“How much emphasis is found in the writings of the Old Testament prophets on the subjects of the Restoration and the last days?” Ensign, Dec. 1981, 58–60
Brent Bulloch, director of college curriculum, Church Educational System. A great deal. In fact, the Old Testament is the only scriptural source for a number of latter-day prophecies.
As might be expected, most of these prophecies are found in what are commonly called the prophetic books—Isaiah through Malachi. Over half of the 250 chapters in these books deal in some way with the last days. For example, over 80 percent of Isaiah, the last 14 chapters of Ezekiel, nearly all of the book of Joel, much of Daniel, a large portion of the book of Zechariah, and parts of Hosea, Micah, and Zephaniah each deal with the last days.
Some of the prophecies are readily identifiable. Others, however, are more obscure, symbolic, or have applications in more than one time period, making a good background of gospel knowledge and a sensitivity to the promptings of the Spirit essential to recognizing and understanding them. A knowledge of history, language, and customs is also helpful.
Entire books could be written to synthesize these prophecies. But following is a brief summary of major themes. They are not listed chronologically; some events are simultaneous or interrelated rather than sequential.
The restoration of the Church
3. The Lord’s messenger will prepare the way for his coming. (See Mal. 3:1.) This is an example of a prophecy with more than one fulfillment, including John the Baptist in the meridian of time and in the last days, as well as other latter-day servants who prepare for the Lord’s second advent. (See Matt. 11:10; JS—H 1:36; D&C 35:4; D&C 45:9; Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56, 3:10–12.)
4. Elijah will return before the Second Coming. (See Mal. 4:5–6.) Elijah appeared in the Kirtland Temple on 3 April 1836 and restored the keys of priesthood sealing powers. (See D&C 110:13–16; also see related sermon by Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1938, pp. 330, 335–38.)
Latter-day gathering of Israel
1. An ensign raised as a standard to the nations will bring about the gathering. (See Isa. 5:26–29; Isa. 10:20–23; Isa. 11:10, 12; Isa. 43:5–7; Isa. 49:22–23; Jer. 3:12–15; Jer. 16:16; Jer. 31:6–9; Ezek. 34:11–13.) This ensign is the gospel of salvation and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which carries the gospel to the world. The Book of Mormon is also an ensign to the nations.
2. The house of Judah will be gathered to the land of their inheritance, the land of Jerusalem. (See Deut. 30:1–5; Ps. 147:2–3; Isa. 11:12; Jer. 3:18; Jer. 12:14–15; Jer. 30:3; Zech. 2:12; also Teachings, p. 286.)
3. The other tribes will also return to the lands of their inheritance. (See Ps. 50:1–5; Ps. 107:1–7; Isa. 11:11, 16; Isa. 43:6; Jer. 3:12, 18; Jer. 16:14–15; Jer. 23:3, 7–8; Ezek. 48.) They will return from the “north countries” to “be crowned with glory” under the hands of the “children of Ephraim” in Zion (see D&C 133:26–34), and will eventually go back to inhabit the lands of their original inheritance in Israel.
4. Gentiles will be gathered and numbered with the house of Israel. (See Isa. 11:10; Isa. 55:5; Isa. 56:6–8; Isa. 60:1–11; Mal. 1:11.) Those who are not naturally of the lineage of Israel are received into the house of Israel by adoption when they accept the gospel. They are then counted the same as if they had been born as literal seed of Israel. (See Abr. 2:8–11.)
5. When the tribes of Israel and Judah are gathered to their own lands, they will unite into one kingdom again and will no longer be two nations. In that condition they will enjoy great prosperity. (See Isa. 11:13; Jer. 3:18; Ezek. 28:24–26; Ezek. 37:21–22; Amos 9:14–15.)
6. Israel will be given “a new heart” and the Lord will reestablish his covenant with them. This will not be fulfilled totally until after the Lord’s return. (See Isa. 12:1–6; Jer. 31:31–34; Ezek. 11:17–20; Ezek. 37:21–28; Ezek. 39:23–29; Hosea 2:14–23; Hosea 3:4–5.)
Events related specifically to the house of Judah
3. A temple will be built in Jerusalem before the Second Coming. (See Isa. 2:1–5; Ezek. 40–48; Micah 4:1–2.) Ezekiel gives a very detailed description of the temple and many of the services to be performed there.
4. Water will come from under the Jewish temple and will flow to the Dead Sea, causing it to become healed—sweetened, or made fresh. (See Ezek. 47:1–12; Joel 3:18; Zech. 14:8.) Joseph Smith said this would take place before the Second Coming. (See Teachings, p. 286.)
7. The Lord will come to fight for Judah. He will stand upon the Mount of Olives, and by a great earthquake will preserve the Jews from destruction and will overthrow the opposing armies. (See Ezek. 38:18–23; Ezek. 39:1–7; Joel 2:32; Joel 3:9–17; Zech. 12:9; Zech. 14:2–9.)
9. Israel will burn materials from the destroyed army for seven years. The beasts of the field will participate in the “supper of the great God” (Rev. 19:17–18) and devour the carcasses of the slain (see Ezek. 39:4, 8–22).
10. The city of Jerusalem will be built up as a holy city never to be thrown down again. Many will see the Lord there. (See Isa. 60:13–14; Isa. 62:1–12; Isa. 65:18–19; Jer. 3:17; Jer. 33:10–11; Joel 3:18–21; Zech. 8:1–23; Zech. 14:16–21.)
1. The gentile nations will come to know the Lord’s power. He will fight against those who oppose his people. (See Isa. 14:1–4; Isa. 17:9–14; Isa. 49:24–26; Isa. 54:15, 17; Zech. 12:8–9; Zech. 14:3, 17–19.)
2. The nations of the world will be cast down. (See Dan. 2:44; Dan. 7:9–14; Jer. 46:28.) There are many examples in the Old Testament where judgments and destructions heaped upon wicked nations anciently may also be considered as types or foreshadowings of the destruction of wicked nations in the last days. (See Isa. 13:1–22; Jer. 25:15–38; Nahum 2:1–13; Zeph. 1:1–18.)
The Lord’s coming
1. An appearance at Adam-ondi-Ahman will precede the Lord’s coming in glory. (See Dan. 7:9–14, 21–22, 26–27.) This appearance will be at a great priesthood meeting at which the Lord’s leaders from all ages of the world will be assembled. Accounting will be made for stewardships and keys will be turned back to Christ, prior to his assuming his rightful position as Lord over the whole earth. (See Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1946, pp. 287–91; Teachings, pp. 122, 157–61, 167–68.)
2. The Lord will come suddenly to his temple. (See Hag. 2:6–9; Mal. 3:1.) This prophecy probably has a multiple fulfillment. The Lord already has come to his temple in this dispensation. (See D&C 110:1–10.) He will also appear in a temple in Jerusalem (see Hag. 2:6–9) and the New Jerusalem in America (see D&C 42:35–36.)
3. The Lord will appear as deliverer to the Jews before his appearance to the world. (See references under “Events related specifically to the house of Judah”; see also D&C 45:48–53.)
4. The Lord will descend in majesty and power as king over the earth. (See JST Ps. 24:7–10; Isa. 40:4–5, 10; Isa. 63:1–6; Isa. 66:15–16.) This is the great appearance in which all the world will see him together.
6. There will be great physical changes upon the earth in the last days and associated with the Second Coming. (See Ps. 18:6–9; Isa. 2:10, 19–21; Isa. 10:17–19; Isa. 13:9–13; Isa. 24:1–4, 6, 18–23; Isa. 40:4; Isa. 64:1–3; Joel 2:30–31; Joel 3:15–16; Micah 1:3–4, 6; Hag. 2:6.) At that time the earth will be made ready for the Millennial reign.
7. Christ will bring to pass the resurrection of the dead. (See Job 19:25–26; Isa. 25:8; Isa. 26:19; Ezek. 37:1–14; Dan. 12:2; Hosea 13:14.) At the time of Christ’s coming, celestial souls will come forth. Afterward others will be resurrected in their proper order. (The reference to resurrection in Ezekiel 37 [Ezek. 37] may properly be interpreted to have application to the literal resurrection of the body as well as to the resurrection or renewal of Israel as the Lord’s people.)
Zion in the last days
2. Work for both the living and the dead will contribute to the building up of Zion. (See Isa. 42:6–7; Isa. 61:1; Obad. 1:21; Mal. 4:5–6.) Joseph Smith taught that baptisms for the dead fulfilled the words of Obadiah wherein he referred to saviors on Mount Zion. (See Teachings, p. 223.)
3. Zion will be established in the earth, and the world’s affairs will be administered from two great world capitals—Jerusalem in the land of Israel and the New Jerusalem in America. (See Isa. 2:2–3; Isa. 52:7–10; Micah 4:1–3.) See also Doctrines of Salvation, 3:66–71.
7. During the Millennium, the Lord’s Spirit will be poured out. Righteousness will prevail. Enmity, sorrow, and death will cease. The earth will be full of the knowledge of God, and all nations will bow before God and worship him. (See Isa. 2:4; Isa. 11:5–9; Isa. 12; Isa. 65:17–25; Jer. 31:34; Hosea 2:18; Joel 2:28–29; Micah 4:3–5; Hab. 2:14; Zeph. 3:9.)
Many other specific items about the last days can be learned by prayerfully studying the Lord’s word. President Harold B. Lee indicated that we do not need to go to any other source than the scriptures to be properly informed concerning the last days. (See Ensign, Jan. 1973, p. 106.)