On March 18, 2020, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake, the strongest quake in Utah in nearly 30 years, occurred on a relatively small fault line near Magna, Utah. This “strongest” in a long time quake is really miniscule compared with much larger earthquakes and tsunamis often felt in Japan for example. In this Utah quake there were no casualties and fairly minimal damage.[1]

So, is this the end of the story?

It is not.

By far the most high profile damage from this “hardly worth noticing” earthquake occurred about ten miles away from the center of the quake. And “suddenly well worth noticing”: The trumpet and much of the right hand fell off the 12.5 foot golden statue of the Angel Moroni, 210 feet high up on the pinnacle of the Salt Lake Temple.[2]  

This statue of the Angel Moroni atop Temples throughout the world is a universal symbol of the modern Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ and the crucial translation of the Book of Mormon “by the gift and power of God.” [3]  

Here is a link to the Deseret News article.

I wondered:

Could this relatively small earthquake coupled with the damage to the Angel Moroni statue be one of the “earthquakes in diverse places,” (Mattthew 24:7) listed in scripture as Second Coming signs?

Further, could the major changes in the Church and the whole world in recent weeks somehow also be associated with this not very powerful earthquake? [4]

Unlikely; improbable; impossible?!

Watch Out for Interpretations of Last-days Signs NOT Guided by Living Prophets

A favorite well documented story from my research is one of the most powerful I have encountered about the need to follow our modern Prophet.

The account contrasts the Prophet Joseph Smith with Baptist preacher and Adventist William Miller in their interpretation of the Great Leonid Meteor Storm seen in the early morning of November 13, 1833 and witnessed by millions of people.

Joseph Smith prophesied beforehand the exact day when the meteor storm would light up the early morning sky with over 100,000 meteors per hour streaking across the sky. After witnessing the storm himself, Joseph Smith declared it to be a true sign and a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. However, he said, this storm was not the only night when the stars would fall from heaven preceding the Lord’s Second Coming.

Baptist minister William Miller also proclaimed this a true sign, and the only meteor storm that would come. He then calculated that the Lord’s Second Coming would happen by 1844.

Joseph Smith also sought for additional revelation from the Lord and the answer is recorded in section 130 of the Doctrine and Covenants. This answer, along with his study and prayer, motivated Joseph Smith’s strong negative response to the Millerites and the little success that they had when they visited Nauvoo,[5]

This “Great Disappointment” affected millions of Christians when the Lord’s Second Coming did not happen as Miller said it would.[6]

Just seeing how devastating a misinterpretation of last-days signs can be from the example of William Miller and his followers, then shouldn’t we turn to our living Prophets and Apostles when trying to understand these signs?

Nothing is a better example of one set of those signs than the notoriously unpredictable and very numerous earthquakes across the world—some of which are true signs that we need to pay attention to.

A Wonderful Time to Ponder?

Certainly, now would be a wonderful time to carefully ponder the revelations already given to the Church by Prophet, Seer and Revelator Russell M. Nelson and the other General Authorities. And, what a time for us to ponder the additional light and knowledge that will be given and explained in the upcoming general conference.[7]

Elder David A. Bednar and Elder Ronald A. Rasband leading a virtual tour of the Rome Italy Temple prior to its dedication in 2019. The apostles of the ancient Church are also depicted in the visitor’s center of the Rome Temple around the Christus statue. –“built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;” (Ephesians 2:20)
The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve at the dedication of Rome, Italy Temple.

Appendix: Why I was Motivated to Write about this Earthquake

I had just gotten out of bed and was getting ready for exercising at 7:09 a.m. MDT on March 18, 2020 when the earthquake struck. It was very noisy, windy and the house was shaking like the small microbursts and near gale-force winds we had occasionally felt in Cedar Hills before our move to Eagle Mountain. We are located about 35 miles from the center of the earthquake.

When the shaking stopped about a minute later, Rhonda and I were surprised that nothing had fallen off shelves or toppled in the house, even a few bookcases that were not well anchored at all.

One thing that puzzled me was a small three board 3D chess set that was set up as a kind of decoration on the half wall between the kitchen and living room. It had not toppled over, nor had any of the 32 pieces moved, toppled or fallen off.[8]

This puzzling feeling and how small the quake appeared to be at our home was one reason I wanted to write up this earthquake.

A small three board 3D chess set with pieces deployed—which was not toppled nor were pieces shaken off nor were they moved during the quake. [Picture and piece configuration from chess set distributor site.]

My Uncle Richard Davis was a water geologist who had spent his career mostly in the middle east, from Saudi Arabia to Iran to Libya, while being employed by the United Nations. My Uncle Dick, Aunt Dorothy and my two cousins, Brian and Greg moved to Orem, Utah as Uncle Dick retired from the UN. His last employment was in Bengasi, Libya during the tension and some battles between the US under President Reagan and Omar Kaddafi. Uncle Dick’s stories from Libya were amazing—and they were true. We were glad Uncle Dick got out alive and well. He was one of the last Americans to depart Libya.  

Uncle Dick had told us that the Wasatch Fault, along the Wasatch Mountain Range separated into segments from Brigham City to Nephi was a very unusual fault. It didn’t have 4 and 5 level earthquakes. It only had Richter scale 6.5 or bigger quakes every 300-400 years or so. The smaller faults like the Magna and West Valley City fault were the ones that would create lots of smaller quakes but would generate no higher than about the 5.7 quake level we just had on March 18.

So, one of the reasons I wanted to write up this earthquake was to explain why the biggest magnitude quake in 30 years was only 5.7 when the Wasatch Fault can create quakes much, much larger, and much more dangerous. I included some good materials and fault maps from the USGS.gov site.

I sent a message to Meridian that I wanted to write something on the earthquake and then spent the day trying to do something worth reading.

I found out the details of the Angel Moroni statue later in the afternoon and mentioned the fact that there was damage, but not details, along with other amazing things happening in the Church, nation and the world just in the past weeks. I was wondering if they too could be connected with this earthquake.

I then finished up with Elder Maxwell’s great quote about how the Lord does know everything about this and all quakes in spite of their randomness and unpredictable nature. And, we were able to get the article to Maurine Proctor by midnight to get this article posted on Meridian for March 19.

Since the March 18th article was put online, I finally found a picture showing the damage to the Angel Moroni statue. Wow, the trumpet and part of the hand holding the trumpet knocked off by a “randomness incorporated” relatively small earthquake only ten miles away! It seemed like a laser guided missile or Star Wars energy beam.

Beyond amazing; Beyond difficult; Beyond perfectly timed; Way Beyond!

So, in this follow up article (this one), I emphasized the damage to the statue as the key highly unlikely event with the fairly small earthquake somehow having caused the damage. I mentioned that many of the things in the Church, Nation and World lately were so unusual that perhaps some of them as well might have been linked with this “earthquake in diverse places” candidate sign of the Lord’s Coming. 

I then added a description of how William Miller had misinterpreted the “stars falling from heaven” sign whereas Joseph Smith studied, prayed and asked for and received revelation as to how to answer the Millerites and others asking about the timing of the Second Coming. The testimony of millions of people was sorely tested when Miller’s belief proved to be unfounded.

Then I ended the article with pictures of Elder Bednar and Elder Rasband giving the virtual tour of the Rome Temple showing the ancient apostles surrounding the Christus statue. And then, I added the picture of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve–also at the Rome Temple.

My plea and most important hope for the readers of the two articles:

Just seeing how devastating a misinterpretation of last-days signs can be from the example of William Miller and his followers, then shouldn’t we turn to our living Prophets and Apostles when trying to understand these signs?

Ronald P. Millett
End of Appendix 

[1]  “Angel Moroni Statue Tops Rome Temple,” newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org, 25 March 2017.

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/angel-moroni-statue-tops-rome-temple  ]

[2] “About Temple Square,” visitsaltlake.com, retrieved 3/28/2020.

https://www.visitsaltlake.com/blog/stories/post/10-fun-facts-about-temple-square/ ]

Daniel Burke, “Utah earthquake damages Mormon temple and knocks trumpet from iconic angel statue,” CNN.com, March 18, 2020.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/18/us/earthquake-salt-lake-temple-moroni/index.html ]

[3] Jamie Ross, “Salt Lake Temple Damaged After Utah Is Rocked by Biggest Earthquake in Nearly Three Decades,” thedailybeast.com, March 18, 2020.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/big-earthquake-reported-near-salt-like-city ]

““The Salt Lake Temple, which is undergoing a seismic upgrade, sustained some minor damage during Wednesday morning’s earthquake,” Daniel Woodruff, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told local newspaper Deseret News. “The trumpet on the Angel Moroni statue fell off, and there is minor displacement of some of the temple’s smaller spire stones. No workers were injured.”

“2020 Salt Lake City earthquake,” Wikipedia.org, retrieved 3/28/2020.

[   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Salt_Lake_City_earthquake ]

Trent Toone, “Utah earthquake causes Angel Moroni on Salt lake Temple to lose his trumpet,” Deseret News, March 18, 2020.

https://www.deseret.com/faith/2020/3/18/21185168/salt-lake-temple-angel-moroni-trumpet-lds-mormon-earthquake-utah ]

[4] Liesl Nielsen, “New guidelines issued for those picking up missionaries at Salt Lake airport,” ksl.com,

March 23, 2020.

https://www.ksl.com/article/46733680/new-guidelines-issued-for-those-picking-up-missionaries-at-salt-lake-airport  ]

“Salt Lake City has issued new guidelines for those picking up missionaries returning home to self-isolate after large groups of family and friends recently congregated at the Salt Lake airport. About 1,600 missionaries arrived at the Salt Lake City International Airport on Sunday after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that nonnative missionaries would return to their home countries and self-isolate before being reassigned to a domestic mission, thanks to the spread of COVID-19.”


“I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following: Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter.16 I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face. I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time.” D&C 130:14-17)

[6] “Great Disappointment,” Wikipedia.org, retrieved 3/28/2020.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Disappointment  ]

“The Great Disappointment in the Millerite movement was the reaction that followed Baptist preacher William Miller’s proclamations that Jesus Christ would return to the Earth by 1844, what he called the Advent. His study of the Daniel 8 prophecy during the Second Great Awakening led him to the conclusion that Daniel’s “cleansing of the sanctuary” was cleansing of the world from sin when Christ would come, and he and many others prepared, but October 22, 1844, came and they were disappointed.”

[7] “First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve at Dedication of the Rome Italy Temple,” churchofjesuschrist.org, March 10, 2019.

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/news/first-presidency-quorum-of-the-twelve-apostles-share-thoughts-about-rome-temple-dedication?lang=eng ]

Ronald P. Millett, “Multiple Prophecy Fulfillments: Our Need for a Modern Prophet and Seer,” September 25, 2017.

https://latterdaysaintmag.com/multimedia-tour-of-rome-temple-an-example-of-concentrated-spiritual-power/  ]\

“The spectacular Leonid meteor storm of 1833 over the United States was widely interpreted by Christian ministers as being a sign of the imminent Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith testified that there are multiple fulfillments of prophecy about both the sign of the stars falling from heaven and the coming of Jesus Christ to the earth. These multiple fulfillments make discerning the signs and events of the Lord’s coming much more complicated. The need for a modern prophet and seer to correctly interpret prophesies and their fulfillment is strikingly evident in this example.

“Last of the Signs … of His Second Advent”

“William Miller, an American Baptist preacher, whose teachings influenced many Christian denominations, preached that Christ’s “second advent” would come soon after the 1830’s. Ellen White, a cofounder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1863, described the 1833 Leonid meteor storm’s influence and aftermath on Miller.”

[8] “Strato 3 Level Chess Set,” ChessUSA, retrieved 3/28/2020.

https://www.chessusa.com/product/4C-003.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMItoze87C96AIVzcDICh3IYQ-7EAQYASABEgJKZPD_BwE ]