And the date of the 2nd coming will be… (Drum roll please…)

May 22, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 12:44 am   Category: Scriptures,Theology

The time has come to make a prediction about the timing of the second coming of Jesus Christ. John C. has been asking what happened to Mormon Millenarianism and I decided it was time break out this long-promised post. I’ve warned you that I’d take a whack at this for several months now so don’t act surprised. Guessing the when the second coming will take place is an age-old tradition and who am I to fight such tradition? Before I get started let me first direct anyone who feels inclined to scold me to go to my first post on the subject. I dealt with the classic whining and “why don’t you guess if the pearly gates swing or roll” snarks there. This post is for the old-school Millenarians among us only!

I also need to point out my second post on the subject called “Has God decided when the second coming will be yet?” In that post I focus on the concept that the timing of the Second Coming is probably largely contingent on the actions of us free-willed people living here. I still believe that the exact day and time has not been set yet because God is in wait-and-see mode on the whole thing. When the earth is fully ripe then Christ will return. We can talk about that idea here too but perhaps the other post would be a better place to bring up the foreknowledge subject again. With any luck Blake will come around to pound on all challengers. (He’s pretty good at that… I suspect that is partly because he is right on this subject.)

So you might ask: How can you predict the timing of the Second Coming if you believe it isn’t even decided yet. Well, that would lead us to another couple of former posts. In this one I agree with Hugh Nibley when he says the script of our planet is just like a play with God as the director and us as the actors. In fact I believe it is the same script used on previous inhabited planets. When you combine that with the fact that God is the ultimate predictor (see posts on this here and here) and can predict anything that is actually predictable I believe he can triangulate the timing very closely.

Ok, so now we get to my secret sauce on triangulating the timing for the second coming: The Book of Mormon. I know lots of people like to look at Biblical prophesies, but I believe the events in the Book of Mormon are included largely for us to use as a type and shadow for the events that are to unfold in the last days prior to the triumphal return of Christ. I think the overall events in the Book of Mormon – at least Mosiah through 3 Nephi can be used as a basic map for the events that will happen in the last days (and probably most especially in the U.S.) I understand this is not a unique idea to use the BoM as a guide in these things. In fact I thought I’d read somewhere that there are entire books on this subject. That is actually good news to me. If I was the only one who went for this idea it would worry me.

What evidence is there for the idea we can use the Book of Mormon as a guide to the events before the second coming? Well first it is a well established teaching in the Church that the Book of Mormon was written especially for us in our day as preparation for the second coming of Christ. Second, look at the way time is compressed and stretched in the narrative. We have the records of Nephi and Jacob on the small plates, then we basically skip ahead 400 hundred years to the reign of King Mosiah. Then 320 of the pages of the 527 page record are devoted to the 164 years leading up to the visit of the resurrected Christ to the Americas. That means of the thousand years’ worth of history covered, more than 60% of the record is focused on that 164 year span. It is highly doubtful that this was a mistake. Mormon repeatedly tells us that he is using less than 1% of the records available to him and that the Lord is guiding his compiling efforts. So why is the book of Mormon so focused on the period leading up to Christ’s visit? I believe it was because God wanted to give his saints in the last days some extra help in doing just what I’m doing here… predicting the timing of the Lord’s return as well as preparing ourselves to be ready for the bridegroom.

So how do we use those 320 pages to make a prediction? Well it’s certainly not an exact science. I loosely try to match up major shifts in the Nephite history and compare it to similar shifts in US history. I use the US because we were started as an American church and even though we have more members outside of the US now we are still largely and American church. Plus the New Jerusalem is going to be here so I think it makes the most sense to work with that model. (Besides I’m just guessing here anyway right?)

So here is my guess based on that BoM as map technique: I think the second coming will probably happen some time in the 40′s (2040′s that is). Ok, so you probably are wondering why I chose that period. Well, it’s only a guess of course, but I see some signposts in the Nephite history that back me up on that. The Nephites had a period of massive wars with the Lamanites, but eventually that warring ended and they wound up having terrorists groups become their primary enemy. Obviously that matches US history over the last several decades. About 45 years before the Lord appeared the Nephites found the terrorists to be troublesome enough to send troops into the wilderness to root them out and destroy them (see Helaman 11). Obviously there are potential parallels there with our recent “War on Terror”. Interestingly, the political landscape had changed at that point among the Nephites as well. In earlier decades it was king-men vs. free men. By that time the political divide was defined by religion — it was those who supported God and religion vs. those who didn’t. That also sounds similar to America today to me. If the 40′s are the right decade to look at then we are matching up now with the end of the Book of Helaman or beginning of 3 Nephi.

Anyway, it’s a pretty loose method to try to pin down timing but it seems like the best one we have. I actually was inspired to write this post originally based on comments over at T&S a few months ago that provided other evidence to back my theory. In those comments our own Justin Butterfield said:

A former roommate of mine told me that he was told by a friend of a bodyguard for President Howard W. Hunter that President Hunter said (in the bodyguard’s presence) that the Second Coming would occur around 2040. I’ve marked my calendar.

You can’t go wrong with a 4th hand witness like that! Ivan Wolfe followed up and added:

6000 or 6001 on the Jewish Calendar. Which would be, I think, if my calculations are correct, 2239 or 2040. So, maybe Howard W. Hunter was on to something………

So there you have my prediction. Let the free-for-all begin. Feel free to give your predictions or explain why your method is better than mine, etc. I figure this is a pretty important subject so maybe together we can come up with some interesting things to chew on.

30 Comments »

  1. You can find the answers to your questions about the nature and timing of the Second Coming by studying Pres. Hinckley’s prophesies and revelations.

    Comment by Samuel — May 22, 2005 @ 6:32 am

  2. Interesting comment Samuel. So based on that method what timing do you come up with?

    Comment by Geoff J — May 22, 2005 @ 8:37 am

  3. President Hinkley has published prophesies and revelations?

    Comment by Craig Atkinson — May 22, 2005 @ 10:25 am

  4. “So based on that method what timing do you come up with?”

    I predict the Second Coming when Pres. Hinckley publishes his book of revelations.

    Comment by Timothy — May 22, 2005 @ 1:15 pm

  5. Dang! I’ll probably be dead (or dying) by the 2040′s.
    Doesn’t the Mayian(sp?) calender expire (or roll-over) in 2012?
    Did GBH, in 1998, talk about Joseph of Egypt’s 7 good years dream (which would end the 7 bad years in 2012)?

    Don’t you have to define ’2nd coming’? I assume you predict 2040 as the final 2nd coming (to the whole world)? Working backward do you have any predictions for 10 tribes? New J? etc.?

    Comment by Daylan Darby — May 22, 2005 @ 4:00 pm

  6. Yeah, sorry Daylan. Baby boomers will be ancient or dead by the 40s and even Gen Xers like me will be pretty old by then.

    Because I’m using the BoM as a map I expect major natural catastophies a la 3 Nep 8-10 prior to the second coming. I suspect that whatever different appearances there will be will all occur in a fairly short time frame…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 22, 2005 @ 5:27 pm

  7. I’ll be ancient, however, more than likely still alive! Yay!

    Comment by cooper — May 23, 2005 @ 7:41 am

  8. Although I’m not certain you can pin the date at around 2040, I do think the Second Coming is at least 20 years away. I’m thinking it will be simillar to the birth of Christ, with people forgetting about the Second Coming and being lulled into carnal security and then….BAM!!! Second Coming, baby!

    Now, the big question- Should I spend my 401K money now since I might not be able to spend it later? :-)

    Comment by Brian Duffin — May 23, 2005 @ 8:41 am

  9. It’s ironic that each generation of Saints thinks that the second coming will be during their lifetime. Even the Saints that lived after the Savior’s death thought that the second coming would be soon, hence the scripture that assure’s us that he will not come again until “after the falling away”. In Joseph’s day they thought he would come in their generation, but that’s because they were preparing a place for him to come to, namely Jackson County. In McConkie’s “Mormon Doctrine”, he says that nothing we do will either slow down, or speed up the second coming and that to think so is false doctrine. I’m not sure I agree, and I think that trying to be a zion people in order to speed up the second coming will never offend the Lord, even if it is false. But what if it is true? What are we doing to prepare a place for the Savior to come?

    Comment by Craig Atkinson — May 23, 2005 @ 9:52 am

  10. I’ll only be 63!! Wohoo!

    Comment by J. Stapley — May 23, 2005 @ 10:58 am

  11. Daylan and cooper: Now that I think about it, with the medical advances we are likely to see by the 30′s and 40′s we may all be living to be 100 or so. (All those biotech companies ought to eventually accomplish something). Plus being Mormons means we live longer anyway. In that case the baby boomers are back in!

    Brian: Now, the big question- Should I spend my 401K money now since I might not be able to spend it later?

    Have ye inquired of the Lord? ;-) Be careful though, he’ll probably tell you to give it to the poor anyway.

    Craig: Certainly a lot of people have wanted to be around for the appearance of the savior. Didn’t Alma lament that he probably wouldn’t live to see the savior appear? (I could find that reference — somebody help me out here.) In my other post we briefly discussed the idea that the savior may very have come back already if those early saints had actually established Zion. That theory helps those early saints look a lot less foolish and supports the idea you and I agree on about the future being contingent. Elder McConkie was of the opinion that the future is fixed I think and as you know I believe that is inaccurate.

    J: You were born in ’77? I thought you had cracked thirty already for some reason…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 23, 2005 @ 11:33 am

  12. Since I (partly) am to blame for this post, I feel that some comment is in order.

    Sounds good to me.

    That said, once this leaks, I am sure that the date will be moved up. After all, it’s supposed to come when we aren’t expecting it.

    Comment by John C. — May 23, 2005 @ 3:18 pm

  13. I dunno John, I think it is the world that will be surprised mostly. The saints are supposed to be seeing the signs and receiving revelations to make it much less surprising along the way… But who knows, maybe it will be in the 30s or 50s instead. I doubt anyone will remember this post by then.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 23, 2005 @ 3:32 pm

  14. I think the “signs” are also supposed to bolster our faith as we face more and more opposition in this world (as it grows exponentially in wickedness).

    D & C 45:26

    “And in that day shall be heard of wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them, and they shall say that Christ delayeth his coming until the end of the earth.”

    My feeling is that the Lord will come at a time when the general consensus among Christians (not just LDS) is either that the second coming is not literal or there are some “big reasons” to believe that the second coming will be delayed until some great ending calamity.

    Are we there yet ?

    Comment by Brent — May 23, 2005 @ 9:08 pm

  15. I agree with Geoff. God’s kingdom will not be established by fiat or force; rather, his kingdom will reign when his will is done on earth as it is in heaven. When the kingdom reigns in our hearts, then the earth will be prepared to receive its king. We tend to think that God will come at the second coming and do what he had refused to do for thousands of years — establish his kingdom through coercive power. God doesn’t know when the second coming will occur because he is waiting on us to prepare Zion to be the temple in which he will dwell.

    As for signs of the 2nd coming, I have always felt that they were really worthless because the signs have been occurring for 2,000 years. any given year could be the year because the signs are constantly occurring. I take the message to be — be prepared at all times, for you know not when I may take you and your period of probation is called to an end. The Sains in Paul’s day expected Christ within the very near future. He didn’t come as they expected. I remember reading the D&C for the first time. I thought that the 2nd coming would be within a few months. He didn’t come as I expected. Yet we have been called to prepare Zion, which is God’s abode in his temple among a people holy as he is holy. His kingdom cannot come on any other principle.

    Comment by Blake — May 23, 2005 @ 11:02 pm

  16. Geoff: You can’t go wrong with a 4th hand witness like that!

    ROTFLMAO. This kind of sums it up. Great post. I don’t buy it, but it’s a great post.

    Incidentally, doesn’t Quinn say in The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power that McConkie said at a BYU devotional that Christ won’t come during his lifetime, his children’s lifetime, or his grandchildren’s lifetime? Do you think that McConkie was mistaken or that his grandchildren will all be dead by then?

    Comment by Arturo Toscanini — May 24, 2005 @ 2:23 pm

  17. The LDS church doesn’t even seriously try to spread the gospel in the most populous areas of the world. We put up ridiculous non-scriptural roadblocks like the WofW in the way of entrance into the Kingdom. How could the second coming be close when we aren’t seriously trying to do as commanded to spread the word in urgent preparation for it? The present non-urgent caretaker mode of our GAs is very telling.

    I like the Cabbalist interpretation that deity is a spiritual union of male and female that produced a finite number of souls. When the last soul is born, that brings on the end, but the end is just a new beginning. I once had an orthodox Jew tell me that JS obviously studied under a Cabbala master, but then got messed up in his Christian roots.

    Comment by Steve (FSF) — May 24, 2005 @ 5:50 pm

  18. Arturo: I’m glad my small attempt at humor didn’t go completely unnoticed. As for Elder McConkie — he is certainly entitled to his guess on the subject. I suspect many of his grandchildren will be old or dead by the 40s anyway…

    Steve FSF: Now that’s a juicy comment! Worthy of an entire responding post I suspect. Maybe I’ll do that this week. Let just say that if people can’t keep a law like the WoW which was adapted for the weakest of the saints then they certainly are not anywhere close to being candidates for exaltation.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 24, 2005 @ 6:18 pm

  19. I know this is a tangent, but the WofW evolving into a requirement rather than remaining a good practice is a clear example of apostasy from which the church needs reform. Moreover, it’s only a portion of it that we require/emphasize. How come we can reform on Adam-G-d, King Follet sermon, etc, but we can’t fix this much bigger error that keeps believers out of the kingdom? Making the WofW a requirement has made it for us what circumcision and other Jewish good practices were for the early Christians before Paul reformed the church on those issues. Any arbitrary and questionable road blocks we place to entrance into the true church of JC is very serious matter that better have substantial foundation, purpose and rationale behind it. The WofW as a commandment doesn’t even come close.

    Comment by Steve (FSF) — May 24, 2005 @ 6:38 pm

  20. Interesting comment Steve. I’ll respond tonight with a post on the subject so we don’t threadjack too much here.

    BTW — Why do you always write “G-d” instead of “God”?

    Comment by Geoff J — May 24, 2005 @ 7:26 pm

  21. Some signs are there indicating that we’re moving in the right direction, but some major ones are still missing:

    1) Saints haven’t faced any REAL persecution lately. When the church is threatened by the U.S. government with losing its tax status because of its stance on homosexuality, and the Mormon’s are daily portrayed in the media and accepted by the people as insensitive, discriminating, non-accepting, bigots; then you’ll know we’re getting pretty close.

    2) Jewish Temple still not built.

    3) The 2 prophets going around in Jerusalem withholding rain are not doing such yet.

    4) The Mark of the Beast aka RFID implant is not upon us yet. Although the RealID law is a strong step forward. When you’re required to get “chiped” to buy and sell, you’ll know you’re Especially close.

    I know there are others, but those spring to mind currently. I think we are at least 20 years away. I don’t place any money in a 401K. When Social Security goes bankrupt and those who have quite a bit stuffed away in their 401K are portrayed as being insensitive to all the poor, starving old people: expect it to get raided. The only safe money is hard money (gold/silver/food storage) well hidden and not talked about.

    Comment by Speaking Up — May 25, 2005 @ 7:52 am

  22. I just finished reading all the material on http://www.geocities.com/zionsgems/
    the author argues that the 2nd coming could be any time now.

    Comment by Daylan Darby — May 26, 2005 @ 7:59 pm

  23. I highly recommend http://www.tribwatch.com.
    It’s written by a non-member, but he comes to the same conclusions as the Mormons. Its REALLY good.

    Comment by Speaking Up — May 27, 2005 @ 5:50 am

  24. Speaking Up,
    It looks like that guy’s site got taken up in the rapture with him already.

    Daylan,
    What? Someone picks different dates than me?

    Comment by Geoff J — May 27, 2005 @ 12:45 pm

  25. The website is still there. Try using http://www.tribwatch.com
    In the previous post I finished it with a period since it was at the end of the sentence.

    By the way, he believes in a post-tribulation rapture like we do. To not be Mormon, his latter day interpretations are close to the church’s.

    Comment by Speaking Up — May 27, 2005 @ 1:41 pm

  26. Which “we” believes in a rapture? It seems to me that this is one of those very unsettled doctrines in the church. As you know, the word Rapture cannot be found in scriptures. I am of the opinion that the Second Coming of Christ will be strikingly simlar to the visit of Christ we read about in 3 Nephi with no mortals actually flying up to heaven or anything like that. I suspect the post-Second Coming events will go down much in the way we read about in 4 Nephi.

    Regarding the scriptures about two being in the field and one gets taken — I lean toward the interpretation that the one taken is one that dies in the calamities and that the “more righteous part of the people” will be left to see the actual visit and reign of Christ like we read about in 3 Nephi.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 27, 2005 @ 2:23 pm

  27. My Grandfather said it was more important to be prepared for His coming than to worry about it. He used to tell me that way I was prepared either for His second coming or the second coming of the school bus. Either way I was going to be face to face with Him. Regarding the Rapture, there will be a time when the earth will be cleansed, the righteous,(not just the Mormons) will be caught up to meet Him and then we will be returned when the earth has taken on it’s paradasiacal glory.
    After a millenia of missionary and temple work,(hey, it never said paradise was easy) then comes the final battle of testimony vs our other “brother” and his minions. Finally the earth will be celestialized and Presto it will have fulfilled its mission.
    As far as the details of his coming I would say you are just right in saying read 3 Nephi Ezra Taft Benson told us that in there would be the greatest clues to the coming. Me personally I am looking forward to it, tribulations and all, I think it will be cool.

    Comment by Casey Blau — May 28, 2005 @ 9:40 pm

  28. very interesting …
    2035 is more like it

    Comment by Gil Pahl — January 5, 2006 @ 8:19 pm

  29. I think this is right on target, because that is close to 200 years after prophecies by Joseph Smith that the rising generation would live to see the second coming. Based on some statements in the LDS scriptures, a generation can be 100 years. Therefore, 2040 would be the outside date, meaning the Second Coming should happen by then. Could be sooner though and still would be within Joseph’s prophecy. But probably not much sooner becasue of how much is yet to be accomplished in terms of missionary work.

    So this gives us maybe 30-35 years tops. That is not much time, equal to the time that has elapsed since the early 1970s. This date is also highly relevant to most of us as it is within the probable lifespan of anyone born since 1950 or so. Also suggests we should teach many of our children Chinese, Hindi, and maybe even Farsi or Arabic.

    Nice sleuthing!

    Comment by kurt — June 25, 2006 @ 9:16 pm

  30. Any careful examination of D&C 77 will demonstrate that the Second Coming will occur not at the start of the 7th thousand years, but some considerable interval afterward. So if the Jewish calendar is right, it might be 2060 or 2080 instead of 2040.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 26, 2006 @ 3:11 am

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