Chapter 23: A Fiery Crucible at Old Jerusalem

The tribe of Judah, after their pain, shall be sanctified in holiness before the Lord.1

As we have discussed in the previous two chapters, many important events will occur on the American continent as the land of Zion is redeemed and the city of New Jerusalem is built and rises in glory from the center of the land. At the same time that these things are taking place in the Americas, other significant events will be taking place with the Jewish people in Jerusalem and the land of Palestine. The Lord has several important purposes in bringing these things to pass, which will cause significant changes within the Jewish nation in preparation for the Second Coming and the Millennium.

The Gathering to Jerusalem

The words of the prophets concerning the Jewish people are being fulfilled in our time.2 The gathering to the land of Palestine has already begun. Even before the state of Israel was founded in 1948, the Jewish people were gathering to their ancient land of inheritance. Today, more Jews continue to immigrate to the Holy Land. However, most of the Jewish people have not yet gathered in significant numbers.3

The Lord said that the gathering to Jerusalem would not commence in earnest until the times of the Gentiles have come to an end. He told His ancient Twelve Apostles:

“I will show unto you how the day of redemption shall come, and also the restoration of the scattered Israel. . . . And when that day shall come, shall a remnant [of the Jews] be scattered among all nations; but they shall be gathered again; but they shall remain until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”4

Wilford Woodruff gave us additional information about this prophecy, describing the important events that will take place when the Jews return in mass to their homeland:

“The gospel is now restored to us Gentiles, for we are all Gentiles in a national capacity, and it will continue with us if we are faithful, until the law is bound, and the testimony sealed, and the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, when it will again revert to the Jews, whom the Lord will have prepared to receive it. They will gather to their own land, taking with them their gold and silver, and will rebuild their city and temple, according to the prediction of Moses and the prophets.”5

On an earlier occasion Wilford Woodruff explained that this gathering will not occur because the Jews have been converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, but because they are following their belief in ancient prophecies handed down by Moses and other Old Testament prophets:

“The Jews have got to gather to their own land in unbelief. They will go and rebuild Jerusalem and their temple. They will take their gold and silver from the nations and will gather to the Holy Land.”6

“They will never believe in Jesus Christ until He comes to them in Jerusalem, until these fleeing Jews take back their gold and silver to Jerusalem and rebuild their city and temple, and they will do this as the Lord lives.”7

The Temple of Solomon Will Be Rebuilt

As the Jews begin to gather in force to the lands of Jerusalem, the Lord will open up the way for them to fulfill an important ancient prophecy.8 The Jewish people have prayed for almost two millennia to have the privilege once again of rebuilding the temple of Solomon upon the sacred location where it was originally located in Jerusalem. Events will be brought to pass by Almighty God so that the Jews will be able to rebuild the temple. Wilford Woodruff prophesied:

“But hear it all Israel, after your sorrow and pain and distress and after the days of your tribulation, your Great Elohim will stretch out His hand and gather you from every nation wherever you are driven, and He will bring you home to your own land, and you shall rebuild your temple and city, and you shall be delivered by Shiloh when He comes. That will be fulfilled.”9

The architecture and layout of the temple of Solomon was lost to the Jewish people when the temple was destroyed in ancient times. Since there are not any prophets among them today who could reveal the blueprint for the temple, the Lord has provided another means. The ancient prophet Ezekiel was given a special vision in which he was allowed to walk through the future temple in Jerusalem, and the angel who accompanied him measured all of the dimensions of the temple---inside and out.10 Ezekiel faithfully recorded these measurements, and from this record the Jewish people will know how to build their temple when the time arrives.11

Once the temple is completed, the Jews will begin to offer sacrifices once again at the temple. Surprisingly, these sacrifices will continue through the Millennium, as the Prophet Joseph Smith explained:

“These sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the priesthood, will, when the temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. This ever did and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood are sufficiently manifest; else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by the holy prophets be brought to pass?

“It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses’ day, namely, sacrifice, will be continued.

“It may be asked by some, what necessity for sacrifice, since the Great Sacrifice was offered? In answer to which, if repentance, baptism, and faith existed prior to the days of Christ, what necessity for them since that time?”12

Jerusalem Will Be Surrounded and Attacked

However, the completion of the temple will not assure the safety of the Jews. The people in Old Jerusalem will come under attack from a massive army that is gathered from the wicked nations of the earth. The prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, Zephaniah, Zechariah and John gave us many details about this colossal invasion by massive armies of wicked men.13

All of these traumatic events will be under the control of God, who has a special mission to perform in the land of Palestine. The prophet Malachi described this process of refinement that the Jews and the sons of Levi will pass through, and predicted what its end result would be:

“He [Christ] shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.”14

The Lord told the prophet Zechariah that He “will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.”15

Because the Lord has His own plans in store for the Jewish nation, President Brigham Young explained to the Saints that it is not their responsibility to preach the gospel to the Jews. The Lord will take care of this in His own time:

“Jerusalem is not to be redeemed by our going there and preaching to the inhabitants. It will be redeemed by the high hand of the Almighty. It will be given into the possession of the ancient Israelites by the power of God, and by the pouring out of His judgments.”16

The “pouring out of His judgments” that President Young mentioned will begin to be fulfilled when the city of Jerusalem is surrounded and attacked by an enormous army from the wicked Gentile nations.17 Wilford Woodruff explained that the reason the city of Jerusalem will be attacked is because of the gold and silver that is owned by the Jewish people, which they will take with them when they gather to Jerusalem. As a result, the impoverished Gentile nations will attempt to despoil Jerusalem and steal her riches:

“They [the Jews] will never believe in Jesus Christ until He comes to them in Jerusalem, until these fleeing Jews take back their gold and silver to Jerusalem and rebuild their city and temple, and they will do this as the Lord lives. Then the Gentiles will say, ‘Come let us go up to Jerusalem; let us go up and spoil her. The Jews have taken our gold and silver from the nations of the earth---come let us go up and fight against Jerusalem.’”18

Elder Charles W. Penrose also described how the Gentile nations will attack the Jews, in an act of desperation, because of the gold and silver that is amassed in Jerusalem:

“The Jews, still in unbelief that Jesus was the Christ, will separate themselves from among the Gentiles and gather to their fatherland. Events will be so controlled by the God of Israel that they shall possess the land again and build the temple in its former place. They will increase and multiply in numbers and in riches, and practice the rites of the Mosaic law, looking for the coming of the Messiah to reign over them as king.

“The bankrupt nations, envying the wealth of the sons of Judah, will seek a pretext to make war upon them, and will invade the Holy Land to ‘take a prey and spoil’ [Ezekiel 38:12].”19

The People Will Be Protected Through the Priesthood Power Given to Two Prophets of the Lord

During these dark days, the Lord will not leave the Jewish people defenseless and helpless. He will send two servants of God, who will protect the city through the miraculous power of the priesthood. The prophet Isaiah indicated that these two prophets will not be Jewish, and that they will be sent by the Lord to Jerusalem to help the people in their hour of need. Isaiah tells us:

“Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of His fury---thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling wrung out---and none to guide her among all the sons she hath brought forth; neither that taketh her by the hand, of all the sons she hath brought up.

“These two sons are come unto thee, who shall be sorry for thee---thy desolation and destruction, and the famine and the sword---and by whom shall I comfort thee? Thy sons have fainted, save these two; they lie at the head of all the streets; as a wild bull in a net, they are full of the fury of the Lord, the rebuke of thy God.”20

John the Revelator was shown in vision the mission of these two prophets in great detail. John learned that they will protect the city of Jerusalem for three and a half years.21 They will be given power to control the elements, like the prophet Enoch and the prophet Nephi.22 They will destroy their enemies by using the power of the priesthood.23 The city of Jerusalem will be surrounded by her enemies and remain under siege during this three-and-a-half-year period while it is protected by these two prophets.24

At the end of this time, the hosts of the wicked nations will surge forward, and the two prophets will be slain.25 The armies will continue to overrun the city of Jerusalem and half of the city will be conquered.26 During this time the “abomination of desolation” will again occur at Jerusalem,27 and the temple will be desecrated.28 As traumatic as the attack on Jerusalem will be, the Lord promised His Apostles that it will not be as atrocious as when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D.29

Left unburied in the streets for three days, these two prophets will then be resurrected to the astonishment and fear of their enemies. A voice from heaven will bid them to arise, and they will ascend with resurrected bodies into clouds of glory.30

The Savior Will Appear and Destroy the Wicked Armies at Jerusalem

At this critical juncture, the Savior will suddenly appear in majesty and glory in the skies over Jerusalem. He will descend to the Mount of Olives and a massive earthquake will split the mount in two, destroying a tenth part of the city.31 The Jews will rush out of Jerusalem and through this newly-formed valley toward their Messiah.32 It is here that a poignant scene will take place, which the Lord described in a modern revelation:

“And then shall the Jews look upon me and say: ‘What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet?’ Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: ‘These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am He who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God.’ And then shall they weep because of their iniquities; then shall they lament because they persecuted their King.”33

Once this happens, the Jewish nation will finally acknowledge that Jesus Christ is their long-awaited Messiah. When they can witness for themselves the wounds in His hands and feet, they will finally understand and accept Him whom they had formerly rejected. Wilford Woodruff said:

“The Jews . . . do not believe in Jesus of Nazareth now, nor ever will, until He comes and sets His foot on Mount Olivet and it cleaves in twain, one part going toward the east, and the other toward the west. Then, when they behold the wounds in His hands and in His feet, they will say, ‘Where did you get them?’ And He will reply, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, your Shiloh, Him whom you crucified.’ Then, for the first time will the eyes of Judah be opened. They will remain in unbelief until that day.”34

When the Jews realize that their fathers crucified their Messiah, the entire Jewish nation will enter into a state of mourning.35 The prophet Zechariah said that they will cry and lament with a feeling of deep regret, as if they had lost a son or daughter.36

The Destruction of the Wicked Armies

While this is all taking place, the Lord and His angels will be sending destruction upon the wicked armies which have surrounded the city of Jerusalem. The Lord told the prophet Ezekiel that He will come forth in vengeance upon the leader of this wicked army:

“I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.”37

The destruction will be so complete and devastating that it will kill over 80 percent of the armies of the wicked.38 Those who manage to survive will flee out of the land as quickly as they can, barely escaping with their lives.39

After these armies have been destroyed by fire and meteors from heaven, it will take seven months for the Jews to bury all of the dead, and seven years to rid the land of the many weapons that are left behind.40 It will be a massive loss of soldiers, guns, tanks and other weapons for the Gentile armies that fought against Israel.

Blessings for the Jewish Nation

After the Jews have passed through this fiery crucible that has tried their faith and brought them deliverance from their enemies, they will be blessed by the Lord. He will tell them after the siege of Jerusalem is ended, “I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again. But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee.”41

The Lord told the Prophet Joseph that this furnace of adversity will sanctify the Jewish nation, and prepare them to live in a state of righteousness, which will be needed during the Millennium. They will become a holy and pure people, ready to live in the presence of the Savior when He rules in Jerusalem. The Lord said:

“And they also of the tribe of Judah, after their pain, shall be sanctified in holiness before the Lord, to dwell in His presence day and night, forever and ever.”42

The Jews at Jerusalem will emerge from this trial of their faith with complete and total victory, never to be trampled upon again.

As the city of Jerusalem is rebuilt, repaired and reconstructed after the war, it will rise in beauty and glory in parallel with the city of New Jerusalem. Both of them will become centers of truth and righteousness. The law will go forth from New Jerusalem and the word of the Lord from Old Jerusalem.43

During the Millennium the temple mount in Old Jerusalem will become a holy place, consecrated to the Lord.44 The word of the Lord will proceed forth from the temple in Jerusalem to the rest of the world throughout the thousand years of the Millennium. The glory of the Lord will rest upon the temple.45 The Lord said that it will be “the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever.”46

All of these amazing prophetic events will happen in the sacred land of Palestine. These things will also fulfill some of the covenants that the Lord has made with the house of Israel.

However, the Lord has additional covenants that He has made with Father Abraham and the house of Israel. It is in the latter days that He will fulfill all of these covenants in their fullness. The fulfillment of these covenants will bring about the culmination of many wonderful and amazing prophecies of the Lord.

Chapter Footnotes

1 . D&C 133:35.
2 . Isaiah 5:26-30, 11:10-16, 49:22, 60:4; 1 Nephi 22:12; 2 Nephi 6:14; D&C 45:43.
3 . There are still millions of Jews that live in America, in Europe, and throughout the world that have not yet gathered to Palestine.
4 . D&C 45:17, 24-25; emphasis added.
5 . Wilford Woodruff, August 13, 1876, Journal of Discourses 18:221.
6 . Wilford Woodruff, January 12, 1873, Journal of Discourses 15:277.
7 . Wilford Woodruff, June 12, 1881, Journal of Discourses 22:173.
8 . Ezekiel, chapters 40-47.
9 . Wilford Woodruff, August 1, 1880, Journal of Discourses 21:301.
10 . Ezekiel, chapters 40-42.
11 . W. Cleon Skousen, Gospel Diamond Dust, (Orem, Utah: Verity Publishing, 1997), pp. 238-239.
12 . History of the Church 4:211-212.
13 . Isaiah 51:17-20; Ezekiel 38-39; Daniel, chapters 8, 11 and 12; Joel 2-3; Zephaniah, chapter 3; Zechariah, chapters 12-14; Revelation 11:1-13, 16:14-21.
14 . Malachi 3:3-4.
15 . Zechariah 13:9.
16 . Brigham Young, December 3, 1854, Journal of Discourses 2:141.
17 . Joel 2:2.
18 . Wilford Woodruff, June 12, 1881, Journal of Discourses 22:173.
19 . Charles W. Penrose, "The Second Advent," Millennial Star (September 10, 1859) 21:582-583.
20 . 2 Nephi 8:17-20; emphasis added. Compare to Isaiah 51:17-20.
21 . Revelation 11:3.
22 . Revelation 11:5-6; Moses 7:13; Helaman 10:6.
23 . Revelation 11:5.
24 . Revelation 11:2-7.
25 . Revelation 11:7.
26 . Zechariah 14:2.
27 . Joseph Smith---Matthew 1:32.
28 . Daniel 8:13, 9:27, 11:31, 12:11; Joseph Smith---Matthew 1:12, 32.
29 . Joseph Smith---Matthew 1:18.
30 . Revelation 11:11-12.
31 . Zechariah 14:4; D&C 45:48; Revelation 11:13.
32 . Zechariah 14:5.
33 . D&C 45:51-53; see also Zechariah 12:10-14, 13:6.
34 . Wilford Woodruff, January 12, 1873, Journal of Discourses 15:278.
35 . Zechariah 12:10-14.
36 . Zechariah 12:10.
37 . Ezekiel 38:22.
38 . Ezekiel 39:2.
39 . Joel 2:20.
40 . Ezekiel 39:9, 12.
41 . 2 Nephi 8:22-23; Isaiah 51:22-23.
42 . D&C 133:35.
43 . Isaiah 2:3.
44 . Ezekiel 43:12.
45 . Ezekiel 44:4.
46 . Ezekiel 34:7.