Preparing the church for the Second Coming of the Savior is an unmistakable priority of President Nelson.  When President Nelson speaks, we feel his love and concern for each member of the church.  But if we listen carefully, we can also hear a quiet urgency that time is short and there is much to do.  Left unsaid is the Savior’s refrain: “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

During the past year, as I have studied recent General Conference data, it has become clear that President Nelson is urging all of us to focus our effort on preparation for the Second Coming.  The following chart shows how frequently the Second Coming has been mentioned in recent conference talks:

This chart shows that over the past 50 years, the phrase ‘Second Coming’ has been consistently mentioned in 5.7% of all conference talks.  In the Nelson era, references to Second Coming have dramatically increased to 15% of conference talks.

In talks given by President Nelson prior to the Nelson era, he referenced the Second Coming in 16% of his talks.  Since becoming President, (the Nelson era) his references to the Second Coming have increased to 35%.  During the Nelson era, President Nelson has not given any talks specifically focused on the Second Coming.  Instead, he has given us consistent, staccato lightning bolts sprinkled in his talks.  Here are some examples (emphasis added):

  • Of course, the crowning jewel of the Restoration is the holy temple. Its sacred ordinances and covenants are pivotal to preparing a people who are ready to welcome the Savior at His Second ComingClosing Remarks – Oct 2019
  • We Latter-day Saints are not of the world; we are of covenant Israel. We are called to prepare a people for the Second Coming of the Lord.  Spiritual Treasures – Oct 2019
  • You will remember that I have invited the youth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to enlist in the Lord’s youth battalion to participate in the greatest cause on earth today—the gathering of Israel.  I issued this invitation to our youth because they are unusually gifted in reaching out to others and sharing what they believe in a convincing fashion. The cause of the gathering is an essential part of helping to prepare the world and its people for the Second Coming of the Lord. Witnesses, Aaronic Priesthood Quorums, and Young Women Classes – Oct 2019
  • Now, brethren, will you please remain standing and join with our chorus in singing all three verses of “Rise Up, O Men of God.”  While you sing, think of your duty as God’s mighty army to help prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord. This is our charge. This is our privilege. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.  Ministering with the Power and Authority of God – April 2018
  • I love you and thank you and now bless you with the ability to leave the world behind as you assist in this crucial and urgent work. Together we can do all that our Heavenly Father needs us to do to prepare the world for the Second Coming of His Beloved Son.  Sisters’ Participation in the Gathering of Israel – Oct 2018

In April 2020, while announcing the latest Proclamation to the World, President Nelson said this:

Now as we contemplate this significant time in the history of the world and the Lord’s charge to gather scattered Israel in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, we, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles, issue the following proclamation. Its title is “The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Bicentennial Proclamation to the World.”  Hear Him – April 2020

At the Worldwide Youth Devotional in June 2018, he made this statement:

Just think of the excitement and urgency of it all: every prophet commencing with Adam has seen our day. And every prophet has talked about our day, when Israel would be gathered and the world would be prepared for the Second Coming of the Savior. Think of it! Of all the people who have ever lived on planet earth, we are the ones who get to participate in this final, great gathering event. How exciting is that!   Hope of Israel – 2018

President Nelson’s emphasis on the Second Coming has also had an influence on other general authorities:

The above chart documents a dramatic increase in usage of the phrase ‘Second Coming’ in talks given during the Nelson era.  Clearly, President Nelson’s urgent enthusiasm for this topic has inspired several senior apostles to contemplate the Second Coming. 

In his talk, Preparing for the Lord’s Return – April 2019, Elder Christofferson said:

… the Spirit made clear to me that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is uniquely empowered and commissioned to accomplish the necessary preparations for the Lord’s Second Coming; indeed, it was restored for that purpose.

Elder Cook, in his talk, Great Love for Our Father’s Children – April 2019, said:

My dear brothers and sisters, this is a unique and pivotal time in history. We are blessed to live in the last dispensation before the Second Coming of the Savior. Near the commencement of this dispensation, in 1829, the year before the Church was formally organized, a beloved revelation was received, declaring that “a marvelous work” was “about to come forth.” This revelation established that those who desired to serve God qualify for such service through “faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God.” Charity, which is “the pure love of Christ,” includes God’s eternal love for all His children.

Gathering of Israel

In some of the references quoted above, the gathering of Israel is mentioned as a primary aspect of our preparations for the Second Coming.  With increased emphasis on the Second Coming, we should also expect increased emphasis on the gathering of Israel.

The following chart compares the emphasis placed on the gathering of Israel in each of the recent eras:

Since 1971, 6.6% (239 of 3628) of conference talks have mentioned the gathering of Israel.  In the Nelson era that number has risen dramatically to 20% of talks.

In October 2006, President Nelson gave an important talk on this subject titled: The Gathering of Scattered Israel.  In that talk, he said:

We share an enormous responsibility to be who the Lord wants us to be and to do what He wants us to do. We are part of a great movement—the gathering of scattered Israel. I speak of this doctrine today because of its unique importance in God’s eternal plan…

This doctrine of the gathering is one of the important teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Lord has declared: “I give unto you a sign … that I shall gather in, from their long dispersion, my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion.” (3 Nephi 21:1) The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is a sign to the entire world that the Lord has commenced to gather Israel and fulfill covenants He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  We not only teach this doctrine, but we participate in it. We do so as we help to gather the elect of the Lord on both sides of the veil.

In his Oct 2018 talk, Sisters Participation in the Gathering of Israel, President Nelson said:

You remember that last June, Sister Nelson and I spoke to the youth of the Church. We invited them to enlist in the Lord’s youth battalion to help gather Israel on both sides of the veil. This gathering is “the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on earth today”!

Other senior apostles are following President Nelson’s lead on this topic as well, as shown below:

In his talk, The Role of the Book of Mormon in Conversion – Oct 2018, Elder Shayne M. Bowen said:

A principal purpose of the Book of Mormon is to gather scattered Israel. This gathering gives all of God’s children the opportunity to enter into the covenant path and, by honoring those covenants, return back to the presence of the Father. As we teach repentance and baptize converts, we gather scattered Israel.

In April 2019, Elder Quentin L. Cook explained the importance of loving our fellowman in the gathering of Israel:

When it comes to gathering Israel, we need to align our hearts with this kind of love and move away from feelings of mere responsibility or guilt to feelings of love and participation in the divine partnership of sharing the Savior’s message, ministry, and mission with the world.

Sister Bonnie H. Cordon – April 2020 talked about the importance of being a good example:

My dear friends, why is shining our light so important? The Lord has told us that “there are many yet on the earth … who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.”  We can help. We can intentionally shine our light so others may see. We can extend an invitation.  We can walk the journey with those who are taking a step toward the Savior, no matter how halting. We can gather Israel.

Preparation for the Second Coming

The scriptures tell us that prior to the Second Coming that “… the whole earth shall be in commotion …” (D&C 45:26).  Further, “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another” (Matt. 24:10).   The past several months have brought these and other prophesies into clear focus. 

With scriptural prophesies being fulfilled and with the urgency that President Nelson is expressing regarding the Second Coming, it seems clear that we all need to make our own preparations a high priority in our lives.  The Parable of the Ten Virgins applies to us right now.  Now is the time for us to fill our lamps and to make sure that we are counted among the wise virgins when He comes.

Past issues of General Conference by the Numbers: April 2019October 2019March 2020, April 2020

This general conference data may be accessed at https://searchgeneralconference.com

Questions and comments are welcome at: [email protected]