“Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:22–37,” The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual (2017)
“Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:22–37,” The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual
Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:
“False Christs! False Redeemers, false Saviors! Will there actually be men who will claim to fulfill the Messianic prophecies and who will step forth to offer their blood for the sins of the world? Is it possible that some will say, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; come unto me and be ye saved’? Or that others will profess to return in glory bearing the wounds with which the true Christ was wounded in the house of his friends?
“True, there may be those deranged persons who suppose they are God, or Christ, or the Holy Ghost, or almost anything. None but the lunatic fringe among men, however, will give them a second serious thought. The promise of false Christs who will deceive, if it were possible, even the very elect, who will lead astray those who have made eternal covenant with the Lord, is a far more subtle and insidious evil.
“A false Christ is not a person. It is a false system of worship, a false church, a false cult that says: ‘Lo, here is salvation; here is the doctrine of Christ. Come and believe thus and so, and ye shall be saved.’ It is any concept or philosophy that says that redemption, salvation, sanctification, justification, and all of the promised rewards can be gained in any way except that set forth by the apostles and prophets” (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man , 47–48).
The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44) warned: “When a man goes about prophesying, and commands men to obey his teachings, he must either be a true or false prophet. False prophets always arise to oppose the true prophets and they will prophesy so very near the truth that they will deceive almost the very chosen ones” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 203).
He also taught: “The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that we[re] sent of God they considered to be false prophets; and hence they killed, stoned, punished and imprisoned the true prophets, and they had to hide themselves ‘in deserts and dens, and caves of the earth’; and although the most honorable men of the earth, they banished them from their society as vagabonds; whilst they cherished, honored, and supported knaves, vagabonds, hypocrites, impostors, and the basest of men” (“Try the Spirits” [Editorial], Times and Seasons, Apr. 1, 1842, 744; punctuation and spelling standardized).
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles warned about false prophets and false teachers:
“Jesus cautioned several times that prior to His Second Coming, ‘many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many’ (Matthew 24:11). As Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is our duty to be watchmen on the tower, warning Church members to beware of false prophets and false teachers who lie in wait to ensnare and destroy faith and testimony. Today we warn you that there are false prophets and false teachers arising; and if we are not careful, even those who are among the faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will fall victim to their deception. …
“When we think of false prophets and false teachers, we tend to think of those who espouse an obviously false doctrine or presume to have authority to teach the true gospel of Christ according to their own interpretation. We often assume that such individuals are associated with small radical groups on the fringes of society. However, I reiterate: there are false prophets and false teachers who have or at least claim to have membership in the Church. There are those who, without authority, claim Church endorsement to their products and practices. Beware of such. …
“Therefore, let us beware of false prophets and false teachers, both men and women, who are self-appointed declarers of the doctrines of the Church and who seek to spread their false gospel and attract followers by sponsoring symposia, books, and journals whose contents challenge fundamental doctrines of the Church. Beware of those who speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets and who actively proselyte others with reckless disregard for the eternal well-being of those whom they seduce. Like Nehor and Korihor in the Book of Mormon, they rely on sophistry to deceive and entice others to their views. They ‘set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion’ (2 Nephi 26:29).
“Of such President Joseph F. Smith warned when he spoke of the ‘proud self-vaunting ones, who read by the lamps of their own conceit; who interpret by rules of their own contriving; who have become a law unto themselves, and so pose as the sole judges of their own doings’ (Gospel Doctrine, 381)” (“Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 62–63).
Elder James E. Talmage (1862–1933) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles cautioned Latter-day Saints not to be deceived by miracles that are performed by false prophets. After quoting Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:22, Elder Talmage said: “The invalidity of miracles as proof of divinely appointed ministry is declared in an utterance of Jesus Christ regarding the events of the great judgment: ‘Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.’ The Jews to whom these teachings were addressed knew that wonders could be wrought by evil powers, for they charged Christ with working miracles by the authority of Beelzebub the prince of devils” (The Articles of Faith, 12th ed. , 231).
After quoting Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:22, President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) defined the elect as “members of this Church” (Stand Ye in Holy Places , 384). Similarly, President Marion G. Romney (1897–1988) of the First Presidency said: “Now, those ‘who are the elect according to the covenant’ are members of the Church, so we ourselves are on notice to beware” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1956, 70; see also D&C 29:7–9).
President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) warned: “Let it not be forgotten that the evil one has great power in the earth, and that by every possible means he seeks to darken the minds of men, and then offers them falsehood and deception in the guise of truth. Satan is a skilful imitator, and as genuine gospel truth is given the world in ever-increasing abundance, so he spreads the counterfeit coin of false doctrine. Beware of his spurious currency, it will purchase for you nothing but disappointment, misery and spiritual death. The ‘father of lies’ he has been called, and such an adept has he become, through the ages of practice in his nefarious work, that were it possible he would deceive the very elect” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 376).
Concerning the prophecies of the last days, President Wilford Woodruff (1807–98) said:
“These things are about to come to pass upon the heads of the present generation, notwithstanding they are not looking for it, neither do they believe it; yet their unbelief will not make the truth of God of none effect; the signs are appearing in the heavens and on the earth, and all things indicate the fulfillment of the prophets … . Then why should not God reveal His secrets unto His servants the prophets, that the saints might be led in paths of safety, and escape those evils which are about to engulf a whole generation in ruin!” (Manuscript History of the Church, vol. E-1, p. 1729, josephsmithpapers.org; capitalization and spelling standardized).
The word troubled here is taken from the Greek throeo, meaning “to clamor” or “to be frightened.” The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that gospel knowledge “does away with darkness, suspense and doubt” and that “there is no pain so awful as that of suspense” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 224, 265).
Elder M. Russell Ballard taught:
“Living in these difficult times, brothers and sisters, requires each one of us to maintain a positive, hopeful perspective about the future. …
“… More and more people are expressing great alarm at what appears to be an acceleration of worldwide calamity. As members of the Church, we must not forget the Savior’s admonition: ‘Be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass.’ …
“My message to you today, my brothers and sisters, is simply this: the Lord is in control. He knows the end from the beginning” (“The Joy of Hope Fulfilled,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 31–32; see also 1 Nephi 22:17–19).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “‘If these false religious systems with their false teachers invite you to the desert to find Christ in a life of asceticism [strict self-denial], go not forth, he is not there; if they call you to the secret chambers of monastic seclusion [withdrawal from the world] to find him, believe them not, he is not there” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary , 1:648).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught: “All people shall see it together! It shall spread over all the earth as the morning light! … Surely this is that of which Isaiah said: ‘And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.’ (Isa. 40:5.) Surely this is that of which our revelation speaks: ‘Prepare for the revelation which is to come, when the veil of the covering of my temple, in my tabernacle, which hideth the earth, shall be taken off, and all flesh shall see me together.’ (D&C 101:23.) Surely this is that day of which Zechariah prophesied: ‘The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. … And the Lord shall be king over all the earth.’ (Zech. 14:5–9.)” (The Millennial Messiah, 419–20).
“The manner of the gathering, we are told, will be in the same miraculous and mysterious way as the gathering of eagles to a carcass lying in the desert—they appear suddenly and inexplicably in the four quarters of the sky and come together from vast distances to that single spot” (Hugh Nibley, The Prophetic Book of Mormon , 472).
The use of the word carcass makes one think of a dead and worthless body, but it may also refer to a structure or framework, which better fits its use in Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:27. This is supported by the language in the Joseph Smith Translation of Luke 17:37, “Wheresoever the body is gathered; or, in other words, whithersoever the saints are gathered, thither will the eagles be gathered together; or, thither will the remainder be gathered together.” Today, the framework, or body, of the Church is found throughout the world in stakes, wards, and branches, while the eagles symbolize the Saints and the continuing stream of converts who embrace the restored gospel and gather into the Church.
See also Doctrine and Covenants 45:26, 63 and 63:33–34. In accordance with these revelations, the Prophet Joseph Smith declared: “I will prophesy that the signs of the coming of the Son of Man are already commenced. One pestilence will desolate after another. We shall soon have war and bloodshed. The moon will be turned into blood. I testify of these things, and that the coming of the Son of Man is nigh, even at your doors” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 251).
President Harold B. Lee affirmed that the signs are now upon us:
“We are seeing the signs of our times as foretold by the prophets and by the Master himself. …
“Brothers and sisters, this is the day the Lord is speaking of. You see the signs are here” (“Closing Remarks,” Ensign, Jan. 1974, 128–29).
In 1992, concerning earthquakes increasing in number, Elder M. Russell Ballard said: “Recently I read a newspaper article that cited statistics from the U.S. Geological Survey indicating that earthquakes around the world are increasing in frequency and intensity. According to the article, only two major earthquakes (earthquakes measuring at least six on the Richter scale) occurred during the 1920s. In the 1930s the number increased to five, and then it decreased to four during the 1940s. But in the 1950s, nine major earthquakes occurred, followed by fifteen during the 1960s, forty-six during the 1970s, and fifty-two during the 1980s. Already almost as many major earthquakes have occurred during the 1990s as during the entire decade of the 1980s” (“The Joy of Hope Fulfilled,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 31).
The Prophet Joseph Smith told of a vision he had of the future: “I saw men hunting the lives of their own sons, and brother murdering brother, women killing their own daughters, and daughters seeking the lives of their mothers. I saw armies arrayed against armies. I saw blood, desolation, fires, etc. The Son of Man has said that the mother shall be against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother, etc. These things are at our doors. They will follow the Saints of God from city to city. Satan will rage, and the spirit of the devil is now enraged” (“Discourse, between circa 26 June and 4 August 1839, as Reported by Willard Richards,” 71, josephsmithpapers.org; capitalization, punctuation, spelling standardized).
The Prophet Joseph Smith later said: “I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, anguish and wrath and tribulation, and the withdrawing of the Spirit of God await this generation, until they are visited with utter desolation. This generation is as corrupt as the generation of the Jews that crucified Christ; and if He were here today, and should preach the same doctrine He did then, they would crucify Him” (Journal, Oct. 15, 1843, josephsmithpapers.org; capitalization, punctuation, and spelling standardized).
The Prophet Joseph Smith prophesied the following about missionary work: “Our missionaries are going forth to different nations, and … the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 444).
President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) explained that when the gospel is taken to all the earth, we can know the end is near: “This commission to take the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people is one of the signs by which believers will recognize the nearness of the Savior’s return to earth” (“Our Commission to Take the Gospel to All the World,” Ensign, May 1984, 43). Elder James E. Talmage wrote: “When such witness among the nations is made complete, ‘then shall the end come’; and the nations ‘shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory’” (Jesus the Christ , 777).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught: “When our Lord returns, there shall be—among the wicked and ungodly—such wailing and mourning as has never before been known on earth, for the summer will be over, the harvest past, and their souls not saved” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary , 3:439).
This is the great event that will wind up the latter days. Christ will come to establish an earthly kingdom over the earth for a thousand years (see Articles of Faith 1:10). “So great shall be the glory of his presence that the sun shall hide his face in shame” (D&C 133:49). “The presence of the Lord shall be as the melting fire that burneth, and as the fire which causeth the waters to boil” (D&C 133:41); “element shall melt with fervent heat” (D&C 101:25) and “the mountains [shall] flow down at [Christ’s] presence” (D&C 133:44).
At this time, the righteous Saints will be “quickened” and will join those “who have slept in their graves,” who will also be caught up to meet Christ “in the midst of the pillar of heaven” (see D&C 88:96–98). Christ will descend to earth “in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). With the coming of Christ, the millennial era of peace, harmony, and righteousness will begin. Satan will have “no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth” (1 Nephi 22:26).
President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) said: “Treasuring up his word is far more than merely reading it. To treasure it one must not only read and study, but seek in humility and obedience to do the commandments given, and gain the inspiration which the Holy Spirit will impart” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie , 1:305).