“Unit 6, Day 2: Joseph Smith—Matthew; Matthew 24,” New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2016)
“Unit 6, Day 2,” New Testament Study Guide
Jesus Christ prophesied of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. He also revealed signs of His Second Coming and instructed the faithful to watch and prepare for that day.
- In your scripture study journal, write one or more questions you have concerning the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. As you study Joseph Smith—Matthew today, look for answers to the questions you wrote.
Joseph Smith—Matthew is Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 23:39–24:56. It is found in the Pearl of Great Price after the book of Abraham.
Read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:4, looking for the two questions the disciples asked Jesus. You may want to mark these questions in your scriptures.
In Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:5–20 the Savior addressed the first question—about when Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed. In verses 21–37 He answered the second question—about the sign of His Second Coming and the destruction of the wicked.
Read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:5–12, looking for signs relating to the destruction of Jerusalem.
Although Jesus said that His disciples would suffer during this time, He made an important promise that if we remain steadfast and are not overcome, then we will be saved. You may want to mark this truth in verse 11.
Remaining steadfast implies not being overcome by temptations and evil. In the scriptures, the word steadfast is sometimes paired with the word immovable (for example, see Mosiah 5:15).
The Young Men and Young Women general presidencies explained the meaning of the phrase “steadfast and immovable”: “What does it mean to be steadfast and immovable? To be steadfast is to be firmly fixed and not subject to change, to be firm in belief and determination, and to be loyal and faithful. Likewise, to be immovable is to be unyielding and incapable of being moved or diverted. Being steadfast and immovable in the gospel of Jesus Christ is committing to follow Him, thereby always abounding in good works” (“Steadfast and Immovable,” New Era, Jan. 2008, 8).
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave the following insight. Mark the characteristics he gave of “a person who is steadfast and immovable.” (You may want to write the words he used in the margin of your scriptures next to the word steadfast in Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:11.)
“The word ‘steadfast’ is used to suggest fixed in position, solid and firm, unshaken and resolute (Oxford English Dictionary Online, 2nd ed. , “Steadfast”). … A person who is steadfast and immovable is solid, firm, resolute, firmly secured, and incapable of being diverted from a primary purpose or mission” (“Steadfast and Immovable, Always Abounding in Good Works,” New Era, Jan. 2008, 2).
The word saved in Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:11 does not mean that we will be spared from all hardship in life.
Read the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith, and mark what it means to be saved: “It is a false idea that the Saints will escape all the judgments, whilst the wicked suffer; for all flesh is subject to suffer, and ‘the righteous shall hardly escape’ [see D&C 63:34]; … many of the righteous shall fall a prey to disease, to pestilence, etc., by reason of the weakness of the flesh, and yet be saved in the Kingdom of God” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 253).
In Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:13–20 we learn that Jesus warned His disciples to be ready to flee to the mountains and not return to their homes because Jerusalem would be attacked and destroyed. He prophesied that the tribulation of those days would be the worst Israel had ever seen.
In 70 A.D., approximately 40 years after Jesus spoke these words, the Romans laid siege to Jerusalem and killed more than a million Jews, and nearly 100,000 Jews were taken captive. The temple was destroyed, and not one stone was left on top of another—just as the Savior had prophesied (see Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:3). However, those who heeded Jesus’s warning safely escaped to Pella, a town about 50 miles northeast of Jerusalem (see Bible Dictionary, “Pella”).
How does the Jews’ experience illustrate the importance of remaining steadfast in obeying the Savior’s words?
Consider how obeying and following the living prophet in our day is as important as the Jews heeding Jesus’s warning.
Read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:21–23, looking for why the Lord revealed the signs of His Second Coming.
Notice that the Savior warned against “false Christs” and “false prophets” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:22). These terms refer to any person—in and out of the Church—who claims to speak for the Lord without authority or who promotes teachings that are contrary to the words of the living prophets. The phrase “the elect according to the covenant” in verse 22 refers to members of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Regarding these false Christs and false prophets, we read that “if possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:22).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave the following warning concerning false Christs and false prophets: “These false Christs will be the false religious systems of the world, and the false prophets will be the teachers and expounders of those systems. So profound and learned will be their doctrines, so great and marvelous their works … that the very elect will almost be deceived” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:647).
What are some things we can do to avoid being deceived, even by some who are members of the Church?
President Joseph F. Smith provided the following caution to Church members:
“We can accept nothing as authoritative but that which comes directly through the appointed channel, the constituted organizations of the priesthood, which is the channel that God has appointed through which to make known his mind and will to the world.
“… And the moment that individuals look to any other source, that moment they throw themselves open to the seductive influences of Satan, and render themselves liable to become servants of the devil; they lose sight of the true order through which the blessings of the Priesthood are to be enjoyed; they step outside of the pale [the boundaries] of the kingdom of God, and are on dangerous ground. Whenever you see a man rise up claiming to have received direct revelation from the Lord to the Church, independent of the order and channel of the priesthood, you may set him down as an imposter” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 42).
Read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:24–26, looking for what the Savior said about how He will appear at His Second Coming.
Read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:27–31, looking for signs that will precede the Second Coming.
List the signs:
Notice that not all of the signs are negative. According to verses 27 and 31, before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the Lord’s elect will be gathered and the gospel will be preached in all the world.
- In your scripture study journal, write about how this prophecy is being fulfilled today. Include ideas for how you could be a part of fulfilling this prophecy.
The Savior warned that in the last days “false Christs, and false prophets” would seek to “deceive the very elect” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:22). Read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37, looking for how we can avoid being deceived.
In your scriptures next to Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37, you may want to write this principle: If we treasure up the Lord’s word, then we will not be deceived.
Read the following account given by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Mark parts of the story that illustrate the principle taught in Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37.
“One of my fine missionaries who served with me when I was the mission president in Toronto [Canada] came to see me some years later. I asked him, ‘Elder, how can I help you?’
“‘President,’ he said, ‘I think I’m losing my testimony.’
“I couldn’t believe it. I asked him how that could be possible.
“‘For the first time I have read some anti-Mormon literature,’ he said. ‘I have some questions, and nobody will answer them for me. I am confused, and I think I am losing my testimony’” (“When Shall These Things Be?” Ensign, Dec. 1996, 60).
Have you, or individuals you know, experienced something similar to this former missionary? What counsel would you give to someone in this situation? Why?
Elder Ballard continued:
“I asked him what his questions were, and he told me. They were the standard anti-Church issues, but I wanted a little time to gather materials so I could provide meaningful answers. So we set up an appointment 10 days later, at which time I told him I would answer every one of his questions. As he started to leave, I stopped him.
“‘Elder, you’ve asked me several questions here today,’ I said. ‘Now I have one for you.’
“‘How long has it been since you read from the Book of Mormon?’ I asked.
“His eyes dropped. He looked at the floor for a while. Then he looked at me. ‘It’s been a long time, President,’ he confessed.
“‘All right,’ I said. ‘You have given me my assignment. It’s only fair that I give you yours. I want you to promise me that you will read in the Book of Mormon for at least one hour every day between now and our next appointment.’ He agreed that he would do that.
“Ten days later he returned to my office, and I was ready. I pulled out my papers to start answering his questions, but he stopped me.
“‘President,’ he said, ‘that isn’t going to be necessary.’ Then he explained: ‘I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.’
“‘Well, that’s great,’ I said. ‘But you’re going to get answers to your questions anyway. I worked a long time on this, so you just sit there and listen.’
“And so I answered all his questions and then asked, ‘Elder, what have you learned from this?’
“And he said, ‘Give the Lord equal time’” (“When Shall These Things Be?” 60).
- In your scripture study journal, record one way you could better “treasureth up [the Lord’s] word” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37).
Treasuring up the Lord’s word helps us avoid being deceived, and modern revelation warns us to “stand … in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come” (D&C 87:8). In addition to studying the scriptures to help us treasure up the Lord’s word, we can receive God’s words by standing in, or attending, holy places such as temples and chapels and working to make our homes holy places. Consider how being in these places can help you learn true doctrine and avoid being deceived.
The Savior ended this discourse by instructing His disciples how to treasure His word and be prepared for His Second Coming.
In the boxes provided in the following chart, draw simple pictures that illustrate the examples the Savior used to teach about preparing for His Second Coming. Then, under each drawing, write a truth you identified about preparing for the Second Coming.
From these examples we learn that only Heavenly Father knows when the Savior’s Second Coming will occur, and if we watch for the signs and obey the Lord’s commandments, then we will be prepared for the Savior’s Second Coming.
Review the truths identified in Joseph Smith—Matthew, and consider how these truths help answer the questions you wrote at the beginning of the lesson.
One of the best ways to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is by following the teachings of His modern prophets and apostles. Consider the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“What if the day of His coming were tomorrow? If we knew that we would meet the Lord tomorrow—through our premature death or through His unexpected coming—what would we do today? What confessions would we make? What practices would we discontinue? What accounts would we settle? What forgivenesses would we extend? What testimonies would we bear?
“If we would do those things then, why not now?” (“Preparation for the Second Coming,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 9).
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: If you were to meet the Savior tomorrow, what would you change today?
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: