THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES
President Ezra Taft Benson, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve. Excerpted from “Prepare Yourself for the Great Day of the Lord,” New Era, May 1982, 47–49 .
“The Lord has designated these days in which we live as the ‘times of the Gentiles.’ . . . The ‘times of the Gentiles’ refers to that period of time extending from when the gospel was restored to the world (1830) to when the gospel will again be preached to the Jews—after the Gentiles have rejected it. This is how the Lord explained it:
“‘And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel;
“‘ But they receive it not; for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men.
“‘And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.’ ( D&C 45:28–30 ; italics added.)
“We will know when the times of the Gentiles are approaching fulfillment by these signs:
“‘And in that day shall be heard of wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them, and they shall say that Christ delayeth his coming until the end of the earth.
“‘And the love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound.’ ( D&C 45:26–27 .)
“‘And again, this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come, or the destruction of the wicked’ ( JST, Matt. 24:32 ).
“Are we not witnessing the fulfillment of these signs today? The gospel is being extended to all nations which permit our missionaries to penetrate their countries. The Church is prospering and growing. Yet in undiminished fury, and with an anxiety that his time is short—and it is—Satan, that great adversary to all men, is attempting to destroy all we hold dear. . . . We constantly hear or read of wars and rumors of wars. Atheism, agnosticism, immorality, and dishonesty are flaunted in our society. Desertions, cruelty, divorce, and infidelity have become commonplace, leading to a disintegration of the family. Truly we live in the times of which the Savior spoke, when ‘the love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound.’
“The rejection of the testimony of the servants of God by the nations of the world will bring the consequence of greater calamities, for the Lord himself declared:
“‘For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.
“‘And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.
“‘And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them, for fear shall come upon all people.’ ( D&C 88:89–91 .)
“‘And there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land.
“‘But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die.
“‘And there shall be earthquakes also in divers places, and many desolations; yet men will harden their hearts against me, and they will take up the sword, one against another, and they will kill one another.’ ( D&C 45:31–33 .)
“The world will present a scene of conflict such as has never been experienced before. Still, men’s hearts will be hardened to the revelations from heaven. Even greater signs shall then be given to manifest the approaching great day of the Lord.
“‘And they shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath.
“‘And they shall behold blood, and fire, and vapors of smoke.
“‘And before the day of the Lord shall come, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon be turned into blood, and the stars fall from heaven.’ ( D&C 45:40–42 .)
“I realize this is an unpleasant topic on which to dwell. I take no delight in its portrayal, nor do I look forward to the day when calamities shall come upon mankind. But these words are not my own; the Lord has spoken them. Knowing what we know as His servants, can we hesitate to raise a warning voice to all who will listen that they may be prepared for the days ahead? Silence in the face of such calamity is sin!
“But to an otherwise gloomy picture there is a bright side—the coming of our Lord in all His glory. His coming will be both glorious and terrible, depending on the spiritual condition of those who remain.”