I suspect that the doctrine of Three Watches is difficult for some people to believe for many reasons.
One is because the concept of the literal return from the dead of Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and others of the first laborers of the last kingdom before the second coming in glory, would be such a huge undeniable evidence that the restored gospel is true, that it would take away from the test of faith for the rest of the world.
I have speculated from time to time whether Joseph and Sidney would be taking a high profile stance or a low profile, behind the scenes, stance, when they return.
I can see it taking place either way.
Here is a description of how Brigham Young sees it happening. As usual, I don’t necessarily agree with him… but I find his remarks facinating-
“How long will it be before the resurrection commences again? I know not, but I am proud to believe that it is not long; I am happy to believe that the resurrection of the last days is at hand. Who will be raised? The Saints—those who sleep in Jesus; those that have manifested to the Father, to the Son, to the holy angels, and to all their acquaintances upon the earth, that they believe in God, and acknowledge His hand in all things, and have served Him according to the best of their ability. Will Jesus come? Yes.
We will suppose a case. Let this congregation be prepared to receive a visit from the Son of Man; suppose our hearts are sanctified before the Lord, or we have sanctified the Lord God in our hearts, and we are met here to worship Him, to praise Him, where we are enjoying the society of each other, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, secluded from the rude gaze and confused bustle of the world, retired from all the business transactions of human life, with the doors closed, and Jesus comes into our midst, casts off the vert from our eyes, as he did from the eyes of the two disciples that journeyed from Jerusalem, for they did not know him until he broke bread at supper—suppose he appears in our midst, and rends the veil from our eyes; we shall know Him: he says, “Here are the prints of the nails in my hands, here is the place where my side was pierced; look at them, my brethren and sisters, for I am he.” Every eye will be upon him, and every heart will love him. He remains with us for a time, and he is gone.
We spread abroad upon the earth, and bear testimony of what we have seen. I ask, who will believe our testimony? None, unless the Lord designs to reveal it to them, by an holy angel, or by the manifestation of His own person. We may testify of it until we drop in the grave, to no purpose, unless the Spirit manifests it to them; no person can possibly know it unless God makes it known to him.
This is an item of doctrine I feel to impress upon the minds of this people continually, viz., to live in the light of the Spirit of God, so that every man and woman may have revelations for themselves; for the Spirit of the Lord can instruct you, that you can know for yourselves.
Will the Saints arise from the dead?
Who will know it?
But a few.
When the resurrection commences, I say but few will know it; and allow me to inform you, when you have seen Joseph, and Hyrum, and Father Smith, and many others, risen from the dead, and you Elders go abroad preaching, you will not tell the world of their resurrection, for they will not believe it.
You may testify that father Smith has arisen, that Joseph and Hyrum again possess their bodies; that they again live in the flesh, and they will laugh you to scorn, and persecute you to the death, if they have the power, for your testimony’s sake.
Will the Saints rise from the dead before the world is converted?
You may despair of ever seeing all creation converted to the Lord Jesus, or to the faith of the holy gospel.
Will you see the resurrection?
Yes: you will be in it, and enjoy it; you will be in the first resurrection.
Will the world believe it, and know of it?
They will not.
Zion will be redeemed, the great Temple of the Lord will be built, whereupon the glory of the Lord will rest, and a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night; the Saints will be gathered from all nations, and will walk into the temples of God, to do the work of redemption for their dead, and saviors will be upon Mount Zion to save the house of Esau.
But will the nations know of it?
They will not.
And when the Lord reigns King of nations as he does King of Saints, the inhabitants of the earth will not distrust but that it is the power of some great one, that it is the plans of wise men brought into action.
Thus they will be governed and controlled, and overruled, and led by the principles of the holy Priesthood, and they will never mistrust but that it is the doings of wise men at the head of a powerful nation, schooled in governmental affairs, who know to control their own nation, and then bring into subjection their neighboring nations, until the whole earth has become subject to them.
They will not know that it is the Savior who is ruling King of nations as He does King of Saints. A great portion of the inhabitants of the earth will never mistrust but that it is the effects of the wisdom of men.“