Discuss this article or ask questions at the LDS.net Forums.

Armageddon

From MormonWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Jesus Christ Second Coming mormon
Armageddon usually refers to the "Battle of Armageddon," a prophesied war at the end of times just before the Second Coming of Christ.
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon (Revelation 16:16).
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision (Joel 3:14).

The center of this battle will take place in the Valley of Megiddo, in north-central Israel, in the southern part of Galilee, called in Greek, Esdraelon. The valley of Megiddo is about sixty miles north of Jerusalem and is a broad and fertile plain. Today it is extremely productive farmland. It runs from the Bay of Haifa on the northern coast in a southeast direction to the River Jordan and is fifteen miles wide at its widest point. It is flanked on the north by the Nazareth ridge and on the south by Mount Carmel, Mount Gilboa, and the hills of Samaria. The Valley of Megiddo was entered by a frequently-traveled trade route in ancient times, called the "Via Maris." Because the pass was a strategic place of defense, a fortified city was built at the entrance to the valley. The city was Megiddo, which in Hebrew means “the place of troops.” It was also known as Har-Megiddo or the “Mount of Megiddo.” In the English versions of the New Testament the name is rendered Armageddon. Battles have been fought there over the millennia by Egyptians, Assyrians, Israelites, Romans, Babylonians, European Crusaders, Arab Moslems, and modern Israelis.

Events Leading up to the Battle of Armageddon

Certain events are prophesied to take place before the battle actually begins:

  1. The house of Israel will be gathered to its homeland and Jerusalem and the nation will be rebuilt (Ezekiel 36:34; 37:21).
  2. The land of Israel will become productive (Ezekiel 36:8, 29-30, 34-35).
  3. The nation will be united, unlike ancient times when there was a Kingdom of Judah and Kingdom of Israel.
  4. Jerusalem will be the capital city.
  5. Judah will be a powerful nation.
  6. A combination of wicked nations and/or organizations will serve the devil and rise up against Israel.

Gog and Magog

The war will last 3 1/2 years, and all the nations of the earth will be involved in some way, whether for or against the nation of Israel. The forces of evil are called in the scriptures Gog and Magog. There are also references in the scriptures to a great and last battle after the Millennium between the forces of righteousness, led by Michael the Archangel (see Adam) and the forces of Satan, called Gog and Magog. Thus, both battles (before and after the Millennium) will engage the armies of Gog and Magog.

And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes (Ezekial 38: 16 (15-16).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “The prophecies do not name the modern nations which will be fighting for and against Israel, but the designation Gog and Magog is given to the combination of nations which are seeking to overthrow and destroy the remnant of the Lord’s chosen seed” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 298).

Ancient prophets described the army of Gog and Magog. Ezekiel described it as “clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords” (Ezekiel 38:4) and as coming like “a storm” and “a cloud to cover the land” (v. 9), having “many people” with him, “all of them riding upon horses [a symbol of power in war], a great company, and a mighty army” (v. 15). Daniel described the “king of the north” as coming with a “great army” which others have no “strength to withstand” (Daniel 11:13, 15) and as coming “like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over” (v. 40). Joel stated that the army would be the greatest army in the history of the world up to that point (Joel 2:2). He described it as being like a “fire” that devours the land, leaving what had looked like the “garden of Eden” before their coming as “a desolate wilderness” (Joel 2:3; see also Joel 2:2, 4–5). Joel also said that the army would be highly disciplined in warfare and virtually invincible: “When they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded” (Joel 2:8; see also Joel 2:7, 9). John the Revelator used the imagery of a cloud of locusts (vast numbers that bring great devastation) and described the army as having the “teeth of lions,” “breastplates of iron,” and “wings” that sounded like the “sound of chariots of many horses running to battle” (Revelation 9:8–9). The army was numbered “two hundred thousand thousand” (Revelation 9:16), having “breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone” and with “fire and smoke and brimstone” issuing “out of their mouths” (Revelation 9:17).

Bruce R. McConkie suggested that “it is not improbable that these ancient prophets were seeing such things as men wearing or protected by strong armor; as troops of cavalry and companies of tanks and flame throwers; as airplanes and airborne missiles which explode, fire shells and drop bombs; and even other weapons yet to be devised in an age when warfare is the desire and love of wicked men” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:503). [1]

Orson Pratt discussed the method by which this army will be recruited:

He will gather up millions upon millions of people into the valleys around about Jerusalem in order to destroy the Jews after they have gathered. How will the Devil do this? He will perform miracles to do it. The Bible says the kings of the earth and the great ones will be deceived by these false miracles. It says there shall be three unclean spirits that shall go forth working miracles, and they are spirits of devils. Where do they go? To the kings of the earth; and what will they do? Gather them up to battle unto the great day of God Almighty. Where? Into the valley of Armageddon” (Journal of Discourses, 7:189).

The Two Prophets

As the battle rages on, Jerusalem will be protected by two prophets who hold great power. John the Revelator gave the most detailed picture of these two participants. They are called the “two witnesses,” the “two olive trees” and the “two candlesticks” (Revelation 11:3–4). Latter-day revelation teaches that they are “two prophets . . . raised up to the Jewish nation” who will “prophesy to [them] after they are gathered and have built . . . Jerusalem” (Doctrine and Covenants 77:15). Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote,

“The two olive trees, and the two candlesticks [are] symbols of the two witnesses; meaning, perhaps, that as olive trees, they shall provide oil for the lamps of those who go forth to meet the Bridegroom; . . . and that as lamp stands they shall reflect to men that light which comes from Him who is the Light of the World." These prophets will have power to pronounce great judgments upon the earth (see Revelation 11:5–6). “They shall have power like Elijah who called down fire from heaven to consume his enemies, and who sealed the heavens that it rained not in all Israel for the space of three and a half years (1 Kings 17 and 18; 2 Kings 1), and like Moses by whose word blood and plagues lay heavily upon the Egyptians" (Exodus 7, 8, 9, and 10). [2]

Elder Parley P. Pratt wrote: “John, in the eleventh chapter of Revelation, gives us many more particulars concerning this same event. He informs us that after the city and temple are rebuilt by the Jews, the Gentiles will tread it under foot forty and two months, during which time there will be two prophets continually prophesying and working mighty miracles. And it seems that the Gentile army shall be hindered from utterly destroying and overthrowing the city, while these two prophets continue” (A Voice of Warning, p. 33).

Isaiah called these prophets “two sons” and said they were the only hope of deliverance for Israel because they would be “full of the fury of the Lord” (Joseph Smith Translation, Isaiah 51:19–20; see also JST, Isaiah 51:17–18).

John showed that eventually the two prophets will be captured and killed by the opposing army, and their bodies will be left in the streets of Jerusalem for “three days and an half” as the forces of evil engage in a great celebration over their death (Revelation 11:9; see also Revelation 11:7–8, 10). During the “three days and an half” that the prophets lie dead in the streets, the army will ravage the city of Jerusalem and the remaining population of Israel (Revelation 11:9). Then these two prophets will rise and join Christ at His coming.

The Fall of Jerusalem

Once the two prophets of the Lord are killed by the wicked hosts of Gog and Magog, Jerusalem will have no protection, except that which the Lord extends to righteous individuals.

For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city (Zecariah 14:2).
And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh (Luke 21:20).

Elder Pratt explained: “After a struggle of three years and a half, they [Gog’s army] will at length succeed in destroying these two prophets and then overrunning much of the city; they will send gifts to each other because of the death of the two prophets, and in the meantime will not allow their dead bodies to be put in graves, but will suffer them to lie in the streets of Jerusalem three days and a half, during which time the armies of the Gentiles, consisting of many kindreds, tongues, and nations, passing through the city, plundering the Jews, will see their dead bodies lying in the street” (Voice of Warning, p. 33). Zechariah says that only one-third of the nation of Israel will survive this final extremity when the “city [Jerusalem] shall be taken, and the houses rifled [looted], and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity” (Zechariah 14:2; see also Zechariah 13:8–9; 14:1).

The Coming of the Savior in Glory

Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, after quoting from several...prophets, said: “Now I have read these passages of Scripture from these various prophets. Here you will find Isaiah saying the Lord will pour out war upon all the world; Jeremiah saying the same thing and speaking of these terrible things; Daniel saying so; Ezekiel saying so. We find Joel, Zephaniah, Zechariah, all proclaiming that in this last day, the day when the sun shall be darkened and the moon turned to blood and the stars fall from heaven, that the nations of the earth would gather against Jerusalem. All of them speak of it; and when that time comes, the Lord is going to come out of His hiding place[3]

Just at the moment that Israel's complete destruction seems imminent, Christ will then return in power and glory, setting his foot upon the Mount of Olives. The mount will "cleave in twain"--cleave in two, and survivors will flee through it. Then will Christ rain down destruction upon the armies of the wicked. Those whom he has saved will be invited to see and feel the wounds of his crucifixion, and then will know with certainty that Jesus is the Messiah.

“At the very moment of the Second Coming of our Lord, ‘all nations’ shall be gathered ‘against Jerusalem to battle’ (Zechariah 11; 12; 13; 14), and the battle of Armageddon (obviously covering the entire area from Jerusalem to Megiddo, and perhaps more) will be in progress.
Christ will ‘come as a thief,’ meaning unexpectedly, and the dramatic upheavals promised to accompany his return will take place (Revelation 16:14–21). It is incident to this battle of Armageddon that the Supper of the Great God (destruction of the wicked) shall take place (Revelation 19:11–18). [4]

The coming of Christ will not only save the survivors of the Battle of Armageddon, but will affect the whole earth:

  • The two prophets, lying dead in the streets of Jerusalem, will be resurrected in the sight of the people (see Revelation 11:11–12): “After three days and a half, on a sudden, the spirit of life from God will enter them; they will arise and stand upon their feet, and great fear will fall upon them that see them. And then they shall hear a voice from heaven saying, ‘Come up hither,’ and they will ascend up to heaven in a cloud, with their enemies beholding them” (Pratt, Voice of Warning, p. 33).
  • An earthquake will strike the earth, affecting the whole world—the greatest earthquake the world has ever known (see Revelation 11:13; 16:18; Ezekiel 38:19–20; Haggai 2:6–7).
  • Earth’s land masses shall unite; islands and continents shall become one land. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain shall be made low; the rugged terrain of today shall level out into a millennial garden. The great deep—presumably the Atlantic ocean—shall return to its place in the north, ‘and the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was divided’ (Doctrine and Covenants 133:21–24). [5]
  • This quake will evidently create a huge spring in Jerusalem which will form a new river, flowing westward to the Mediterranean Sea and eastward to the Dead Sea (see Zechariah 14:8–9; Joel 3:18; Ezekiel 47:1–5). Because of this river, the Dead Sea will have its waters healed, that is, it will become a lake with verdant foliage surrounding its shores and fish teeming in its waters (see Ezekiel 47:6–12; Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 286).
  • The area around Jerusalem, which is now very hilly and steep, will be smoothed out and become like “a plain” (Zechariah 14:10).
  • As the Jews flee through the avenue of escape created by the division of the Mount of Olives to the north and the south, they will see their Messiah who has come to deliver them. In gratitude and joy they will throw themselves at the feet of the Deliverer and discover the wounds in His hands and feet. Suddenly they will realize that their Messiah is the Messiah who came to them before, and the Jewish nation will be converted to their God. (See Zechariah 14:5; 12:9–10; 13:6; Doctrine and Covenants 45:47–53.)
  • The Lord’s fury upon the army of Gog will consist of other judgments in addition to the great earthquake: The armies of Gog will turn upon each other, perhaps in the panic and confusion of the great earthquake (see Ezekiel 38:21; Zechariah 14:13). A great rain of fire and hail will shower down upon the army (see Ezekiel 38:22; Doctrine and Covenants 29:21; Revelation 16:21). John said the hailstones will weigh a talent, which is about 75.6 pounds or 34.3 kilograms (see Bible Dictionary, s.v. “weights and measures”). Ezekiel stated that fire will also be sent against the land of Magog (see Ezekiel 39:6). The account by Ezekiel could very easily be a description of atomic warfare. Isaiah described the fire’s effect on the land itself (see Isaiah 34:9–10). A plague will strike the army, causing terrible disease and calamity (see Zechariah 14:12; compare Doctrine and Covenants 29:18–20). The result will be that only one-sixth of the invading army will survive the Lord’s judgments (see Ezekiel 39:2), and their power to make war will be destroyed.
  • So great will be the devastation that for seven years Israel will be able to live off the spoils of war left behind (see Ezekiel 39:8–10). It will take seven months to bury the dead, and thereafter burial teams will search out the remaining bodies in an attempt to cleanse the land (see Ezekiel 39:11–16). [6]

The Ushering in of the Millennium

"Armageddon signals the end of the world, which is defined as “the destruction of the wicked” (JS—M 1:4). But it prepares the way for the ushering in of the millennial reign of Christ and the era of peace that will endure for a thousand years. Mankind will enter a remarkable period of righteousness, health, education, prosperity, and security. (See Isaiah 65:17–25; Zechariah 14:9, 16–20; Doctrine and Covenants 84:98–102; 101:23–24; 133:52–56.) The millennial era could not begin without the widespread destruction of the wicked. Therefore, while the battle of Armageddon is in and of itself a thing horrible to contemplate, it is necessary because of the wickedness of the world, and ultimately it will play an important part in the Lord’s plan for redemption of the world. President Joseph Fielding Smith observed:

I know these are unpleasant things. It is not a pleasant thing even for me to stand here and tell you that this is written in the Scriptures. If the Lord has a controversy with the nations, He will put them to the sword. Their bodies shall lie unburied like dung upon the earth. That is not nice, is it, but should we not know it? Is it not our duty to read these things and understand them? Don’t you think the Lord has given us these things that we might know and we might prepare ourselves through humility, through repentance, through faith, that we might escape from these dreadful conditions that are portrayed by these ancient prophets? That is why I am reading them. I feel just as keenly as you do about the condition, and I pray for it to come to an end, but I want it to come to an end right. . . .So I pray every day of my life that the Lord will hasten His work; and while all this has to take place, I hope He will hasten it, that it may soon come to an end, that peace may come; and so I repeat, as I said in one of the talks some time ago, I am praying for the end of the world because I want a better world. I want the coming of Christ. I want the reign of peace. I want the time to come when every man can live in peace and in the spirit of faith, humility and prayer.” [7]

References

  1. Institute Student Manual, Old Testament:Genesis through Malachi, Enrichment I.
  2. Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:509, 510.
  3. The Signs of the Times, p. 170.
  4. Institute Student Manual, Old Testament:Genesis through Malachi, Enrichment I.
  5. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:543.
  6. Institute Manual
  7. Signs of the Times, pp. 154–55, 175.