righteous enough, to receive the “fullness of the priesthood” through the new and everlasting covenant and become members of “the church of the Firstborn” (Heb 12:22-23). The main mission of the 144,000 is to bring people into “the church of the Firstborn” so that Zion can be established and the Lord can return in Glory.
2. The Less Valiant Believers
These are the people of the earth whom either are not worthy to follow, or who choose not to follow, the 144,000 in their exodus to Zion. They are not the very wicked nor are they the very righteous. Some of these are Christians and some may not believe in God at all. And since they choose not to evacuate in the exodus with the 144,000, they are left to suffer and endure through all of the dangers and miseries of the times of war, turmoil and chaos.
These less valiant did not have the direct protection of the Lord that they would have had had they joined the exodus (the pillar of a cloud by day and fire by night). But somehow they survived on their own (or with the Lords individual help) in the various countries throughout the world. These people survived because they begin to humble themselves and call upon God and repent.
Once the wicked governments of the world led by the Anti-Christ have pretty much conquered the world, they turn their forces against Zion. The Lord then fights the battle for Zion and eventually destroys the armies of the wicked and they also begin to fight and kill each other. At this time the “Less Valiant” who have survived and repented begin their journey to Zion as well.
3. The Wicked Who Get Destroyed
These people are all of the people of the world who do not repent and which are eventually all killed. They include those of all countries who were wicked civilians as well as those that are wicked in the governments and armies of the earth. The purpose of this time period is to cleanse the Earth of all those who will not repent to prepare the world to move into a terrestrial order during the 1,000 years of millennial peace where Christ will reign personally upon the Earth.
It is important to note here that this destruction is not being caused by Jesus Christ. Christ suffered infinite suffering so that all who would repent would be spared suffering. He is only allowing the end time “beast” or leader of the wicked, to do what they want to do. Because of the great wickedness of the people Christ is just no longer protecting them. But to the degree individuals repent, they are spared and protected.
Getting Spiritually Prepared
Now that we have gone over a basic outline of how the winding up scene is prophesied to play out prior to the Lord’s second coming in glory, what do we need to do individually to prepare? Again, I believe there is no more important effort we can be engaged in.
There are many people who believe that all that you have to do is to accept Jesus Christ in your heart as your personal savior and you will be protected through all of the last day troubles and be lifted up to come with Christ in the clouds of heaven when he comes in glory. And some even believe that they can live however they want and still receive this reward.
Many others interpret scriptures like the one that says that we are “saved by grace after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23) as creating some sort of tally sheet where you have to apply what Hyrum Andrus calls the “Ben Franklin method” of just doing a little better every day until you are perfect. I don’t know about you but it would take me thousands of years (possibly thousands of millennia) to be prepared if that was the way I had to do it. But we are supposed to prepare ourselves so that we can build Zion to receive Christ at his second coming! (This is a misunderstanding of that verse and actually denies the atonement of Christ; it ignores the grace part.)
The truth is kind of a mixture of both extremes with a bit more added in the mix. Yes Jesus wants us to strive and do our very best, literally, every day to keep his commandments. I spent one day underlining every scripture about this in both the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, and I had to underline a scripture in both books on almost every page.
There is no question we have to strive with all that we have and are daily to keep the commandments of God. However Jesus Christ does not really keep a tally sheet like many seem to think. He cares more about the intents of our hearts. He cares more about who we have become, much more than what we do.
To be “prepared”, meaning to be what I call the Zion believers, we have to completely give our whole hearts to Christ. Again this is not a sinless tally sheet. Christ wants all of our heart, every last bit of it. One of the big sins of the “Less Valiant” group is one of idolatry. If we put anything, our job, our house, our family, our comfort, or anything ahead of Christ, we are guilty of idolatry.
And please understand Christ does not want this from us for his ego. He will be Christ regardless of what we do. The only reason He asks this of us is for our benefit. The truth is it will make us much happier; full of unspeakable joy. The goal here is for us to be more like Christ. Christ gives his entire heart to His Father.
And here is the beautiful part. When we do this Christ literally fills us with His love, light, spirit, intelligence, truth and glory (these words are actually synonyms) which changes our very nature. We then no longer desire to sin, and our weaknesses become our strengths. (This is a much better way than using the Ben Franklin method.) Christ then seals us with the fullness of the priesthood in the new and everlasting covenant making us members of the church of the Firstborn. This is called being “sanctified” or being “perfected in Christ”!
Do you remember in John chapter 17 where Jesus Christ was praying that we all would be one in Him, and He in us, as He and His father are one? This process is what Christ was talking about. This is how we become one in Christ, and Christ one in us, as He and His Father are one! (John 17:11, 20-24)