Groundhog Day (or, I Know When Judgment Day Is)

groundhog-dayFor 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

  1. what are you waiting for? []
  2. And yes, I know my “Spiritualized” version of this principle would have made Parley P. Pratt hopping mad in his Voice of Warning days. []

2 thoughts on “Groundhog Day (or, I Know When Judgment Day Is)

  1. David,
    I agree with your assessment of how the doctrine of the “last days” or the “Second Coming” should affect us in our daily lives. Every day should be lived as if it were Judgment Day, no question.
    I do need to disagree, however, with your overall perspective regarding the Last Days. For me, there is a very simple explanation for why so many groups throughout history have thought that they were living in the Last Days (as you noted). If we accept the perspective that the Scriptures give us of revelation, then we know that God has often given to mankind through revelation the overview of the Earth’s history from beginning to end. Since the beginning of Time, people have known how the history of the world is supposed to wind up — at a time of great evil and destruction, God is supposed to come and intervene, judge the nations, save the righteous and destroy the wicked, and bring an era of peace and harmony.
    Again, if we accept the perspective given to us in Scripture, this sequence of eschatalogical events has been known from very early on. If theories regarding the New Year Festival are correct, it appears that the early Israelites regularly remembered/depicted this expected vision of history in their annual festivals. However, we can assume that very few, if any, would have had a correct idea regarding when exactly these events, in the ideal/eschatalogical sense, would ultimately be realized. God never says when, precisely, it will happen, but we’ve always known that someday it will.
    From this POV, it is not hard to comprehend why every time the Jews or Christians found themselves in an especially desperate situation, they hoped that Judgment Day would be nigh. The fact that they were wrong because they expected that Day to come before it was, in fact, time doesn’t mean that the day will never come.
    From your post, I can’t decide whether you are suggesting that the Second Coming is never going to happen or that we just shouldn’t be so worried about the specific date, because no one really knows (and those who try to guess have always been wrong). Whichever it is, you seem to feel that expecting the events prophesied for the End Times to occur should not be anyone’s priority. I personally feel that it is important to watch the “signs of the times”, as Jesus plainly directs his disciples to do in Matt. 24. Christ explained, in clear terms, that there are certain things that are to happen before he returns. I don’t see any way, if you believe the Scriptures, to get around the idea of a literal Second Coming with certain events, some rather general but some quite specific, that will happen before that day. These are the things to be watching out for.
    Obviously, there can be the natural tendency to see every war, earthquake, or meteorite shower to be a sure sign that the end is nigh, but there are more specific expectations that need to be fulfilled and that we should be looking for. If we dismiss the whole notion because the hopes of some (who, like all of us, did not know God’s timetable) have been disappointed, we must ignore so much of the Scriptures, and, in particular, the words of modern scripture and modern prophets on the topic.

  2. David L, thanks for your thoughts.

    My post wasn’t designed to concretely express opinions on a future actual event. It was actually very quickly written, and I was going for the “likening” aspect that I do believe can be applied to all, whatever their degree of belief in a historical event. Which appears to be the thing you do agree with.

    I do want to clarify that yes, I I do believe there is an end to wickedness planned, with an era of peace ushered in by the presence of the Lord. I certainly believe in God, and in the reality and divinity of Christ.

    But I admit, more and more, that it appears to me to that the Last Day is something we are being guided to actualize and initiate here and now, through divine guidance. That we are being called to not just wait for a Millennium Paradise to be ushered in, and for God to kill all bad people to make restitution, but for us to work towards creating such a world and eradicating the true sin of the world through proper application and practice of The Gospel of Christ, and seeking to continuously be led by living revelation to assist in bettering and furthering our understanding of that Gospel. The principle of “Pray like it’s all up to God, then work like it’s all up to you?”.

    I’ve come to ask myself, “What if the Second Coming is the arrival of a fully sanctified People of the Lord – the Church – the Body of Christ (In the Temple, we’re all taught and trained and prepared as christs)? What if this is the revelation that will be granted to us when, through the spirit of the Lord, this has been accomplished? What if we are currently in the process of preparing and lifting up society – and ourselves – to meet the Lord in this way?”

    But then again, maybe that’s spiritualizing nonsense, and the Son of God will literally descend in a cloud, with all of the righteous living (and dead) literally rising up to meet him in the air while the rest are left behind and burned by celestial fire.

    But I honestly don’t know either for sure.

    For me, however, right now, I need to just apply the practical understanding, with the humility of acknowledging I may be totally wrong, but with Hope in the nature of God as a loving Father, who recognizes that I’m faithfully trying to work things out the best I can according to my current understanding of His will, applying the experiences, gifts, and knowledge He has given me.

    Either way, I do believe that we are in the Last Days, and we are called, as a Church, to prepare the world to meet the Lord. I just am not confident in any interpretation of the details of how all that will end up, or what that all actually means.

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