Various religions have views on the end of life as we know it and the ushering in of an age of peace. In Islam, a day of judgment will be preceded by the coming of the “Mahdi,” who will rule for a period of time to set the world on a course toward the millennial age. With the help of Jesus, the Mahdi will rid the world of evil.
The Jews expect the Messiah to be akin to King David, a great conqueror and holy man who will usher in a thousand years of peace.
Most Christians expect a time of bitter tribulation as described in the Book of Revelation. A minority expect a rapture before the seven years of tribulation, during which the righteous will be taken up. The wicked will be burned at Christ’s Second Coming, which will begin His Millennial reign.
All of these faiths speak about “the righteous” and “the wicked,” with the righteous being saved and the wicked being destroyed. But who are the righteous, and who are the wicked? Many Christians believe that only those who have given themselves to Christ will make it through.
The Type in the Book of Mormon
Remember that Christ doesn’t judge as we do. As it says in 1 Samuel 16:7, “…for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” Thus, it could be difficult for us to look around and tell who is “righteous” and who is “wicked.”
The destruction that preceded Christ’s coming in the Book of Mormon gives us an idea of who will be spared in order to receive Him.
During the three days of darkness following horrible natural disasters, survivors, isolated and unable to move in the dark, had time for introspection.
…they were heard to cry and mourn, saying: O that we had repented before this great and terrible day, and had not killed and stoned the prophets, and cast them out; then would our mothers and our fair daughters, and our children have been spared…. And thus were the howlings of the people great and terrible (3 Nephi 8:25).
These were the more righteous of the people, those who had been spared. The resurrected Christ later appeared at the Bountiful Temple. After performing many miracles and teaching the people, He ordained twelve disciples to preach repentance and to baptize and organize the people. Then this happened:
And they were cast into prison by them who did not belong to the church. And the prisons could not hold them, for they were rent in twain.
And they were cast down into the earth; but they did smite the earth with the word of God, insomuch that by his power they were delivered out of the depths of the earth; and therefore they could not dig pits sufficient to hold them.
And thrice they were cast into a furnace and received no harm.
And twice were they cast into a den of wild beasts; and behold they did play with the beasts as a child with a suckling lamb, and received no harm (3 Nephi 28: 19-22).
What? Wait a minute.
The people who did these things were not members of Christ’s church, but they had been among the more righteous and thus saved from the destruction that preceded the coming of Christ. Really? These were righteous people?
But then look what happens:
And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land….they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God….and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God (4 Nephi, selected verses).
The people who tried to kill Christ’s disciples converted and never did fall away. They were like the people of Ammon, who…
…were also distinguished for their zeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end (Alma 27:27).
Bottom line: God will spare those He knows will convert and be faithful. It would be awfully hard for us to judge who those people might be. They will be of all faiths and no faith.
Living a Terrestrial Law
In section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord explains the standards of those who inherit the Terrestrial Kingdom (vs 71 – 80):
- Some die without law
- Some receive not the gospel in the flesh, but accept it in the Spirit World
- Some are not valiant enough in their testimony of Jesus to attain God’s presence
During the millennial reign of Christ, the earth will be in a terrestrial state, also called paradisaical, just as the Garden of Eden was. Only those who can abide at least a terrestrial law can live during that time. So, both terrestrial and celestial people.
This is another standard we can use to know who will survive into the millennium.
The “Fire” of Christ’s Coming
And it shall be answered upon their heads; for the presence of the Lord shall be as the melting fire that burneth, and as the fire which causeth the waters to boil (D&C 133: 41).
His glory is a consuming fire. The proud and rebellious are as stubble; they are burned and ‘left neither root nor branch.’ He sweeps the earth ‘as with the besom of destruction.’ He deluges the earth with the fiery floods of his wrath, and the filthiness and abominations of the world are consumed (Penrose, “Second Advent,” 583).
When the Lord comes in his glory, in flaming fire, that fire will both cleanse the vineyard and burn the earth. In that day, so intense shall be the heat and so universal the burning, the very elements of which this earth is composed shall melt. The mountains, high and glorious and made of solid rock, shall melt like wax. They shall become molten and flow down into the valleys below. The very earth itself, as now constituted, shall be dissolved. All things shall burn with fervent heat. And out of it all shall come new heavens and a new earth whereon dwelleth righteousness (McConkie,Millennial Messiah, 526–27).
When God says He will destroy the wicked by fire, it is Christ’s glory that is this consuming fire. Only those who are “quickened” to abide a terrestrial glory will survive it. Although these children of God will be of all sorts of beliefs, cultures, races, and ethnicities, during the Millennium, “…every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess before him.”