WHEN is Christ Coming? …Oh, and a bit about Mayan Calendars

Listen to WHEN is Christ Coming? …and a bit about Mayan calendars

Show Notes:

And now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we know not how soon. Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice. (Alma 13:25)

When will Jesus Christ come back?

I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following:

Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter.
I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face.
I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time. (D&C 130:14-17)


I, the Lord God, have spoken it; but the hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he comes. (D&C 49:7)

Joseph Smith:

Jesus Christ never did reveal to any man the precise time that He would come. Go and read the Scriptures, and you cannot find anything that specifies the exact hour He would come; and all that say so are false teachers.”

History of the Church, 6:254.

He doesn’t want us to know the date of His coming, but has provided His own way of telling us about how soon Christ will come.

And he that believeth shall be blest with signs following, even as it is written.

And unto you it shall be given to know the signs of the times, and the signs of the coming of the Son of Man;” (D&C 68:10-11)

And again, it shall come to pass that on as many as ye shall baptize with water, ye shall lay your hands, and they shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and shall be looking forth for the signs of my coming, and shall know me. (D&C 39: 23)

The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.
He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring, O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? (Matt 16:1-4)

And I will show it plainly as I showed it unto my disciples as I stood before them in the flesh, and spake unto them, saying: As ye have asked of me concerning the signs of my coming, in the day when I shall come in my glory in the clouds of heaven, to fulfill the promises that I have made unto your fathers, (D&C 45:16)


President Wilford Woodruff:

If the world wants to know what is coming to pass, let them read the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants; let them read [the] revelations of St. John. As God lives they will come to pass. Not one of them will fall unfulfilled. And the hand of God is beginning to be manifest in the earth. Judgment is at the door; calamity awaits the nations of the earth; but we ourselves should be prepared to stand in holy places while the judgments of God are manifest in the earth.

We are living in a late age, although it is true there are a great many vast and important events to transpire in these days. But one thing is certain, though the Lord has not revealed the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man shall come, he has pointed out the generation, and the signs predicted as the fore-runners of that great event have begun to appear in the heavens and on the earth, and they will continue until all is consummated. If we, as Latter-day Saints, want anything to stir us up, let us read the Bible, Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants; they contain enough to edify and instruct us in the things of God. Treasure up the revelations of God and the gospel of Christ contained therein.
Wilford Woodruff, Teachings of Presidents of the Church (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2004), 250

James E. Talmage:

“The precise time of Christ’s coming has not been made known to man. By learning to comprehend the signs of the times, by watching the development of the work of God among the nations, and by noting the rapid fulfillment of significant prophecies, we may perceive the progressive evidence of the approaching event. His coming will be a surprise to those who have ignored His warnings, and who have failed to watch”.
James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, 12th ed. (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1924), p. 362

How do we know which world events can be considered signs of His coming, and which are simply the world moving on it’s merry (or not so merry) way?

George Q. Cannon:

The greatest events that have been spoken of by the holy prophets will come along so naturally as the consequence of certain causes, that unless our eyes are enlightened by the Spirit of God, and the spirit of revelation rests us, we will fail to see that these are the events predicted by the holy prophets. And so with the great events that will take place in the future; they will come along in so natural a manner, the Lord will bring them to pass in such a way that they will not be accepted by the people, except by those who can comprehend the truth, as the fulfillment of the predictions of the prophets.
George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses, (London: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1881), 21:267

Wilford Woodruff:

I do not think anyone can tell the hour of the coming of the Son of Man. … We need not look for the time of that event to be made known …The signs in both heaven and earth all indicate the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. When my mind, under the influence of the Spirit of God, is open to comprehend these things I many times marvel and wonder, not only at the world but also at ourselves, that we are not more anxious and diligent in preparing ourselves and our families for the events now at our doors, for though the heavens and the earth pass away, not one jot or tittle of the word of the Lord will go unfulfilled…

You watch the signs of the times, the sign of the coming of the Son of Man. They are beginning to be manifest both in heaven and on earth. … We are approaching these things. All that the Latter-day Saints have to do is to be quiet, careful and wise before the Lord, watch the signs of the times, and be true and faithful; and when you get through you will understand many things that you do not today.
Wilford Woodruff, Teachings of Presidents of the Church (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2004), 250

Bruce R. McConkie:

“Treasure up the Lord’s word. Possess it, own it, make it yours by both believing it and living it. For instance: the voice of the Lord says that if men have faith, repent, and are baptized, they shall receive the Holy Ghost. It is not sufficient merely to know what the scripture says. One must treasure it up, meaning take it into his possession so affirmatively that it becomes a part of his very being; as a consequence, in the illustration given, one actually receives the companionship of the Spirit. Obviously such persons will not be deceived where the signs of the times and the Second Coming of the Messiah are concerned”
McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:662

Rumor: the year 2012 marks the ending of the Mayan calendar, and possibly the end of the world.

The USA Today ran an article on the subject, written by Jeffery MacDonald, who interviewed some experts of ancient Mayan culture and belief.

Maya civilization, known for advanced writing, mathematics and astronomy, flourished for centuries in Mesoamerica, especially between A.D. 300 and 900. Its Long Count calendar, which was discontinued under Spanish colonization, tracks more than 5,000 years, then resets at year zero.
“For the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle,” says Sandra Noble, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies in Crystal River, Fla. To render Dec. 21, 2012, as a doomsday or moment of cosmic shifting, she says, is “a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.”
. . .Susan Milbrath, a Maya archaeoastronomer and a curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History. . . says, “we have no record or knowledge that they would think the world would come to an end at that point.”
University of Florida anthropologist Susan Gillespie says the 2012 phenomenon comes “from media and from other people making use of the Maya past to fulfill agendas that are really their own.”
Does Maya calendar predict 2012 apocalypse? USA Today, 3/27/2007

National Geographic came to a similar conclusion. In its Newsletter on November 6, 2009, Brian Handwerk wrote:

The Maya calendar doesn’t end in 2012, as some have said, and the ancients never viewed that year as the time of the end of the world, archaeologists say.
But December 21, 2012, (give or take a day) was nonetheless momentous to the Maya.
“It’s the time when the largest grand cycle in the Mayan calendar—1,872,000 days or 5,125.37 years—overturns and a new cycle begins,” said Anthony Aveni, a Maya expert and archaeoastronomer at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. . .
If the Maya didn’t expect the end of time in 2012, what exactly did they predict for that year?
Many scholars who’ve pored over the scattered evidence on Maya monuments say the empire didn’t leave a clear record predicting that anything specific would happen in 2012.. . .
In fact, Aveni says, the Maya weren’t much for predictions.
National Geographic News, November 6, 2009, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/11/091106-2012-end-of-world-myths.html

Elder Maxwell:

How quickly and easily the few are misled! Such members may know superficially of the doctrines of the kingdom, but their root system is shallow. Though able to provide doctrinal recitation, they seem not to know either the implications or interconnections of those doctrines.

For instance, instead of wisely noticing the warning leaves on the fig tree, a few proceed to fixate on the specific timing of Jesus’ second coming. Yet the Savior clearly stated, ‘But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only’ (Matthew 24:36).

Clearly, since even the angels in heaven—an otherwise reasonably well-informed group—do not know, we should be wary of mortals obsessed with calendaring. So often modern gnostics who in one exotic way or another pretend to be ‘in the know’ are, in fact, spiritually ‘out of touch’! Meanwhile, mature members will take time both to smell the flowers and also watch the leaves on the fig tree to see when ‘summer is nigh’ (Matthew 24:32-33).” (Lord, Increase Our Faith, 94.)


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Chas Hathaway is the author of the books Scripture Study Made Awesome, Marriage is Ordained of God, but WHO Came Up with Dating? and Giraffe Tracks. Learn more at chashathaway.com. Please participate in the conversation by adding comments and sharing with friends on the web!

Gospel Living Made Awesome is not an official work of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If Chas says something stupid, it's his own fault.