A reader writes:
"I have already learned the non-murderous people will need to seek refuge in the Rocky Mountains. Is that a common general direction the Lord is leading some people?"
First, I want to discourage anyone thinking that they should ask me where they should go. As I said very clearly in my last email, you need to seek God yourself. Go ask him. Put in the work. If you aren't willing to develop a relationship with God, it really doesn't matter where you are when things fall apart.
That being said, the Lord is and will lead people to different places.
There will be PLENTY of "murderous people" in the Rocky Mountains. [By the way--it is worth saying that you really don't know a person until you see how they act in the face of extreme duress. Don't fool yourself into thinking normal people can't do atrocious things. History is full of examples.] There will be plenty of righteous people in other places. I know of a man who God told to stay in a populated place on the east coast. He was shown the protection God would offer to him specifically as everything around him is destroyed. He will be safer in an unsafe place than those who decide without God to move to some place that seems like it will be safe. But this isn't about being safe (see below).
There is no central gathering place. There can't be. If you want to know how that goes, go read what happened when Joseph Smith tried to gather people for some proto-zion. That will happen EVERY time ANYONE tries to do that. That is not the way it is done. It's extremely sad that there are many who think that they will be able to make it work when Joseph and company could not, in spite of their being demonstrably less faithful than they were. I wonder what they imagine their secret ingredient to be. You may be asking yourself, "then why did God command them to gather?" Everything God commands is designed to lead his children to greater happiness, but don't be simple enough to think that the path is always directly to the outcome. There are many experiences designed by God to show you what you lack and must change before you are ready to have what you desire. The early saints desired Zion, but were not willing to pay the appointed price. Their failure was designed by the all knowing Almighty in order to show them what the true price was, and show them that they weren't willing to pay it. In all likelihood, neither are you. And the desolation will show you that. Incidentally, the book of Revelation very clearly states that the city of Enoch will not return until after the tribulation. Doesn't that imply that whatever Zion is, and however it comes to be, will not be complete until then? Those events are necessary. They are the training ground.
There can't be a central gathering place for the same reason that there isn't a single mansion in heaven where everyone goes. Everyone is different. The places the Lord leads people to aren't just places where they will be kept safe. In fact, most everyone will NOT be kept safe, even when they are led somewhere. What is coming will be so awful and complete that it will touch everyone. The fire singes even the green tree. There isn't a place where people will avoid the fire. That isn't the point. Imagine what it would be like to be able to truthfully say that you are so advanced in your faith that you couldn't learn anything from suffering the things that are coming. That would be a great place to be, wouldn't it. Can you say that? If not, why pretend that God is going to lead you to a place where you will be spared from the trials of the desolation? This does not mean that any and all suffering will help. The vast majority of suffering is not helpful.
The Lord knows precisely what each of us has to learn and where each of us have to be tested. If we submit to him and seek him to show us where to go, he will lead us into those places that have the experiences we need. That experience might include being completely backstabbed by those you are with, or losing your life or the life of someone you love, or slowly starving to death, or whatever the case may be. Those who are not willing to lose their life in obedience to God are not prepared, able, or worthy to receive it eternally.
The point is to develop full trust in God, no matter what happens and to go to the place God has specifically designed for you to have those experiences.