“There Was a Great and Terrible Destruction in the Land Southward”

Bryan Richards

The apocalypse, or end of the world, has caught the imagination of religious and non-religious alike. Consumed with a morbid curiosity, human nature has conjured up a hundred different scenarios. Many movies have dealt with the subject in one form or another. Countless sermons have expounded on and speculated about the Second Coming and its attendant destructions. Others have preferentially studied the book of Revelation in an uninspired attempt at understanding the prophesied plagues and sequence of events.

Living in the last days, we, too, concern ourselves with the “signs of the times,” always wondering whether we are really prepared. We wish that the prophet would announce the time of His Coming even though that day, and hour, no one knoweth; no, not the angels of God in heaven (JS—Matt 1:40). Yet, here in the Book of Mormon we are given a vivid description of what apocalyptic destructions are like. We should not wonder about phrases like all the earth shall quake, or the sun shall be darkened, or there shall be weeping and wailing among the hosts of men, or there shall be a great hailstorm (DC 29:13-16). How terrible will these destructions be? Mormon gives us the answer in his description of the destructions which occurred among the Nephites at the time of Christ’s death. Even scriptural history repeats itself.



1) a great storm (v. 5)

An overflowing rain and great hailstones (Ezek 38:22)

2) terrible thunder (v. 6)

There were voices and thunderings and lightnings (Rev 8:5)

3) exceedingly sharp lightnings (v. 7)

Fierce and vivid lightning (DC 87:6)

4) Zarahemla did take fire (v. 8)

I will send a fire on Magog (Ezek 39:6)

5) Moroni did sink into the depths of the sea (v. 9)

The waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds (DC 88:90)

6) the whole face of the land was changed (v. 12)

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low (Isa 40:4)

7) many…were slain (v. 15)

Seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them (Ezek 39:12)

8) some…were carried away in the whirlwind (v. 16)

The whirlwind shall take them away as stubble (Isa 40:24)

9) the rocks were rent in twain (v. 18)

The voice…shall break down the mountains (DC 133:22)

10) there was darkness upon the face of the land (v. 19)

The sun shall be darkened (DC 29:14)

11) the inhabitants…could feel the vapor (v. 20)

Blood and fire, and vapors of smoke (DC 45:41)

12) they were heard to cry and mourn (v. 25)

There shall be weeping and wailing among the hosts of men (DC 29:15)

Ezra Taft Benson

“In the Book of Mormon we find a pattern for preparing for the Second Coming. A major portion of the book centers on the few decades just prior to Christ’s coming to America. By careful study of that time period, we can determine why some were destroyed in the terrible judgments that preceded His coming and what brought others to stand at the temple in the land of Bountiful and thrust their hands into the wounds of His hands and feet.” (Ensign, Nov. 1986, pp. 6-7 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 407)

Spencer W. Kimball

"These tremendous convulsions of nature not only impressed the Nephites greatly so that they recorded them in their history, but the memory of them also stayed in the minds of the Lamanites, or the American Indians, for fifteen hundred years. Shortly after the discovery of America, the Catholic missionaries and explorers learned that the American Indians had a tradition of the great convulsions of nature that took place at the time of Christ’s death. For example, I would like to quote from a Lamanite, an Indian prince named Ixtlilxochitl, who lived near the city of Mexico and wrote his book in 1600 A.D.:

’…the sun and the moon eclipsed, and the earth trembled, and the rocks broke, and many other things and signs took place, … This happened … at the same time when Christ our Lord suffered, and they say it happened during the first days of the year.’ (Works of Ixtlilxochitl, cited in Milton R. Hunter and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon. p. 190.)"

(Conference Report, Apr. 1961, p. 50-51)