WAR: What have prophets taught concerning the final wars?

Prophetic Statements

Joseph Smith

Be not discouraged when we tell you of perilous times, for they must shortly come, for the sword, famine, and pestilence are approaching. There shall be great destructions upon the face of this land, for ye need not suppose that one jot or tittle of the prophecies of all the holy prophets shall fail, and there are many that remain to be fulfilled yet. 1

I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left. 2

I prophecy, that that man who tarries after he has an opportunity of going, will be afflicted by the devil. Wars are at hand; we must not delay; but are not required to sacrifice. We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object. When wars come, we shall have to flee to Zion. The cry is to make haste .

. . . The time is soon coming when no man will have any peace but in Zion and her stakes …. These things are at our doors. They will follow the Saints of God from city to city. 3

“There is a land beyond the Rocky Mountains that will be invaded by the heathen Chinese unless ­great care and protection are given.” 4

The Lord took of the best blood of the nations and planted them on the small islands now called England and Great Brit­ain, and gave them great power in the nations for a thousand years and their power will continue with them, that they may keep the balance of power and keep Russia from usurping her power over all the world. England and France are now bitter enemies, but they will be allied together and be united to keep Russia from conquering the world. 5

“When the great bear lays her paw on the lion the winding up scene is not far distant.” 6

Brigham Young


Do you think there is calamity abroad now among the people?…All we have yet heard and all we have experienced is scarcely a preface to the sermon that is going to be preached. When the testimony of the Elders ceases to be given, and the Lord says to them, ‘come home; I will now preach My own sermons to the nations of the earth,’ all you now know can scarcely be called a preface to the sermon that will be preached with fire and sword, tempests, earthquakes, hail, rain, thunders, and lightnings and fearful destruction. What matters the destruction of a few railway cars? You will hear of magnificent cities, now idolized by the people, sinking in the earth, entombing the inhabitants. The sea will heave itself beyond its bounds, engulfing mighty cities. Famine will spread over the nations, and nation will rise up against nation, kingdom against kingdom, and states against states, in our own country and in foreign lands; and they will destroy each other, caring not for the blood and lives of their neighbors, of their families, or for their own lives. They will be like the Jaredites who preceded the Nephites upon this continent, and will destroy each other to the last man, through the anger that the devil will place in their hearts, because they have rejected the words of life and are given over to Satan to do whatever he listeth to do with them. You may think that the little you hear of now is grievous; yet the faithful of God’s people will see days that will cause them to close their eyes because of the sorrow that will come upon the wicked nations. The hearts of the faithful will be filled with pain and anguish for them. 7


I said here last Sabbath, that, if the people of this government are not satisfied with what they have already passed through this side of twenty years past, “Wait a little longer, and they will be perfectly satisfied with blood.” They shed the blood of the innocent; if they are not satisfied with the blood they have shed of each other, wait a little while and they will shed each other’s blood to their full satisfaction. The Lord has spoken it, and we have nothing to do with it. If we could, we would hide ourselves away from the scenes that will take place; but this we cannot do. But wait a little longer, and the people of this nation, as well as others, will have blood till they are satisfied with shedding the blood of each other. This is the prediction of the ancient Prophets, and has been confirmed unto us through his servant Joseph. The people are in the hands of God, he will rule all things and deal justly with all mankind; but he will not suffer this wickedness to dwell on the earth; it must be cleansed. All that we need to concern ourselves about is to serve the Lord, to trust in him, so that we may be ready to receive his dealings upon the just and the unjust, in all his chastisements. Let us live up to the principles of the just, and God will continue to bless us and deliver us with the just. 8

John Taylor

God will lay his hand upon this nation, and they will feel it more terribly than ever they have done before; there will be more bloodshed, more ruin, more devastation than ever they have seen before. Write it down! You will see it come to pass; it is only just starting in. And would you feel to rejoice? No; I would feel sorry. I knew very well myself when this last war was commencing, and could have wept and did weep, over this nation; but there is yet to come a sound of war, trouble and distress, in which brother will be arrayed against brother, father against son, son against father, a scene of desolation and destruction that will permeate our land until it will be a vexation to hear the report thereof.9

We had a great war upon this continent some years ago; but there will yet be wars pass through these United States, and through other nations, until it will be mournful to hear the report of the bloodshed, the sorrow and trouble that will be caused thereby, as also by pestilence, famine and earthquake, and the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds, and storms and tempests, etc., etc. We have been gathered together from among the nations of the earth in order that God might have a people who would obey His law; 10

Wilford Woodruff

The judgments of God will now begin to rest more fully upon this nation and will be increased upon it, year by year. Calamities will come speedily upon it and it will be visited with thunder, lightning, storms, whirlwinds, floods, pestilence, plagues, war and devouring fire; the wicked will slay the wicked until the wicked are wasted away. 11

Joseph Fielding Smith

The distress and perplexity, bloodshed and terror, selfish ambition of despotic rulers, such as the world has never before seen, all indicate that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is very near, even at our doors. We have been warned by the prophets from the beginning of time. They have declared, by revelation from the Lord, that in this present day, confusion, bloodshed, misery, plague, famine, earthquake, and other calamities, would cover the face of the earth. The Lord told his disciples of these dreadful scenes and said men’s hearts would fail them because of these things coming upon the earth. . . . 12

The use of such dreadful instruments of destruction, as missiles and nuclear bombs, could create great havoc and bring untold destruction in the case of war. That war will eventually come is inevitable, but we should have faith in the Lord that he will protect those who humble themselves and keep his commandments.

There are predictions by the ancient prophets to the effect that great destruction will come and that the wicked will destroy the wicked. Ezekiel has given us the vision of the final destruction before the coming of the Lord, and the Lord revealed a portion of this to the Prophet Joseph Smith which is found in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 45. Zechariah also, in the closing chapters of his prophecy, has described many of the scenes that will take place in this final struggle and the coming of the Savior, in the midst of the turmoil, to the relief of the persecuted Jews who have gathered to their ancient inheritance. These are very interesting revelations. They will all come to pass in their prophetic order before the reign of peace shall be ushered in. The righteous have been commanded to stand in holy places while these destructions are coming upon the world. 13

Spencer W. Kimball

The great difficulty is that when difficult times come those who in normal times could lend assistance are also under the wheel of the grinding mill. It may be impossible to anticipate and prepare for the eventualities of depression, war, invasion, bombing, but we can go a long way. 14

Ezra Taft Benson

Too often we bask in comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine and earthquake cannot happen here. Those who believe this are either not acquainted with the revelations of the Lord or they do not believe them. Those who smugly think these calamities will not happen, that they will somehow be set aside because of the righteousness of the Saints, are deceived and will rue the day they harbored such a delusion. The Lord has warned and forewarned us against a day of great tribulation and given us counsel, through His Servants, on how we can be prepared for these difficult times. Have you (we) heeded His counsel? 15


Mormon 8:30

And there shall also be heard of wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places.

Joseph Smith – Matthew 1:28

And they shall hear of wars, and rumors of wars.

Joseph Smith – Matthew 1:23, 28-29

Behold, I speak these things unto you for the elect’s sake; and you also shall hear of wars, and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled, for all I have told you must come to pass; but the end is not yet. . . . And they shall hear of wars, and rumors of wars.  Behold I speak for mine elect’s sake; for nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

Mathew 24:6-7

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

D&C 45:26, 68-69

And in that day shall be heard of wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them, and they shall say that Christ delayeth his coming until the end of the earth. . . . And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety.  And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another.

D&C 63:33

I have sworn in my wrath, and decreed wars upon the face of the earth, and the wicked shall slay the wicked, and fear shall come upon every man;

Supporting Statements

Mosiah Hancock

There will be two great political parties in this country. One will be called the Republican, and the other the Democrat party. These two parties will go to war and out of these two parties will spring another party which will be the Independent American Party. The United States will spend her strength and means warring in foreign lands until other nations will say, “Let’s divide up the lands of the United States”, then the people of the U. S. will unite and swear by the blood of their fore-fathers, that the land shall not be divided. Then the country will go to war, and they will fight until one half of the U. S. army will give up, and the rest will continue to struggle. They will keep on until they are very ragged and discouraged, and almost ready to give up-when the boys from the moun­tains will rush forth in time to save the American Army from defeat and ruin. And they will say, ‘Brethren, we are glad you have come; give us men, henceforth, who can talk with God’. Then you will have friends, but you will save the country when it’s [sic] liberty hangs by a hair, as it were. 16

Moses Thatcher


I have seen the end of this nation and it is terrible. I will tell you in the name of the LORD that a secret band will sap the life of this nation. 17


“Would to God we had statesmen with eyes clear enough to see!…. the day is not far distant, unless the Democratic and Republican parties open their eyes to the situation, when desolation and war will be in this government.

I will say when this nation, having sown to the wind, reaps the whirlwind; when brother takes up sword against brother; when father contends against son, and son against father; when he who will not take up his sword against his neighbor must needs flee to Zion for safety—then I would say to my friends come to Utah; for the judgments of God, commencing at the house of the Lord, will have passed away, and Utah, undisturbed, will be the most delightful place in all the Union. When war and desolation and bloodshed, and the ripping up of society come upon the nation, I have said to such, “Come to Utah and we will divide our morsel of food with you, we will divide our clothing with you, and we will offer you protection.” I will tell you, my brethren and sisters, the day will come, and it is not far distant, when he who will not take up his sword against his neighbor, will have to flee to Zion for safety; and it is presupposed in this prediction that Zion will have power to give them protection. We are not going to do it outside of the government, either; we are going to do it inside the government. There is no power in this land to turn this people against the government of the United States. They will maintain the Constitution of this country inviolate, and although it may have been torn to shreds they will tie it together again, and maintain every principle of it, holding it up to the downtrodden of every nation, kindred, tongue and people, and they will do it, too, under the Stars and Stripes. They will stand with their feet firmly upon the backbone of the American continent and maintain the principles which cost their fathers so much, and those principles cannot be taken away by men who violate their oath of office, and betray their trust.

I tell you that there are boys growing up in these mountains who have the principles of human liberty grounded deep in their hearts, and they will maintain them, not only for themselves, but for others. God speed the day I say—if the nation pursues its downward course and tears up these fundamental principles of government which have made them strong—when the Constitution may be rescued and all men and women shall be free again.” 18

Dallin H. Oaks

We are living in the prophesied time ‘When peace shall be taken from the earth’ (D&C 1:35,) when ‘all things shall be in commotion’ and ‘men’s hearts shall fail them’ (D&C 88:91.) There are many temporal causes of commotion, including wars and natural disasters, but an even greater cause of current ‘commotion’ is spiritual. 19

Bruce R. McConkie

Before the Lord comes, the whole earth will be in turmoil. Wars and rumors of wars will spread death and destruction and disease that will dwarf anything ever known among men. Plagues and pestilence and pain will punish the people to a degree never before known. Men will be cursed physically and spiritually; the flesh of many will fall from their bones and their eyes from their sockets. Earthquakes will destroy many cities and bring death to their municipals; fire and hail will destroy the crops of the earth; rivers and seas and deserts and mountains will be contaminated; the waters of the world will be polluted; famines and poisons and dead bodies will be commonplace. No tongue can tell the desolations and sorrows that are yet to be, all of which will be climaxed by the burning of the vineyard, at which time every corruptible thing will be consumed
(Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 633.)

The Fifth Angel: Modern Warfare Curses the World.

The whole of the ninth chapter of Revelation is a recitation of the woes pronounced by the fifth angel. “They are to be accomplished after the opening of the seventh seal, before the coming of Christ.” (D&C 77:13.) They are, thus, perils and destructions that lie ahead, although in small measure some like woes have already befallen large portions of mankind.

“And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit [or, better, the pit of the abyss].” Lucifer, who was cast out of heaven, now has his new abode, an endless hell where he holds the keys of power and dominion over his fellow demons and over all mortals who bow before him as their master.

“And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.” Lucifer opens the doors of hell, and every vile influence ascends from its evil depths as does smoke from a great furnace. So dark is the smoke and so widespread is the evil that the sun and the air are darkened.

“And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.” Men as locusts—evil, wicked, guided by Satan and filled with the spirit of the times—begin their warfare.

“And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.” We can only speculate as to how this will be fulfilled. The warriors of the world apparently attack men without destroying the fruits of the ground. Only those in Zion who are sealed up unto eternal life have power to withstand the onslaught. Could it be that John is seeing the effects of poisonous gas, or bacteriological warfare, or atomic fallout, which disable but do not kill?

“And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.” John is seeing warfare and armaments so foreign to his experience that he has no language to describe to the people of his day the horror and destructive power of it all. We suppose the Lord is showing him machine guns and cannons, tanks and airplanes, flame throwers and airborne missiles, to say nothing of other weapons of which we ourselves have as yet no knowledge.

“And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.” Satan is king. He rules in the hearts of men. He commands the armies of mortal men who wage these wicked wars among themselves.
(Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 385.)

During this particular period of the war and desolation the evil forces will be directed against all men, save those sealed up unto eternal life, for those in Zion shall be preserved. The plagues and torments of this era shall so afflict men that they shall desire to die rather than to suffer more. Perhaps John is seeing such things as the effects of poisonous gas, or bacteriological warfare, or atomic fallout, which disable but do not kill. 20

Orson Pratt

But what about the American nation. That war that destroyed the lives of some fifteen or sixteen hundred thousand people [Civil War] was nothing compared to that which will eventually devastate that country. The time is not very far distant in the future when the Lord God will lay his hand heavily upon that nation….What! This great and powerful nation of ours to be divided one part against the other and many hundreds of thousands of souls to be destroyed by civil wars! ….The time will come when there will be no safety in carrying on the peaceable pursuits of farming or agriculture. But these will be neglected and the people will think themselves well off if they can flee from city to city, from town to town and escape with their lives. 21

This war that is now taking place [war between Austria and the allied powers of France and Sardinia] will not result in that dreadful extinction that is foretold in the Book of Mormon, and which will rage among all the nations and kingdoms of the Gentiles, or in other words, among the nations of Christendom. The one is a war preparatory to the proclamation of the Gospel; the other is a war of terrible destruction, which will not better the condition of those who escape. 22

By-and-by, when the Lord has made bare his arm in signs, in great wonders, and in mighty deeds, through the instrumentality of his servants the Seventies, and through the instrumentality of the churches that shall be built up, and the nations and kingdoms of the earth have been faithfully and fully warned, and the Lord has fulfilled and accomplished all things that have been written in the Book of Mormon, and in other revelations pertaining to the preaching of the Gospel to the nations of the Gentiles and to the nations of Israel, by-and-by the Spirit of God will entirely withdraw from those Gentile nations, and leave them to themselves. Then they will find some­thing else to do besides warring against the Saints in their midst- besides raising their sword and fighting against the Lamb of God; for then war will commence in earnest, and such a war as probably never entered into the hearts of men in our age to conceive of. No nation of the Gentiles upon the face of the whole earth but what will be engaged in deadly war, except the Latter-day Kingdom. They will be fighting one against another. 23

. . . have got to do a great deal of preaching before the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled; [they] have got to go and build up the Church of the Lamb of God among those nations, and set ­ministers over them, and go and build up more…that when the multitudes gather to fight against them they may be armed with the power that comes from heaven.” 24

They [the unconverted people who have witnessed the activities of the missionaries] are to gather together in multitudes, like other nations, to fight against it; and so they will in Austria, Spain, Portugal, and in all the modern nations of Europe, as well as those nations that inhabit Asia and Africa.” 25

When the time comes that the Saints of the Lamb of God are scattered upon all the face of the earth, among all nations and kingdoms of the Gentiles, and the multitudes gather against them to battles, we shall not find such unwise prayers answered. The Saints, instead of being all gathered out, will still be among the nations, for the power of the Lamb of God to descend upon the Saints of the Most High that are among all the nations and kingdoms of the Gentiles, and not only upon these, but also upon His covenant people, the descendants of Jacob; and they are to be armed with righteousness and the power of God in great glory. But gather them all out, and where have you got your Saints? It would completely falsify this saying.” 26

J. Reuben Clark

I still have apprehension that we may have hard times. I still fear that we are going to have a war before too long that on each side will be intended to be a virtually exterminating war. I would like each one of you to think of having around you-you farmers-production that would enable you to live (and possibly for a while without too much mechanization), and help some of your city folk to live, too. It is a terrible picture even to think about, but we will be shortsighted if we do not. 27

Joseph B. Wirthlin

In many cases I am quite sure we all think this has to do particularly with the slaves in the Southern States, but I believe, brethren and sisters, that it was intended that this referred to slaves all over the world, and I think of those, particularly in the land of Russia and other countries wherein they have been taken over by that great nation and where the people are actually the slaves of those individuals who guide and direct the affairs of Russia and China, and where the rights and the privilege to worship God and to come to a knowledge that Jesus Christ is his Son is denied them. 28

  1. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 252
  2. Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:394
  3. Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 3:390-91
  4. Prophecy recorded by Edwin Rushton and Theodore Turley as having been made by Joseph Smith on May 6, 1843. For a detailed discussion of this prophecy see the appendix. Further references to this prophecy will be given as “Prophecy recorded by Edwin Rushton and Theodore Turley.”
  5. Prophecy recorded by Edwin Rushton and Theodore Turley.
  6. JI, March 15, 1890, p. 162.
  7. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8, pg. 123.
  8. Journal of Discourses. Vol. 18, pg. 361-362
  9. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 20:318
  10. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 24, pg. 200.
  11. Life of Wilford Woodruff, Cowley, p. 373
  12. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3, p. 19
  13. Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 2: 189.
  14. Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 372.
  15. Ezra Taft Benson, Jun. 1980.
  16. Mosiah Lyman Hancock, Life Story of Mosiah Lyman Hancock, p. 29. A typewritten copy of the original manuscript is available in the Brigham Young University library.
  17. Moses Thatcher, from an address given at the Franklin Ward, Franklin, Idaho, June 16, 1882 and entered into the Historical Record thereof
  18. Elder Moses Thatcher JOD 26:36
  19. Dallin H. Oaks, Conference Report, April 2004, “Preparation for the Second Coming.”
  20. Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: .
  21. Orson Pratt J. D. 12:344
  22. JD, 7:186.
  23. JD, 7:188.
  24. JD, 7:187.
  25. JD, 7:186.
  26. JD, 7:186.
  27. J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Welfare Conference, The Assembly Hall, October 11, 1958.
  28. Bishop Joseph L. Wirthlin, Conference Report, October 1958, Afternoon Meeting 32.
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