Question: Will members of the church be saved from major calamities and caught up in the air to meet the Savior?
Answer: Isaiah predicts that the Lord comes as Savior only to those who repent of worldliness and idolatry. To the remainder of humanity, he comes “as a thief in the night” (cf. 2 Peter 3:10; Doctrine & Covenants 45:19)—as the tyrannical king of Assyria. He is that end-time Antichrist who “gains the whole world” but “suffers the loss of his own soul” (Matthew 16:26–27):
“Hail the Assyrian, the rod of my anger! He is a staff—my wrath in their hand. I will commission him against a godless nation, appoint him over the people [deserving] of my vengeance, to pillage for plunder, to spoliate for spoil, to tread underfoot like mud in the streets. Nevertheless, it shall not seem so to him; this shall not be what he has in mind. His purpose shall be to annihilate and to exterminate nations not a few.” (Isaiah 10:5–7)
“He said, I have done it by my own ability and shrewdness, for I am ingenious. I have done away with the borders of nations, I have ravaged their reserves, I have vastly reduced the inhabitants. I have impounded the wealth of peoples like a nest, and I have gathered up the whole world as one gathers abandoned eggs; not one flapped its wings, or opened its mouth to utter a peep.” (Isaiah 10:13–14)
Scriptural patterns of the past show that it is the falling away of God’s people that precipitates these judgments overtaking the world. If his own people for the most part “walk no more with him,” then no one is left to prevent calamities from coming upon the rest of humanity for its wickedness:
“From the west men will fear the Lord Omnipotent, and from the rising of the sun his glory. For he will come [upon them] like a hostile torrent impelled by the Spirit of the Lord. But he will come as Redeemer to Zion, to those of Jacob who repent of transgression.” (Isaiah 59:19–20)
That “hostile torrent” is the end-time king of Assyria: “Therefore will my Lord cause to come up over them the great and mighty waters of the River—the king of Assyria in all his glory. He will rise up over all his channels and overflow all his banks.” (Isaiah 8:7); “He shall be stirred up against them in that day, even as the Sea is stirred up.” (Isaiah 5:30) These judgments come particularly upon the Lord’s self-entitled end-time people:
“Woe to the garlands of glory of the drunkards of Ephraim! Their crowning splendor has become as fading wreaths on the heads of the opulent overcome with wine. My Lord has in store one mighty and strong: as a ravaging hailstorm sweeping down, or like an inundating deluge of mighty waters, he will hurl them to the ground by his hand. The proud garlands of the drunkards of Ephraim shall be trodden underfoot.” (Isaiah 28:1–3)
Far from being caught up in the air to meet the Savior at his glorious coming, in other words, many will be caught up and ensnared by grievous afflictions. Only those who remove the stumbling blocks that separate them from him—their worldliness and precepts of men—will be prepared to meet him:
“Pass on, go through gates; prepare the way for the people! Excavate, pave a highway cleared of stones; raise the ensign to the nations! Jehovah has made proclamation to the end of the earth: Tell the Daughter of Zion, See, your Salvation comes, his reward with him, his work preceding him. They shall be called the holy people, the redeemed of Jehovah” (Isaiah 62:10–12); “For the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed and all flesh see it at once.” (Isaiah 40:5); “Your eyes shall behold the King in his glory and view the expanse of the earth.” (Isaiah 33:17).