Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:
“Gog and Magog are the prophetic names given in the scriptures to that combination of nations which will fight against the purposes of the Lord on two separate and future occasions:
- At the time of and incident to the second coming of the Lord and the ushering in of the millennial era; and
- At the end of the Millennium, plus a little season, when the final overthrow of evil and the destruction of the wicked shall take place.
. . . When considering items of this sort, it is exceedingly important to stay close to the revealed word and not stray off into those speculative realms that engender strife and do not increase faith in our hearts.”
The battle of Gog and Magog will be after the millennium. The remnant of all the nations that fight against Jerusalem were commanded to go up to Jerusalem to worship in the millennium. (HC 5:298.) 1
When I came into the Tabernacle, and saw the offerings that were made, I felt satisfied that there was an improvement; and I will say here that whenever the Prophets who lead us call upon us, we should be ready and on hand to take hold of that wheel which he points to and pull, and when we get the spirit of our calling, and the power of God upon us, the Church and kingdom will grow. As President Young said, the veil will be rent, and when the armies of Gog and Magogarise, they will say, let us not go against Israel to battle, for her sons are terrible, and we cannot stand.
If we as a people follow the counsel of the Presidency of this Church, repent of our sins, wake up, do our duty, keep on the armor of righteousness, live our religion, and are filled with the Holy Ghost, we shall soon see that sinners in Zion will tremble, and fearfulness will surprise the hypocrite. 2
Joseph Fielding Smith
Before the coming of Christ, the great war, sometimes called Armageddon, will take place as spoken of by Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39. Another war of Gog and Magog will be after the millennium. 3
Kings and potentates all down the ages, thought they, by their own acts, controlled the destinies of nations, and held dominion. Without the permission of the Almighty they never could have ruled and held dominion. All who have a correct insight into the history of nations must surely know that the Lord has always held a controlling hand over the nations of the world. When they have become corrupt he has relieved them of power. When they have entered on expeditions of conquest he has permitted them to go just so far, then as he said to Ezekiel concerning Gog and Magog, he puts hooks in their jaws, and defeats their purpose. Truly he holds the destinies of the armies of the nations of the earth; and not only the armies, but the destinies of nations, and when the time is ripe he will make an end of all nations that now rule in their arrogance and mistaken idea of might and power, and set up his own kingdom to endure forever.4
Bruce R. McConkie
After the Millennium plus a little season—perhaps itself another thousand years—during which men turn again to wickedness, then cometh the end, not of the world, which occurred at the Second Coming, but the end of earth. Then the final battle against Gog and Magog, the battle of the Great God, will be fought. Michael will lead the armies of heaven and Lucifer the legions of hell. Again there will be a new heaven and a new earth, but thin time it will be a celestial earth. This earth will then be an eternal heaven, and the meek, who are the God-fearing and the righteous, shall inherit it forever and ever. 5
As we search the scriptures for prophetic statements about Armageddon, we must have the promised coming events in their true perspective. Armageddon is the final great battle in a war that covers the earth and involves all nations. We suppose it will be the first and only time, until the armies of Gog and Magog clash for a second time after the Millennium, when no nation in any land will be neutral. This coming conflict will be universal, and out of it will come the final day of destruction and burning. It will exceed in horror, intensity, and scope all prior wars. It is only in the last days that there are enough people on earth to field armies of the required size, and only now do we have the weapons to slay millions at a single blast. What, then, say the prophets about Armageddon?
Approaching this matter, as he so often did in his Messianic utterances, David said: “The Lord trieth the righteous. . . . Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest.” (Ps. 11:5-6.) “He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies.” (Ps. 110:6.) “All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord will I destroy them.” (Ps. 118:10.) Fire and brimstone are to be rained upon all nations; all of their ungodly inhabitants shall be destroyed in the name of the Lord; dead bodies will be everywhere; it is a day of judgment.”
Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war,” Isaiah says of a latter-day Zion in which there are some wicked and wanton people. “And her gates shall lament and mourn.” (Isa. 3:25-26.) “And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. . . . Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword. Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.” (Isa. 13:11, 15-16.) These expressions are part of a recitation of what is to be at the Second Coming. 6
Gog and Magog are all the nations of the earth who take up the sword against Israel and Jerusalem in the day of Armageddon. Their identities remain to be revealed when the battle alliances are made. We can assume, however, that the United States, as the defender of freedom in all the world, will head one coalition, and that Russia, whose avowed aim is to destroy freedom in all nations, will head the enemies of God.
Ezekiel’s prophetic utterances begin with the divine assurance that Gog and Magog and all their armies shall be defeated. It could not be otherwise. God and his purposes must and shall prevail. To all these nations, combined in one great and evil enterprise against his people, the Lord says: “I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords.” Their weaponry and military prowess and massive strength shall be of no moment in that day. The Lord himself is governing the outcome of the battle. Gog and all his multitudes shall fall and fail, and shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. 7
As with some Messianic prophecies that speak of both the first and the second advents of our Lord in the same language, it may be that portions of Ezekiel’s great prophecy are subject to dual fulfillment. Our concern is with what lies ahead for us. Postmillennial events will be revealed in full to those who live during the Millennium. The knowledge then given will stand as a warning for those of future generations, even as the words of Ezekiel warn us to live as becometh saints. We speculate that much the same thing that happens in the first war with Gog and Magog will be repeated in the second.8
Holy writ describes the battle of Armageddon as the war of Gog and Magog. These accounts relative to Gog and Magog add to the Armageddon concept the fact that this final war will be religious in nature. Nations bearing the pseudonyms Gog and Magog will attack the Lord’s covenant people. These evil forces will be destroyed by fire; the Lord will rain fire and brimstone upon them. That is, they will be burned at his coming. Their destruction will include the overthrow of the political kingdom on earth of Lucifer and the fall of the great and abominable church. The final triumph in this war of wars will bring to pass the triumph of Israel as a people and as a nation. 9
The destruction of Gog and Magog constitutes the fall of Babylon, the overthrow of the great and abominable church, and the destruction of the wicked. Babylon is the world; it is carnality, sensuality, and devilishness; it is the church of the devil; it is every religious and political kingdom and power that is not of God. Within its folds are found Catholics, Protestants, and Latter-day Saints; Communists, worldly peoples, and godless nations; the Islamics, the Buddhists, and all who worship any God but the Lord; atheists, humanists, and evolutionists—yes, within its folds are all those who live after the manner of the world. And they all “shall be cast down by devouring fire” (D&C 29:21), as Ezekiel said with reference to Gog and Magog.10
“True it is that the day and hour of our Lord’s coming are and will remain unknown, such being an incentive to all to watch and be ready at all times. But true it also is that those who watch for that great and dread day are expected to read the signs of the times so as to know the approximate time of his coming. President Wilford Woodruff taught that we do know the generation when he will come. 11 12Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 55.
- Joseph Smith, Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Alma P. Burton [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 240.
- Wilford Woodruff, “The Facilities Afforded By the Handcart Movement for the Gathering of Israel—The Saints Specially Opposed By the Devil in Any New Enterprise—Reformation”, Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, pp. 94-100, October 6th, 1856.
- Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.3, p.45
- Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 3: 124 – 125.
- Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 22.
- Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 449.
- Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 481.
- Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 488.
- Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 638.
- Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 638.
- G. Homer Durham, Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 253.