How can I understand the symbols used to teach about the Second Coming?

How can I understand the symbols used to teach about the Second Coming?

When the Savior and His servants taught about the Second Coming, they frequently used symbols and parables. We can deepen our understanding of the events leading up to the Second Coming as we learn how to interpret the meanings of these symbols.

Prepare yourself spiritually

What symbols and parables in the scriptures have helped you better understand the Second Coming? How have these comparisons inspired you to prepare for the Savior’s return?

Which symbols and parables about the Second Coming might interest the youth you teach? How can you help them recognize the fulfillment of these prophecies in the world around them?

Prayerfully study these scriptures and resources. What will help the youth understand the symbols and parables related to the Second Coming?

Matthew 13:24–30; D&C 86:1–7 (The parable of the wheat and the tares)

1 Thessalonians 5:2–8; 2 Peter 3:10–14; D&C 106:4–5; Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:46–48 (The Second Coming will come as a thief in the night)

Matthew 25:1–13; D&C 45:56–57; 63:54 (The parable of the ten virgins)

D&C 45:34–39; Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:38–39 (The parable of the fig tree)

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:49–54 (The Second Coming is compared to a lord visiting faithful and evil servants)

Dallin H. Oaks, “Preparation for the Second Coming,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 7–10

Comparisons and Object Lessons,” Teaching, No Greater Call (1999), 163–64

Videos: “They That Are Wise,” “Be Not Troubled”

Teaching in the Savior’s way

The Savior shared simple stories, parables, and real-life examples that made sense to those He taught. He helped them discover gospel lessons in their own experiences and in the world around them. How will you use parables and symbols to help the youth understand the Second Coming?

We Share

Video: “We Share”

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Make connections

During the first few minutes of every class, help the youth make connections between what they are learning in various settings (such as personal study, seminary, other Church classes, or experiences with their friends). How can you help them see the relevance of the gospel in daily living? The ideas below might help:

  • Ask the youth to make a list of gospel truths they have been learning and discuss how they relate to each other.

  • Invite the youth to read the quotation by President Boyd K. Packer about using comparisons in the section titled “Comparisons and Object Lessons” on page 163 of Teaching, No Greater Call. How can comparisons (such as symbols or parables) help us understand gospel principles? What comparisons from the scriptures do the youth know that teach us about the Second Coming?

Learn together

Each of the activities below will help the youth understand the symbols used to teach about the Second Coming. Following the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, select one or more that will work best for your class:

  • Invite the youth to read the scriptures in this outline that describe the parable of the ten virgins (or show the video “They That Are Wise”). Ask the youth to create two columns on a sheet of paper and label the columns “Parable of Ten Virgins” and “Second Coming” and individually consider the comparisons the Savior was making. Invite the youth to write components of the parable in the first column, such as wise virgins, Bridegroom, and oil, and write in the second column what these things represent about the Second Coming. If they need help, share with them “The Parable of the Ten Virgins” (Ensign, Mar. 2009, 48–49; Liahona, Mar. 2009, 20–21). Discuss together what they learned and what they are inspired to do after studying this parable.

  • Ask each of the youth to read the scripture references included in this outline in which the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is compared to a thief in the night. Ask the youth to discuss what they learn about the Second Coming. To whom will the Second Coming be like a thief? What do the scriptures say we can do to be prepared? Invite the youth to think of comparisons of their own that would describe the Second Coming and to share the comparisons with the class.

  • As a class, read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:49–54. Ask the youth to discuss the difference between the two servants. How are some people in our day like the evil servant? What were the consequences of the servants’ actions? Ask the youth to choose one of the scriptures in the footnotes of the verses and read it. Invite them to share any additional insights they learn about the comparison from reading these additional scriptures.

  • Ask the youth to imagine that a friend has expressed fears about the events that will precede the Second Coming. What would they say to their friend to comfort him or her? Show the video “Be Not Troubled,” and ask the youth to write down additional things they could share with their friend, including scriptures. Invite the youth to use what they learn to role-play comforting a friend who has concerns about the Second Coming.

  • Ask half of the class to read section III of Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s talk “Preparation for the Second Coming,” and ask the other half to read section IV. Ask them to identify and share the symbols related to the Second Coming that Elder Oaks refers to. What could these symbols represent? Give the youth time to write their own responses to the following questions Elder Oaks asks: “What if the day of His coming were tomorrow? … 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?” (Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 9).

Ask the youth to share what they learned today. What feelings or impressions do they have? Do they understand the parables and symbols about the Second Coming? Do they have any additional questions? Would it be worthwhile to spend more time on this topic?

Gospel study skills

Understanding symbols. To understand parables and symbols in the scriptures, the youth need to be able to recognize symbols, identify parts of the symbols, and interpret them. One way to recognize a symbol is to look for words such as like, likened, like unto, as, or as it were. The youth can then make a list of the parts of the symbol (such as oil, lamps, virgins, and the Bridegroom). To interpret the symbols, they can refer to other Church resources (such as Church magazines, conference talks, and other scriptures) and consider how the symbol helps them understand a gospel principle. Encourage them to do this whenever they encounter a parable or symbol in their personal gospel study.

Invite to act

Ask the youth what they feel inspired to do based on what they learned today. Encourage them to act on these feelings. What opportunities do the youth have to teach others about the symbols of the Second Coming?