The Coming of Christ

Avraham Gileadi

Upon parting from his ancient apostles on the Mount of Olives—after completing his forty-day ministry—Jesus commanded them to bear witness of him “unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Having said that, he ascended into heaven: “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:6–11).

The fact that after his resurrection from the dead Jesus came “in like manner” to the Nephites thus establishes a connection between that event and his second coming at the end of the world. Mormon records, “And it came to pass, as they understood [the voice] they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them” (3 Nephi 11:8). Jesus’ visit to the Nephites, because it resembled what the angels had predicted concerning his second coming, thus serves as a precursor and type of his second coming at the end of the world.

What the angels did not tell the apostles on the Mount of Olives, but what Jesus had declared to them earlier, was that “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14). By definition, the “end of the world,” of which Jesus is speaking, and about which his apostles had inquired, is nothing other than the “destruction of the wicked” (JS-Matthew 1:4, 31; cf. Matthew 24:3).

At the end of the world, in other words, telestial persons—everyone who hasn’t repented of his or her sins—will perish from the face of the earth. The preaching of the “gospel of the kingdom” throughout the world for a witness to all nations, on the other hand, was designed to brings souls to Christ and to persuade them to repent. That commandment, however, would not be completely fulfilled by Jesus’ ancient apostles. Though they attempted to fulfill it, this would wait to be realized by his latter-day servants, notably—but by no means limited to—the “hundred and forty-four thousand” servants of God (Revelation 7:4, 14:1; D&C 77:11).

The “end of the world” or the “destruction of the wicked,” therefore, would not occur in the days of the apostles but would wait until the gospel had been preached and all had received an opportunity to repent. A type of the destruction of the wicked occurred before Jesus’ visit to the Nephites, when great cities sank beneath the earth and under the sea and when fire came down and destroyed them. The “more righteous part” of the Nephites who survived, in turn, became a type of those who will survive into the Millennium (cf. 3 Nephi 9:13; 10:12).

Lastly, the era of righteousness and peace that followed Jesus’ visit to the Nephites forms a type of Jesus’ universal millennial reign. The organization of the church that he instituted among the Nephites foreshadows the millennial organization of the kingdom of God on the earth. In that sense, the “gospel of the kingdom” that would be preached in all the world would doubtless include his promise to “restore again of the kingdom to Israel,” concerning which his apostles had inquired (Acts 1:6). The restoration of the political kingdom of Israel forms an integral part of the “restitution [or ‘restoration’] of all things” spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began (cf. Mark 9:12; Acts 3:21; D&C 27:6; 77:9).

While the keys of the kingdom of God were bestowed upon the Prophet Joseph Smith (D&C 27:13; 65:2; 81:2), the restoration of the political kingdom of Israel would wait until the Lord would gather together his ancient covenant people in the last days (D&C 113:6; cf. Isaiah 11:1–5, 10–12, 15–16). The ancient type of that restoration was the prophet Samuel’s anointing of David as king after the existing king, Saul, had transgressed (1 Samuel 10:1; 16:3, 13; 2 Samuel 5:3; Psalms 89:20).

Joseph Smith declared that as a result of own David’s transgression “the throne and kingdom of David is to be taken from him and given to another by the name of David in the last days, raised up out of his lineage” (TPJS, 339). D&C 113:6 identifies that person as “a descendant of Jesse, as well as of Joseph, unto whom rightly belongs the priesthood, and the keys of the kingdom, for an ensign, and for the gathering of my people in the last days.”

While the idea of such a person has seemed threatening to some—as if one called and chosen of God could somehow detract from God’s plan—and while many misguided souls have imagined themselves to be that person, the Lord’s word will nonetheless be fulfilled when he will “restore again the kingdom to Israel.”

Israel’s ancient prophets saw aright that the Lord (Jehovah) himself would be our Messiah and Savior and that the David of Hebrew prophecy would be his servant: “They will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king” (Hosea 3:5); “They shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them” (Jeremiah 30:9); “I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it” (Ezekiel 34:23–24).

The Lord’s calling of Nephi the son of Nephi and others at his visit to the Nephites (3 Nephi 11:18–22) thus typifies his calling of the latter-day David, a son of David, and of other millennial servants.

In sum, events surrounding the second coming of Christ, of which occurrences at Jesus’ coming to the Nephites are a type, consist of a composite of events that include the organization of the kingdom of God on the earth, the destruction of the wicked, the deliverance of the righteous, and a millennial reign of peace.

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