Wars and Rumors of War
Hey everyone, welcome to the Latter-Day Disciples Podcast. Today we have a little bit of a unique episode. All of our focus today is going to be centered on a particular sign of the times; that is wars and rumors of wars. The Russia Ukraine conflict that began on February 22nd has sparked a lot of attention on this particular sign of the times. If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll know that I did a video close to the beginning of this war and I made the comment that I don’t necessarily believe that nuclear war is imminent in our future, but still that we need to be prepared and we need to be aware. And from there I felt impressed to do more research on this topic and I want to share some of the really interesting and important findings that were revealed to me as I did this. So today we’re going to review some of the scriptural and prophetic utterances about war in the last days and I want to spend some particular emphasis on how these things might impact those of us who are in the United States. A little bit of a disclaimer, this topic is not in and of itself very uplifting, as you would anticipate. That being said, I think that it is of utmost importance that we choose to have our eyes wide open so that we can appropriately prepare. Part of preparation is mental and if we are unaware of the things that have been said, the prophecies that have been made that we can rely on, then our preparation is going to be incomplete. So let’s go ahead and get started and as always, stick with me to the end, because we’re also going to talk about what we can personally do, the perspective we need to develop to take on these challenges that are in our future with really true, bright expectations of success in our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Wars and Rumors of War
So wars and rumors of wars. This sign of the times is contained in prophecies In the Book of Mormon, in the New Testament, and in the Joseph Smith translation of Matthew, as well as Doctrine & Covenants. It’s one of the most well known signs of the times. We have seen a partial fulfillment of this over the last 160 years, which I’ll talk about a little bit later, the prophecy on war and you know, wars are multifaceted and they result from a number of different things. Most typically, it’s general wickedness on all sides of a conflict. Some wars were prophesied as being linked to the persecution of the Saints and the Kingdom of God. The Civil War was said to have been basically a direct result of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. And war was prophesied to come as a result of the expulsion of the Saints from Missouri. So there’s a lot of different reasons I think, on a spiritual level, that wars come that perhaps we don’t always perceive when we’re just paying attention to the news cycle. So that’s really important. I would encourage all of us to seek the discernment of the spirit to understand some of the greater underlying factors of some of these conflicts. One thing that I would say too, you know, we were talking about wars and conflict and how it’s so human to want to pick a side and sometimes in doing that, we have to be careful first off, because we have a tendency to dehumanize the other side; and most often, wars and conflicts of this nature are not, bottom up, they are usually leaders and evil men and women in positions of power that are using people as pawns. I think that that’s really important to remember. Also in the last days, one of the challenges that we’re going to see with conflicts more and more is that if you try to pick a side, a lot of the times you’re going to fail because both sides have incredible degrees of wickedness on them. A more, perhaps reasonable way to look at conflicts will be to look at them the way that Nephi described them, which is between the Church of the Lamb of God, Christians, Israel, those who will let God prevail in their lives and those who do not, or the church of the devil. That is going to be a more helpful lens to look at conflict in the days ahead, again, because wickedness follows us on all sides. But the true battle is between good and evil, and we want to be advocates for good in whatever form that is and it’s going to be in the form of those who are advocating for and seeking to let God prevail in their lives. So just something important to keep in mind.
So let’s go to Doctrine and Covenants 87, as I said, this is the revelation on war given to Joseph Smith on December 25th, 1832. It prophesied first about the American Civil War or ‘the rebellion’ is what it was known by. Then there’s a shift in the prophecy where it starts to say ‘after many days’, so, it goes from talking about the conflict that is the American Civil War and then it shifts to talking about future conflicts. And the Civil War was kind of the tipping point, it was the beginning of war being poured out upon all nations. Orson Hyde said, “After many days, when the demon of war shall have exhausted his strength and madness upon the American soil, [referring to the American Civil War], he will move his headquarters to the banks of the Rhine.” So this was a prophecy where Orson Hyde was saying, essentially, after the American Civil War is exhausted, warfare will move to the banks of the Rhine. The Rhine is one of the most prominent rivers in Europe and the longest expanse of this major river is in Germany. So we see a direct fulfillment of this prophecy from Orson Hyde, considering Germany’s involvement in both World War I and World War II. Boyd K. Packer, who actually served in World War II, made the comment, he said, “We have at length emerged from a scene of material ruin and moral havoc, the likes of which have never darkened the imagination of former centuries. After all that we suffered and achieved, we find ourselves still confronted with problems and perils, not less, but far more formidable than those through which we have so narrowly made our way.” So already we’re seeing this fulfillment, this continual fulfillment of prophecy that the Civil War is going to happen. After the Civil War, warfare was going to move to the Rhine, we now have World War I and World War II in Germany being a major conflict in that. So the prophecy on war goes on to say that after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshalled and disciplined for war; this is a continuation of this prophecy. What he’s saying here is that soon and eventually, the conflict, the origination of these wars, is going to be sparked by slaves rising up against their masters. At first glance we assume that this is talking about the American Civil War. Still, we think that this is all just one prophecy about what was started in South Carolina in 1860. But that’s not the case. Again, it says, ‘after many days’. And then the other thing to note too is this part about ‘slaves shall rise up against their masters’. The American Civil War was not a conflict between slaves and their masters, it was a conflict between the Union North, who advocated for the abolition of the institution of slavery and the South, the Confederacy, who obviously were incredibly dependent and pro slavery. So the American Civil War doesn’t fit the bill for this prophecy, you guys. This is talking about a future event, warfare in the future that would be wrought by slaves rising up against her masters. I love Gerald N. Lund. In his book, The Second Coming of the Lord, he gave some commentary on this and I love what he said. He said, “These are no individual slave owners, the masters that it’s referring to, but more like what we would call political or military leaders of states or countries. And if that’s the case, then their slaves are most likely the citizens of those states or countries.” Many countries today are under such totalitarian states. And their citizens are in virtual slavery, even though they don’t wear shackles or live behind bars. I think this is something that in the United States we have a hard time considering because we’re so blessed and we do experience the greatest degree of freedom, not only upon the face of the world today, but historically since Adam we are the most free people. But there are people in the world today who are virtually slaves. I listened to a podcast last year and it was about a woman who had escaped from North Korea, she shared her experience and it was absolutely harrowing to hear about the conditions that they lived in, I mean they had nothing. We’re talking about dirt floor shacks. They had no food. They had no jobs. Their sole purpose was essentially to worship the state. She accounts stories of children who would eat diseased and poisoned rats because they had no other food. Their parents would tell them not to do that. But they would. Because they were so hungry. And then they would die. And then the rats would eat them. This is the circle of life in a place like North Korea. That’s not 150 years ago. That’s not American era slavery. That is right now. That is happening as you are listening to me talk right now. We are so blessed and we do not understand the pressures and the oppression that people in this world right now are facing. And there’s going to come a tipping point when these people are going to say enough. These totalitarian, often historically or current day communist nations, they’re going to face backlash, rightly so. But it’s going to result in bloodshed.
Perhaps most uniquely pertinent to the last days of wars that we’re talking about is that these wars are going to be accompanied by a myriad of other signs. In the scriptures it says, “And thus with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn, and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven and the fierce and vivid lightning also shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations.” So this is a condition that I would, again, say is something we need to be aware of. How do we know how late the hour is? Not just because we’re seeing wars, but because we will be seeing all of these things in combination.
I want to move on to Revelation Chapter 9. As you guys know, we talk about the Book of Revelation pretty frequently. This is when John the Beloved, John the Revelator, when he was exiled on the Isle of Patmos. He had a vision of all of humanity, and in this particular chapter John is describing in the best language that he possibly can, latter day warfare that he said would destroy one third of the population. I want to put a little asterisk there. Remember that in Hebrew, specifically, numbers are very symbolic. So this doesn’t necessarily guarantee a war that’s going to kill billions of people but it will have vast consequences and it will be felt across the world. In his vision, he says, “And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and they that sat on them having breastplates of fire and of jacinth and brimstone and the heads of the horses, were as the heads of lions. And out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths, for their power is in their mouth and in their tails, for their tails were like under serpents, and they had heads, and with them they do hurt.” When you hear that language, obviously it is very strange imagery you’re talking about. Horses that have breastplates of fire and the heads of lions and they’re breathing smoke? But you have to remember, John is doing the best he can to describe these things. And if you stop and think about it, how else could you explain things like fighter jets and tanks and missiles? That is what he’s doing his best to describe here. And after seeing all this devastation, John records that the people do not repent. I wanted to put a reminder out too, that this is not necessarily all God’s justice coming forth at one time but it is also a fulfillment of the divine law that it is the wicked who destroy the wicked. And that’s one of the consistent themes that we see in all the scriptural prophecies about war, it’s the wicked destroying the wicked. This is where the Book of Mormon becomes a field guide to our day, especially when you’re getting into Helaman and the beginning of 3 Nephi, before the Savior’s appearance, there is government collapse and there’s war and there’s devastation and there’s death. And it’s the wicked who destroy themselves and they destroy each other.
Okay, let’s turn a little bit more to talking about what we can expect here in America. This has been one of my biggest questions ever since really choosing to dive into the topic of the last days because obviously, I live in America, so I’m concerned about that, but it’s been kind of opaque to try and understand what is going to happen here in the days leading up to the Second Coming. There’s a lot of prophecy that centers on Jerusalem and on the tribe of Judah, so it’s harder to determine how to interpret prophecies about America and the United States. Gratefully, I’ve been blessed with some amazing resources that we can talk about offline, but I think that I’m getting a better idea of what it’s going to look like.
First things first and and again, this is pointing to the privilege that it is to be an American. We have never fought a major conflict at home. The Civil War is an exception. Obviously that was devastating. That was absolutely devastating for our country and for the people at that time. We’re talking about 600,000 people dead as a result of that conflict. But when it comes to World War I, World War II, Vietnam, the Gulf War, the war in Afghanistan, wars in Iraq, we have never had that come to our home turf. And because of that, I would say that we are somewhat living in the false sense of security. What I have found is that the prophets have been very blatant about the fact that that will not always be the case. Ezra Taft Benson had a quote, he said, “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 we heeded his Council?” So right there, Ezra Taft Benson is saying that there will be war in the United States of America. We haven’t really experienced that yet. But we will. And I want you guys to know this again, because knowing it gives us the opportunity to prepare for it. We need to leave the zone of comfortable complacency if we want to be able to endure the things that lie ahead, and we do, you guys, we do want to endure these things because the blessings that are ahead are even greater than how terrible these trials will be. In Doctrine & Covenants 45:33 it says, “And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take up his sword against his neighbor must flee unto Zion for safety.” There have been a number of prophetic statements reported specifically from Joseph Smith and other early restoration leaders that have declared there will be an American conflict, in addition to and on a much broader scale than the ‘quote, unquote’ rebellion or what we know as the Civil War. Essentially they’re indicating that there will be another type of civil war in America. About this, Orson Pratt said, “That war, the Civil War that destroyed the lives of some 15 or 16 hundred thousand people, was nothing compared to that which will eventually devastate this country. The time is not far distant in the future when the Lord God will lay his hand heavily upon that nation. It will be a war of neighborhood against neighborhood, city against city, town against town, county against county, state against state and they will go forth destroying and being destroyed. And manufacturing will, in great measure, cease for a time among the American nation. Why? Because in these terrible wars they will not be privileged to manufacture; there will be too much bloodshed, too much mobocracy, too much going forth in bands and destroying and pillaging the land to suffer people to pursue any vocation with any degree of safety. What will become of millions of the farmers upon that land? They will leave their farms, and they will remain uncultivated, and they will flee before the ravaging armies from place to place. And thus will they go forth, burning and pillaging the whole country. And that great and powerful nation now consisting of some 40 millions of people [at his time] ( there are about 300 million more than that now) will be wasted away until they repent.” I want to stop and emphasize again, that those who rely on the hand of the Lord will not be exempt from trials, but will in large part be able to escape some degree of this. We will be upheld by the Lord.
Finally, I want to shift. This is a prophecy unrelated to the United States, but I think we should all be aware of right now, again as we have eyes on Russia and Ukraine. Elder Jesse W. Fox Sr, received the following narration from Father Taylor, the father of the late president John Taylor, “The old gentleman said that at one time the prophet Joseph Smith was in his house conversing about the Battle of Waterloo, in which Father Taylor had taken part. Suddenly the prophet turned and said, ‘Father Taylor, you will live to see, though I will not, greater battles than that of Waterloo. The slave question will cause the division between the north and the south. And then these wars, greater battles than Waterloo, will occur. But,’ he continued with emphasis, ‘when the great Bear lays her paw on the lion, the winding up scene is not far distant.’” So I found this yesterday and immediately I wondered, “Who the heck is the great bear and who’s the lion? I want to know this! The lion is associated with the tribe of Judah, however, in this context, the association is with England. The lion is also a symbol of England, they have it on their crest. And the great bear? I immediately went to the tribes of Israel, because they each have a symbol, many of them animals, of what the tribes of Israel are. If you’ve listened to some of our previous episodes, you know that the oxen is a symbol of Ephraim, the lion is a symbol of Judah, the face of a man is a symbol of Ruben and a wolf is the tribe of Benjamin. This is kind of immediately where my mind went, there’s not a bear! However, come to find out that the bear is indeed a symbol of Russia. Now when Joseph Smith gave this prophetic utterance, it was before any prospect of war with Mexico, such a thing as division in the United States was never contemplated. Yet these first struggles came and then Joseph himself was slain before they occurred. Father Taylor did live to witness some of the world’s most remarkable battles. He died May 27th in 1870, after the conclusion of the Civil War. Now I went and I did some research on this, particularly because I don’t know a lot about Russia, England or UK relations. I learned that they did establish more of a relationship starting back in 1558. And since that time in the major conflicts of the world, it’s been kind of a toss up. There have been times when England and Russia have been allies, and there have been times when they’ve been enemies. But there has yet to be an event that I believe could qualify as a direct conflict between Russia and England. So right now, as we’re watching everything with Ukraine, I think that we should be very aware, but I think that we should be watching on a broader scale than perhaps we already are, understanding that Joseph Smith was a prophet and as they said, this is undoubtedly going to come to pass and when it does, what did he say? He said the winding up scene is not far distant.
All right, let’s get to the happy things. You made it! Hopefully this is instructive for you. Again, I feel like it is so important for us to know these things with the purpose of preparing, but it’s only going to be so if you can keep your eyes on the Savior and find peace from the Prince of Peace as we are considering these very challenging topics. So what are we to do? Well, thankfully the prophets and the scriptures have not left us wanting when it comes to what our role is in navigating these challenges. First off, “Wherefore stand ye in holy places and be not moved until the day of the Lord come. For behold, it cometh quickly sayeth the Lord.” This is something that I have received as personal revelation for our family as we’ve been striving to establish our emergency preparation; our food storage, our water storage. Sometimes this area can kind of bleed into doomsday land and in doing so, sometimes all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, I need a shelter! I need a bomb shelter in a remote location! I need it to be fitted with everything that I need!’ I’m not saying that that’s wrong. Maybe you and your family will get that revelation, but for me and my family, as we have considered this, the revelation that we’ve received is to stand in holy places. And our home is our holy place. This place is consecrated. This is where we are storing our goods. This is where we show our faith. This is where we teach our children. This is where the spirit can be ever present, regardless of what’s happening out my front door. And it will be the same for you. Do everything you can to establish a holy place in your home, and then be prepared to stand there and be not moved until the spirit says otherwise.
Number two thing we can do, Joseph Smith said, “Wars are at hand, we must not delay. 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.” We need to be ready. We need to be prepared to establish unity and safety and a city of God. We need to do whatever it takes spiritually to be prepared to take part in that which will require clinging to our covenants and keeping them in such a way as perhaps we’ve never before considered, in these things will find power. And we will be asked by the Lord to participate in this great work of establishing a place for all who will let God prevail will find safety.
Number three, Brigham Young said, “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 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.”
Finally, I want to share this warning from Spencer W Kimball. He said, “We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When armies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel; ships, planes, missiles, fortifications, and we depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened we become anti-enemy, instead of pro-Kingdom of God. We train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching to love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despite fully use you and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your father which is in heaven.” There are a lot of well meaning and good people who are ready to fight and certainly I have the inclination, at times, to fight for freedom, but there are a couple of important things that are going to become absolutely relevant to us as we face these warfare conflicts in the future. First is that we cannot depend upon anything earthly for our deliverance, and if we try to, we will fail. Second, we talked about this a little bit earlier, we have to have a true perspective. Our enemy is not the army on the other side of the line. Our enemy is evil. Our enemy is Satan. And more important than our enemy, our ally, is Christ. Our fellow soldiers are disciples and saints, and anyone who will have Christ to be their King. I think we are going to meet at crossroads and at that time we’re going to have to decide if it is more important to take up arms or to lay them down; if we will fight back and smite our enemies or if we will turn the other cheek. I think that it will be a defining moment for us, and I believe that the correct answer at that time will be to lay down our arms and turn the other cheek, and rely upon God alone for our deliverance, and that will be hard to do. But as I study, and as I consider the things that lie ahead, I see the necessity of it. We will need to be smitten. We will need to be persecuted because that is how we will be purified, that will be a prerequisite to us doing what Joseph Smith said, establishing Zion so that there is a place of peace. We’re not going to be left helpless. The Lord can do his own work. And you know, I’m using broad generalities right now, perhaps there will be those who will be told to fight, as long as you are following the spirit, then that is good. And do that. Don’t listen to me. But I want to emphasize the importance of spiritually preparing to receive that revelation for yourself, so that when the time comes, if there is a war, if there are circumstances outside your control, you will know how to perfectly handle them on behalf of yourself and your family, and how to represent the Lord in the most dire circumstances. This will be a challenge. But it is doable, and we have been given every tool that we could possibly need to be successful.
I want to leave my love and my hope again, with the reminder that our God is in control. That there is nothing unaccounted for in his plan. And that as we cling to him, to his word, to the gift of the Holy Ghost; whatever happens will be okay, we will be able to not just survive, but to thrive and flourish in the most challenging of circumstances, because that’s always what God’s people have been able to do. It was amidst these sorts of conditions, short of nuclear conditions, that Enoch and his people established Zion and we will do the same. I have so much hope. I have so much belief in this. And I hope that you can feel the spirit of that testimony. Use this information to get revelation for yourself and your family. Be wise. Take preparations. Keep your eyes on the Savior. There are still great things ahead for those who love the Lord. Let’s take part in it! Thank you guys. Have a great week!
Doctrine and Covenants 87
JST Matt 1:29
“Prepare for the Days of Tribulation,” Ezra Taft Benson, 1980
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