Chapter 17: The Awful Fate of the Wicked

The Spirit of the Lord will be withdrawn from the nations in consequence of their wickedness, and they will be left to their own folly.1

The Lord will not destroy the wicked until their cup of iniquity is full to the brim.2 It is only then that those spirits and intelligences assigned to this round of creation will support Him in the unleashing of His vengeance upon those who have afflicted the Saints.3

The prophet Isaiah described the state of the people’s wickedness and the level to which they would deteriorate before the Lord would descend upon them in His wrath. Note how closely this scripture matches the state of the world today:

“Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots [or automobiles].

“Their land is also full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made. And the mean [average] man boweth not down, and the great man humbleth himself not, therefore, forgive him not.

“O ye wicked ones, enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for the fear of the Lord and the glory of His majesty shall smite thee.

“And it shall come to pass that the lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of Hosts soon cometh upon all nations, yea, upon every one; yea, upon the proud and lofty, and upon every one who is lifted up, and he shall be brought low.”4

But how do the wicked actually fill their cup of iniquity to the brim? The Lord told us in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph that this happens when the wicked reject the gospel, when they reject His mercy and when they refuse to repent. He said:

“How oft have I called upon you by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice, . . . and would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but ye would not! Behold, the day has come, when the cup of the wrath of mine indignation is full.”5

The Lord wants the wicked to repent, so that He does not have to destroy them. In a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph, He commanded Bishop Newel K. Whitney to travel to the wicked cities in the eastern United States and “warn the people of those cities with the sound of the gospel, with a loud voice, of the desolation and utter abolishment which await them if they do reject these things. For if they do reject these things the hour of their judgment is nigh, and their house shall be left unto them desolate.”6

When the people turn from the Savior and reject the gospel, they are hastening the day of their destruction. As the Lord told the Saints after they were violently ejected from their lands of Missouri in the winter of 1833-1834:

“Mine indignation is soon to be poured out without measure upon all nations; and this will I do when the cup of their iniquity is full.”7

In a later revelation, the Lord explained that He had allowed the mobs to persecute the Saints in Missouri so that He would be justified in unleashing His fury upon them when the cup of their iniquity was full:

“For I have suffered them thus far, that they might fill up the measure of their iniquities, that their cup might be full.”8

That cup of iniquity was finally filled to overflowing in October 1838 when the Saints were violently evicted from the state of Missouri by vicious mobs, and thousands had to flee in the midst of bitter winter weather to the state of Illinois. The terrible judgments of the Lord later descended upon the heads of the wicked through the decimating ferocity of the Civil War. By the end of the war, Jackson County, Missouri was so desolated that nothing was left standing of their former cities and homes but the skeletons of a few chimneys among the charred ruins.9

When Federal troops were threatening to attack the people of Utah in the fall of 1857, Wilford Woodruff predicted that the United States of America would ultimately be broken as a nation if they filled their cup of iniquity by turning against the Saints:

“If the United States make war upon this people, the Lord will hold them responsible for it, and the measure they mete will be measured unto them again; and if they are ripe and the cup of their iniquity is full, they will be shattered to pieces---their union broken up and destroyed. They will be visited with thunder and lightning and hail and the judgments of God; and every man that will not draw his sword against his neighbor will be obliged to flee to Zion.”10

Heber C. Kimball also told the Saints that the judgments of God would be poured out upon the United States, and he predicted the event that would cause the cup of their iniquity to overflow. It was noted that he prophesied “that this government would dissolve pretty much all the laws passed by our [Utah state] legislature, and that the time would come when the government would stop the Saints from holding meetings. When this was done, the Lord would pour out His judgments.”11

Judgments Await the United States If the People Do Not Repent

The Lord has given His prophets a whole series of warnings about the judgments that will descend upon the United States if the people do not repent. The land of America is a sacred land. Many years ago the Jaredite people covered the American continent with millions of inhabitants, but they were completely destroyed when they turned against God and His prophets.12 When the prophet Moroni was transcribing the record of the Jaredites, the Lord warned him that the land of America “is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God.”13 This same warning had been given previously to the prophet Ether, to the prophet Lehi and to the prophet Jacob.14

We can be certain that when the wickedness of the people of the United States grows out of control in this sacred land, they will merit the judgments of Almighty God. As Heber C. Kimball told the Saints:

“Do you suppose that God would give revelations and tell us to warn the inhabitants of the earth of things which were coming speedily upon them, if He did not intend that those things should come? He said that they should feel them, and I know that they are bound to feel them; for they will not repent. . . . The Lord said to the Nephites, ‘˜The nation or people that will not serve me on this land I will cut off from the face of the earth;’ [see Ether 2:9] and I know that He will do it.”15

President Brigham Young also gave a warning to the people of the United States if they continue to fill their cup of iniquity to overflowing:

“I will just say to the nation in which I live, and which gave me birth: ‘The Lord God Almighty has a controversy with you and He will bring you to judgment, and no power can hinder it.’ It is the decree of the Almighty in the heavens, and will be so. Let us prepare for it, Saint and sinner.”16

We might assume that President Young was referring to the Civil War when he said this, but he made this statement on June 25, 1871, six years after the conclusion of the Civil War. In two other discourses he described in further detail the judgments of the Lord that hang over the United States and its people if they do not repent:

“The whole government is gone; it is as weak as water. I heard Joseph Smith say, nearly thirty years ago, ‘They shall have mobbing to their heart’s content if they do not redress the wrongs of the Latter-day Saints.’

“Mobs will not decrease, but will increase until the whole government becomes a mob, and eventually it will be state against state, city against city, neighborhood against neighborhood, Methodists against Methodists, and so on.”17

“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.”18

Safety in Zion

Fortunately, the Lord has promised the Saints protection from the fury of the Lord’s retribution which will surely come if the people of the United States do not repent. The only place of peace, security and safety will be among the righteous in Zion, where the Saints will have fled. The Lord has told us:

“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. And it shall be said among the wicked: ‘Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand.’ And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy.”19

And where is Zion? President Brigham Young said that it can be found in the wards, stakes, homes and lives of the Saints:

“The time is nigh when every man that will not take up his sword against his neighbor must needs flee to Zion. Where is Zion? Where the organization of the Church of God is. And may it dwell spiritually in every heart; and may we so live as to always enjoy the spirit of Zion!”20

The Lord’s Wrath Will Descend upon the Wicked

The Lord has told His prophets that once the wicked have become fully ripe in iniquity, they will turn in wrath upon each other and begin to destroy themselves. President John Taylor described the future judgments that will befall the wicked people in the United States, and the wars that will fill the lands of wickedness:

“You will see worse things than that [the Civil War], for 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. . . .

“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.”21

“We had a great war upon this continent some years ago [i.e. the Civil War]; 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.”22

“This nation and other nations will be overthrown, not because of their virtue, but because of their corruption and iniquity.”23

The Prophet Joseph Smith saw a vision of these terrible judgments that will come upon the wicked in the United States, and he said it would happen when the calming influence of the Holy Spirit is taken from the nations. As the Spirit is withdrawn, “the love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound.”24 Jedediah M. Grant heard Joseph describe this horrific vision, and he reported:

“The Prophet stood in his own house when he told several of us of the night the visions of heaven were opened to him, in which he saw the American continent drenched in blood, and he saw nation rising up against nation.

“He also saw the father shed the blood of the son, and the son the blood of the father; the mother put to death the daughter, and the daughter the mother; and natural affection forsook the hearts of the wicked; for he saw that the Spirit of God should be withdrawn from the inhabitants of the earth, in consequence of which there should be blood upon the face of the whole earth, except among the people of the Most High. The Prophet gazed upon the scene this vision presented, until his heart sickened, and he besought the Lord to close it up again.”25

John Taylor also prophesied that the wickedness of the people will cause the Lord to withdraw His Spirit, and rapid self-destruction will soon occur:

“Why is it that thrones will be cast down, empires dissolved, nations destroyed, and confusion and distress cover all people, as the prophets have spoken? Because the Spirit of the Lord will be withdrawn from the nations in consequence of their wickedness, and they will be left to their own folly.”26

The Fullness of the Lord’s Wrath

In two of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord warned the nations that they will bring upon themselves His desolations and judgments because of their wickedness. He admonished the people:

“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; and the Saints also shall hardly escape; nevertheless, I, the Lord, am with them, and will come down in heaven from the presence of my Father and consume the wicked with unquenchable fire.”27

“Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the Lord your God . . . who shall suddenly come to His temple; the Lord who shall come down upon the world with a curse to judgment; yea, upon all the nations that forget God, and upon all the ungodly among you. For He shall make bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of their God.”28

The Lord speaks often in the scriptures of making “bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations.”29 When the series of destructions that have been prophesied flow forth from the Almighty God, it will be obvious to all people that these are not just accidental occurrences, but the acts of God as He begins to rid the world of wickedness.

As we will learn in the next chapter, the judgments upon the ungodly and unrighteous will begin with famine and war. Death and desolation will fill the lands of iniquity, as the Lord begins to cleanse the earth of all wickedness.

Chapter Footnotes

1 . John Taylor, November 1, 1857, Journal of Discourses 6:24.
2 . D&C 29:17; 2 Nephi 28:16; Ether 2:8-10.
3 . Brother Joseph, p. 245.
4 . 2 Nephi 12:7-12 (see Isaiah 2:7-12).
5 . D&C 43:19-26.
6 . D&C 84:114-115.
7 . D&C 101:11.
8 . D&C 103:3.
9 . Comprehensive History of the Church 1:537-538; History of the Church 3:lxv-lxviii.
10 . Wilford Woodruff, September 27, 1857, Journal of Discourses 5:269.
11 . Orson F. Whitney, The Life of Heber C. Kimball, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1945), p. 442.
12 . Ether 13:13.
13 . Ether 2:8-10.
14 . Ether 13:2; 2 Nephi 1:7, 10:10-19.
15 . Heber C. Kimball, April 6, 1857, Journal of Discourses 5:23.
16 . Brigham Young, June 25, 1871, Journal of Discourses 14:156.
17 . Brigham Young, April 6, 1861, Journal of Discourses 9:5.
18 . Brigham Young, July 15, 1860, Journal of Discourses 8:123; emphasis added.
19 . D&C 45:68-71; see also D&C 101:10-15, 115:6; Moses 7:61.
20 . Brigham Young, October 8, 1860, Journal of Discourses 8:205; emphasis added.
21 . John Taylor, October 6, 1879, Journal of Discourses 20:318.
22 . John Taylor, June 18, 1883, Journal of Discourses 24:200.
23 . John Taylor, February 1, 1874, Journal of Discourses 17:5.
24 . D&C 45:27.
25 . Jedediah M. Grant, April 2, 1854, Journal of Discourses 2:147; emphasis added.
26 . John Taylor, November 1, 1857, Journal of Discourses 6:24.
27 . D&C 63:33-34.
28 . D&C 133:1-3.
29 . Isaiah 30:30, 48:14, 52:10, 53:1; 1 Nephi 22:10-11; 3 Nephi 16:20; 3 Nephi 20:25; D&C 1:14, 45:45-47, 56:1, 90:10.