The Righteous Shall Come Forth

“The Righteous Shall Come Forth,” Ensign, Apr. 1981, 8

“The Righteous Shall Come Forth”

To a student of the holy scriptures, it is evident that Jesus Christ came to this earth of his own free will as a part of a great eternal plan and that he came with all power, both in heaven and upon earth. As he said: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. No man taketh my life from me. The Father hath given me power to lay down my life and take it up again.” (Matt. 28:18; see John 10:17–18.)

With that power he commanded the elements and broke the power of death, being the firstfruits of the Resurrection. With his resurrection, the graves of many were opened in Jerusalem, and they came forth and appeared to many. He also caused the resurrection of the dead among the Nephites.

His complete ministry upon earth was filled with miracles, the greatest of which was his own resurrection and his subsequent visit seen by the women at the tomb, and his appearance to his Apostles upon various occasions while he tarried among them for forty days.

Following his ascension into heaven, two men in white apparel stood and 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 1:11).

Following this, he appeared to the Nephites in America and ministered among them and blessed their little children, and the heavens were opened and angels descended, and the historian said that no man could write the joy that filled their hearts as he prayed unto the Father for them. (See 3 Ne. 17:17.)

He later appeared to Saul of Tarsus, later known as Paul the Apostle, while Saul was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Saints. Jesus spoke, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Saul replied, “Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” (Acts 9:4–5.)

And then there was the Lord’s glorious visit with his Father to the boy Joseph Smith in 1820 to usher in the dispensation of the fulness of times, when he advised Joseph to join none of the churches for they all taught the commandments of men. (See JS—H 1:17–19.)

The Lord also appeared personally to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon on 16 February 1832, as recorded in the seventy-sixth section of the Doctrine and Covenants:

“And while we meditated upon these things, the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about.

“And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness;

“And saw the holy angels, and them who are sanctified before his throne, worshiping God, and the Lamb, who worship him forever and ever.

“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.” (D&C 76:19–24.)

Again, on 3 April 1836 at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery saw him:

“The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened.

“We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.

“His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:

“I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father.” (D&C 110:1–4.)

In his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Daniel saw the kingdom that the God of heaven would set up in the latter days which would never be thrown down nor given to another people, but like a little stone cut out of the mountains without hands would roll forth until it would become as a great mountain and fill the whole earth (see Dan. 2:44–45).

And then Daniel said:

“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

“And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Dan. 7:13–14.)

And that kingdom, Daniel said, would be given to the Saints of the Most High:

“But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.

“And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” (Dan. 7:18, 27.)

We, the Latter-day Saints, are preparing that kingdom to be delivered to the Savior when he comes in the clouds of heaven. When the kingdom has been adequately prepared, Jesus will come again.

John the Revelator was banished upon the Isle of Patmos, and a voice from heaven spoke saying, “Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter” (Rev. 4:1). And John acknowledged the Lord:

“For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:9–10).

John was shown many of the marvelous preparations for Christ’s coming to usher in the thousand-year millennial reign:

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

“And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

“And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Rev. 21:1–7.)

“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” (Rev. 21:22–23.)

“And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 22:5).

“And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.

“Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.” (Rev. 22:8–9.)

John further states:

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” (Rev. 20:12–13.)

“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

“And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

“And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled. …

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, … and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

“But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (Rev. 20:1–6.)

Can any man read these things and not want to prepare to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, rather than have to remain in his grave for a thousand years while the Savior is completing and preparing his kingdom to be delivered up unto the Father, as a bride prepared for her bridegroom, during which time the righteous are to serve as priests and kings unto the Most High God to help him in the preparation of his kingdom?

It has always been my feeling that when the trump of God shall sound and the righteous dead shall come forth, it will be the lifters and not the leaners that the Savior will call forth to help him in preparing his kingdom. But as John said: “The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished” (Rev. 20:5).

The prophet Isaiah discusses the conditions existing during the thousand years:

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

“And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

“And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.

“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa. 11:6–9.)

“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

“But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.

“And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.

“There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.

“And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.

“They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

“They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.” (Isa. 65:17–23.)

This is a definite promise of the duration of the family during the thousand years, a time when people will build houses and inhabit them, when they will plant vineyards and eat the fruit thereof. And then to make it perfectly clear that this promise includes their children, Isaiah adds: “For they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.” Nothing could be more plain.

By personal manifestation as one of the Lord’s special witnesses, I bear my solemn testimony that he lives and will come again to usher in his thousand-year millennial reign, and we will be privileged to join him if we live for it.

The Resurrection of Lazarus, by Rembrandt. Courtesy BYU Art Museum Collection.

Our Lord and the Disciples at Emmaus, by Rembrandt.