The following was a short talk given by a close friend of mine:
I'd like to talk about the big picture. Too often we get caught in the details of life and we don't see the big picture; the big picture of why we are here, why our eyes are opened and why we have such a burning desire to know the truth and serve the Savior.
We live in the end times, the last days. These are the last days of the end of the world. In reading Nibley's book, Approaching Zion, Nibley says there is only one thing is left to do, only one thing that needs to happen, and that's to gather to Zion.We read on page one in Approaching Zion, speaking about the 10th Article of Faith:
"Article 10 deals explicitly with our time and our space and sets forth the steps by which God intends to consummate the great latter-day work. What is the consummation of the great latter-day work? The Return of Christ to usher in the millennium. "
Nibley goes on to say:
There are five steps (and this is the order):
(1) the literal gathering of Israel;
(2) the restoration of the Ten Tribes (which is happening right now though we have no knowledge of it here);
(3) the building of Zion upon this the American continent: (and that will usher in)
(4) Christ's personal reign upon the earth; and
(5) the renewal of the earth in its paradisiacal glory.
So let's talk about this gathering. What is the purpose in gathering? and what was the object of gathering the Jews, or the people of God in any age of the world?
Page 307-8 of The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith says:
You have to have a temple for the Savior and the Hosts of heaven to return. You have to open a nexus point, a connection between heaven and earth for the Lord to return. So the whole purpose of gathering is to build a temple, open the heavens and summon the Lord and start the millennium.
In a blog post entitled How to Fail asks the questions:
· What if the Lord were to give the opportunity to build Zion?
· What if the Lord wanted it to happen now?
· What would be done differently than was done by those who went before and failed?
The post goes on to say how they failed how there were jarrings and contentions. We all know the story. And then concludes with this:
“It is easy to fail. Just gather people who will contend with each other and there will be failure EVERY time. It makes sense to try something new rather than repeat the pattern that will never work. First, provide an opportunity for those who are interested to display who they are, whether they can live peaceably with others. Once we know one another’s hearts then the Lord can gather only those who will avoid contentions, jealousies, strifes, envyings, and jarring. Like the pattern in Abraham, first men are “proven” and then they are gathered, or spared.
So let's talk about this gathering. What do we know about the gathering?
First off, you have to be invited. You just don't volunteer. You don't just show up. You have to have an invitation.
D&C 77: 9 -11 talks about the angels gathering the righteous."The angels to whom it is given power over the nations of the earth to bring as many as will come to the Church of the Firstborn."
And there is our sermon for today...as many as will come. Well, who wouldn't want to come? To answer that, the Lord gives us the story of the certain man who made a great supper.
Luke 14: 16-21, 24, 26
A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. ( So the context is the supper is ready, just come and come now.) And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
Why didn't the people who received the invitation want to attend? Business, family ties, etc. We look at these people and we think: "How foolish of them not to attend the party!" and we easily judge them.
But wait a minute. What if this was not just a party for an evening, but the Certain Man is asking you to come not for just for a couple of hours, but come permanently and live with him for good. Drop everything and come, and come to stay because you're not going back to your home. Remember the context...everything is ready, you are invited to come, and you are to come now.
What does that mean? To you men it means to abandon your job, everything you've worked for and built up, the people who depend on you, your retirement, your investments, everything you've worked so hard to make. To you women it means to abandon your friends. Abandon your family, say goodbye because you're not coming back. Can you leave your grandchildren? Can you leave your home and all your nice things? Can you leave all your comforts, your comfortable lifestyle? Can you just walk away?
The invitation is to leave everything you have and come, and come to stay, you are not going back. That's the invitation.
Now how excited are you about the invitation? Now how excited are you about receiving the angel or receiving the dream that summons you?
I wrestle with this terribly. My wife's a non-believer. I would have to abandon her and my helpless autistic son. Without me and my income...they are in poverty and would perish. Literally, without my income they are out on the street. I've spent 32 years with this woman. Hard to throw it all away, especially if my leaving would hurt my helpless, dependent son.
There must be an easier way, right? Surely the Lord makes exceptions. No...there is not an easier way. Christ anticipates my very dilemma in the very next verse when he says:
If any man (or woman) come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and spouse, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
There is no easier way.
So let's talk about the invitation.
Let's assume you get the invitation. The angel comes and delivers your invitation. Will you have the option to say at that point. "Wow...okay...let me talk this over with my spouse and I'll get back to you." Is that how it works?
No... it's a "go" or "no go" answer. You don't have the option to say: "Let me think about it and I'll get back to you." The window of opportunity opens and closes with the initial offer.
You don't get asked a second time. The Lord doesn’t beg you to join him. He doesn't sent the servant around the second time to pick up the indecisive. He offers and you either take him up on the offer or you don't.The point is you have to make up your mind in advance.
Why am I bringing all this up?
The reason I'm bringing up this unpleasantness is to say this: The time is growing short. All too soon this is going to get real. If a true messenger is starting to say stuff like this, then the time is getting short and this is going to be all too real very soon, and you will have to make the decision. Better to understand what you are getting into now, than to say: "Sure, I'll go," and then when reality hits and you understand the cost to then back out.
So that's the big picture. That's what faces us. We live in the end times - the last days. These are the last days of the end of the world. There is only one thing is left to do and that's to gather to Zion. We are to build the temple, receive the ordinances, open the heavens and summon the Lord.To do that, you need your invitation, and if and when the invitation comes you need to be willing to go.
In the original Greek, John 14:15 says: "If you love me, stand watch as a sentry awaiting my instructions." And then when the instructions comes, do it.