I recently purchased the book 65 Signs of the Times Leading Up to the Second Coming by David Ridges (Amazon link here). Rather than reading the entire book and then posting a short review, I decided to try blogging about the book as I go through it.
Before getting into listing the 65 signs of the times leading up to the Second Coming (and Ridges makes clear that there are many more signs--he apparently has picked only those he considers especially significant or interesting), Ridges discusses several important points to keep in mind when studying the signs of the times. His first chapter is called "The Last Days, an Exciting Time to Live." His main point in the chapter is that we should not allow our study of the End Times depress us.
We live in truly miraculous times! Having been a science-fiction fan much of life, and having read a substantial amount of classic science-fiction, I can attest that we live in a science-fiction world. Medical and technological miracles surround us everyday. Notwithstanding the rhetoric from various vested interests, we live in a time with less everyday violence and crime, better health, more prosperity, and more racial/ethnic harmony than at any other time in history. The fact is that the Church (whether speaking broadly of the number of Christians, or more narrowly of the LDS faith) is spreading far and wide among all nations. Temples and meetings houses continue to be built. It is a blessing to have been born and live in such an amazing time. Yes, there is much to be done, and there is a great deal of misery in the world. Yes, there are "wars and rumours of war" spoken of by Christ. But, as Christ tells us, these should not trouble us.
Ridges writes that "[s]igns of the times are prophecies that the Lord has given His prophets, recorded throughout ancient and modern scripture, which are designed to alert the faithful in the last days that the coming of the Lord is near. They are designed, among other things, to strengthen testimonies and provide encouragement and confidence in the hearts of believers in a day when many no longer even believe in God."
He also discusses the doom and despair that will fall upon the world in the last days, quoting Luke 21:25-26:
25 ¶ And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
Ridges notes that "[t]he word 'hearts,' in verse 26, above, as used in the scriptures, usually means 'courage, hope, confidence,' and so on. The word 'failing' means to 'run out of.' Thus, the phrase ... can mean that there will be much depression and despair in the final days before the Second Coming." However, if you look at verse 28, the Lord tells us:
26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.Remember, also, 2 Nephi 2:25:
Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.God did not create or intend us to be miserable and depressed. That is the work of Satan and those that follow Satan.
Ridges finishes off his chapter by relating the words of Pres. Hinckley and Pres. Monson concerning living a joyful life and not giving in to fear. He concludes:
Although Satan and his cunning allies use such advances [the technological advances we enjoy] to further their evil schemes, if we follow the advice and counsel of our modern prophets, we will emphasize the positives and do our best to limit the negatives, thus appreciating and enjoying the vast blessings of living in the last days.