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Gospel Doctrine Lesson Twenty One

What is the sign
of thy coming?

Purpose: To help
class members
recognize the signs
that will precede the
Savior’s second coming
and to encourage
members to prepare
themselves for this
great event

Read Matthew 24:1-3. Identify the three questions that the apostles
asked the Savior. We will look at Jesus’ answers one by one.
When will this time be? The answer is recorded in Luke 21:20, “And when ye
shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation
thereof is nigh”. Forty years later, the Roman armies under Titus came in and
fulfilled this prediction to the letter. With Titus was a Jewish historian named
Josephus who recorded the story in minute detail. It was one of the most brutal
sieges in all of history. When the Romans came the city was divided among three
warring factions of Jews, who were so preoccupied with their own disagreements
that they did notice the approach of the Roman army. Thus, Titus came and
surrounded the city without any resistance. The Romans gave the Jews many
opportunities to surrender and save Jerusalem but the Jews would not give up.
During the long siege a terrible famine raged in the city and the bodies of the dead
inhabitants were literally stacked like cordwood In the streets. Mothers ate their
own children in order to survive themselves. The toll of Jewish suffering was
horrible, but still they would not surrender. Instead, the Jews attempted again and
again to trick the Romans through guile and perfidy. When at last the walls were
breached Titus tried to preserve the Temple by giving orders to his soldiers not to
destroy it. But the solders were so incensed by the refusal of the Jews to
surrender that they disobeyed Titus and set fire to the temple anyway. The massive
quantities of gold and silver which had been placed in the temple for safe keeping
melted in the heat of the fire and ran down between the rocks into the cracks of
the stones that formed the temple and the wall around it. When the Roman
soldiers finally took the city, in their greed to obtain this gold and silver, they
took long bars and prided apart these massive stones. Thus, the words of the
Savior were fulfilled quite literally, and not one stone of the temple was left
standing upon another.

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What will be the sign of your coming? When the apostles asked Jesus about his
coming they did not have in mind a second advent. They did not picture a descent
from heaven to earth. They had in mind a political revolution and the crowning of Jesus as
King and his subsequent role as its acknowledged King and Messiah. When asking this
question the apostles used a very interesting word for coming. It is the Greek word,
"parousia." This word appears four times in this chapter, in verses 3, 27, 37, and 39. It is not
the usual word for coming. It means more than the mere arrival of some person; it also
implies his continuing presence after he arrives. This is important, for much of the
understanding of this chapter will hinge on the meaning of this word.

2

 What

will be the sign of the end of the world? The Savior answers this question in
Matthew 24:15, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken
of by Daniel the prophet”. The sign Jesus refers to is mentioned in Daniel at least three
times. It is the sign of a man, a man who offers himself to the Jews to be worshipped
instead of God. This man is the Anti-Christ and is described in Daniel 8:23-26 Daniel 9:26-27,
and Daniel 11:36-39. Note that Daniel was told that his vision would not be fulfilled in his
own day, but would happen many days hence. Thus Jesus’ answer is, “When you see the man
who fulfills the qualifications of the Book of Daniel, sitting in the temple and claiming to
be God, then shall the end of the world arrived.

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Likened to the days of Noah (Matthew 24:41-43)
As Jesus sought for a way to explain his return he hearkened back to the flood of
Noah. Parallels are obvious. A message of judgment was proclaimed then. It is
proclaimed still. People didn’t listen then. They refuse to listen still. Noah was
sent to save the faithful. Christ was sent to do the same. A flood of water came
then. A flood of fire will come next. Noah built a safe place out of wood. Jesus
made a safe place with the cross. Those who believed then hid in the ark. Those who
believe now have their sins hidden in Christ.
If Jesus were to return today, would you be prepared? If not, what steps should you
take to get that way?

What sign of the second coming mentioned in
JST Matthew 1:22? How do you see this
prophecy being fulfilled today?

What sign of the second coming is mentioned in
JST Matthew 1:23, 28? How do you see this
prophecy being fulfilled today?

What signs of the second coming are described
in JST Matthew 1:29-30? How do you see this
prophecy being fulfilled today?

Elder M. Russell Ballard gave the
following counsel of hope and
encouragement:
“Although the prophecies tell us that
these things are to take place, more and
more people are expressing great alarm
at what appears to be an acceleration of
worldwide calamity. … Admittedly we have
ample reason to be deeply concerned
because we see no immediate answers to
the seemingly unsolvable problems
confronting the human family. But
regardless of this dark picture, which will
ultimately get worse, we must never
allow ourselves to give up hope! …
“… The Lord is in control. He knows the
end from the beginning. He has given us
adequate instruction that, if followed,
will see us safely through any crisis. His
purposes will be fulfilled, and someday
we will understand the eternal reasons
for all of these events. Therefore, today
we must be careful not to overreact, nor
should we be caught up in extreme
preparations; but what we must do is
keep the commandments of God and never
lose hope!
“But where do we find hope in the midst
of such turmoil and catastrophe? Quite
simply, our one hope for spiritual safety
during these turbulent times is to turn
our minds and our hearts to Jesus Christ.
… Armed with the shield of faith, we can
overcome many of our daily challenges
and overpower our greatest weaknesses
and fears, knowing that if we do our best
to keep the commandments of God, come
what may, we will be all right” (in
Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 41–43; or
Ensign, Nov. 1992, 31–32).

The Cradle of Hope
THE 1989 ARMENIAN EARTHQUAKE NEEDED ONLY FOUR minutes to flatten the nation
and kill thirty thousand people. Moments after the deadly tremor ceased, a
father raced to an elementary school to save his son. When he arrived, he saw
that the build- ing had been leveled. Looking at the mass of stones and
rubble, he remembered a promise he had made to his child: “No matter what
happens, I’ll always be there for you.” Driven by his own promise, he found the
area closest to his son’s room and began to pull back the rocks. Other
parents arrived and began sob- bing for their children. “It’s too late,” they told
the man. “You know they are dead. You can’t help.” Even a police officer
encouraged him to give up. But the father refused. For eight hours, then
sixteen, then thirty-two, thirty-six hours he dug. His hands were raw and his
energy gone, but he refused to quit. Finally, after thirty-eight wrenching
hours, he pulled back a boulder and heard his son’s voice. He called his boy’s
name, “Arman! Arman!” And a voice answered him, “Dad, it’s me!” Then the boy
added these priceless words, “I told the other kids not to worry. I told them
if you were alive, you’d save me, and when you saved me, they’d be saved, too.
Be- cause you promised, ‘No matter what, I’ll always be there for you.’ God
has made the same promise to us. “I will come back . . . ,” he assures us. Yes,
the rocks will tumble. Yes, the ground will shake. But the child of God
needn’t fear—for the Father has promised to take us to be with him. But dare
we believe the promise? Dare we trust his loyalty? Isn’t there a cautious part
of us that wonders how reliable these words may be? Perhaps you have no
doubts. If so, you might want to skip this chapter. Others of us,
however, could use a reminder. How can we know he will do what he said? How
can we believe he will move the rocks and set us free? Because he’s already
done it once.
Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen, Chicken Soup for the Soul (Deerfield Beach, FLO:
Health Communications, 1993), 273-74.
Describe a time in your life when the rocks tumbled and the ground shook—but
the promise of Christ’s return buoyed you up.