Sunday, December 29, 2019

"65 Signs of the Times Leading Up to the Second Coming" by David Ridges

Back in 2013, I blogged about the book 65 Signs of the Times Leading Up to the Second Coming by David Ridges (Amazon link here) as I went through the book. My summary/review stretched into 8 parts. I decided to try and consolidate my summary in one post to make it more accessible, as well as correct typos that I located.

      I would note for the benefit of my readers that are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS Church) that Ridges is LDS and so these signs are discussed in relation to LDS doctrine, whether from the Old and New Testaments (the LDS Church uses the King James Version), or other books considered scripture by the LDS Church.

    With that aside, let's get started on the summary of the book....

      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; 
 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.
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:
 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.
      In chapter 2 of his book, David Ridges sets out some general cautions and observations. First, he cautions that Satan knows his time is short, and is intensifying his efforts. (See Rev. 12:12). He notes a couple (but certainly not all!) of the tactics that Satan is using:

       (a)  Destroying Valid Heroes: Ridges notes that "one of the devil's effective approaches for deceiving is to attempt to do away with decent heroes." This includes efforts to undermine and question the greatness of America's Founding Fathers. "When we encounter such tearing down of the founders of our nation, we would do well to study what the Lord says about these great individuals." For instance, in D&C 101:77-80:
77 According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the brights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; 
 78 That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment. 
 79 Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another. 
 80 And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.
(Underline added). Ridges then discusses the temple work performed for many of the founders, and quotes statements from Wilford Woodruff in this regard, including:
I am going to bear my testimony to this assembly, if I never do it again in my life, that those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men. General Washington and all the men that labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord.
       (b) Pitting Men Against Women. Ridges writes that "[a]nother all-out effort on Lucifer's part to deceive and destroy in our last days is his evil effort to pit men against women. This is an obvious and overt attempt at the destruction of families.... Pitting men against women and women against men destroys unity and teamwork. It destroys the very finest of feelings and relationships. The debate rages on as to who is most important, man or woman." He then discusses both modern revelation and scripture that note that men and women are to be equal partners in the family--"one flesh" as it says in Genesis. He also notes that marriage is necessary to enter into the highest kingdom in the after-life--no man can get there without his wife; and no woman can get there without her husband. Quoting Bruce R. McConkie, "Exaltation grows out of the eternal union of a man and his wife."

        Second, Ridges cautions that we should avoid using the signs of the times to frighten or spread panic. "It is very significant that the Savior instructed His loyal followers [in Matthew 23] not to allow the signs of the times to promote fear and trouble in their own hearts." As Christ goes on to explain, the signs of the times are given to the faithful so that they can know that the Second Coming is near--i.e., the signs are not meant to frighten the faithful, but instead to build their faith and act as a testimony. The fulfillment of the signs acts as "proof" of God's existence to the faithful.

       Third, Ridges cautions that not everyone will be subject to the "mark of the beast" or under the rule of the Beast's kingdom. He notes that other portions of Revelation specifically mention that there will be those that oppose the Beast and his power. See Rev. 14:9 and 20:4. "We [must] conclude that only the wicked and those who foolishly ignore the counsel of the prophets to live the gospel, to live within their means, and so forth, will fall under the control of the 'beast' in the last days before the coming of the Lord." He explains the mark on the forehead:

       Simply put, symbolically, those who are loyal to wickedness, financial greed, and so forth, are depicted as having the mark of the beast on their foreheads. Whereas, those who are loyal to God and to righteousness, are depicted in the revelation, according to the Jewish cultural symbolism of John's day, as having the name of God on their foreheads." Thus, it is a misconception to belief that the "mark of the beast" will be a literal tatoo or barcode or implanted chip.

       Fourth, he warns (and as I have discussed before) that no one--not even Christ, Himself--knows the timing of the Second Coming. It cannot be calculated or extrapolated, and obsession with trying to calculate the time of the Second Coming can be harmful and lead some astray.

       Fifth, Ridges advises that we should not put our lives on hold because of the closeness of the Second Coming. As noted, we do not and cannot know the timing. We must go on with our lives, get an education and develop a career, save for retirement, raise families, and so on.

       Sixth, only those caught up in the ways of the world will be caught off-guard by the Second Coming. This may seem to contradict the prior point, but it does not. The signs will compound so that the faithful will get a better and better sense of the general timing, if not the specific time. See D&C 106:4-5.

       Seventh, he advises us to avoid trying to develop an exact sequence of the final signs of the times. I won't go into detail here, suffice to say that as you read different scriptures from the Old Testament, Revelations, and other scripture, there is no discernible sequence. As above, we are not meant to know the exact time of the Second Coming.

       Before moving on to Chapter 3, which discusses each of the 65 signs the author has chosen to elucidate, there is another point from Chapter 2 which Ridges raises: that there may be considerable time from when Christ appears to when he comes to reign on Earth. He notes, in that regard, Zech. 14:1-9, describing Christ's appearance to the Jews when the Mount of Olives splits, to Ezekiel 39:8-16, describing that it will take 7 months to "cleanse" the land after the final battle (by burying the dead). Presumably, the Lord will not return until the land has been cleansed.

       In Chapter 3, Ridges discusses (in no particular order I could discern) 65 of what he considers to be signs preceding the second coming. It is important to note that many of the signs have already been fulfilled, or in the process of being fulfilled. My point is not to repeat Ridges book here, but to interject comments or emphasis. Thus, while I will list all the signs, I will not comment on all of them.

      (1) The discovery of America and establishment of the United States -- fulfilled.

      (2) The coming forth of the Book of Mormon -- fulfilled. This is in fulfillment of Ezekiel 37:15-19, where the stick of Judah (the Bible) is to be joined with the stick of Joseph (the Book of Mormon).

      (3) The restoration of the priesthood and the priesthood keys (i.e., the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, and the sealing powers) -- fulfilled. (Malachi 4:4-6, Jeremiah 31:31-33).

      (4) The restoration of the true church of Jesus Christ -- fulfilled. Ridges obviously cites those scriptures that discuss that there will be a falling away or apostasy from the original church, such as 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 and Acts 3:19-21. I would also note that the Lord spoke many times of the "first being last and the last first." (e.g., Luke 13:30; Matthew 19:30; Matthew 20:16). Christ, during his ministry, was very clear that His purpose was to go to the Jews first. (See, e.g., Mark 7:24-30). Later, the apostles were commanded to take the Gospel to the Gentiles (essentially the whole theme of the Acts). The restoration of the Church has now made the last first and the first last because the restored Gospel was first made available to the Gentiles, and the Church has agreed with Israel that it will not proselyte to anyone in Israel, such that Israel will truly be the last to receive the Gospel in these latter days.

      (5) The Church will be established in the tops of the mountains--fulfilled. (Isaiah 2:2-3). (Note that in much of what is written by Isaiah and the other prophets concerning the last days ("in that day") "Zion" refers to the restored Church while "Jerusalem" refers to Judah (the nation of Israel, and/or the Jews)).

      (6) The Church will grow to fill the whole Earth--being fulfilled (Daniel 2:35, 44-45).

      (7) Slaves will rise up against their masters--being fulfilled (referring to a portion of the prophecy on wars: D&C 87:4).

      (8) A full end of all nations--yet to be fulfilled (D&C 87:6). I would note that this ties together with the prophecy, cited above, from Daniel, to when the stone cut out of the mountain will strike and destroy the figure (representing the great empires), and refers to the establishment of Christ's kingdom over the whole of the Earth.

      (9) Scattered Israel will be gathered--being fulfilled (e.g., Isaiah 5:26-30; Ezekiel 28:25). This refers not only to the gathering of the Jews to the Holy Land, but also the gathering of peoples into the Church.

      (10) All will hear the Gospel in their own tongue--being fulfilled.

      (11) The Church will be brought out of obscurity--being fulfilled. This sign is from D&C 1:30. To understand this sign, you have to remember that the Church, as established by Christ and His apostles, would be taken from the Earth because of apostasy, and later restored. "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition[.]" 2 Thess. 2:3. See also Rev. 12:5-6.

      (12) The name of Joseph Smith will be spoken of for good and evil in all nations--being fulfilled.

      (13) The lost Ten Tribes will return--yet to be fulfilled. See D&C 133:26-33.

      (14) The time of the gentiles will be fulfilled--being fulfilled. Luke 21:24; D&C 45:22-28. This refers to the fact that the gospel was first preached to the Jews, then to the gentiles; but in the last days, it would be preached first to the gentiles and then the Jews. The "time of the gentiles" appears to refer to both the time of the preaching to the gentiles prior to the gospel being taken to the Jews, but may also refer to the end of the time that the gentiles will rule over Jerusalem. Ridges specifically discusses that there is currently an agreement between the Church and Israel that the Church will not proselyte in Israel, nor baptize citizens of Israel.

       (15) There will be much despair, depression, gloom and doom, etc. (i.e., men's hearts shall fail them)--being fulfilled. Luke 21:26. I would also include anxiety and fear in this. The basic idea is that people will be disheartened, dispirited, or lacking moral in some way, whether despair or anxiety. However, the Lord's instruction to us is "see that ye be not troubled." Matthew 24:6.

       (16) There will be extraordinary widespread selfishness and lack of caring for others--being fulfilled. 2 Timothy 3:2. Today, many people, when they do help the poor or afflicted, do so for selfish reasons: whether they are required to by school or an employer; to feel better about themselves; to pad a resume; or otherwise gain the praise of others.

      (17) The mark of the Beast in their foreheads--being fulfilled. Rev. 13:16-17. Ridges notes that in the Bible, the forehead symbolizes loyalty and obedience. Compare Rev. 14:1 (the 144,000 have the name of the Father written on their foreheads). Ridges takes the position that it will not be a literal mark, but is symbolic of people who are loyal to the Beast or Satan. As for requiring the mark to buy and sell, Ridges discusses the danger of debt (particularly consumer debt) and the need to avoid all unnecessary debt and live within our means. I would note that it may be more than debt, but some requirement that we abandon principles in order to participate in commerce or the marketplace. We have already seen examples of businesses shut down or bankrupted because the owners and managers attempt to follow Christian values by not wanting to offer abortion or birth control benefits to employees (thus violating ObamaCare) or do not want to provide services or goods supportive of gay marriage. Thus, this may refer to our facing a choice of compromising our standards in order to run a business or otherwise earn a living.

       (18) Ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth--being fulfilled. 2 Timothy 3:7. Ridges explains that this refers to the great advances in science and technology, the widespread pursuit of knowledge and scholarly fields, but that never bring these scholars and scientists to the gospel.

      (19) The Jews will return to Jerusalem--fulfilled and being fulfilled.

      (20) The Jews accept the true gospel--yet to be fulfilled. This apparently will not happen until Christ appears to save Jerusalem from its enemies. See Zechariah 13:6 and Zechariah 12:7-10.

      (21) The prophet Elijah will come to restore the keys of sealing. The reason for this sign is given in Malachi 4:5-6. Turning the hearts of the father to the children and vice versa is in reference to the sealing of families together in the eternities--that is, creating links between not only living members of our families, but our ancestors who have passed on and accepted the gospel through Christ's (and others) teaching the Spirits in prison (i.e., in the after life). The fulfillment of this sign is recorded in D&C 110:13-16, which happened to be Easter Sunday, or the time of the Passover.

       (22) The Saints will be few in number, but the power of God will be with them. This sign is being fulfilled. It was given in 1 Nephi 14-12-14. The comforting thought in that scripture is that even though all the powers of Satan are turned against the Saints and the true Church, the Lord will be with the Church and protect us. Thus, members have the right to be protected from the harrowing perils of the last days, which blessing will not necessarily accorded to those outside the Church.

       (23) Christ will come to his temple. The source of this sign is Malachi 3:1. Ridges contends that this prophecy was fulfilled when Christ appeared at the Kirtland Temple (D&C 110:1-10). However, while recognizing that the Kirtland visitation satisfies the prophecy, I suspect that it has a dualistic meaning, also referring to Christ's Second Coming when he comes to the temple to be built in the New Jerusalem and inaugurate his reign here on Earth.

      (24) Genealogical research and interest in family history will spread as never before. This sign is derived from Malachi 4:5-6. Obviously, in order to seal together our families, we must first know or identify our families and ancestors, which requires genealogical research. And, of course, the interest in genealogy has literally exploded as a hobby not only in the Church but outside as well. Ridges indicates in his book that genealogy has become the number one hobby in the U.S.; and he notes that over half of the visitors to the LDS genealogy center in Salt Lake are not members of the Church. Accordingly, this sign has been fulfilled and continues to be fulfilled.

      (25) Dangers upon the water. Ridges notes several scriptures as sources of this sign, but the most relevant to us is probably D&C 61:13-19. Versus 15 and 16, in particular, note:
15 Wherefore, the days will come that no flesh shall be safe upon the waters. 
16 And it shall be said in days to come that none is able to go up to the land of Zion upon the waters, but he that is upright in heart.
As Ridges notes, some of the prophecies and guidance concerning travelling on the waters appears to be related to the specific time and travel upon the primary water ways in America at that time (the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio Rivers). The versus above, however, appear to refer to some future day where troubles upon the water (or perhaps weapons) will make travelling by sea to be highly dangerous.

      (26) Much ecological damage will occur in the last days. Ridges cites, for instance, Rev: 8:7-12 which describes great natural disasters. Verse 7 seems to describe many small meteorites ("hail and fire mingled with blood"); The second verse describes "a great mountain burning with fire [that] was cast into the sea," which could be a large meteor, or a volcano collapsing into the sea. Whatever it describes, it results or proceeds one third of the life of the sea perishing and one-third of ships being destroyed.

      (27) The sun will be darkened and the moon will become as blood. Ridges suggests that this sign has already been fulfilled. The primary reference Ridges relies on is Joel 2:28-32. (But see also Matt. 24:29 and Revelation 6:12). Ridges notes that in October 2001 general conference, President Hinckley indicated that Joel's vision had been fulfilled. Ridges notes that this imagery could be literal or figurative. For instance, in its figurative sense, we use the Sun and the Moon to represent the Celestial and Terrestrial glories. Ridges suggests that "[i]t could mean that throughout this world there will be an overflowing flood indulging in filth and spiritual pollution, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, pornography, dishonesty, crudeness, selfishness and so," so that it become difficult for anyone to life a Celestial or Terrestrial life. It could have a literal fulfillment, in pollution or emissions in the air literally dimming the Sun and the Moon or, I would add, even the dimming of the light of the sun due to changes in the sun or intersteller dust. For instance, the sun currently produces far fewer sunspots than normal, indicting reduced steller activity.. Ridges acknowledges that Pres. Hinkley may have been speaking that the conditions for fulfillment had occurred. I would suggest that these may refer to different events.

       (28) Diseases, plagues and pestilence will sweep the earth in spite of medical advances and technology. This is being fulfilled. Ridges cites to numerous scriptures warning of plagues and pestilence (as well as other calamities prior to the Second Coming: D&C 109:30; 2 Nephi 6:14-15; D&C 84:97; D&C 87:6; and in a portion of Joseph Smith's translation of Matthew. Consider that with air travel, diseases can now more freely and quickly spread than before; and biotechnology opens the way for tailored diseases and plagues. I would also note that this is not necessarily limited to just humans. We see wheat rust threatening wheat production in much of the third world; we see diseases destroying trees and wild animal populations; even diseases sweeping through certain areas of livestock production and disease spreading and killing off bee colonies.

       (29) Knowledge, science and technology will increase dramatically. One of the sources for this sign is Daniel 12:4. I would note the following from an article at Industry Tap (IT) News:
Buckminster Fuller created the “Knowledge Doubling Curve”; he noticed that until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Today things are not as simple as different types of knowledge have different rates of growth. For example, nanotechnology knowledge is doubling every two years and clinical knowledge every 18 months. But on average human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. According to IBM, the build out of the “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours.
      (30) Wars and rumors of wars will become normal life. Ridges cites several scriptures for this point, as well: Matt. 24:6, Joseph Smith Translation Matthew 1:23, D&C 45:26. Like most people, Ridges interprets this solely as a result of an increased number of wars. However, researchers have shown that fewer people are dying of organized violence (war) now than ever before in the past--even considering the hundreds of millions killed under the direction of atheist regimes (fascists and communists) in just the past 100 years. (See also here and here). This is where I believe that the "rumors of wars" becomes significant. Even though violence is declining, overall, we hear more about it through the media than ever before. Thus, the "rumors of war."

      (31)  Famines, earthquakes, tornadoes, and natural disasters will abound. Ridges lists this sign as one currently being fulfilled. He notes, for instance, D&C 45:33 which states:
And there shall be earthquakes also in divers places, and many desolations; yet men will harden their hearts against me, and they will take up the sword, one against another, and they will kill one another.
Other scriptures he mentions are D&C 88:88-91 which also discusses earthquakes, thunderings and lightening, tempests, etc. I would also noted Matt. 24:7Luke 21:11Rev. 8:5Rev. 11:13, and Rev. 16:18. Ridges takes the position that there has been increase in both frequency and intensity of these natural disasters. I actually have not seen anything other than anecdotal evidence to suggest an increase in natural disasters. In fact, it appears that the last couple of decades have been relatively benign, notwithstanding some disasters such as Fukushima, Katrina, and the tsunami in Indonesia. Some of the strongest earthquakes, volcanic explosions, and other natural disasters actually occurred in the 1800s and early 1900s. I've noted in a prior post that the deadliest earthquake recorded (actually a series of quakes) was in the 12th Century. What this indicates to me is that we are right now in a lull--a time I believe is intended as a last chance to turn from our (speaking of the world at large) ways--and that this lull will probably end soon, and suddenly.

        (32)  Strikes, overthrowing of governments, gang warfare, violence, and disrespect for authority will increase. Ridges categorizes this as being fulfilled. Ridges notes for this a passage by Bruce R. McConkie explaining what "the whole earth will be in commotion" (D&C 45:26), and other scripture such as Isaiah 3:5, and 2 Tim. 3:1-4. This is one that has been happening for a long time. Socialism and progressivism is based on the basic premise that traditional culture, society, government, institutions, believes, etc., should be discarded as a matter of course, to be replaced by rule by an expert elite (essentially, philosopher kings). Because of strict government controls on drugs and alcohol, powerful black markets have arisen that have enabled the growth and spread of organized crime. In the past short time, we are even seeing normally respectful groups in society (conservatives) exhibiting increasing disdain toward government (and, vice versa). Native kingdoms and powers were overthrown by the great colonial powers, which, after exhausting themselves in world wars, were replaced by various tyrants, which are yet again cycling through more changes in the Middle-East and Africa. Thus, we are well and deep into this sign ... and it will only get worse.

       (33)  Sexual immorality, homosexuality, lesbianism, and pornography will abound. Being fulfilled and, in fact, has greatly accelerated since Ridges penned his book in 2009. See, e.g., 2 Tim. 3:6, and Romans 1:24-31. Ridges notes that these sins, and many others, will be softened by use of political correct speech, noting this 1996 General Conference talk by Neal A. Maxwell. I would also note the October 2013 General Conference talk by Dallin H. Oaks, in which Elder Oaks stated:
       There are many political and social pressures for legal and policy changes to establish behaviors contrary to God’s decrees about sexual morality and contrary to the eternal nature and purposes of marriage and childbearing. These pressures have already authorized same-gender marriages in various states and nations. Other pressures would confuse gender or homogenize those differences between men and women that are essential to accomplish God’s great plan of happiness. 
      Our understanding of God’s plan and His doctrine gives us an eternal perspective that does not allow us to condone such behaviors or to find justification in the laws that permit them. And, unlike other organizations that can change their policies and even their doctrines, our policies are determined by the truths God has identified as unchangeable. 
      Our twelfth article of faith states our belief in being subject to civil authority and “in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” But man’s laws cannot make moral what God has declared immoral. Commitment to our highest priority—to love and serve God—requires that we look to His law for our standard of behavior. For example, we remain under divine command not to commit adultery or fornication even when those acts are no longer crimes under the laws of the states or countries where we reside. Similarly, laws legalizing so-called “same-sex marriage” do not change God’s law of marriage or His commandments and our standards concerning it. We remain under covenant to love God and keep His commandments and to refrain from serving other gods and priorities—even those becoming popular in our particular time and place. 
       In this determination we may be misunderstood, and we may incur accusations of bigotry, suffer discrimination, or have to withstand invasions of our free exercise of religion. If so, I think we should remember our first priority—to serve God—and, like our pioneer predecessors, push our personal handcarts forward with the same fortitude they exhibited.
       (34)  The disintegration of the family will bring prophesied calamities in the last days. Being fulfilled. Ridges notes the proclamation issued about the family, and in particular, the following:
Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
I would also refer you back to the scriptures and talks cited as to Sign No. 33. I've written on this topic before, such as here and here. In December of last year [2012] I quoted the following from an article written by Jonathan Last:
As Robert George put it after the election, limited government “cannot be maintained where the marriage culture collapses and families fail to form or easily dissolve. Where these things happen, the health, education, and welfare functions of the family will have to be undertaken by someone, or some institution, and that will sooner or later be the government.” Marriage is what makes the entire Western project​—​liberalism, the dignity of the human person, the free market, and the limited, democratic state​—​possible. George continues, “The two greatest institutions ever devised for lifting people out of poverty and enabling them to live in dignity are the market economy and the institution of marriage. These institutions will, in the end, stand or fall together.”
And this from Paul Rahe:
... Liberty requires a responsible citizenry, and the sexual revolution (very much like the drug culture, which was and is its Doppelgänger) promotes irresponsibility of every kind. It promotes dependence, and it fosters an ethos in which those who exercise the virtues fostered by the market are punished for doing so and in which those who live for present pleasure are rewarded.
 I've also previously noted the deleterious effects on children and society of families where the father is absent. See also this article by David Goldman.

      (35)  The Spirit will stop working with the wicked. Being fulfilled. I would have preferred the wording that the Spirit will stop striving with the World. Ridges writes that the substance of this sign is "[t]hat in the last days, because of gross wickedness, great numbers of people will cease to feel the natural righteous emotions, feelings, common sense, wisdom, appreciation of beauty, nature, environment, worth of humans, and so forth, which are instilled and nourished by the Spirit." See 2 Tim. 3:1-7 and Romans 1:29-32.

      (36)  Peace will be taken from the Earth. Being fulfilled. See D&C 1:35-36D&C 115:6.

      (37)  Jerusalem will be a "cup of trembling" to those who attempt to fight against it. Ridges lists this as both fulfilled and being fulfilled. This is in reference to Zechariah 12:2:
Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
Ridges cautions, though, that although all nations will be involved with Israel, it is only those nations that fight against Israel that will be broken in pieces upon Israel.

      (38) The righteous will be alerted by the signs of the times. Being fulfilled. This is less a "sign of the times," than a promise to the righteous. Ridges notes that:
[O]ne of the many good reasons for studying and becoming familiar with the signs of the times [is that] [n]ot only do they provide testimony that the scriptures are true, but they also provide strength and spiritual stamina for us against deception, discouragement, and despair as the prophesied punishments of God descend upon the inhabitants of the earth ....
      (39) People will refuse to believe obvious truths and will instead adhere to fables and falsehoods. Being fulfilled. From 2 Timothy 4:3-4:
 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 
 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Ridges comments that the absence of sound doctrine, or turning to "fables" is not only applicable to religious doctrine, but also to politics, business practices, and, in general, the philosophies of men.

     (40) False prophets, false churches, and false miracles will abound. Being fulfilled. See Matt. 24:24 and Mark 13:22. Again, Ridges warns that this is not necessarily limited to just religious cults:
Media idols, liberal [i.e., socialist/progressive] philosophers, corrupt politicians and business people, and a host of other public and private "heroes" could well fit into this category. In fact, any in positions of influence who lead others astray could be considered to be in the category of false prophets and false Christs.
      (41)  People refuse to believe the signs of the times. 2 Peter 3:3-4.

      (42) Some will fear that Christ's coming is being delayed too long. D&C 45:26

      (43) There will be signs and wonders on the Earth and in the heavens. D&C 45-36-40Acts 2:19. I would note that some of the signs in the heavens have probably already been seen. For instance, on August 28 and September 2, 1859, Earth was subject to two powerful solar storms, known as the Carrington Event. Besides burning out telegraphs, it also produced incredible auroras:
       When telegraphs did come back on line, many were filled with vivid accounts of the celestial light show that had been witnessed the night before. Newspapers from France to Australia featured glowing descriptions of brilliant auroras that had turned night into day. One eyewitness account from a woman on Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina ran in the Charleston Mercury: “The eastern sky appeared of a blood red color. It seemed brightest exactly in the east, as though the full moon, or rather the sun, were about to rise. It extended almost to the zenith. The whole island was illuminated. The sea reflected the phenomenon, and no one could look at it without thinking of the passage in the Bible which says, ‘the sea was turned to blood.’ The shells on the beach, reflecting light, resembled coals of fire.”

      The sky was so crimson that many who saw it believed that neighboring locales were on fire. Americans in the South were particularly startled by the northern lights, which migrated so close to the equator that they were seen in Cuba and Jamaica. Elsewhere, however, there appeared to be genuine confusion. In Abbeville, South Carolina, masons awoke and began to lay bricks at their job site until they realized the hour and returned to bed. In Bealeton, Virginia, larks were stirred from their sleep at 1 a.m. and began to warble. (Unfortunately for them, a conductor on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad was also awake and shot three of them dead.) In cities across America, people stood in the streets and gazed up at the heavenly pyrotechnics. In Boston, some even caught up on their reading, taking advantage of the celestial fire to peruse the local newspapers.
November 12-13, 1833, saw the greatest meteor shower in history:
On the night of the 12th, many sky watchers noticed that there seemed to be an unusually high number of meteors in the sky heading into the morning of the 13th. Suddenly, as if someone turned on a switch, the sky filled with meteors to the tune of, according to some estimates, over 200,000 per hour! That translates to over 3,000 per minute or, even more mind boggling, 50 meteors per second. All across North America, people were woken by their bedrooms suddenly becoming filled with light thanks to the light of all the meteors. Now, the kicker: this lasted for 4 hours until the Sun started to rise.

      (44)  The Lamanites will blossom as the rose. D&C 49:24Mexico is projected to have the 5th largest economy in the world by 2050.

      (45)  The New Jerusalem will be built. See D&C 45:66-69. This will be in Jackson County, Missouri, near Independence.

      (46)  Many temples will be built. 

      (47) A temple will be built in Jerusalem. 

      (48) The gospel will flourish in Egypt and temple will be built there. Isaiah 19:18-22.

      (49) The rainbow is withdrawn. Ridges recites a prophecy given by Joseph Smith that "whenever you see the [rain] bow withdrawn, it shall be a token that there shall be famine, pestilence, and great distress among the nations, and that the coming of the Messiah is not far distant." (History of the Church, 6:254). Although Ridges does not speculate as to the cause of this, I wonder if it is related to the prophecy of the sun being dimmed.

      (50) The Constitution will hang by a thread. Ridges notes that the Lord established the Constitution by the hands of the Founding Fathers (D&C 101:77-80). He notes several of the prophets that have spoken of the time when the Constitution will almost be destroyed, including Ezra Taft Benson, who warned: "Unfortunately, we as a nation have apostatized in various degrees from different Constitutional principles as proclaimed by the inspired founders. We are fast approaching that moment prophesied by Joseph Smith when he said: 'Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction.'"

       (51)  Destroying angels will be allowed to go forth upon the Earth (being fulfilled). This particular sign is from D&C 85:5-6, which expands on the parable of the wheat and the tares, as applied to these latter days. Those particular verses state:
5 Behold, verily I say unto you, the angels are crying unto the Lord day and night, who are ready and waiting to be sent forth to reap down the fields;

6 But the Lord saith unto them, pluck not up the tares while the blade is yet tender (for verily your faith is weak), lest you destroy the wheat also.
Ridges goes on to note an 1894 statement by Wilford Woodruff that these destroying angels had been loosed to commence their work. I will add the following on Pres. Woodruff's revelation concerning the matter. In Joseph Fielding Smith's The Signs of the Times, he notes that in June 1894, Pres. Woodruff stated:
God has held the angels of destruction for many years lest they should reap down the wheat with the tares. But I want to tell you now, those angels have left the portals of heaven, and they stand over this people and this nation now, and are hovering over the earth waiting to pour out the judgments. And from this very day they shall be poured out.  ... Great changes are at our doors. The next twenty years will see mighty changes among the nations of the earth. You will live to see these things whether I do or not. I have felt oppressed with the weight of these matters, and I felt I must speak of them here. It is by the power of the Gospel we shall escape.(Signs of the Times, pp. 115-16). 
Pres. Smith noted that it was 20 years and 1 month later that WWI began.

       (52)  The "abomination of desolation" will take place again. Although this refers to the besieging of Jerusalem, Ridges considers this to be in the category of "being fulfilled." His reasoning is that Jerusalem is currently under siege today, and has been for many years. Although Ridges speaks in the sense that Israel is surrounded by its enemies, I believe that this will have a literal fulfillment--an invasion of Israel with troops surrounding and finally taking the city.

      (53)  Wickedness will be rampant (being fulfilled). Ridges explains:
While this sign of the times may be considered a summary of several of the signs of the times already given previously in this book, it merits being discussed as a sign in and of itself. It appears that wickedness in the last days prior to the Second Advent of Christ won't just "happen" as a matter of natural deterioration of morals and values. Rather, if we understand this prophecy correctly, it will be the direct result of wickedness spread intentionally by use of mass media, which will cause an unprecedented acceleration of evil and virtual "free fall" of society.
I think of it as similar to a feed-back loop in an audio system. The media acts as an amplifier. It amplifies the wickedness, which gets broadcast, picked up again and magnified, rebroadcast, and so on, ad infinitum. Except, the system will burn out--spectacularly so.

      Ridges further writes:
This intentional spread of wickedness by Lucifer and his "front organizations" is spoken of in the Bible. In the great vision given to John the Apostle ... one of the things that John was shown was that great masses of people would admire and basically worship wicked heroes in the last days. Thus, the mass "worship" of unworthy media personalities is a significant contributor to the rampant wickedness of the last days.
      (54)  Babylon will fall (yet to be fulfilled). Ridges indicates that "Babylon" refers to Satan's kingdom--the great body of the wicked and perverse--that will be destroyed in two broad steps. First, many will be destroyed in the wars and disasters preceding the Second Coming. Second, those that survive, will be destroyed when the Lord comes to cleanse the Earth. Ridges cites to Rev. 19:17-21 and D&C 29:21.

       Some may question why we should look forward to this massive and complete destruction of the wicked. However, as Joseph Fielding Smith notes in The Signs of the Times, we are looking forward to a better world--"the earth renewed to receive its paradisiacal glory, cleansed of wickedness. For a thousand years we will have that kind of earth and there will not be any war, any turmoil, envying, lying; there will be no wickedness."

       (55)  A great hailstorm will destroy the crops of the Earth (not yet fulfilled). This is bluntly stated in D&C 29:16. See also Rev. 16:21. I have wondered if the "hail" referred to is literally balls of ice, or meteorites or other slag, such as the burning hail of the Exodus, particularly as this seems to occur in some connection with the great earthquake (infra.).

       (56)  There will be a great earthquake such as never before (not yet fulfilled). See Rev. 16:18.  and Rev. 6:12.  Ridges observes: "From these references, we understand that this earthquake will be unprecedented in the history of the earth since the fall of Adam." Although not mentioned by Ridges, the continents of the world are to be joined together again in a single landmass, so this earthquake may be related to that event.

       (57)  Waters will flow from the temple in Jerusalem and heal the Dead Sea (not yet fulfilled). Ezekiel 47:1-12. Ridges notes that this prophecy may be fulfilled when Christ sets foot on the Mount of Olives and it splits.

       (58)  The Battle of Armageddon (not yet fulfilled). This is the war described in Ezekiel 38 and 39, and Zechariah 11 through 14.

       (59)  The meeting at Adam-ondi-Ahman (not yet fulfilled). See D&C 116 and Daniel 7:9-14. "The Ancient of Days" refers to Adam. Ridges writes:
We learn from the above quote [from Daniel] that the meeting at Adam-ondi-Ahman, before the actual Second Coming, will be a rather large gathering, where Adam will gather his righteous posterity together. Christ will come also, and those present, who are or have been in authority, will turn their keys of power over to Him to use as He ushers in the Millennius and governs the world during the Millennium....
This meeting will be secret from the world at large.

      (60)  Two prophets will be killed in Jerusalem (not yet fulfilled). Rev. 11. As prophets, these two men will necessarily need to be members of the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

      (61)  The Mount of Olives will split in two. (Yet to be fulfilled). The basic source for this sign is Zechariah 14:1-5, which reads:
1 Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.

2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

3 Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

4 ¶And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.
 This may very well be the earthquake that accompanies the Lord's return, as D&C 45:48 indicates:
And then shall the Lord set his foot upon this amount, and it shall cleave in twain, and the earth shall tremble, and reel to and fro, and the heavens also shall shake.
That is, this may be The Earthquake when the whole Earth will tremble and shake, the "stars" fall, and the continents be gathered together into one.

Ridges quotes Charles W. Penrose as to this sign of the times:
His [Christ's] next appearance [after his appearance in the New Jerusalem] will be among the distressed and nearly vanquished sons of Judah. At the crises of their fate, when the hostile troops of several nations are ravaging the city and all the horrors of war are overwhelming the people of Jerusalem [ed: i.e., the abomination of desolation], he will set his feet upon the the Mount of Olives, which will cleave and part asunder at his touch. Attended by a host from heaven [ed., perhaps the 144,000], he will overthrow and destroy the combined armies of the Gentiles, and appear to the worshiping Jews as the mighty Deliverer and Conqueror so long expected by their race; and while love, gratitude, awe, and admiration swell their bosoms, the Deliverer will show them the tokens of his crucifixion and disclose himself as Jesus of Nazareth, whom they [ed. i.e., their ancestors] had reviled and whom their fathers put to death. Then will unbelief depart from their souls, and "the blindness in part which has happened unto Israel" be removed.
(Italicized brackets in original; others are mine).

       (62)  The sign of the coming of the Son of Man. (Not yet fulfilled). This sign is given in Matthew 24:29-31:
29 ¶Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Ridges goes on to cite some other references and quotes regarding this sign, but the important point is that no one knows what is this sign--no description of it is given. We merely know that it follows many of the other signs--wars and rumors of wars, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes and diverse places, and so on. Ridges quotes Joseph Smith as stating that the people of world will attempt to put this sign off as a natural phenomena, such as a planet or comet. I believe that the righteous shall understand this sign, and it will strengthen them; and the those wicked who understand the end times (the sons of perdition) shall also understand, and it will strike fear into their hearts. But for the rest of humanity, it will be just another of bewildering disasters and inscrutable portents.

      (63)  The righteous will be taken up to meet the coming Lord. (Not yet fulfilled).  This is not the rapture, as many Christians use that term. That is, this is not a case of the Lord taking the righteous believers from the Earth prior to the tribulations of the last days (which, if it was going to occur, would probably be happening right now). Rather, as Ridges notes, the righteous (which are those living a celestial quality of life already or, if the resurrected dead, qualified to enter into the Celestial Kingdom) will literally be caught up as a group to meet the Lord at the time of his coming and descend with Him to Earth as He comes to begin his reign. The sons of perdition and those living a telestial lifestyle (i.e., the wicked, or the "tares") will be burned at His coming. Although we are not sure of the mechanism, those living a terrestrial lifestyle will be preserved--these will be the subject of intense missionary efforts since, as we know, many of those without knowledge of the Gospel or of Christ will remain.

      (64)  The wicked will be burned. (Not yet fulfilled). Malachi 4:1 indicates:
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
This, of course, is the point of the well-known scriptural references to the gathering of the wheat and the burning of the tares. Ridges focuses on the mechanism of the burning, noting that the scriptures indicate "that the wicked will be burned by the glory of the coming Lord. Since they are not worthy to be 'quickened' or transfigured with the righteous, they will be consumed by the glory of the resurrected and glorified Christ." (See, e.g., 2 Thessalonians 2:8). Ridges adds: "Since this will be a selective destruction, only those people and those things that do not belong on earth during the Millennium will be destroyed."

      As noted above, those that are neither among the "righteous" believers, nor among the wicked, will not be destroyed. Ridges quotes Joseph Smith:
There will be millions of people, Catholics, Protestants, agnostics, Mohammedans, people of all classes and all beliefs, still permitted to remain upon the face of the earth, but they will be those who have lived clean lives, those who have been free from wickedness and corruption. All who belong, by virtue of their good lives, to [at least] the terrestrial order, ... will remain upon the face of the earth during the millennium.
(Brackets and ellipses in original).

      Ridges does not address the issue of why the wicked must be destroyed. It is one of the great lies taught that a loving God would not punish and destroy some of his children. This has morphed even further into the belief that if God loves the sinner, he will also love the sin (or, at the least, be tolerant of the sin). This argument is often heard by those espousing a homosexual lifestyle or other sexual immorality--they reason that God could not be angry with two people expressing their love toward one another. The flip side of this argument is that advanced by many atheists who do not understand how a loving God could tolerate, let alone, order the Israelites to attack and destroy a city or people. Those holding these thoughts are blinded by the idea of moral equivalence--that all moral choices are equivalent, and there is no "good" and "bad" or gradations between.

       That fact is, like a loving Father, God is more than willing to destroy those whose wickedness threatens the destruction of the good--just as if you had the choice of killing a murderer, or letting the murderer kill your spouse and children, you would kill the murderer. Basic humanity requires nothing less. Obviously, God allows people their free agency, and this short life is merely a test, so God does not prevent bad things from happening to people. Even the righteous suffer trials. But there are points when a line is crossed, where wickedness is so rampant, that the only way to destroy the wickedness is to destroy the wicked--to completely remove their wicked teachings and practices (i.e., memes) from the face of the earth. Such occurred with the Flood of Noah, and such will be the state prior to the Second Coming. The cancer, or infection, of wickedness will be removed, together with those that carry that disease within them.

       (65) Everyone will see Christ when He comes. (Not yet fulfilled). Ridges cites Revelation 1:7, which states:
Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
Ridges emphasizes that, for the righteous, this event will be a time of great joy and peace; but for the wicked, it will be a time of great dread. (See, e.g., Isaiah 11:6-9; compare with Rev. 6:14-16).

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