Chapter Six: Armageddon and the Mount of Olives

Armageddon. The name alone conjures up images of destruction, chaos, warfare, and earth-destroying comets. Books have been written and movies have been made with the same title. But books and movies have no real similarity to what Armageddon will really be. Let's get an accurate idea of what Armageddon is all about.

The Army

Many prophets in the scriptures have prophesied of a great day of destruction. Joel, Zephaniah, Zechariah, and even John the Revelator all saw the last days and told of a time that would come when all nations of the earth would be at war. They also prophesied that the focal point of the conflict would be the city of Jerusalem and the surrounding area (Zechariah 11-13; Revelation 16:14-21).

Like a swarming cloud of locusts, an army will descend on Jerusalem. Nothing will be able to stop it, and it will devour everything in its path. This massive army will number two hundred million soldiers, the biggest army ever assembled in the history of the world! Satan will be its leader, and his mission will be the destruction of the Jews (Revelation 9:8-9, 16; Joel 2:2).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie, referring to the imagery of John and Joel, 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 air-planes 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).

Satan's army will kill thousands, leaving many to wonder whether all will be lost to this indestructible force. And yet you and I know that God is much more powerful than Satan and that through small and simple things great things come to pass (1 Nephi 16:29).

Two Prophets

During this period of destruction, when Jerusalem is about to be destroyed, God will send two of his prophets to prophesy and protect the city. Elder McConkie wrote, "No doubt they will be members of the Council of the Twelve or of the First Presidency of the Church (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:509). Two against two hundred million! How can it be possible that these great men will defend Jerusalem against such a massive army?

"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 17-18; 2 Kings 1), and like Moses, by whose word blood and plagues lay heavily upon the Egyptians" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:510).

Their incredible powers will prevent Jerusalem from being destroyed. The great prophet Isaiah said they shall be "full of the fury of the Lord" (Isaiah 51:20). How would you like to watch that on television?

For three and a half years, these prophets will protect the city with great miracles. They will be Israel's only hope, but this hope will not last. Eventually these prophets will be captured by the army of darkness and killed. Their bodies will be left in the streets of Jerusalem for three and a half days as the army of evil celebrates and plunders the city (Revelation 11:2, 7-9).

"And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth" (Revelation 11:10).

The gift giving among the wicked, however, will prove premature. God always has a way of surprising the wicked just when they think they have him beat. After the prophets have lain dead in the streets for all to see, a great voice from heaven will say, "Come up hither!" Then, as everyone watches, even the army of Satan, these two powerful prophets will be resurrected. They will stand on their feet and rise to heaven. Fear will overcome their enemies, and it will be time for them to return their gifts! (Revelation 11:11-12).

The Mount of Olives

During the siege of Jerusalem, when all hope seems lost, "when the hostile troops of several nations are ravaging the city and all the horrors of war are overwhelming the people of Jerusalem, [Jesus] will set his feet upon the Mount of Olives, which will cleave and part asunder at his touch" (Charles W. Penrose, "The Second Advent," Millennial Star, 21: 583; Zechariah 14:4- 5).

After the Jews flee to safety through the cleft in the Mount of Olives, they will look upon their deliverer and ask, "What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet?" When they realize that Jesus is their Messiah, they will weep because they persecuted their king (D&C 45:51-53). Their doubts will then depart, and they will become converted to the Lord.

Soon after these events, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said, the Lord will "come out of His hiding place" and will unleash his fury on the wicked (Signs of the Times, 170). He will send plagues on the army of evil, causing their flesh to rot and sores to cover their skin (Zechariah 14:12; Revelation 16:2- 11). Yuck!

He will send a hailstorm that will destroy them and their weapons of war. John the Revelator said the hailstones will be about the weight of a talent--75.6 pounds! (Revelation 16:21; Bible Dictionary, 789). A bowling ball weighs sixteen pounds. Can you imagine 75-pound hail flying out of heaven? Run! But there's more.

An earthquake "such as was not since men were upon the earth" will shake the world. Earth's land masses will come together, and islands and continents will become one land. Members of the massive army will turn against each other as destruction befalls them; only one-sixth of the army will survive. Death and destruction will be so severe among the wicked that it will take seven months to bury the dead (Revelation 16:18; D&C 133:21-24; Ezekiel 38:21; 39:2, 11-16; Zechariah 14:13).

President Joseph Fielding Smith said:

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 sometime 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. (Signs of the Times, 154-55, 175)

The battle of Armageddon and Christ's appearance at the Mount of Olives will happen before the Second Coming. But we should not be afraid of the Savior's return, for he will destroy wickedness and bring peace. The world will be a better place for you and me. I think we should join President Smith and pray for that day to come.
Comments and feedback can be sent to feedback@ldsliving.com