“Last Days or in the Days of the Gentiles”

K. Douglas Bassett

(Isa. 29:6; Eth. 2:11; 3 Ne. 30:1–2; D&C 18:6; 29:9; 45:28–33; 61:31; Luke 21:24; JS–H 1:41; refer in Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Bassett, to 3 Ne. 16:10–16 & 3 Ne. 20:15–20, 22)

We are living in the days of the Gentiles when this prediction was to be fulfilled… . If we are living the religion which the Lord has revealed and which we have received, we do not belong to the world. We should have no part in all its foolishness… . If I sometimes, and once in a while I do, go to a football game or a baseball game or some other place of amusement, invariably I will be surrounded by men and women who are puffing on cigarettes or cigars or dirty pipes. It gets very annoying, and I get a little disturbed. I will turn to Sister Smith, and I will say something to her, and she will say, “Well, now, you know what you have taught me. You are in their world. This is their world.” And that sort of brings me back to my senses. Yes, we are in their world, but we do not have to be of it. So, as this is their world we are living in, they prosper, but, my good brethren and sisters, their world is coming to its end.

(Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report, Apr. 1952, 27–28.)

Speaking of the overthrow of the Jews and the destruction of Jerusalem, the Lord said to his disciples: “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled… .”
This scripture was also referred to by Moroni when he visited Joseph Smith in September, 1823, which scripture he said was soon to be fulfilled. He said that the fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in… .
We all know that from the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 a.d. until near the close of World War I, Jerusalem was trodden down of the Gentiles, and during all of that time the Jews were scattered and almost without privileges in the Holy Land. The Lord said they should remain scattered among the nations until the times of the Gentiles were fulfilled. Moroni said the times of the Gentiles were about to be fulfilled. Today we are living in the transition period; the day of the Gentiles has come in, and the day of Judah and the remnant of downtrodden Israel is now at hand.

(Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation: Sermons and Writings of Joseph Fielding Smith, ed. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–1956], 3:258–59.)

Now is the great day of the Gentiles, and it has been for centuries since the Savior’s first coming when Israel was rejected by him. From that time forward world history has been centered in the Gentile nations, largely in the Christian Gentile nations. Certainly all modern history has been centered in the Christian Gentile nations, which are the ones the Book of Mormon speaks of. The whole colonization of the world, all of the major wars, have concerned the Gentile nations. The Germans, the British and their allies, fought World War I. All of them were Christian nations. Who fought the second World War? Essentially the same division. What nations are now fighting the war that is going on in the world continually? Russia which was a Christian nation although her government has now rejected Christianity, and the United States and their allies. This is the time of the Gentiles. The Gentiles still speak of their various spheres of influence, but the number of uncommitted nations of the world is growing. The time of the Gentiles obviously is coming to an end. No longer does what the European nations say go without question from the Orientals, the Africans. Can you imagine the Egyptians taking over the Suez Canal fifty years ago or even Africans rising up in revolt against their masters? They have done it. Or the people of Indonesia, formerly the Dutch East Indies, rising up against the Dutch and throwing them off? Again they have done it. This is the time of the end of the Gentiles domination of the world. Historians recognize this.

(F. Kent Nielsen, Book of Mormon Teachings, [Provo, Utah: Extension Publications, Adult Education and Extension Services, 1960], 27. As found in The Fulfillment of Book of Mormon Prophecies, Warner, Hawkes Pub., 1975, 108.)

What do you mean by their times being fulfilled, and the fullness of the Gentiles coming in? … This Gospel, which God sends by the ministration of “another angel” from heaven, must be preached to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, to the Gentiles first; and when they get through with them, it will go to Israel, for the times of the Gentiles will then be fulfilled; in other words, when God shall speak to his servants,—and say unto them—“It is enough, you have been faithful in your ministry, you have warned the nations, kindreds and tongues of the Gentiles sufficiently, now I call you to a still greater work, and will give you a new mission, not to go and preach to the Gentiles, but go to the remnants of the House of Israel wherever they can be found, and let your testimony be to them. Hunt them up from the four quarters of the earth, gather them out with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, and bring them back to their own land.” When that time shall come Israel will be gathered and not till then.

(Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 16:352.)

The Gentiles have not continued in the goodness of God, but have departed from the faith that was once delivered to the Saints, and have broken the covenant in which their fathers were established (see Isa. 24:5); and have become high-minded, and have not feared; therefore, but few of them will be gathered with the chosen family. Have not the pride, high-mindedness, and unbelief of the Gentiles, provoked the Holy One of Israel to withdraw His Holy Spirit from them, and send forth His judgments to scourge them for their wickedness? This is certainly the case.

(Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 1:313–14.)

How does our nation stand?
Are not many of us materialistic? Do we not find it well-nigh impossible to raise our sights above the dollar sign? …
Are not many of us status-seekers—measuring the worth of a man by the size of his bank account, his house, his automobile?
Are we not … willing to co-exist with evil … so long as it does not touch us personally?
If the answer to these questions is, “yes” … then surely these are among the many reasons why this is truly an era of peril… .
Many of us imagine in the foolishness of pride, that our manifold blessings are due not to God’s goodness, but to our own wisdom and virtue. Too many of us have been so drunk with self-sufficiency as no longer to feel the need of prayer… .
This is a sad commentary on a civilization which has given to mankind the greatest achievements and progress ever known. But it is an even sadder commentary on those of us who call ourselves Christians, who thus betray the ideals given to us by the Son of God himself.

(Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, Oct. 1960, 103, 105.)

Taking the meridian of time as a starting point, the gospel was preached first to the Jews and thereafter to the Gentiles. In our dispensation, the dispensation of the fulness of times, the gospel was, according to prophecy, brought forth by Gentiles who in turn will take it to all the nations of the earth. After the Gentiles have had ample opportunity to receive it and then turn on it in wickedness, it will be taken from them and given back to its original stewards. Thus, the first shall be last and the last first (see 1 Ne. 13:42).
When we speak of the day of the Gentiles being fulfilled, we are speaking of that time when “the consumption decreed” will make “a full end of all nations” (D&C 87:6), and a messianic kingdom established in their stead. Thus, the day of the Gentile will end—its power, authority, and influence will be no more.

(Joseph Fielding McConkie, Third Nephi 9–30, This Is My Gospel, ed. Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr. [Provo: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 1993], 174–75.)

Commentaries on Isaiah: In the Book or Mormon