The Earth Will Be Cleansed at
the Beginning of the Millennium

D&C 77:12

We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years - the preparing of the way before the time of his coming.

George Q. Cannon

If the destruction of the wicked among the Nephites was necessary in order to bring about a reign of peace and righteousness for three or four generations, do you not think that there will have to be great and overwhelming destructions to cleanse the earth of the wicked and to lay the foundation of a thousand years of peace and righteousness? Will wickedness be allowed to flourish? I tell you, no.

The wicked will be destroyed, according to the words of all the Prophets, and the righteous only will survive. There will be a cleansing of the earth from the wicked as great in its place as the cleansing of the earth by the flood that came in the days of Noah, though this time it will be by fire. Malachi says the day will come when the wicked shall be ashes under the soles of the feet of the righteous.

Already, as I have said, you can see the operation of this cleansing process among us. The wicked are gradually being purged from among us. It is not very perceptible; we have got to think about it and call it to mind to become aware of it; but we can become aware of it if we will reflect. And this will be more and more the case as the power of God increases and the responsibility of the Latter-day Saints becomes greater.

Therefore, I am looking for destructions and for judgments; I am looking for the cleansing power of God among us as well as among the nations of the earth, in order that the foundation of that great and glorious time shall be laid when Jesus shall reign upon the earth. (Gospel Truth, 1:88-89)

Joseph Fielding Smith

When the reign of Jesus Christ comes during the millennium, only those who have lived the telestial law will be removed. The earth will be cleansed of all its corruption and wickedness. Those who have lived virtuous lives, who have been honest in their dealings with their fellow man and have endeavored to do good to the best of their understanding, shall remain. (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:62)

When the Millennium is ushered in the earth is to pass through a cleansing. This will not be the final cleansing when the earth shall be consumed and pass away to be renewed again a celestial globe, but it will be the end of unrighteousness. 'All who have lived the telestial law -- that is those who are unclean, "they who are liars, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie" and who suffer the wrath of God on earth and "suffer the vengeance of eternal fire" -- shall be swept off from the face of the earth. All of these will be cast down to hell where they shall remain until Christ shall have subdued all enemies under his feet, and shall have perfected his work. During the thousand years all of these will be in this torment of mind, having ample time to reflect over their misdeeds and receive training in obedience to law, so that they may be prepared to come forth in the resurrection at the end of the world.

It will be impossible for the people of this class to remain on the earth during the Millennium, for they would be as much out of their element as a fish out of water. The changed condition of the earth, which will be of a terrestrial order during this thousand years, will be suited to the capacity of those of the terrestrial world as well as those who have kept the celestial law, and they shall have part in the first resurrection. "And then shall the heathen nations be redeemed, and they that knew no law shall have part in the first resurrection, "And it shall be tolerable for them." (D.C. 45:54.) But with those of the telestial order, this will not be so. These are they who are as stubble who shall be consumed when Christ comes, according to the words of Malachi. (4:1.) It is of this class the Lord speaks when he says:

"For the hour is nigh and the day soon at hand when the earth is ripe and all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that wickedness shall not be upon the earth;

"For the hour is nigh, and that which was spoken by mine apostles must be fulfilled; for as they spoke so shall it come to pass;

"For I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand." (D.C. 29:9-11) [The Way to Perfection, pp.302-303]

Bruce R. McConkie

Enoch sought to learn from the Lord when the curse would be removed and when the earth would be blessed again. After he and his city had been translated, "Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?" How graphic and wondrous is this way of teaching -- to let the very earth itself cry out for rest and blessings! "And when Enoch heard the earth mourn, he wept, and cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, wilt thou not have compassion upon the earth? Wilt thou not bless the children of Noah?" And the Lord did then bless the earth to this extent: he decreed that life on its face should never again be destroyed by a flood. But the basic questions remained unanswered, and so Enoch yet "cried unto the Lord, saying: When the Son of Man cometh in the flesh, shall the earth rest? I pray thee, show me these things." He then saw the crucifixion, the convulsions of nature that attended it, the opening of the prison doors, and the reserving of the wicked "in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day. And again Enoch wept and cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the earth rest? And Enoch beheld the Son of Man ascend up unto the Father; and he called unto the Lord, saying: Wilt thou not come again upon the earth?

I ask thee if thou wilt not come again on the earth." How great were the pleadings of this holy prophet to know what would be in the last days!

"And the Lord said unto Enoch: As I live, so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance. . . . And the day shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve." Then the Lord told Enoch of the restoration of the gospel, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the building of the New Jerusalem, and the return of the original Zion, and gave him the promise that "for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest. And it came to pass that Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, in the last days, to dwell on the earth in righteousness for the space of a thousand years." (Moses 7:48-65.) [The Millennial Messiah, p.615]

Our Blessed Lord will come at the appointed time. The great conference at Adam-ondi-Ahman will assemble to worship the King on schedule. There will be an exact moment when his foot first touches the Mount of Olives. He will stand on Mount Zion with the 144,000 high priests at a given point in time. Armageddon will spread its fire and horror and death when and as decreed in the divine timetable. The tares will be burned and the vineyard cleansed of corruption when the Lord Jesus returns. And there will be a day and an hour and a split second that marks the beginning of the Millennium. The seventh of the thousand-year periods can only commence at one single instant in tame. As we have seen, many of the events incident to the Second Coming will take place during the close of the sixth seal and others after the opening of the seventh seal. And yet the formal beginning of the Millennium will take place at a fixed and determined and set moment. It cannot be hastened by righteousness nor delayed by wickedness. The old earth will die, and the new heaven and the new earth will be born at as exact an instant as is the case with the birth or death of any form of life. We speak thus so there will be no confusion or misunderstanding when we also say that the full glory and wonder of the millennial day will unfold gradually; that there will be wicked men on earth after the Millennium has commenced; and that the final glory and triumph of Israel will take place gradually after the Millennium itself has been ushered in. Let us now see what the holy word has to say relative to these things.

First, the cleansing of the vineyard, the burning of the earth, and the destruction of the wicked by fire shall all come to pass in a short time, in a single day, as it were. And then there will be but few men left on earth. "I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day," the Lord told Zechariah. (Zech. 3:9.) And in Isaiah we find numerous prophetic expressions phrased in that imagery in which he so excelled. "Many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant." (Isa. 5:9.) Those sent to raise the warning voice to the world are to do so "until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and the Lord have removed men far away." (Isa. 6:11-12.) In the day of the Lord's coming, "the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day; and shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standard bearer fainteth. And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them." (Isa. 10:17-19.) "Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. . . . The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled. . . . Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left." (Isa. 24:1-6.) Who can doubt that there will be but few men left at the beginning of the Millennium?

The prophetic word that sets forth what is to be during the Millennium speaks of "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." (2 Pet. 3:13.) It says that every corruptible thing shall be consumed when the vineyard is burned. And yet the Prophet Joseph Smith said: "There will be wicked men on the earth during the thousand years. The heathen nations who will not come up to worship will be visited with the judgments of God, and must eventually be destroyed from the earth." (Teachings, pp. 268-69.) Taken together, these concepts mean that wickedness that is telestial in nature, wickedness that consists of living after the manner of the world, that wickedness which is carnal, sensual, and devilish by nature - all such shall cease. Those who so live will be destroyed. They are the tares of the earth.

But wickedness is a matter of degree, and even those who are upright and decent by worldly standards but who reject the gospel and do not worship the true God are considered to be wicked by gospel standards. They are "under the bondage of sin." They do not accept the message of the restoration and gain a remission of their sins in the waters of baptism. "And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now." (D&C 84:49-53.) Thus the divine word, as given by Zechariah, says that "it shall come to pass" - in the millennial day -- that every one that is left [after Armageddon] of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that who so will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles." (Zech. 14:16-19.) Thus there will be many churches on earth when the Millennium begins. False worship will continue among those whose desires are good, "who are honorable men of the earth," but who have been "blinded by the craftiness of men." (D&C 76:75.) Plagues will rest upon them until they repent and believe the gospel or are destroyed, as the Prophet said. It follows that missionary work will continue into the Millennium until all who remain are converted. Then "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (Isa. 11:9.) Then every living soul on earth will belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (The Millennial Messiah, pp.649-652)