What Made the Five Virgins Wise?
The Single Most Important Thing You Can Do to Prepare for the Bridegroom
Hello! This is the Latter-day Disciples Podcast, where we share empowering and fortifying truth to help you boldly live the gospel, recognize the signs of the times, and prepare for the return of our Savior, Jesus Christ. In every episode, you can expect to gain insight on the unique opportunities and responsibilities of living in the last days. You will learn to see the world through a spiritual lens as we observe current events, and what undoubtedly will come to pass. And above all else, you will feel more tangibly your own divine identity and the call you have been given to participate in the preparation of the world. I’m your host, Meghan Farner. Thank you for joining us.
The Dichotomy of the Latter-days
So with all that being said, it’s no surprise that there is a very stark dichotomy of attitude towards the topic of last days, especially among believers, among those of us who have a knowledge of some of these events that are going to take place. You have people like me, this topic has always fascinated me, it’s always captivated me. I remember sitting in Sunday School, learning about the last days for the first time. That earthquake, particularly, that seems to be one of the signs that we fixate on. Hearing about that earthquake, I remember the people sitting next to me being like, “This is terrible, we hate this. We don’t want to go through that.” And I’m sitting there, and I’m like, “But how cool would it be to live through that? How amazing would it be to get to the other side of that, where Christ is, and where He has come? How incredible would that be?”
And then you have people on the other side of the spectrum, right? The other kids in that classroom, perhaps a little bit more sane than I am who really struggle with this topic. Whether it be from feelings of fear, or feelings of already being overwhelmed, so how can we possibly add more to our already very full plates, or maybe they just recognize that it’s easier to be positive about life, and about the future if you’re kind of blissfully ignorant. So we have this strong dichotomy of opinions about the topic of the last days.
However, there are two things that I truly believe that we are all in agreement with. Number one, We are going to see Jesus. Now, whether or not we’re in the flesh when that happens, when He comes to His temple in the New Jerusalem, when He saves the Jews in Jerusalem, when He’s crowned King of the whole earth, whether or not we have the same bodies, and we live to see that, that’s TBD for all of us, but regardless, we know we are going to see Him. And the number two thing that we can all agree on is we all want to be ready to meet Him. We want to be prepared to bend our knees and confess Him as the Son of God, with joy and rejoicing in our hearts, and not with regret. We want to be able to answer Him when He asks, because He will, that we did everything we could to usher Him in. We did His work, His way in His name. We want to be caught up to meet Him, and we want to be comfortable when we are caught up to meet Him.
So then the question becomes, “‘Kay, how do we do this?” Especially when we have these differing opinions and attitudes towards these events, and how do we do this when we know it’s going to require so much from us? This is a question that we’re going to come back to probably every episode, and we certainly can’t talk about it all at once. But for now, and for this, the very first episode, I want to set the tone of this podcast, meaning the whole of this podcast, not just this podcast episode, I want to set the tone by sharing one thing, one single thing, the most important thing that we can do, that I believe will literally make the difference between whether or not we are ready for Him when He comes. And the good news is that our success has very little to do with scripture mastery, with having a year plus supply of food storage and water, or even looking really closely at the events that we know are going to transpire. All those things are important, but our success is not as dependent on those things, as they are in this one thing that I am going to share. And the key is found in “duh-duh-duh” drum roll…The Parable of the Ten Virgins.
So How Do We Build a Relationship with Our Savior?
So how do we do it? Well, good news! It’s the seminary answers, should be very familiar to all of us. We get to know our Savior through prayer, through scripture study, through service, through obedience, through repenting and using the Atonement, through gratitude. These are the same things that fill our lamps. So because we know our Savior, even a little bit, even if we just know that He is the Son of God, and we use that knowledge to prepare us, and make us choose to do these other acts, these things are the things that help us to know Him better. So it’s a symbiotic relationship. We know Him a little bit, so we choose to follow Him, and learn more of Him, and then we know Him a little bit more. So we choose to learn more about Him, and it keeps going. We become more and more familiar with Him, and our relationship is continually strengthened.
President James E. Faust gave a talk in October of 1976, and he said that, “The influence and teaching of the Messiah should have a transcendence over all other interests and concerns in our lives. We must constantly be reaching upward for the riches of eternity for the kingdom of God is within us.” How does this change things for you? Does this help you to remember that prayer, and scripture study, and going to the temple are not ends unto themselves? They are there so that we can learn about our Savior, so that we can deepen our relationship with Him. And how would it change your practice, your worship, if you remembered that, and were intentional about every time you got on your knees, and every time you opened up the scriptures, and every time you pondered in your heart if you had the goal in mind of becoming better acquainted with the Savior? I think that’s really powerful, and something that we all can work on, for sure.
So what are some of the side implications? What do we gain from this deepened relationship with the Savior? Well, the first thing is we’re going to gain courage. And don’t we need it? [chuckles] Looking at the things that lie ahead, we all are in need of a little extra courage. In the same talk, James E. Faust said, “…we are facing difficult times. We must be courageously obedient. My witness is that we will be called upon to prove our spiritual stamina, for the days ahead will be filled with affliction and difficulty. But with the assuring comfort of a personal relationship with the Savior, we will be given a calming courage.” So powerful, I love it.
… we are facing difficult times. We must be courageously obedient. My witness is that we will be called upon to prove our spiritual stamina, for the days ahead will be filled with affliction and difficulty. But the assuring comfort of a personal relationship with the Savior, we will be given a calming courage.
James E. Faust
One other thing we can expect as we deepen our relationship with the Savior is a knowledge of our own divinity. Something else we are in desperate need of if we are to achieve what we need to achieve before He comes again. Elder Faust said, “Having such a relationship can unchain the divinity within us and nothing can make a greater difference in our lives as we come to know and understand our divine relationship with God.”
Ok Meghan, if this is all true, what does it mean? Well, how can it change your attitude? Does it? Does it change your attitude towards the Second Coming? If you were to deepen your relationship with Christ, and fill your lamps and be blessed with that courage, and that knowledge of your own divinity, what could get in your way? What would stop you from boldly looking at the signs of the times in your every day life, and acknowledging them, and keeping your eyes on the Savior and choosing to prepare? Could fear stop you? Could the adversary stop you if you had an ingrained knowledge of the fact that you are a child of God with divine potential, and eons of experience and a bright future? I don’t think anything could get in your way. I don’t think you would let anything get in your way. I think you would choose, as the five wise virgins did to do whatever it took to be there and to be ready when He comes again. I hope that we will all get to this place where we are willing to sacrifice and be uncomfortable, and do the spiritual work that it takes to look at the signs and prepare with all eyes on Him until He comes again.
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Signs in Real Time
Okay, we’re going to move on to our next segment, which is called Signs in Real Time. You ready for this? We’re going to be taking a look at the ancient prophecies that have been given about our day and I want to compare them. I want to compare them to what we are seeing in the world right now. Full disclosure, this isn’t always going to be happy. This is not always a fun exercise. But, if you stick with me, I promise you’ll learn something, first off. And secondly, I can promise that I will leave you with something that will uplift you. This is meant to be empowering. I believe that it is crucial for us to have our eyes wide open, and to see the world through a spiritual lens, and to be able to discern what is happening in the world around us. If we want be able to accurately measure the times that we live in, and prepare, and be looking for the Savior, we have to be awake. So that’s the goal here.
For our segment today, we are going to Revelation 9: 21. So John, the Revelator, when he was an outcast, had a vision of all of history basically. It went from one end of Earth-life, to the other. And the bulk of it is focused on our time, on the last days, and the events that are going to be transpiring. And in chapter 9, verse 21, John discloses the four sins that are going to be the most prevalent, of which the people are not going to repent. That will be characteristic of the last days. I’m going ot go ahead and read it, ready? “Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” Okay, so let’s break it down. Let’s talk about each one, and what we’re seeing, and what we need to be aware of.
So murder. Taking this from Pew Research. the US murder rate rose 30% between 2019 and 2020. The largest year increase in more than a century, possibly ever. (Because the records are not as reliable the further back they get.) So thirty percent increase in murder rate from 2019 to 2020. Now the research, as I’m recording this, has not been published for between 2020 and 2021, obviously 2021 is not over yet, but early indicators suggest that the murder rate is continuing to trend in an upward direction. If we want to look outside of what is just considered strictly murder, we could also talk about state sanctioned activities such as abortion, which has cost over 62 million lives since 1973, which is absolutely tragic. And this is just specific to the United States. If we wanted to pan out and look more worldwide, the data would be consistently rising, the same as what we’re seeing here. So that’s number one, murder is number one.
Next one, sorceries. Well Meghan, I mean witchcraft is kind of a thing, and you know, some people practice animal sacrifices for weird things. And that’s all true, right? And that certainly has indications here. But sorceries, really you need to look at the Greek word for sorcery to get a little bit more insight. And that word is pharmakeia, which had reference to withcraft, but also had reference to poisoning, and administering drugs. So the word pharmacy and pharmaceutical are derived from this Greek word, pharmakeia. Provisional data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics indicate that there was an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States during the twelve month period ending in 2021, which was an increase of about 28.5%. Isn’t it interesting that the murder and the sorcery statistic is an increase of almost 30%? I don’t know, I just find that interesting for some reason. Any, that’s encompassing overdose deaths from opioids, from synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl), psycho-stimulants such as methamphetamine, cocaine, and then also including deaths from natural and semi-synthetic opioids such as prescription pain medications. There are some major cities that are seeking to establish “drug-safe zones” where users could go shoot up in a supposedly quote-unquote secure location with healthcare workers on stand-by in case they overdose, which, to me, indicates that this trend is only going to increase. There’s almost a “state sanctioned” use of illegal drugs if we’re going to be taking those sort of steps. But I think the interesting thing about this sin of sorcery, I think it has more to do with where we are dependent. Are we dependent on material things, on things of this world? Or are we dependent on God? And I think that we could have a whole discussion, and we will in the future, about the word of wisdom. Things that we can do, things that we need to do better to make sure our dependency is only on God, and on the Savior.
Okay, next one. Fornication. Again looking at the Greek. The Greek root of this word is porneia. Obviously, this is also where pornography is derived from. I think it’s pretty well understood that pornography is rampant. That it is evil. That it has pernicious effects on those who view it, and devastating effects for those who are affected by those who view it. Speaking more to the society at large, this leads to all sorts of terrible practices, such as objectifying women (and girls especially), increase in violence and in abusive behaviors, and to the encouragement of practices of sex trafficking and pedophilia. All of these things are so present right now. I think that that’s what you should be taking away from this. Is that we are living in the times that John saw.
Last one, theft. You know, I was talking with a friend about this segment theft is the one that you are just like, ‘Huh, that’s not what I would have guessed.’ The other three, maybe with the exception of sorcery, but murder and fornication, those are very obvious. Right? You would expect to be on this list, but theft is really the one that you’re like, ‘Hmmm, one of these doesn’t seem to belong.’ But it is was one that we are seeing an increase of. We’re seeing an increase in terms of property theft. San Francisco, this year, has seen an 88% increase in larceny and theft. In the course of a year, 88%! That’s insane. And many cities across the United States can boast similar rates. Similar increases in theft related crimes. Obviously robbery, looting, theft, they all kind of fall under that category. I think that this is just indicative of that there is a lack of respect for personal property. We talk about personal property in terms of the Constitution, and that is listed as an unalienable right given to us by God. And we see that that’s true. God respects personal property. Even, and especially in systems such as the Law of Consecration, which is another thing that we’ll talk about. Personal property is respected. You have private ownership. There is no communal ownership of property, and lands, and things. There is something about ownership. Maybe it has something to do with accountability; I think it could have something to do say with the Parable of the Talents. And about how God gives us things and He expects us to take them and make more. And you can’t really do that unless you have property, unless you have ownership of the talents that He’s given you. But whatever it is, property is something that is respected and acknowledged by God, and the trend that we are seeing is that that is being trampled on here in the last days.
Okay, so what’s the point Meghan? What do we need to do about this? Well first off, we don’t participate in these things. We do our best to avoid opportunities where perhaps we could be a victim. We repent if we are guilty of some of these things. And most especially, we are here to observe, to acknowledge, and keep our eyes on the Savior. None of this is good. We don’t celebrate any of this. But, we do celebrate the fact that it is indicative of the times in which we live, and that it means the Savior is coming.
“A Personal Relationship with the Savior” James E. Faust, October 1976. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1976/10/a-personal-relationship-with-the-savior?lang=eng
“Terror, Triumph, and a Wedding Feast” Jeffrey R. Holland, September 2004.
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