Old Testament Lesson 48: The Great and Dreadful Day of the Lord

1. Zechariah and Malachi prophesy of many events of the last days.

Malachi 3:1. Who Was the Messenger Sent to Prepare the Way of the Lord, and Who Was the Messenger of the Covenant?

‘One of the messengers sent to prepare the way of the Lord at His first coming was John the Baptist. John’s mission was performed in the spirit and power of the priesthood of Elias(see Luke 1:17). Elias is a name for a forerunner, one who goes before or prepares the way for someone or something greater. In that sense the Aaronic Priesthood is the priesthood of Elias because it prepares and qualifies individuals for greater blessings. Joseph Smith explained: “The spirit of Elias is to prepare the way for a greater revelation of God, which is the Priesthood of Elias, or the Priesthood that Aaron was ordained unto. And when God sends a man into the world to prepare for a greater work, holding the keys of the power of Elias, it was called the doctrine of Elias, even from the early ages of the world.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 335–36.)

Joseph Smith was also an Elias in that he was a forerunner, one who prepared the way, who laid the foundation for the Second Coming through the restoration of the gospel.

In the meridian of time the way was prepared by John for the Messenger of the Covenant Himself to come and bring the greater blessings (see Matthew 3:1–3, 11–12). He who was mightier than John and followed after him to baptize with fire and the Holy Ghost was Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He is called the Messenger of the Covenant because He mediates the gospel of salvation unto men. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained: “Our Lord is the Messenger of the Covenant. (Mal. 3:1.) He came in his Father’s name (John 5:43), bearing his Father’s message (John 7:16–17), to fulfil the covenant of the Father that a Redeemer and Savior would be provided for men. (Moses 4:1–3Abra. 3:27–28.) Also, through his ministry the terms of the everlasting covenant of salvation became operative; the message he taught was that salvation comes through the gospel covenant.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 488.)

When He comes to earth a second time, He will make more than one appearance before He comes in the clouds of heaven for all flesh to see Him together (D&C 88:93101:23). At least one of those appearances includes a sudden visit to His temple, yet to be built, in Jackson County, Missouri. Elder McConkie stated:

“Malachi recorded the promise, speaking of latter-day events, that ‘ The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple.’(Mal. 3:1.) Certainly the Almighty is not limited in the number of appearances and returns to earth needed to fulfill the scriptures, usher in the final dispensation, and consummate his great latter-day work.

“This sudden latter-day appearance in the temple does not have reference to his appearance at the great and dreadful day, for that coming will be when he sets his foot upon the Mount of Olivet in the midst of the final great war. The temple appearance was fulfilled, in part at least, by his return to the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836; and it may well be that he will come again, suddenly, to others of his temples, more particularly that which will be erected in Jackson County, Missouri.

“In this connection it is worthy of note that whenever and wherever the Lord appears, he will come suddenly, that is ‘quickly, in an hour you think not.’ (D. & C. 51:20.) His oft repeated warning, ‘Behold, I come quickly’ (D. & C. 35:27), means that when the appointed hour arrives, he will come with a speed and a suddenness which will leave no further time for preparation for that great day.” (Mormon Doctrine,pp. 693–94.)’ (Old Testament Institute Manual)

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Zechariah 10:1–12. Follow the True Shepherd

‘Jesus Christ is the true shepherd of our souls (see John 10:7–15). He has control over the elements of nature and the power to save us eternally. Still there were those who preferred to rely on false shepherds. They turned to soothsayers and idols for rain. But those who do will find themselves without a real shepherd (see vv. 1–2). Those who follow Christ, on the other hand, will find a God who cares for His people (see v. 3), who uses them to carry out His purposes in the earth (see vv. 4–5), and who will restore both Judah and Ephraim to their rightful place before the Lord (see vv. 6–12).’ (Old Testament Institute Manual)

Zechariah 12:2-3 Jerusalem

‘The Middle East has been at the intersection of human history so many times! Yet in our time the words of Zechariah are especially descriptive, saying that Jerusalem is to be “a cup of trembling” for “all the people round about” and “a burdensome stone for all people” . (Neal A Maxwell, General Conference, April 1988)

Hence, the need to keep our eyes on more than a few leaves of the fig tree in order to know when summer is nigh (see  Matt. 24:32 By analogy, it is one thing to notice strong ocean breakers crashing against the shore, heralding another oncoming storm, and quite another to discern the powerful movements on the ocean’s quake-jarred floor foretelling a terrible tidal wave.

2. Malachi teaches about the blessings that come to those who pay tithes and offerings.

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Malachi 3:10-12 The law of tithing

‘What a marvelous law! He who has not only the power and the means to bless His children temporally and spiritually but also the desire to do so, has provided to us the key to those blessings that we both need and desire. This key is the law of tithing. Indeed, as stated by President James E. Faust: “Some may feel that they cannot afford to pay tithing, but the Lord has promised that He would prepare a way for us to keep all of His commandments. To pay tithing takes a leap of faith in the beginning. … We learn about tithing by paying it. Indeed, I believe it is possible to break out of poverty by having the faith to give back to the Lord part of what little we have.” [“Opening the Windows of Heaven,” Liahona, Jan. 1999, 67; Ensign, Nov. 1998, 59.] My brothers and sisters, we have but to obey the law.’ (Daniel L Johnson, General Conference, October 2006)

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3. Malachi prophesies of Elijah’s return to the earth to restore the keys of the sealing power.

Malachi 4:5-6 Turn the heart of the fathers to the children

‘This priesthood makes eternal families possible. It allows me, a son, to turn my heart to my father, who passed away last year, and to be calm in my hope through the Savior that I will see him again. This priesthood allows me, as a father, to turn my heart to our two children who died as infants and to be calm in my hope through the Savior that I will know them, and they will know I was their earthly father as I look into their eyes and tell them I love them. It is this priesthood which has allowed me to see, in the holiness of the temple, how the power of godliness is manifested to all people who—after exercising faith in Christ, repenting of their sins, and searching fervently for happiness—come to make sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father and receive His holy ordinances that bind on earth as well as bind in heaven.’ (Octaviano Tenorio, General Conference, October 2007)

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