Mormonism and the Millennial Kingdom/Part 2
|By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2005|
|Many religions have predicted the future, but Mormon Presidents are also Prophets, so when they make predictions they claim their messages came directly from God. Since Mormons believe their Prophets are inspired, their messages are accepted as scripture. But Marvin Cowan points out that these prophets have a poor track record in predicting what will happen.|
Many religions have predicted the future, but Mormon Presidents are also Prophets, so when they make predictions they claim their messages came directly from God. Since Mormons believe their Prophets are inspired, their messages are accepted as scripture.
Wilford Woodruff was the fourth LDS President and Prophet of the Mormon Church. His diaries recorded that he was ordained to the LDS High Priesthood on May 31, 1836 and was told, “If I desired it I should remain on the earth until the coming of the Savior.” On January 3, 1837 he recorded that he was ordained to the First Quorum of the Seventy and again told, “I should preach to the nations of the earth and to the inhabitants upon the islands of the sea and that I should then return and stand upon Mount Zion in the flesh even in Jackson County Missouri at the coming of Christ and that I should be caught up to meet Him in the clouds of heaven.” And on April 15, 1837 Woodruff wrote that he received his Patriarchal Blessing under the hand of Joseph Smith, Sr. and was told, “Thou shalt stand in the flesh and witness the winding up scene of this generation. Thou shalt remain on the earth to behold thy Savior come in the clouds of heaven” (Waiting for World’s End, The Diaries of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 7, 10, 17; published in 1993 by Signature Books in SLC, UT).
Many Mormons received such promises in the early days of the Mormon Church. After all, they were “Latter-day Saints” so they expected to be alive when Christ returned. That is why President Wilford Woodruff often predicted that some LDS of his generation would still be alive when Christ returned.
For example, Prophet Wilford Woodruff said on June 27, 1875, “I believe there are many children now living in the mountains of Israel who will never taste of death, that is, they will dwell on the earth at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 18, p. 37). He also said on June 6, 1880, “We live in the generation itself when Jesus Christ will come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 21, p.124). On January 6, 1884 Woodruff further explained,
- We are living at the commencement of the Millennium, and near the close of the 6,000th year of the world’s history. Tremendous events await this generation. You can read an account of them in the revelations of St. John; the opening of the seals; the blowing of the trumpets; the pouring out of the plagues; the judgments of God which will overtake the wicked when Great Babylon comes in remembrance before God, and when the sword that is bathed in heaven shall fall on Idumea, or the world who shall be able to abide these things? Here we are living in the midst of these tremendous events. (Journal of Discourses, vol. 25, p. 10)
Again in April 1898 when he was 91 years old and only five months before he died, he said, “I will say here that I shall not live to see it, you may not live to see it; but these thousands of Latter-day Saint children that belong to Sabbath schools, I believe many of them will stand in the flesh when the Lord Jesus Christ visits the Zion of God here in the mountains of Israel” (1898 Conference Reports, p. 57).
Notice that Woodruff said that Mormons in 1884 were living during the events recorded in the book of Revelation in the Bible. Christians often call that the tribulation period. In 1884, the Mormon Church was having problems with the US Government about polygamy, but their problems in no way resemble the tribulation recorded in the book of Revelation. When Woodruff was 91 he doubted that he would still be alive when Christ returned, but he believed that other Mormons of his generation would live to see Christ’s return.
Doctrine & Covenants 77:6 declares that this earth has 7,000 years of continuance or temporal existence. Verse 12 also says, “In the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things… preparing the way before the time of his (Christ’s) coming.” Woodruff was referring to this when he said, “We are living at the commencement of the Millennium, and near the close of the 6,000th year of world history.”
So, that is about the beginning of the Millennium, but what happens during the Millennium? Brigham Young, the second LDS Prophet declared,
- In the millennium when the kingdom of God is established on the earth in power, glory and perfection, and the reign of wickedness that has so long prevailed is subdued, the Saints of God will have the privilege of building their temples, and of entering into them, becoming, as it were, pillars in the temples of God, and they will officiate for their dead. Then we will see our friends come up, and perhaps some that we have been acquainted with here. If we ask who will stand at the head of the resurrection in this last dispensation, the answer is— Joseph Smith, Junior, the Prophet of God. He is the man who will be resurrected and receive the keys of the resurrection, and he will seal this authority upon others, and they will hunt up their friends and resurrect them when they shall have been officiated for, and bring them up. And we will have revelations to know our forefathers clear back to Father Adam and Mother Eve, and we will enter into the temples of God and officiate for them. Then man will be sealed to man until the chain is made perfect back to Adam, so that there will be a perfect chain of priesthood from Adam to the winding-up scene. This will be the work of the Latter-day Saints in the Millennium. (Journal of Discourses, vol. 15, pp.138-139)
Neither Jesus nor anyone else in the Bible taught that God’s people were to build temples in which to do baptisms, marriages, etc., on behalf of the dead during the Millennium or at any other time. Nor did Jesus give Joseph Smith or any other man the “keys” of the resurrection. Second Corinthians 4:14 says, “He [God] who raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus.” Jesus also said in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Those who want more information about the Mormon view of the Millennium can find it in Waiting for World’s End, The Diaries of Wilford Woodruff, published by Signature Books in Salt Lake City, UT, in 1993. Our next article will discuss the key cities in the Mormon Millennium.