For those who haven’t seen it,1, in the movie Groundhog Day , no-good Phil finds himself living one particular day over-and-over-and-over in an infinite loop. First, he was disoriented. Then he started having a little too much fun with it. Then he got depressed, and kept trying to kill himself to get out. He was tired of the pointless rat-race where he couldn’t progress, where everything was meaningless. It wasn’t until he stopped focusing on living his repetitious day for himself, and dedicated his recurring days in preparation for complete selfless service and betterment of himself (through bringing joy to others for their own sake) that he was ready – and able – to progress.
He stopped living hedonistically, he stopped trying to Get Out, he stopped even focusing on getting to Tomorrow. He focused on developing what he needed to do to make that Day the most meaningful and beneficial Day ever.
In the back of his mind, he probably assumed that this selfless day would just be one more of an infinite loop. That Day was all that mattered. He knew the lives he helped and served would probably be reset at the end of the night, that no eternal good would come from it.
But then Tomorrow really did come. The day showed who he had become. And that’s what made the difference.
To Phil, Judgment Day was always Today. The End of the World was at the end of every night. And tomorrow never came, until, finally, it did.
And in many ways, that’s how I view the doctrine of the Second Coming, and the Judgment.
Former Day Saints?
Historically, I actually have never had real interest in specifics of so-called End Times prophecies, and even less in contemporary interpretations given to signs of them. Even as a Latter-day Saint.
There. I’ve said it. Why do I feel this way?
Since even before the life of Jesus of Nazareth, apocalyptic-minded Israelites saw each massive war and each epoch-defining occurrence or disaster as a sign that the End was right around the corner, and the Day of the LORD (and the divine retribution which is what they meant by the term Restitution of All Things) would occur.
- The Qumranites (Dead Sea Scrolls people) viewed themselves as Holy ones of the Last Days (Latter-day Saints!).
- The first generation of Christians believed the End would come in that generation, and then re-adjusted their understanding when that didn’t happen. They were ‘Latter-day Saints’, too.
- And in this dispensation, most of those contemporary with Joseph Smith thought that they were THE generation.
There really isn’t such a thing as people who viewed themselves as “Former Day Saints”. As long as apocalyptists were writing about an End of Days event, it was right around the corner for them.
At The Door. Like your Front one. Now. About to Knock. And wake up your baby.
So then what do I make of all the End of Days rhetoric in the scriptures? Do I take it seriously? What do I feel we’re supposed to ‘do with it’?
I do take it seriously. But as I see it, the most important (and practical) doctrinal principles to think about concerning the End of Days don’t come when we view it as being a single calendrical day in the vague (but definitive!) future that is rapidly approaching day by day by day. I think this misses the point.
Rather, to me, It looks like the lesson has been that we are always to view such an End Game as being ever imminent, and to live as if the events were – as all scriptures and prophets ancient and modern present it - ‘at the door’. At the door probably means whatever is there isn’t going to stand around waiting for a few days or years before ringing the doorbell, or knocking. There, at the door, ready to be In Your Face. Like our Missionaries. *grin*
Frankly, If the Lord were to show up today, I think he’d look at the people waving signs telling people he was coming, and wondering why they weren’t actually getting things ready, and seeing to their duty of making the world a better place (which, for the record, I feel most of our Missionaries really are striving to do, and the camp they would be categorized in – not the sign wavers).
The duty of being be a Christ, a Savior, a builder of the Ideal Kingdom of Zion today.
I guess that’s why End Times and Second Coming talks and interpretations of ancient scriptural ideas in light of current events concerning a calendrical Day of the Lord That’s Coming Soon For Real This Time – even from General Authorities (!) – don’t really interest me.
Because Judgment Day comes every night as I make an account in my evening prayers.
How did I do at building up Zion today? Did I do any good in the world today? Did I help anyone in need? Did I cheer up the sad, make someone feel glad? Was I good husband, and father? Was I a good employee?
If I do get a tomorrow to do more, what should I do differently that would be more productive, and beneficial to to my family and the world? If I had the day to do over (like Phil did), what would I have done differently? And can I apply this to the next day – if I get one?
To me, that is the Doctrine of the Coming of the Lord that I take extra seriously, and believe we are to apply – and live – on a daily basis.
That it does happen every night. But we’re often lucky to get a reprieve, and another chance to keep striving at doing some good, and fulfilling our purpose of making the world a better place – which makes us better in turn.
And that’s why attempts at date-setting or even pointing out signs of some vague future date don’t interest me.
Because I already know when it’s coming.
For me, it’s coming Tonight.
What does the doctrine/principle of the Second Coming/Judgment Day practically mean for you today?2