Woe to the Outcast

February 14, 2009 | 12 comments

Marginal groups get into the Second Coming. We contemplate with pleasant savagery the haves and the snobs getting smashed. “Kings shall see that which they had not considered.” “Bottom rail top dis time.”

(We don’t talk as much about the Second Coming of Christ as we used to. Maybe Mormons are more mainstream.)

But the scriptures seem to think that the Second Coming is more than a revolution, more than the circulation of elites. The lovely one read me 2 Nephi 15:15 this morning:

And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled.

A mean man means a poor man and an unimportant man. At the day Christ will crush both the outcasts and the insiders, each and every one he puts under his foot.

Yet we are to pray, ‘Thy Kingdom Come.’

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12 Responses to Woe to the Outcast

  1. greenfrog on February 14, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Perhaps it’s because I’m in the middle of reading Joseph Campbell’s Hero w/ 1000 Faces, but the description of the results of the Second Coming that you reference from 2 Nephi sound to me an awful lot more like the results of personal transformation of the individual than they do divine coercion of another.

    If that’s a useful way to consider Second Coming scriptures, then perhaps the Second Coming can be understood as an internal experience of transformation (being born again, becoming a new person, etc.) rather than as a visit by divine law enforcement.

    At least, that would make better sense to me of praying, ‘Thy Kingdom Come.’

  2. Adam Greenwood on February 14, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    The Isaiah chapter I’m quoting is about the Lord wasting a vineyard (Israel) because it didn’t yield fruit. Like most of the other Second Coming scriptures, this one doesn’t really describe a therapeutic Second Coming unless it shock therapy you have in mind.

    One other possible interpretation besides mine (that the rot of mankind runs deep into all classes and stations in life) is that God often acts on people as nations and kindreds–and if the nation is rotten, our individual righteousness won’t save us from the general rout.

  3. mlu on February 14, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Isn’t it possible to know that one is rotten oneself and still long for some cleansing fire to come? Can’t even the rotten have higher desires than mere self-preservation?

  4. Eric Russell on February 15, 2009 at 3:19 am

    More posts with the tag hauteur, please.

  5. Julie on February 15, 2009 at 9:20 am

    I grew up in an area that was a unique combination of marginalized and “extreme” Latter-day Saints. People who-in the 70′s-moved to Missouri to “live off the land” and be “close to Zion”. It was my impression that many of these people felt marginalized by society (and even the mainstream church) and looked forward to the Second Coming so they could finally say “see, I was right along…neener neener”. Honestly, that attitude creeps me out. While I look forward to the time when Christ will reign on the earth and we will be free from the rot and sin that does permeate our current world, I feel that I should be looking forward to each new day and the opportunity it brings for me to strengthen my relationship with my Savior, become a better person, and serve my fellow brothers and sisters. If I am doing those things and my heart is in the right place, then I don’t have to worry about who is going to get their grand “come-uppance” at the last day….I am too focused on strengthening my own weaknesses…knowing that the Lord in His perfect mercy and justice will be the ultimate righteous judge and I don’t have to take on that role. I am simply called to love and leave the judging to Him and his authorized servants on the Earth. How grateful I am to not have THAT responsibility and I am always amazed at why someone would want to carry that burden around with them unnecessarily.

  6. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 15, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Everyone needs to be humble, not just “the other guy” is the real message there. The second coming isn’t just a time the the other guys get justice, we need to remember that we need to repent as well.

    Not a bad warning.

  7. Adam Greenwood on February 16, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    I feel that way, for one.

    Eric Russell,
    Yes, m’lord.

  8. quin on February 17, 2009 at 12:24 am

    While a lot of the “vineyard” scriptures can be applied to both ancient and modern “Israel”, this one seems more directed at ancient Israel and their scattering after the Lord’s “first” coming…at least to me.

    What marginal group do you consider yourself a part of that contemplates the smashing of the “haves and snobs” Adam?

    *Loved Julie’s answer BTW*

  9. Mark D. on February 17, 2009 at 1:38 am

    This seems like a relevant passage:

    Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light. (Amos 5:18)

  10. quin on February 17, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Mark D.

    One of the cross references to Amos 5:18 is Isaiah 5:19 and to those who doubt the existence of the Messiah and/or His second coming. These are they of the “I’ll believe it when I see it” crowd and for them there will be no light or joy or peace at His return. They will know only darkness and weeping and destruction on that day that is both great and terrible.

  11. Mark D. on February 17, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Quin, that is a nice theory, but one I think is internally unsupportable. Amos 5:18 specifically refers to those who “desire” (“long for” in the NIV) the day of the Lord.

    The most obvious reason why the day of the Lord should not be longed for is that it is prophesied to be a day of great judgment upon the wicked. Redemption from bondage is one thing, looking forward to the punishment of others is sadistic. If anything one should hope that they have time to repent before such an event.

  12. quin on February 18, 2009 at 12:58 pm


    I said “one of” the references, not all of them. I understand that Amos is chastising Israel for seeking vengeance more than they seek the Lord, but Israel is steeped in wickedness at this time and if the Lord’s second coming were to have happened at that time they would have been punished just as much (or more) than their enemies.

    God had repeatedly punished Israel at this point and they still had refused to return to Him. They had become so hardened against the prophets and the law that they had corrupted the very definition of “God” until their focus was on His revenge rather than His redemption. (A key reason many Jews did not accept the Savior when He lived on Earth)

    It’s also the reason that when He DOES come again-this time in fury and justice-that many of them WILL realize that He walked among them anciently and that their ancestors had refused Him. In other words “They’ll believe it when they see it”-or believe when they see Him come in power and might.

    If you tie the references together and apply them to our day, between Isaiah and 2 Peter and Amos-you see a similar attitude. Since God has not avenged the innocent yet and allows wickedness to flourish, either He does not care or He does not exist at all-so why seek after such a God? If one shows up that does destroy all our enemies, THAT will be the one I’ll devote myself to.

    On the other hand, I think it’s possible to long for the Lord’s return without necessarily looking forward to the punishment of others. Supposedly the days of tribulation are shortened due to the “prayers of the righteous”. At the deepest roots of justice and repentance lies the reality that those who experience severe punishment at the Lord’s second coming are those who CHOSE it by rejecting redemption outright. The repentance that “saves” is linked to proper baptism and covenants and those who have participated in them are expected to be constantly repenting and striving to be worthy of the blessings that accompany them because they love and honor the Lord, not because they wish to escape punishment.


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