|The Song of Solomon||The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah|
Isaiah 1:1-9. Rebellion against the Lord"Israel's rebellion is evidence of the highest degree of sin" (Sidney B. Sperry, The Spirit of the Old Testament, p. 175). Jehovah had nourished and brought them up as children (in Egypt and the wilderness), and now in their adulthood (in the promised land) they had turned against the Lord. Their affliction is like wounds or sores that have not healed. The totality of their rebellion is illustrated by the references to head and heart, to the whole person from foot to head. In other words, the spiritual cancer had infested the whole body of Israel. Little spiritual health was left in the nation. That was why the land would be left utterly desolate.
Isaiah 1:4. "Holy One of Israel"This sacred title of the Savior appears about thirty times in the writings of Isaiah but only twice in Jeremiah, once in Ezekiel, and three times in Psalms. It is not used elsewhere in the Old Testament, except in 2 Kings 19:22, which is Isaiah speaking. The Book of Mormon prophets Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob used this expression thirty-nine times, only four of which are passages from Isaiah.
Isaiah 1:2-4. What were most of the people in Israel?
Isaiah 1:8. What Is a "Cottage in a Vineyard"?When the vineyard and the cucumber crops were ready to harvest, small booths, or huts, were built in the fields so the owner or his servants could watch over the harvest and protect it from thieves or animals. These huts were generally crudely made and hastily erected. After the harvest, they were abandoned and quickly became dilapidated and forlorn relics of the harvest. Jerusalem was to be like that -- once proud and useful, but now, through her own spiritual neglect, an empty and forlorn relic. (See Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, 1:55-56.)
Isaiah 1:9. How many were faithful?
Isaiah 1:9. "Left unto Us a Very Small Remnant"The prophetic declaration promises the preservation of the lineage of Judah for future time. Paul cited thispassage in this same context (see Romans 9:29; Isaiah 10:22).
Isaiah 1:10-15. The Hypocrisy of Insincere WorshipThese verses do not mean that the Lord rejected the law of Moses, particularly the performances and ordinances of the law. The condemnation here is of the hypocritical fulfillment of the Mosaic offerings and feasts. Israel misused these religious activities because they fulfilled only the outward requirements and did not worship with full purpose of heart, turning their worship toward the Savior. (See Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 58-59; Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:61-62). To refer to the people of Israel as Sodom and Gomorrah (v. 10) vividly depicts how deeply the people had sunk into sin and depravity.
Isaiah 1:16-19. What were the faithful called upon to do?
Isaiah 1:16-20. Call to Repentance, Promise of ForgivenessIn the midst of a scathing denunciation of the house of Israel, the Lord reminded them that they could be saved as a nation if they would truly repent. This scripture is often used to encourage individuals to repent and seek forgiveness, but it was originally given to a nation, not a person. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:
"This is not an individual promise, but one to a rebellious nation. No matter how many prophets the Lord sent to Israel and Judah, and how many times he pleaded with them, all through their history they were rebellious.
"Here we find a promise that if they would return to the Lord, their past sins would be forgotten, and he would again receive them as his people and bless them abundantly, and they should continue to be his covenant people." (Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:180.)
Nephi, however, said that he took the words of Isaiah and "did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning" (1 Nephi 19:23). Certainly this beautiful promise, though originally given to Israel as a nation, can be "likened" to individuals. Elder Charles W. Penrose applied Isaiah's promise from the Lord to all who meet certain requirements: "Now here is the pattern: Those who believe and repent must be taken down into the water and be buried from their old lives, must put off the old man with his deeds, must be buried in the likeness of Christ's burial and raised up again in the likeness of Christ's resurrection. Then, when they come forth from the water, if they have believed, repented, and been baptized by a man sent of God to baptize -- then, 'though their sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." They are cleansed, they come forth to a new birth, they are born of the water, and every time they partake of the holy sacrament they witness to God that they will continue in his ways, and walk in his paths, that they have put on Christ, and that they will remember him to keep his commandments in all things. Now when people are thus properly cleansed, and purified and made white, like unto newborn babes on entering into the world, without blemish or spot, then their tabernacles are fit to receive the Holy Ghost." (In Journal of Discourses, 22:91.)
President Joseph Fielding Smith suggested that the washing mentioned in verse 16 could be baptism (see Answers to Gospel Questions, 1:51). From the Book of Mormon it is known that Isaiah taught baptism at least one other time (see 1 Nephi 20:1).
Isaiah 1:19-20. A Blessing or a CurseThis same conditional promise and warning was given to the Saints of the latter days (see D&C 64:34-35).
Isaiah 1:27. When will Zion be redeemed?
Isaiah 2:1-4. List four things that Isaiah saw.
Isaiah 2:1-5. "In the Last Days ... the Mountain of the Lord's House Shall Be Established"These same verses appear in Micah 4:1-5. It is not known whether they were revealed first to Isaiah or to Micah.
The "mountain of the Lord" in the last dispensation refers to the restoration of the Church. President Harold B. Lee said: "The coming forth of his church in these days was the beginning of the fulfillment of the The Salt Lake Temple at Church headquarters ancient prophecy when 'the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains'" (in Conference Report, Apr. 1973, p. 5).
On another occasion President Lee observed that "with the coming of the pioneers to establish the Church in the tops of the mountains, our early leaders declared this to be the beginning of the fulfillment of that prophecy" ("The Way to Eternal Life," Ensign, Nov. 1971, p. 15).
The establishment of the Church headquarters in Salt Lake City is only a beginning of the fulfillment of that inspired declaration. Obviously, the effect of the Church center in Utah has been great. Elder LeGrand Richards said: "How literally [Isaiah 2:3] has been fulfilled, in my way of thinking, in this very house of the God of Jacob right here on this block! This temple [Salt Lake], more than any other building of which we have any record, has brought people from every land to learn of his ways and walk in his paths." (In Conference Report, Apr. 1971, p. 143.)
But this scriptural statement extends far beyond Salt Lake City. Verse 3 suggests that eventually other world centers will be included. Then this prophetic statement will reach its fulfillment.
Isaiah 2:3. "Out of Zion Shall Go Forth the Law ... the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem"President Joseph Fielding Smith gave the following explanation of this prophetic statement of Isaiah:
"We are informed in the revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet, that the city of Zion and the New Jerusalem is one and the same. [D&C 28:9; 42:9; 45:66-67; 57:2; 58:7.] ...
"Jerusalem of old, after the Jews have been cleansed and sanctified from all their sin, shall become a holy city where the Lord shall dwell and from whence he shall send forth his word unto all people. Likewise, on this continent, the city of Zion, New Jerusalem, shall be build, and from it the law of God shall also go forth. There will be no conflict, for each city shall be headquarters for the Redeemer of the world, and from each he shall send forth his proclamations as occasion may require. Jerusalem shall be the gathering place of Judah and his fellows of the house of Israel, and Zion shall be the gathering place of Ephraim and his fellows, upon whose heads shall be conferred 'the richer blessings." ...
"These two cities, one in the land of Zion and one in Palestine, are to become capitals for the kingdom of God during the millennium.
"In the meantime, while the work of preparation is going on and Israel is being gathered, many people are coming to the land of Zion saying: 'Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob." The Latter-day Saints are fulfilling this prediction, since they are being gathered from all parts of the earth and are coming to the house of the Lord in these valleys of the mountains. Here they are being taught in the ways of the Lord through the restoration of the gospel and by receiving blessings in the temples now erected. Moreover, before many years have passed away, the Lord will command the building of the City Zion, and Jerusalem in Palestine will in due time be cleansed and become a holy city and the habitation of the Jews after they are cleansed and are willing to accept Jesus Christ as their Redeemer." (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:69-71.)
While the Saints await the time of the establishment of these world centers, the principle of sending forth the law has been associated not only with the spread of the gospel and its blessings, but also with the providing of a climate in which the gospel work can grow. President Harold B. Lee said:
"I have often wondered what that expression meant, that out of Zion shall go forth the law. Years ago I went with the brethren to the Idaho Falls Temple, and I heard in that inspired prayer of the First Presidency a definition of the meaning of that term 'out of Zion shall go forth the law." Note what they said: 'We thank thee that thou hast revealed to us that those who gave us our constitutional form of government were men wise in thy sight and that thou didst raise them up for the very purpose of putting forth that sacred document [the Constitution of the United States -- see D&C 101:80] ...
"'We pray that kings and rulers and the peoples of all nations under heaven may be persuaded of the blessings enjoyed by the people of this land by reason of their freedom and under thy guidance and be constrained to adopt similar governmental systems, thus to fulfill the ancient prophecy of Isaiah and Micah that "... out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."' (Improvement Era, October 1945, p. 564.)" (The Way to Eternal Life, p. 15).
Isaiah 2:4-5. Establishment of the MillenniumThese verses deal with the ushering in of the millennial era and with the changes that will accompany it. The writings of Isaiah as found in the Book of Mormon show the following additional phrase in verse 5: "Yea, come, for ye have all gone astray, every one to his wicked ways" (2 Nephi 12:5). This verse indicates a widespread apostasy in Israel and the return of Israel to the Lord before the Second Coming.
Isaiah 2:6-22. The Proud and the Wicked to Be Brought LowIsaiah 2 summarizes the basic spiritual problems that troubled Israel in Isaiah's day and that will prevail again among the people before the Second Coming. This passage is another excellent example of dualistic prophecy. Though Isaiah's prophecy was given "concerning Judah and Jerusalem" (v. 1), it is obviously also related to the last days and the Second Coming of Jesus.
Verse 6. They were "replenished from the east," or in other words, they looked to the religious philosophies and the gods of the Assyrians and other heathen countries for power and sustenance. Today people look to many other religions and philosophies of men for wisdom and guidance instead of to the gospel.
Verse 6. They "hearken unto soothsayers" (2 Nephi 12:6), those false prophets who claimed to be able to foretell the future. Today, true prophets are largely ignored, and all kinds of false religionists and counselors are looked to for guidance.
Verse 6. "They please themselves in the children of strangers" or, as C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch translated the phrase, "and with the children of foreigners they go hand in hand" (Commentary on the Old Testament, 7:1:118). In short, ancient Israel was joining the heathen nations in all their wickedness, and modern society is joining with the influences of the world rather than looking to the Lord.Verse 7. The land was "full of silver and gold," that is, the people were wealthy and materialistic. Their hearts were set on the things of the world. Again in the last days, materialism runs rampant.
Verse 7. The land was "full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots." The horse was a symbol of warfare, as was the chariot. Today is an age characterized by "wars and rumors of war" (see JS-M 1:28.)
Verse 8. The land was filled with idolatry then, and people still turn to false gods today, though not necessarily to idols made of wood or stone.
Verse 9. The "mean man boweth not down, and the great man humbleth himself not" (2 Nephi 12:9; emphasis added). The differences in the Book of Mormon account of Isaiah's writings, noted by the italics, show that Isaiah was not making further reference to idolatry but was referring to the fact that men would not worship the true God. In the preface to the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord indicated this failure would be a major concern of the last days. (See D&C 1:16.)
Because of her sins, ancient Israel brought upon herself the judgments of God, and because of the same problems the people of the last days will likewise bring sorrow and problems upon themselves.
The brass plates contained other differences that clarify Isaiah's meaning. Compare Isaiah 2:10, 12-14, 16, 19, 21 with 2 Nephi 12:10, 12-14, 16, 19, 21.
Isaiah 2:12-21. What will happen to the proud and wicked at the Second Coming?
Isaiah 2:13. What Were the "Cedars of Lebanon" and the "Oaks of Bashan"?They were the loftiest and most impressive trees in the ancient Middle East. They therefore symbolized not only the great beauty of the land that would be destroyed but also the proud and lofty people of the earth (see Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:122-23).
Isaiah 2:16. What Is Meant by the Phrase "Ships of Tarshish"?Trade with other nations would cease. Such trade had been established and had prospered during the reign of kings Uzziah and Jotham (see Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:124).
Again the Book of Mormon affirms the completeness of the record from which its Isaiah citations were taken. Sperry illustrated this contribution:
"In 2 Nephi 12:16 (cf. Isaiah 2:16) the Book of Mormon has a reading of remarkable interest. It prefixes a phrase of eight words not found in the Hebrew or King James versions. Since the ancient Septuagint (Greek) Version concurs with the added phrase in the Book of Mormon, let us exhibit the readings of the Book of Mormon (B.M.), the King James Version (K.J.), and the Septuagint (LXX) as follows:
B.M. And upon all the ships of the sea,
K. J. ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
LXX And upon every ship of the sea,
and upon all the ships of Tarshish
And upon all the ships of Tarshish
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
and upon all pleasant pictures.
and upon all pleasant pictures.
and upon every display of fine ships.
"The Book of Mormon suggests that the original text of this verse contained three phrases, all of which commenced with the same opening words, 'and upon all." By a common accident, the original Hebrew (and hence the King James) text lost the first phrase, which was, however, preserved by the Septuagint. The latter lost the second phrase and seems to have corrupted the third phrase. The Book of Mormon preserved all three phrases. Scholars may suggest that Joseph Smith took the first phrase from the Septuagint. The prophet did not know Greek, and there is no evidence that he had access to a copy of the Septuagint in 1829-30 when he translated the Book of Mormon." (The Voice of Israel's Prophets, pp. 90-91.)
Isaiah 2:22. "Cease Ye from Man"This expression is a warning about the weaknesses of trusting merely in man (see also 2 Nephi 4:34; 28:31; Topical Guide, s.v. "trust not in the arm of flesh").
Isaiah 3:1-8. Prophetic Declaration of the Fall of JudahIsaiah described the eventual fall of Judah and Jerusalem in terms of the noted officials and respected persons of his day. These included government, military, educational, and religious leaders. With the loss of such individuals, the nation would fall under despotic reign at the hands of youthful puppets. Finally, it would rush toward anarchy as the last struggles for power were exercised within the ruling family. (See Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:130-35.) The people would be so desperate for leadership that they would select rulers because they were able to dress decently, but even family leaders would refuse to help. The Book of Mormon provides textual clarification for verse 6, showing that the people pleaded that the ruler not let ruin come upon them (see 2 Nephi 13:6).
Isaiah 3:5-8. Why will Judah and Jerusalem be punished?
Isaiah 3:9. "The Shew of Their Countenance Doth Witness against Them"The Book of Mormon clarifies the meaning of this significant verse (see 2 Nephi 13:9). Individuals radiate the quality of their spirit and attitude. They manifest the real person -- good or evil. Isaiah warned that the disobedient cannot hide the effects of their transgressions from others. President David O. McKay provided the following insights into this principle:
"Every man and every person who lives in this world wields an influence, whether for good or for evil. It is not what he says alone; it is not alone what he does. It is what he is. Every man, every person radiates what he or she really is ... It is what we are and what we radiate that affects the people around us.
"As individuals, we must think nobler thoughts. We must not encourage vile thoughts or low aspirations. We shall radiate them if we do. If we think noble thoughts; if we encourage and cherish noble aspirations, there will be that radiation when we meet people, especially when we associate with them." (Man May Know for Himself, p. 108.)
Isaiah 3:13. What will the Lord do for his people?
Isaiah 3:14. Why Should the Lord Be UpsetBecause the People Have "Eaten Up the Vineyard"? The vineyard is a symbol of the chosen people (see Isaiah 5:7), and the rulers of Israel were called to be watchmen over the vineyard. Instead of guarding the Lord's vineyard they had oppressed the people and consumed the vineyard (compare Matthew 21:33-40).
Isaiah 3:16-21. What will happen to the daughters of Zion? Why?
Isaiah 3:16-24. The "Daughters of Zion" to Succumb to Worldliness in the Latter DaysIn these verses one can see a good example of dualism. Isaiah shows that the wickedness prevailing in Israel and Judah included the women, who were proud, arrogant, and more concerned with their clothing, jewels, and personal appearance than with righteousness. But these verses can also be applied in the latter days, when women will once more lose sight of proper priorities. President Joseph Fielding Smith said of this passage:
"Isaiah, one of the great prophets of early times, saw our day, and he described the conditions that would prevail among the 'daughters of Zion" in these latter days ...
"Now, in this modern day, Isaiah's prophecy has been and is being fulfilled ...
"The standards expressed by the General Authorities of the Church are that women, as well as men, should dress modestly. They are taught proper deportment and modesty at all times. It is, in my judgment, a sad reflection on the 'daughters of Zion" when they dress immodestly. Moreover, this remark pertains to the men as well as to the women. The Lord gave commandments to ancient Israel that both men and women should cover their bodies and observe the law of chastity at all times." (Answers to Gospel Questions, 5:172-74.)
Isaiah 3:16-24. Difficult Idioms and Archaic ExpressionsThe following explanations may be helpful in understanding the power of Isaiah's condemnation of the women's apostasy.
Verse 16. "Stretched forth necks" is an idiom describing haughtiness -- pride in self and scorn toward others (see Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:162).
Verse 16. "Mincing ... and making a tinkling with their feet." The women wore costly ornamental chains connecting rings about the ankles. These were often adorned with bells. (See Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:143.)
Verse 17. "Discover their secret parts" is an idiom meaning that they would be put to shame (see Isaiah 3:17a).
Verse 18. "Cauls ... round tires like the moon" were ornamental jewelry in the shape of suns and moons according to the fashions of that day (see Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:165).
Verses 19-23. These terms describe fashions that were popular among the worldly women in Isaiah's day: "muffler" -- veil; "bonnet" -- headdress; "tablets" -- perfume boxes; "earrings" -- charms or amulets; "nose jewels" -- nose rings; "changeable suits of apparel" -- clothing for festivals only; "mantle" -- overcloak; "wimples" -- a type of shawl or veil worn over the head; "crisping pins" -- erroneously rendered as hair curling implements. The Hebrew suggests a bag, like modern purses or handbags; "glasses" -- most authorities translate as a metal mirror, although some suggest transparent clothing, "hoods" -- turbans, head cover wrapped by hand. (See Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:165-66; Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:144-47.)
Isaiah 3:24-26. The Fruits of Transgression upon the Daughters of ZionThe prophet contrasts their former beauty with the results of judgment. Because of their wickedness, the beauty, the pride, and the fashion will become tragedy, disaster, and slavery. The girdle in verse 24 was the sash used to fasten the outer clothing. Keil and Delitzsch showed that the "rent" which was to replace it was the rope used to bind slaves. Sackcloth was black goat's hair worn at times of great mourning. The "burning" refers to the branding that often accompanied one's being made a slave. Thus Keil and Delitzsch translated this verse: "And instead of balmy scent there will be mouldiness, and instead of the sash, a rope, and instead of artistic ringlets a baldness, and instead of the dress cloak a frock of sackcloth, branding instead of beauty" (Commentary, 7:1:147).
Isaiah 4:1, 4. What will become of the daughters of Zion? When?
Isaiah 4:1. "Take Away Our Reproach"Verse 1 of chapter four seems to continue the thought of chapter three rather than to begin a new thought. This phrase suggests that the condition mentioned in verse 1 is caused by the scarcity of men, a result of the devastation of war mentioned in Isaiah 3:25-26. The conditions under which these women would accept this marriage ("eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel") are contrary to the Lord's order of marriage (see Exodus 21:10; D&C 132:58-61). To be unmarried and childless in ancient Israel was a disgrace (see Genesis 30:23; Luke 1:25). So terrible would conditions in those times be that women would offer to share a husband with others and expect no material support from him, if they could claim they were married to him.
Isaiah 4:2. What Is the "Branch of the Lord"?See Commentary on Isaiah 11:1.
Isaiah 4:4. "Washed ... Purged ... Burning"This passage describes the purification of Zion in preparation for the establishment of God's kingdom in the last days (see also Isaiah 4:4a). Through chastisement and various judgments, Israel will finally be purged of wickedness and turn back to God (compare Isaiah 5:16; Zechariah 13:9; Helaman 12:1-3).
Isaiah 4:5-6. Zion to Be a Place of RefugeIn Doctrine and Covenants 45:66-72, the sacred and protected status of "Zion" for the gathered Israel in the latter days is described. Doctrine and Covenants 105:31-32 speaks of how the glory of Zion shall be her defense. Isaiah compared the protecting divine influence with that experienced by Moses (see Exodus 14:19-20; Deuteronomy 1:33). Elder Orson Pratt suggested that the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy would be literal:
"The time is to come when God will meet with all the congregation of his Saints, and to show his approval, and that he does love them, he will work a miracle by covering them in the cloud of his glory. I do not mean something that is invisible, but I mean that same order of things which once existed on the earth so far as the tabernacle of Moses was concerned, which was carried in the midst of the children of Israel as they journeyed in the wilderness ... But in the latter days there will be people so pure in Mount Zion, with a house established upon the tops of the mountains, that God will manifest himself, not only in their Temple and upon all their assemblies, with a visible cloud during the day, but when the night shall come, if they shall be assembled for worship, God will meet with them by his pillar of fire; and when they retire to their habitations, behold each habitation will be lighted up by the glory of God, -- a pillar of flaming fire by night.
"Did you ever hear of any city that was thus favored and blessed since the day that Isaiah delivered this prophecy? No, it is a latter-day work, one that God must consummate in the latter times when he begins to reveal himself, and show forth his power among the nations." (In Journal of Discourses, 16:82.)
Isaiah 5:1-7. Isaiah's Parable of the VineyardThe prophet used the parable of the vineyard to illustrate the impending destruction and scattering ofIsrael (Judah). For additional examples of similar applications of this parable see James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pp. 541-42.
The loss of protection for the vineyard, the neglect, and the effects of famine would result from Israel's transgression (see vv. 5-7).
Isaiah 5:7. What is the Lord's vineyard?
Isaiah 5:8-25. Warning of the Consequences of Apostasy and TransgressionAfter the parable that introduces this chapter, the prophet Isaiah gave many examples of the wickedness of the people of his day.
Verse 8. They built up great estates through wickedness. Keil and Delitzsch explained: "'They, the insatiable, would not rest till, after every smaller piece of landed property had been swallowed by them, the whole land had come into their possession, and no one beside themselves was settled in the land' [Job 22:8]. Such covetousness was all the more reprehensible, because the law of Israel had provided so very stringently and carefully, that as far as possible there should be an equal distribution of the soil, and that hereditary family property should be inalienable." (Commentary, 7:1:166.)
An acre is the amount a yoke of oxen could plow in a day. A bath is about 5.5 gallons. A homer is about 6.5 bushels, and an ephah is one tenth of a homer. These measurements show how unproductive the land would become because of this wickedness.
Verse 11. Drunkenness and partying prevail, with no regard for God.
Verse 12. There is no knowledge of truth and true principles. Ignorance is a hindrance in any field of endeavor, but especially in spiritual things. The Prophet Joseph Smith gave instruction on this important principle: "The Church must be cleansed, and I proclaim against all iniquity. A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God." (Teachings, p. 217.)
Verse 18. They draw sin and iniquity with ropes of vanity. Isaiah 5:18c helps explain Isaiah's idiomatic expressions: "They are tied to their sins like beasts to their burdens."
Verse 20. They pervert righteousness and goodness, calling them evil, and try to pass off evil things as good. It is the nature of sinners to reject the reality of the consequences of their transgressions, and so they attempt to explain them away.
Verse 21. They are "wise in their own eyes." President N. Eldon Tanner illustrated the necessity of heeding this warning. He noted that when people "become learned in the worldly things such as science and philosophy, [they] become self-sufficient and are prepared to lean unto their own understanding, even to the point where they think they are independent of God; and because of their worldly learning they feel that if they cannot prove physically, mathematically, or scientifically that God lives, they can and should feel free to question and even to deny God and Jesus Christ. Then many of our professors begin to teach perverse things, to lead away disciples after them; and our youth whom we send to them for learning accept them as authority, and many are caused to lose their faith in God ...
"How much wiser and better it is for man to accept the simple truths of the gospel and to accept as authority God, the Creator of the world, and his Son Jesus Christ, and to accept by faith those things which he cannot disprove and for which he cannot give a better explanation. He must be prepared to acknowledge that there are certain things -- many, many things -- that he cannot understand." (In Conference Report, Oct. 1968, pp. 48-49.)
Verse 23. They "justify the wicked for reward." Those who were guilty of crimes were declared innocent by bribed judges and other officials, whereas the innocent were found guilty so that they could be silenced or their property exploited. Obviously the dark evils that prevailed among the Israelites of the ancient kingdom of Judah help modern readers understand why the judgments of God come upon them. But today's world can also learn a great lesson, for one need only look to see the same evils prevailing on many sides. The effects of sin today are as devastating as they were anciently. That is the message of Isaiah for today.
Isaiah 5:45, 24-25. what will happen to Isarel?
Isaiah 5:26. What Does It Mean to "Hiss" to the Nations?This expression describes a signal, such as a whistle, to summon or alert someone to an event. (See Isaiah 5:26b and Isaiah 7:18a.)
Isaiah 5:26-30. "He Will Lift Up an Ensign to the Nations" in the Latter DaysThe gathering of Israel in haste and with means not known in Isaiah's day is portrayed in the conclusion of this chapter. Elder LeGrand Richards provided this modern-day application of the prophet's words: "Since there were neither trains nor airplanes in that day, Isaiah could hardly have mentioned them by name. However, he seems to have described them in unmistakable words. How better could 'their horses' hoofs be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind' than in the modern train? How better could 'their roaring ... be like a lion' than in the roar of the airplane? Trains and airplanes do not stop for night. Therefore, was not Isaiah justified in saying: 'none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken'? With this manner of transportation the Lord can really 'hiss unto them from the end of the earth,' that 'they shall come with speed swiftly.'" (Israel! Do You Know?, p. 182.)
The expression "ensign to the nations" is discussed in Commentary on Isaiah 11:10, 12.
Isaiah 6:1. Whom does Isaiah see?
Isaiah 6:1. "In the Year That King Uzziah Died"The approximate year of King Uzziah's death was 740 BC.
Isaiah 6:1. "I Saw ... the Lord"Both John and Nephi testified that the Lord whom Isaiah saw was the premortal Jesus Christ (see John 12:41; 2 Nephi 11:2-3). In addition, some have witnessed a similar scene (see Revelation 4:1-11).
Isaiah 6:1-4. Vision of the Lord and the Celestial RealmsA vision of the celestial sphere would be difficult if not impossible to describe. That was the dilemma of the prophet Isaiah. He endeavored in these verses to portray something of the power and glory of his experience, using images and terms with which his readers could identify. Even then he sensed how much he fell short of communicating the reality of the experience. Later in his writing, Isaiah described the inadequacy of words and even of the senses of mortal man to comprehend heavenly things. He wrote: "For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him" (Isaiah 64:4).
Others who have experienced visions of the celestial realms have cited Isaiah in an attempt to explain their limited ability to tell of what they had been shown (see 1 Corinthians 2:9; D&C 76:10). The Prophet Joseph Smith provided a perspective on such experiences when he said: "Could we read and comprehend all that has been written from the days of Adam, on the relation of man to God and angels in a future state, we should know very little about it. Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose. Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject." (Teachings, p. 324.)
Isaiah 6:2. What Are Seraphim?"Seraphs are angels who reside in the presence of God, giving continual glory, honor, and adoration to him. 'Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.' (Ps. 148:2.) It is clear that seraphs include the unembodied spirits of pre-existence, for our Lord 'looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made.' (D&C 38:1.) Whether the name seraphs also applies to perfected and resurrected angels is not clear. While petitioning on behalf of the saints, the Prophet prayed that 'we may mingle our voices with those bright, shining seraphs around thy throne, with acclamations of praise, singing Hosanna to God and the Lamb!' (D&C 109:79.)
"In Hebrew the plural of seraph is seraphim or, as incorrectly recorded in the King James Version of the Bible, seraphims. Isaiah saw seraphim in vision and heard them cry one to another 'Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.' ([JST], Isa. 6:1-8.) The fact that these holy beings were shown to him as having wings was simply to symbolize their 'power, to move, to act, etc.' as was the case also in visions others had received. (D&C 77:4.)" (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 702-3.)
Isaiah 6:4. "The Posts of the Door Moved ..., and the House Was Filled with Smoke"Another rendering of the first phrase from the Hebrew suggests more clearly what was intended: "the foundations of the thresholds trembled" (Isaiah 6:4a). The presence of smoke was symbolic of the presence and glory of God (see Exodus 19:18; Revelation 15:8). Fire and smoke are frequently used to depict the glory of celestial realms. In the language of Joseph Smith:
"God Almighty Himself dwells in eternal fire; flesh and blood cannot go there, for all corruption is devoured by the fire. 'Our God is a consuming fire. [Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 12:29].' When our flesh is quickened by the Spirit, there will be no blood in this tabernacle. Some dwell in higher glory than others.
"... Immortality dwells in everlasting burnings." (Teachings, p. 367.)
Isaiah 6:5-8. The Prophet Received ForgivenessThe expression "Woe is me! For I am undone" is an idiom declaring Isaiah's overwhelming feeling of unworthiness before God. (See Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:247-48). Likewise, the purging by a live coal is symbolic of purifying, cleansing, and forgiveness (see Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:250-51). Joseph Smith had similar experiences in connection with his call and the carrying forth of his ministry (see JS- H 1:29; D&C 29:3; 36:1; 50:36; 60:7).
Isaiah 6:7. What happened to his sins?
Isaiah 6:9-10. What is he called to do?
Isaiah 6:9-13. Prophecy of the Rejection of Spiritual ThingsThe words the prophet Isaiah was commissioned to deliver were in part to bring the people to a full accountability for their choices, so that they would be left without excuse. The Book of Mormon rendering of verse 9 shows that the Lord was telling Isaiah the people would for the most part reject his words: "And he said: Go and tell this people -- Hear ye indeed, but they understood not; and see ye indeed, but they perceived not" (2 Nephi 16:9; emphasis indicates differences from the King James Version).
The people claimed to hear and see, but they did not understand the spirit of the message.
The command to "make the heart of this people fat, ... their ears heavy, and shut their eyes" is used to describe the process of making the people accountable. The command, of course, refers to "their spiritual sight, spiritual hearing, and spiritual feeling." (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:200). "There is a self-hardening in evil ... Sin from its very nature bears its own punishment ... An evil act in itself is the result of self-determination proceeding from a man's own will." (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:201). An individual cannot resist or reject the truth without eventually becoming spiritually hardened (see History of the Church, 4:264). Isaiah's indictment of the kingdom of Judah was cited again in the New Testament to show that the people of that time were no different. The inability of many to understand the parables is a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy (see Matthew 13:10-17; Luke 8:9-10). The significance of many of the miracles was also misunderstood (see John 12:37-41). The testimony of the Messiah and His Sonship was understood, at least in part, by the disciples, but it was rejected by others (see Luke 10:21-24).
The prophet Isaiah asked the Lord how long some men would be hardened against truth (v. 11); the answer -- until mortal man no longer exists (see Isaiah 6:11a).
Isaiah 6:6a. What is the live coal a symbol of? (See Isaiah 6:6a)
Isaiah 6:13. Scattering and Gathering of the Remnant of JudahThis verse records the prophecy that the house of Israel would survive the coming devastation as does a tree that is stripped of its leaves in winter but still remains alive (see Isaiah 6:13b).
Isaiah 7:1, 5-6. Who waged war against Judah? (See also Isaiah 7:2a)
Isaiah 7:1-9. A Prophetic Warning against an Alliance between Israel (Ephraim) and SyriaThe kingdom of Israel (Ephraim) in the north had formed an alliance with Syria for mutual strength and protection against the conquering empire of Assyria. When Judah refused to join the alliance, they threatened to subjugate Judah and attacked their southern foe. (See 2 Kings 15:36-38; 16:1-6).
Isaiah was directed to warn King Ahaz against seeking political alliances for Judah in order to defend his people. The king, the third of the kings of Judah that Isaiah was sent to counsel, eventually rejected the Lord's warning (see 2 Kings 16:7-20.
Isaiah 7:3. Who Was Shear-jashub?He was one of the sons of the prophet Isaiah who accompanied his father in visiting the king. His name was a prophetic one that meant "the remnant shall return" (Isaiah 7:3a; see also Commentary on Isaiah 8:18).
Isaiah 7:3. What Was the "Conduit of the Upper Pool"?See Commentary on 2 Kings 18:17.
Isaiah 7:4. Why Were Rezin of Syria and Pekah of Israel Called "Smoking Firebrands"?The image is that of a torch that has burned out. The charred pieces of wood have no strength and carry no real threat (see Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:273).
Isaiah 7:8. "Within Threescore and Five Years"Because the chronologies of biblical and contemporary texts are neither complete nor in harmony, it is difficult to review the history with year-to-year precision. The fulfillment of this prophecy, however, is generally regarded as extending past the initial invasions of both Tiglath-pileser III and Shalmaneser V to the final conquest and displacement of the majority of the population under the Assyrian king Esarhaddon. Throughout the period of disruption and migrations, Ephraim, the Northern Kingdom, was able to maintain some identity until the final deportation. (See Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:211–12; Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:275–76.)
Isaiah 7:9b. Why is faith necessary? (See v. 9b)
Isaiah 7:10–16. The Messianic Promise a ProtectionKing Ahaz was reluctant to accept counsel, so the prophet challenged him to seek the confirming witness of the Lord: "ask a sign" (v. 11). Still the king refused, not because he was unwilling to tempt God as he said (v. 12), but because he did not want the Lord interfering in his plans to make an alliance with other nations. But the Lord revealed the sign anyway, confirming the prophetic promise that the Messiah would be born of the remnant of Judah and that Judah would not totally perish. In contrast to the promise to Judah, the writer prophesied the fall of the Northern Kingdom, "the land thou abhorrest" (v. 16), which opposed King Ahaz. The two kings who reigned in the north at that time were put to death by the Assyrians. (See Monte S. Nyman, Great Are the Words of Isaiah, pp. 58–59).
Isaiah 7:14. "A Virgin Shall ... Bear a Son"This passage is cited in the New Testament as being fulfilled by the birth of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 1:25). Some commentators point out that the word translated virgin means only a young woman and not someone who has never had sexual relations. They do this in an attempt to refute this passage as proof of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. But it can be shown that the term is properly translated and did mean an unmarried woman (see Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:286-88).
The Book of Mormon, likewise, testifies of Mary's virginity at the time of Christ's conception (see 1 Nephi 11:13, 15, 18, 20-21). Thus, the vision of Nephi affirms Isaiah"s ancient prophecy that it was indeed a virgin who would conceive.
President Marion G. Romney spoke of the importance of spiritual direction in understanding the prophet Isaiah"s declaration:
"Here is another example in which men revise the scriptures without the inspiration of the Spirit. Isaiah, in predicting the birth of Christ, said: 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.' (Isaiah 7:14. Italics added.) When Isaiah used the word virgin, he was saying that a woman who had not known a man should bear a son.
"The modern translators say: 'Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version , Isaiah 7:14. Italics added.) You see, they do not believe that Christ was divine, so it does not make any difference to them whether they say a 'young woman' or a 'virgin.'" (In Conference Report, Tokyo Japan Area Conference 1975, p. 46.)
Isaiah 7:14. What Is the Meaning of the Name Immanuel?This name is also a title that describes Jehovah's mission in mortality. The New Testament provides a correct interpretation of its meaning in Hebrew. Matthew recorded: "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (Matthew 1:22-23).
Isaiah 8. Warning of the Impending Assyrian InvasionThe chapter is a continuation of the historical events introduced in chapter 7. The prophet Isaiah is again to warn Judah against alliances, for, as he prophesies, they will be ineffective. The Messianic promise of Immanuel ("God is with us") would prevail in their behalf. The Assyrian invasion would come, but Judah would still survive. Isaiah concluded his writing with a warning against the false teachings and practices that would pull Judah away from the law and testimony that had been revealed to them.
Isaiah 8:1-4. Who Was "Maher-shalal-hash-baz"?This is the longest proper name in the Bible, and in the Hebrew it has a meaning that was a message of warning to Judah. The name means "to speed the spoil, he hasteneth the prey" (see Isaiah 8:1d). The Lord commanded the prophet to give this name to his newborn son. The expression "prophetess" is used here only to designate the prophet"s wife, not a prophetic office or gift (see Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:303). This son and Shear-jashub were both given prophetic names to dramatize Isaiah's message. (See also Commentary on Isaiah 7:3 and 8:18.)
Isaiah 8:14. What will the lord be like? (See also Isaiah 8:14a)
Isaiah 8:14. "A Stone of Stumbling and ... a Rock of Offence" The Messiah is referred to in the scriptures as a "stone" (see Genesis 49:24; Psalm 118:22) and also as a "rock" (see Deuteronomy 32:4, 15; 1 Samuel 2:2). The prophet here uses this expression to describe the rejection of the Savior, the stumbling and offence, by the unbelieving of Israel and Judah. The New Testament writers also cited this passage in showing how the Jews for the most part rejected the Savior (see Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8).
Isaiah 8:18. "I and the Children Whom the Lord Hath Given Me Are for Signs and for Wonders in Israel"The name Isaiah means "Jehovah saves." The names of his two known sons, Shear-jashub (Isaiah 7:3) and Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Isaiah 8:1), also convey a message to the people in Judah. (See Commentary on Isaiah 7:3; 8:1-4.) Whenever anyone saw or heard Isaiah and his sons, he was given a message through their names, which were a sign or witness against the people.
Isaiah 8:19. Whom are we to seek?
Isaiah 8:19. Warning against Familiar Spirits, Peepers, and MutterersThe expression "familiar spirits" is not an accurate term to convey the significance of the Hebrew term used anciently. The Hebrew word 'ob means "a leather bottle or bag" (see William Gesenius, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, p. 15). This object was used by the practitioners of necromancy, a deceptive craft of pretended communication with the dead. The art involved a kind of ventriloquism wherein the voice or message of the "departed spirits" was called forth from the bag or sometimes a pit. (See G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren, Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 1:131, 133-34.) The peeping (chirping) and muttering (twittering) somewhat like birds was intended to invoke the departed spirits or to convey the pretended message (see Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:318). The Lord warned Israel and Judah of such deceptions early in their history (see Leviticus 19:31; 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:10-11). President Joseph Fielding Smith in commenting on these ancient practices gave this warning that applies even today:
"To seek for information through ... any way contrary to the instruction the Lord has given is a sin. The Lord gave positive instruction to Israel when they were in the land of their inheritance that they were to go to him for revelation and to avoid the devices prevalent amongthe heathen nations who occupied their lands ...
"All through the Bible, the New Testament as well as the Old, the Lord and his prophets have expressed their displeasure when the people turned from the Lord to 'familiar spirits.'" (Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:33.)
Isaiah 8:16, 20. What should we turn to for guidance?
Isaiah 9:1-7. The Messianic Promise ReaffirmedAs the Assyrians swept down against the alliance of Israel (Ephraim) and the Syrians, they destroyed Damascus and captured the northern region of Israel, later called the Galilee (see 2 Kings 15:27-31). In spite of this invasion and the threat it posed for the rest of Israel and for Judah in the south, Isaiah prophesied of the coming of the Messiah as the coming of a light. The lands inherited by the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali were in northern Israel, or the Galilee, where Jesus was raised and spent most of His ministry. The Keil and Delitzsch translation of verse 1 shows more clearly what is promised: "'For it does not remain dark where there is now distress: in the first time He brought into disgrace the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and in the last He brings to honour the road by the sea, the other side of Jordan, the circle of the Gentiles'" (Commentary, 7:1:243).
They added this explanation: "The reason assigned for the fact that the unbelieving people of Judah had fallen into a night without morning, is, that there was a morning coming, whose light, however, would not rise upon the land of Judah first, but upon other parts of the land ... The meaning is, There is not, i.e. there will not remain; a state of darkness over the land, ... which is now in a state of distress; but those very districts which God has hitherto caused to suffer deep humiliation He will bring to honour by and by ... The height of the glorification would correspond to the depth of the disgrace." (Commentary, 7:1:243.)
Matthew saw the fact that the Messiah dwelt in the area of Galilee as the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy (see Matthew 4:12-16).
The inconsistency of verse 3 is corrected when the purer Book of Mormon text is used. The word not does not appear (see 2 Nephi 19:3).
Isaiah 9:2. Who will see a great light? (See also Isaiah 9:2a)
Isaiah 9:5. "Every Battle ... Shall Be with Burning"The prophet wrote in this chapter of Christ's coming as "a great light" (v. 2), His first appearance, and as a "burning" (v. 5), the cleansing and destruction by fire that will accompany His coming in glory (see Isaiah 9:5b).
Isaiah 9:6. "Unto Us a Son Is Given ... and His Name Shall Be Called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father"President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote about the Savior's various titles:
"Isaiah ... speaks of Christ as 'Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.' (Is. 9:6)
"These titles, and the sayings that Jesus was the Creator and all things were made by him, have proved to be a stumbling block to some who are not well informed. The question arises, 'How could he, if he had not body and flesh and bones, before he was born of Mary, accomplish these things as a spirit?' Jesus had no body of flesh and bones until he was born at Bethlehem. This he fully explained to the brother of Jared. The answer to this question is simply that he did these wonderful works because of the glory his Father had given him before he was born (John 17:5-24) and because at that time he was God. In an epistle issued by the First Presidency and Council of Twelve Apostles in 1916, these matters are clearly explained. (See Era, Vol. 19:34.) From this epistle the following is taken:
"'... scriptures that refer to God in any way as the Father of the heavens and in the earth are to be understood as signifying that God is the Maker, the Organizer, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
"'With this meaning, as the context shows in every case, Jehovah, who is Jesus Christ, the Son of Elohim, is called "the Father," and even "the very eternal Father of heaven and earth." (See ... Mosiah 16:15.) With analogous meaning, Jesus Christ is called "The Everlasting Father," (Isaiah 9:6; compare 2 Nephi 19:6.) The descriptive titles "Everything" and "eternal" in the foregoing texts are synonymous.
"'That Jesus Christ who we also know as Jehovah, was the executive of the Father, Elohim, in the work of creation is set forth in the book Jesus the Christ, Chap. 4. Jesus Christ, being the Creator, is constantly called the Father of heaven and earth in the sense explained above; and since his creations are of eternal quality, he is very properly called the Eternal Father of heaven and earth.'" (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:168).
Isaiah 9:6. "The Prince of Peace"The angels at the time of the Messiah's birth declared "peace on earth" with His coming (see Luke 2:14). President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., discussed this important title and its meaning:
"Heralded centuries before his birth as the 'Prince of Peace' (Isaiah 9:6), heavenly angels announced his coming ...
"Modern man sometimes vainly thinks that Jesus' mission was to wipe out war; and scoffers have cried that since war still curses the earth, Christ's mission has failed and Christianity is a blight.
"Yet Christ himself sent forth his Twelve, saying:
"'Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.' (Matt. 10:34.)
"Christ did proclaim a peace -- the peace of everlasting righteousness, which is the eternal and mortal enemy of sin. Between righteousness and sin, in whatever form, there can only be unceasing war, whether in one man, among the people, or between nations in armed conflict. This war is the sword of Christ; whatever its form this war cannot end until sin is crushed and Christ brings all flesh under his dominion. Righteousness is peace wherever it abides; sin in itself is war wherever it is found." (In Conference Report, Apr. 1939, pp. 104-5).
Isaiah 9:6-7. What is the burning? (See also v. 5b)
Isaiah 9:18-19. Who will reign on David's throne? (See also v. 6a)
Isaiah 10:1-19, 24-34. The Destruction of Assyria -- the WickedImmediately after the prophecy of the destruction of Israel, Isaiah gave a prophecy concerning the destiny of Assyria lest anyone conclude that this heathen nation was righteous and noble because of its success against Israel and Judah. The fulfillment of this detailed prophecy has been historically confirmed. Isaiah mentioned some of the successful military campaigns of Assyria (see v. 9) and prophesied of the eventual intrusion and success against Judah, even listing the names of many of the cities of Judah that would fall to Assyria (see vv. 28-32). The destruction both of Israel and of Assyria is described as complete (vv. 15-19). The destruction of Israel and Assyria is also a type of the destruction of the wicked in any age and has its prophesied parallel even for the latter days.
Isaiah 10:5-6. What was the destruction by Assyria a type of?
Isaiah 10:19-20. How many will be left on the earth at the Second Coming?
Isaiah 10:21-22. Who will return in that day?
Isaiah 11:1. Who is the stem of Jesus? (See also Isaiah 11:14; D&C 113:1-2)
Isaiah 11:1. Who Was the "Stem of Jesse" and the "Rod out of the Stem of Jesse"?The Doctrine and Covenants provides the interpretation for this verse (see D&C 113:1-6). The stem of Jesse is stated to be Christ. The rod out of the stem of Jesse was said to be "a servant in the hands of Christ, who is partly a descendant of Jesse as well as of Ephraim, or of the house of Joseph, on whom there is laid much power" (D&C 113:4). This scripture seems to be a reference to the Prophet Joseph Smith and to Ephraim's leadership in the restoration in the last days. President Joseph Fielding Smith summarized Ephraim's role when he wrote: "It is Ephraim, today, who holds the priesthood. It is with Ephraim that the Lord has made covenant and has revealed the fulness of the everlasting gospel. It is Ephraim who is building temples and performing the ordinances in them for both the living and for the dead. When the 'lost tribes' come -- and it will be a most wonderful sight and a marvelous thing when they do come to Zion -- in fulfilment of the promises made through Isaiah and Jeremiah, they will have to receive the crowning blessings from their brother Ephraim, the 'firstborn' in Israel." (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:252-53).
President Brigham Young affirmed the place of Ephraim and the Prophet Joseph Smith in bringing to pass the purposes of this dispensation: "It is the house of Israel we are after, and we care not whether they come from the east, the west, the north, or the south; from China, Russia, England, California, North or South America, or some other locality; and it is the very lad on whom father Jacob laid his hands, that will save the house of Israel. The Book of Mormon came to Ephraim, for Joseph Smith was a pure Ephraimite, and the Book of Mormon was revealed to him, and while he lived he made it his business to search for those who believed the Gospel." (In Journal of Discourses, 2:268-69)
Isaiah 11:1. Who Is the "Branch"?Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote the following analysis of the meaning of the Branch:
"Since it takes a first and a second coming to fulfill many Messianic prophecies, we of necessity must consider them here, and in the case of the Davidic-Messianic utterances show also how they apply to our Lord's Second Coming. Christ is the Son of David, the Seed of David, the inheritor, through Mary his mother, of the blood of the great king. He is also called the Stem of Jesse and the Branch, meaning Branch of David. Messianic prophecies under these headings deal with the power and dominion he shall wield as he sits on David's throne, and have reference almost exclusively to his second sojourn on planet earth.
"Jesse was the father of David. Isaiah speaks of the Stem of Jesse, whom he also designates as a branch growing out of the root of that ancient worthy. He recites how the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; how he shall be mighty in judgment; how he shall smite the earth and slay the wicked; and how the lamb and the lion shall lie down together in that day -- all of which has reference to the Second Coming and the millennial era thereby ushered in. (Isa. 11) As to the identity of the Stem of Jesse, the revealed words says: 'Verily thus saith the Lord: It is Christ.' (D&C 113:1-2) This also means that the Branch is Christ, as we shall now see from other related scriptures.
"By the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord foretells the ancient scattering and the latter-day gathering of his chosen Israel. After they have been gathered 'out of all countries whither I have driven them,' after the kingdom has been restored to Israel as desired by the ancient apostles in Acts 1:6, then this eventuality, yet future and millennial in nature, shall be fulfilled: 'Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.' (Jer. 23:3-6) That is to say, the King who shall reign personally upon the earth during the Millennium shall be the Branch who grew out of the house of David. He shall execute judgment and justice in all the earth because he is the Lord Jehovah, even him whom we call Christ.
"Through Zechariah the Lord spoke similarly: 'Thus saith the Lord of hosts: ... I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH ... I will remove the iniquity of the land in one day [meaning that the wicked shall be destroyed and the millennial era of peace and righteousness commence]. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.' (Zech. 3:7-10) Of that glorious millennial day the Lord says also: 'Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne.' (Zech. 6:12-13)
"That the Branch of David is Christ is perfectly clear. We shall now see that he is also called David, that he is a new David, an Eternal David, who shall reign forever on the throne of his ancient ancestor. 'It shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, 'that is, in the great millennial day of gathering, that 'they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.' (Jer. 30:8-9)
"'In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness,' which is to say that because the Great King himself reigns in her midst, even the city shall be called after him. 'For thus saith the Lord; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel ... If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne.' (Jer. 33:15-21) David's temporal throne fell long centuries before our Lord was born, and that portion of Israel which had not been scattered to the ends of the earth was in bondage to the iron yoke of Rome. But the promises remain. The eternal throne shall be restored in due course with a new David sitting thereon, and he shall reign forever and ever ...
"Through Ezekiel, the Lord speaks of this One Shepherd in this way: 'I will save my flock ... And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them.' When that day comes, 'I will make with them a covenant of peace,' the Lord says, meaning they shall have again the fulness of the everlasting gospel. Then 'there shall be showers of blessing'; all Israel shall dwell safely and know that the Lord is their God. (Ezek. 34:22-31)
"Through Ezekiel, the Lord also tells of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, which becomes the instrument in his hands to bring to pass the gathering of Israel. Of that day of gathering he says, 'I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all.' In that day he promises to 'cleanse them,' by baptism, 'so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.'
"Then the Lord restates that his gathered people shall have his everlasting gospel with all its blessings; that he will set his sanctuary, meaning his temple, in their midst forevermore (as Zechariah recorded); and all Israel shall know that the Lord is their God. (Ezek. 37:15-28)
"How glorious shall be the coming day when the second David, who is Christ, reigns on the throne of the first David; when all men shall dwell safely; when the earth shall be dotted with temples; and when the gospel covenant shall have full force and validity in all the earth!" (The Promised Messiah, pp. 192-95).
Isaiah 11:3-4. What will he do?
Isaiah 11:9. What will cover the earth in the Millennium?
Isaiah 11:9. "The Earth Shall Be Full of the Knowledge of the Lord"The sacred knowledge of God will prevail on earth (see Smith, Teachings, p. 93), truth from which no one can hide. Elder Orson Pratt wrote: "The knowledge of God will then cover the earth as the waters cover the mighty deep. There will be no place of ignorance, no place of darkness, no place for those that will not serve God. Why? Because Jesus, the Great Creator, and also the Great Redeemer, will be himself on the earth, and his holy angels will be on the earth, and all the resurrected Saints that have died in former dispensations will all come forth, and they will be on the earth. What a happy earth this creation will be, when this purifying process shall come, and the earth be filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the great deep! What a change! Travel, then, from one end of the earth to another, you can find no wicked man, no drunken man, no man to blaspheme the name of the Great Creator, no one to lay hold on his neighbor's goods, and steal them, no one to commit whoredoms -- for all who commit whoredoms will be thrust down to hell, saith the Lord God Almighty, and all persons who commit sin will be speedily visited by the judgments of the Almighty!" (In Journal of Discourses, 21:325)
The promises of revelation for this great era are outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants (see D&C 101:32-34).
Isaiah 11:10, 12. "An Ensign of the People"President Joseph Fielding Smith described the ensign and its significance:
"Over 125 years ago, in the little town of Fayette, Seneca County, New York, the Lord set up an ensign to the nations. It was in fulfilment of the prediction made by the Prophet Isaiah, which I have read. That ensign was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was established for the last time, never again to be destroyed or given to other people. It was the greatest event the world has seen since the day that the Redeemer was lifted upon the cross and worked out the infinite and eternal atonement. It meant more to mankind than anything else that has occurred since that day ...
"Following the raising of this ensign, the Lord sent forth his elders clothed with the priesthood and with power and authority, among the nations of the earth, bearing witness unto all peoples of the restoration of his Church, and calling upon the children of men to repent and receive the gospel; for now it was being preached in all the world as a witness before the end should come, that is, the end of the reign of wickedness and the establishment of the millennial reign of peace. The elders went forth as they were commanded, and are still preaching the gospel and gathering out from the nations the seed of Israel unto whom the promise was made." (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:254-55; see also Isaiah 5:26)
Isaiah 11:10-12. What will the Lord do?
Isaiah 11:10-16. The Gathering of Israel from the WorldElder Wilford Woodruff summarized the spirit of this gathering in light of Isaiah's words when he said:
"Isaiah's soul seemed to be on fire, and his mind wrapt in the visions of the Almighty, while he declared, in the name of the Lord, that it should come to pass in the last days that God should set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, assemble the outcasts of Israel, gather together the dispersed of Judah, destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea and make men go over dry-shod, gather them to Jerusalem on horses, mules, swift beasts, and in chariots, and rebuild Jerusalem upon her own heaps; while, at the same time, the destroyer of the Gentiles will be on his way; and while God was turning the captivity of Israel, he would put all their curses and afflictions upon the heads of the Gentiles, their enemies, who had not sought to recover, but to destroy them, and had trodden them under foot from generation to generation.
"At the same time the standard should be lifted up, that the honest in heart, the meek of the earth among the Gentiles, should seek unto it; and that Zion should be redeemed and be built up a holy city, that the glory and power of God should rest upon her, and be seen upon her; that the watchman upon Mount Ephraim might cry -- 'Arise ye, and let us go up unto Zion, the city of the Lord our God;' that the Gentiles might come to her light, and kings to the brightness of her rising; that the Saints of God may have a place to flee to and stand in holy places while judgment works in the earth; that when the sword of God that is bathed in heaven falls upon Idumea, or the world, -- when the Lord pleads with all flesh by sword and by fire, and the slain of the Lord are many, the Saints may escape these calamities by fleeing to the places of refuge, like Lot and Noah." (History of the Church, 6:26).
Isaiah 11:11. "The Lord Shall Set His Hand Again the Second Time to Recover the Remnant of His People"Elder LeGrand Richards commented on this scripture as follows:
"From this scripture we learn that the events described were to be in the future: 'The Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people.' There could not be a 'second time' unless there had been a first. The first time was when the Lord led Israel out of Egyptian bondage and captivity. When did the Lord set his hand the 'second time' to recover the remnant of his people? This we will now consider. From the above scripture we learn that three important events were to transpire: (1) He shall set up an ensign for the nations; (2) he shall assemble the outcasts of Israel; (3) he shall gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
"It is clear there are to be two gathering places -- one for Israel and one for Judah ...
"Since Moses was the prophet the Lord raised up to lead Israel out of the land of Egypt and gave him power to perform such mighty miracles before Pharaoh, even to the leading of the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry land, it seems very appropriate that Moses should hold the keys of the gathering of Israel when the Lord would 'set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people.' These were the keys Moses committed to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
"When speaking of Israel, most people have the Jews in mind, and when referring to the gathering of Israel, they have in mind the return of the Jews to the land of Jerusalem. It should be remembered that the Jews, the descendants of Judah, represent but one of the twelve branches, or tribes, of the house of Israel -- the family of Jacob." (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, pp. 207-9).
Isaiah 11:13-14. "Ephraim Shall Not Envy Judah, and Judah Shall Not Vex Ephraim"Anciently, during the days of the divided kingdoms, Judah (the leading tribe of the Southern Kingdom) and Ephraim (the leading tribe of the Northern Kingdom) were often in competition. Sometimes they were even at war with each other. Isaiah prophesied that in the last days that conflict would come to an end. Ezekiel, in a similar prophecy, promised that the house of Israel would no longer be divided, but under their true king, the New David (see Notes and Commentary on Isaiah 11:1) there would be one united nation again. (See Ezekiel 37:15-25.) Jeremiah and Zechariah also spoke of the future reuniting of the house of Israel (see Jeremiah 3:18; Zechariah 10:6-7).
Elder LeGrand Richards explained how this prophecy must be fulfilled:
"We are from Ephraim. The Lord expects us, since we are the custodians of his gospel as restored in these latter days, according to my understanding, to extend the hand of friendship to Judah, because after all we are all descendants of the prophets Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and we come under the promises that through their descendants should all the nations of the earth be blessed.
"I do not know how the enmity and the envy between Ephraim and Judah can disappear except that we of the house of Ephraim, who have the custody of the gospel, should lead out in trying to bring to this branch of the house of Israel the blessings of the restored gospel ...
"And it seems to me that the only way that the tribe of Judah can be sanctified to dwell in his presence forever and ever will be when we bring to them the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior promised them it would be brought in the latter days." (In Conference Report, Oct. 1956, pp. 23-24)
Isaiah 11:15-16. "The Lord Shall Utterly Destroy the Tongue of the Egyptian Sea ... and There Shall Be an Highway"Elder Parley P. Pratt describes the literal meaning of the verses as a part of this gathering of Israel: "We have also presented before us, in verse 15, the marvelous power of God, which will be displayed in the destruction of a small branch of the Red Sea, called the tongue of the Egyptian Sea, and also the dividing of the seven streams of some river [perhaps the Nile], and causing men to go over dryshod; and lest any should not understand it literally, verse 16 says that 'there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.' Now we have only to ask whether, in the days of Moses, the Red Sea was literally divided or whether it was only a figure? for as it was then, so it shall be again." (Voice of Warning, p. 35).
Isaiah 12. A Millennial HymnThis brief chapter is a hymn of praise for the great millennial era when the Lord will reign "in the midst" of His people (Isaiah 12:6).
Isaiah 12:2. "God Is My Salvation ... the Lord Jehovah Is My Strength"A literal translation of this verse reveals the sacred names and name-titles of Deity as they are used scripturally.
"'Behold El is my salvation,
I shall trust and not be afraid;
For my strength and my song is Yah, Yehovah,
And he has become my salvation.'
"'El' is the singular of Elohim. It seldom occurs in the Bible in singular. In the English Bible both singular and plural are rendered by the word 'God.' 'Yah' is a contracted form of Jehovah or Yehovah, which in the Bible is usually rendered in English as 'LORD.' In the King James Version here, to avoid LORD LORD, they have rendered it as LORD JEHOVAH. This is one of the few times the name is written out fully as Jehovah in the King James translation. [See also: Exodus 6:3; Ps. 83:18; Isa. 26:4.] The short form Yah occurs in Hebrew also in Exodus 15:2 and Psalms 118:14." (Ellis T. Rasmussen, An Introduction to the Old Testament and Its Teachings, 2:46)
Isaiah 12:4-6. What will all people do in the Millennium?
Isaiah 12:6. Who will dwell among them?
Isaiah 13. Babylon Is a Term Used by the Lord to Typify Wickedness in the Latter-day WorldIsaiah foresaw the graphic destruction of Babylon, the degradation of its nobility, and the universal wickedness of its masses. In his characteristic way he also uses the term Babylon to typify a latter-day condition and judgment. Each era of the earth has known its own Babylon, but the Babylon of the latter days was seen by the prophets as being among the most wicked of any era and the object of destruction at the coming of the Lord.
Though at the time Babylon was only a province in the mighty Assyrian Empire, Isaiah accurately foresaw that Babylon and not Assyria would bring judgments upon the kingdom of Judah. He prophesied that Babylon would eventually come into a judgment of its own. At the same time Isaiah used Babylon as a symbol of the world and its wickedness. So when Isaiah speaks of Babylon he refers to both the empire of that name and spiritual Babylon.
God issued a call for His forces to gather together to overthrow Babylon. In this case, these forces were the Medes (see Isaiah 13:17). The call was answered about 130 years later when an alliance of Medes and Persians under Cyrus the Great dammed the Euphrates River and marched through the riverbed and under the walls of Babylon to capture the city and overthrow the empire. The significance of the incident is more clearly indicated by considering the imagery of the term Babylon in a spiritual sense. The call is for the "sanctified ones" (Isaiah 13:3), the Saints of the latter days, to gather together and join with God in overthrowing wickedness (Babylon) from the world.
In this chapter of Isaiah one can see an excellent example of the Jewish dualism so frequently found in Isaiah and in other Old Testament writings.
Isaiah 13. Notable Changes in the Text of Isaiah Nephi quoted Isaiah 13 in its entirety (see 2 Nephi 23), but it is somewhat different from the King James text. The most significant differences are found in verses 3, 8, and 22. Compare the two versions carefully to see what has been lost from the King James Version.
Isaiah 13:1. What Was the Burden of Babylon? Since Babylon is a scriptural symbol for the peoples and governments that oppose the kingdom of God, the "burden" of Babylon refers to the weighty judgments that inevitably await it. Indeed, the threshing floors of Babylon will be fanned and its chaff burned. (See Jeremiah 51:1-2; Matthew 3:12.)
Isaiah 13:2, 4-5. What Were the Banner, the Mountain, and the Multitude? In a beautiful metaphor Isaiah 13 refers to the gospel standard or ensign being lifted up in the last days as a "banner" (v. 2) to which the world may gather (compare Isaiah 5:26; 62:10; 2 Nephi 15:26).The "mountain" (Isaiah 13:2) is discussed in Notes on Isaiah 2:1-5.
The "multitude" is "a great people" (Isaiah 13:4) who come together, mustered by the Lord of Hosts, ready to do battle (compare 2 Nephi 23:3-5). These multitudes are the Saints who will be gathered from every nation in the last days and enlisted in the army of the living God to wage war against wickedness. (Compare D&C 10:64-67; 29:7-11; 45:66-71; 76:28-29; 84:2; 103:22-25; Matthew 24:30-31.)
Isaiah 13:9, 11. What was the destruction of Babylon a type of? (See also Isaiah 13:13c)
Isaiah 13:9-10. Many Prophets Have Spoken of the Signs in the HeavensA very dramatic sign of the coming of the Lord will be the great wonders to be manifest in the heavens (compare D&C 29:14; 34:9; 45:42; 88:87; 133:49; Joel 2:31; Matthew 24:29; Revelation 6:12-17).
Isaiah 13:6, 9, 13. What will that day be like?
Isaiah 13:11-12. What Was Implied by a Man Being More Precious Than Gold?In chapter 13, verses 11-12, Isaiah repeats a refrain used earlier (see Isaiah 4:1-4), that righteous men will become as difficult to find as precious gold and will be treasured as highly. The wicked will be cleansed from the earth, and the worthy righteous will remain to become the precious jewels in the royal diadem of the Lord (see D&C 60:4; Isaiah 62:1-3). Indeed, the treasure of "the golden wedge of Ophir" (Isaiah 13:12), the rich, gold-producing province of India, is insignificant compared to the worth of one righteous man (compare D&C 18:10).
Isaiah 13:13. What Was Meant by the Heavens Being Shaken and the Earth Being Removed?To have the heavens shaken and the earth removed was a Jewish figure of speech suggesting a time of great calamity and disaster. Such would be the fall of Babylon. The whole political climate and circumstances of the world would be shaken.
The prophecy also has a literal fulfillment in the latter days. All things are to be restored. The heavens will flee as the earth is brought back to a condition it once enjoyed. The earth will then receive its paradisiacal glory. Its paradisiacal glory is not to be confused with the celestial state that is the eventual destiny of this sphere; it is, rather, the millennial condition wherein all life will enjoy continual peace. (See Joseph Fielding Smith, The Signs of the Times, pp. 34-38)
Isaiah 13:14-18. What Was Meant by the Medes Destroying Babylon?Isaiah declared that as the Medes, those of the higher mountainous country above Babylon, would descend upon the worldly gem of the Euphrates and decimate it, so in a spiritual sense a higher power, not interested in wealth, would come upon the Babylon of the latter days and destroy its proud, its wicked, and its confederates (see 2 Nephi 23:15).
Isaiah 13:19. What will fall forever?
Isaiah 13:19-22. Was Babylon's Curse to Extinction?Isaiah's description of Babylon in these verses was literally fulfilled. (Remember that at the time Isaiah wrote, Babylonia was not a world empire.) Under Nebuchadnezzar, Babylonia overthrew Assyria and took over the reins of world power. Nebuchadnezzar undertook a building program which made Babylon one of the most remarkable cities of the ancient world. To predict the total devastation and desolation of such a city was remarkable, for some ancient cities, such as Jerusalem, Damascus, and Jericho, have continued through the centuries and still exist today. But after its conquest by Cyrus, Babylon steadily declined. Several hundred years passed before Babylon was abandoned, but by the first century after Christ it lay deserted and in ruins, and so it has remained. The silent ruins stand as an eloquent witness that Isaiah spoke with divine accuracy.
Spiritual Babylon shall likewise become a waste and desolation when God comes upon the world in judgment and ushers in the millennial reign of Christ. (See Revelation 18.)
Isaiah 14:1-3, 7. What will happen to Israel?
Isaiah 14:2. What Was the Relationship of Israel to the People Spoken of Here?The gathering process that restores Israel to her promised lands will be facilitated by other nations (people) who will assist in Israel's return from the ends of the earth. Then these other nations will espouse Israel's cause, and the captive (Israel) will become a ruler over her captors. This favored condition will be fully realized in the glorious millennial peace enjoyed by the faithful who have truly conquered Babylon (the world). (See Isaiah 14:3.) In other words, as C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch put it, "Babylon falls that Israel may rise" (Commentary on the Old Testament, 7:1:306).
Isaiah 14:4-21. Isaiah Sang a Song for BabylonThis satirical or taunting song, given in Isaiah's own beautiful poetry, is a song of judgment against the Babylon of unrighteousness. Isaiah strides through the future in this powerful Hebrew meter, leaving Babylon trodden down and vanquished in the triumph of Israel.
Isaiah 14:12-15. Who Was "Lucifer, Son of the Morning"?
Isaiah again used dualism. Chapters 13 and 14 describe the downfall of Babylon, both of Babylon as an empire and of Babylon as the symbol of the world (see D&C 133:14). Thus, most scholars think "Lucifer, son of the morning" is the king of Babylon, probably Nebuchadnezzar. In the symbolic use of Babylon, (Babylon as spiritual wickedness and the kingdom of Satan), Lucifer is Satan. This interpretation is confirmed in latter-day revelation (see D&C 76:26-8). Satan and Babylon's prince (both represented by Lucifer in this passage) aspire to take kingly glory to themselves, but in fact will be thrust into hell where there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Compare Isaiah 13:13-14 with Moses 4:1-4, where Lucifer's conditions for saving all men are given. What adds to the power of the imagery is the fact that the word congregation (v. 13) is translated by Keil and Delitzsch as the "assembly of gods" (Commentary, 7:1:312).
In still another example of Isaiah's beautiful dualism, even the kings of the world lie in their tombs (house) in respect (see vv. 18-19), but Babylon's king was to be cast aside and trodden under foot. This reward was literally visited upon the city of the Chaldees, and though Nebuchadnezzar was certainly buried in great splendor, there is no grave found for him today in the ruins of Babylon. Think for a moment of Satan's "grave." Never having received a body, he shall never have a tomb or monument of any kind, though he was king and ruler of the great world-wide and history-wide empire of spiritual Babylon. No wonder the kings of the earth, who, though wicked in mortality, could still inherit the telestial kingdom, would marvel at his demise.
Isaiah 14:13-14. Why was Lucifer cast out of heaven? (See also Isaiah 14:12c)
Isaiah 14:22-23. What will Israel triumph over?
Isaiah 14:24-27. Assyria Was Like BabylonIn addition to his use of the Babylonian Empire as a symbol of spiritual Babylon, Isaiah also sketches the demise of the great Assyrian Empire, which in the days of Hezekiah met crushing defeat upon the hills of Jerusalem at the hands of an angel of destruction (see Isaiah 37:33-38). Assyria also served as a type of the world. In like manner will all evil nations feel the hand of God's judgments (see Isaiah 14:26).
Isaiah 14:28-32. The Burden of PhilistiaThese verses reveal the judgment of destruction, which Isaiah lived to witness, against Philistia. The Philistines were long-time enemies of Israel, and warfare between the two peoples had gone on for centuries. (See Bible Dictionary, s.v. "Philistines.") They controlled parts of the Holy Land's coastal regions, though their power waned considerably from the time of David on. In Roman times, the Holy Land was known as Judæa until the Jewish revolt of AD 132-35, after which the Emperor Hadrian changed the name to Syria Palaestina to show the Jews that they had no claim there any longer.
The King James Version used the Latin form and called it "Palestina," but what is meant is the Philistines, not Palestine, as the terms are used today.
The Assyrian emperor Tiglath-pileser captured the Philistines about the time of the death of Ahaz, king of Judah, who had made an alliance with him. In spite of the hatred of the Philistines and their persecution of Israel, the Lord's people were established in the land. In like manner will Zion be established while all her enemies (Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, and so on) will be powerless to make it otherwise, but they will fall.
Isaiah 15-16. The Lord's Judgment against MoabMoab was the eldest son of Lot's older daughter (see Genesis 19:37). His people settled east of the Dead Sea from the Zered River northward. The Moabites were cousins of the Israelites; but there was continual strife between them, and the Lord used them as His chastening rod against Israel. Nevertheless, lest Israel feel that the wickedness of the Moabites was preferred before the Lord, Isaiah revealed the Moabites' destiny in these two chapters. Isaiah promised that some day the Lord would remember His covenants with Israel and gather them from the world and establish His covenant with them forever, while Moab would receive the sentence of destruction. In this sense Moab was also a symbol for the wicked world, and none of her powerful cities nor her lucrative trade routes nor her prominence among her sister nations would be able to stand in that day, but all would be destroyed.
Isaiah 15:1. What would happen to Moab?
Isaiah 15:2-3. What Did Baldness Have to Do with the Lord's Judgment against Moab?The clipping of the hair and beard was an indication of great shame in ancient Israel and in this verse means that Moab's supposed pride and prominence would turn to shame and reproach. The sorrow of the wicked is portrayed by Isaiah in his use of "sackcloth" and his reference to the professional howling and weeping that was the custom in the Middle East in times of grief (see James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pp. 324-25).
Isaiah 15:5. What Was Meant by Moab Being a Heifer of Three Years Old?Isaiah recognized that Moab was a youthful, vibrant nation. "A three-year-old ox, is one that is still in all the freshness and fulness of its strength" (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:326). In spite of Moab's vigor and strength, Isaiah foretold that powerful forces from the north countries would destroy her only three years hence (see Isaiah 16:14). This prophecy was fulfilled with the Assyrian invasion under Sennacherib.
Isaiah 15:8-9. Moab's Destruction Was UniversalThe cry of destruction of Moab is universal, even beyond her borders to Eglaim (En-Eglaim) northwest of the Salt Sea. To show the extent of the tragedy that Moab would experience, Isaiah prophesied that the heart of the rich pastoral land around Dibon would have its waters (called Dimon) stained with the blood of the people. In other words, there would be widespread slaughter and destruction of the people, the enemy penetrating even the very heart of Moab.
In the Hebrew text, the word translated "lion" is actually a single lion. Isaiah revealed that the relationship of Judah and Moab would change, for the "lion," Judah, would come upon the remnant of Moab that was spared and make them her vassal.
Isaiah 15:25. What would the people of Moab do?
Isaiah 16:5. What will the Messiah do when he sits upon David's throne?
Isaiah 16:6-11. Calamity of Mourning Would Visit Moab ThroughoutThe nations of the earth who are likened to Moab are high and mighty forces but will be brought to howl and mourn. Their defenses will come to naught, their wealth and abundance of food will fail, and in place of their joy, as they suppose, they will be pierced with sorrow to the center. At that day all the world will finally come to understand that wickedness never was happiness.
Although Moab was Israel's bitter enemy, Isaiah still wept over the great tragedy of her sin and resulting destruction.
Isaiah 16:12-14. Moab's Days Are NumberedIsaiah simply reaffirmed what he said earlier (see Isaiah 15:5), that the trans-Jordan Moab would see destruction within three years.
Isaiah 17. Power and Might, As the World Knows It, Are Destined for DestructionAll the powers of the world, including the neighbors of Judah as well as the nations of the world that despoiled the Lord's people, will themselves be destroyed by the mighty judgments of God. (Syria is represented by "Damascus," and the Northern Kingdom of Israel is represented by the mountain defense of Ephraim.) Both Israel and the nations of the world are humbled by the hand of God. Yet the Lord promises, in Isaiah 17:6-8, that a remnant of these nations, like the Israelites, will also be preserved. "Gleaning grapes" (v. 6) are those few missed by the harvesters, and olives were harvested by shaking the branches, which always left a few scattered fruits in the topmost branches (see v. 6). Also like Israel, this remnant of the Gentiles will turn to God and forsake their false religions (see vv. 7-8).
Isaiah 17:10. Why was Isreal scattered?
Isaiah 17:12-14. Who will be destroyed?
Isaiah 18. Isaiah Saw the Gospel Taken to the Nations from AmericaPresident Joseph Fielding Smith commented that Isaiah 18:1 "is a mistranslation. In the Catholic Bible it reads: 'Ah, land of the whirring of wings, beyond the rivers of Cush,' and in Smith and Goodspeed's translation it reads: 'Ah! Land of the buzzing of wings, which lies beyond the rivers of Ethiopia.' The chapter shows clearly that no woe was intended, but rather a greeting, as indicated in these other translations. A correct translation would be, 'Hail to the land in the shape of wings.' Now, do you know of any land in the shape of wings? Think of your map. About twenty-five years ago one of the current magazines printed on the cover the American continents in the shape of wings, with the body of the bird between. I have always regretted that I did not preserve this magazine. Does not this hemisphere take the shape of wings; the spread out wings of a bird?" (Signs of the Times, p. 51; see also History of the Church, 6:322; Orson Pratt, in Journal of Discourses, 16:84-85; Spencer W. Kimball, "Why Call Me Lord, Lord and Do Not the Things Which I Say?" Ensign, May 1975, p. 4.)
President Smith went on to say that the vessels are vessels of speed; that the nation scattered and peeled refers to the land of Israel, which was denuded of its forests; that the ensign refers to the restoration of the gospel that is published as a standard before the nations; that the missionaries are going to gather Israel who were scattered; and that only the Latter-day Saints can fully understand this chapter because it deals with the great work of gathering, in which they are engaged (see Signs of the Times, pp. 51-55).
Isaiah 18:3. What will the Lord raise up to the world?
Isaiah 18:7. What Gift Will the Saints Present to the Lord?The Saints are so determined to offer to the Lord a worthy gift of gathered Israel that, as the Prophet Joseph Smith said, they "have labored without pay, to instruct the United States [and now the world] that the gathering had commenced in the western boundaries of Missouri, to build a holy city, where, as may be seen in the eighteenth chapter of Isaiah, the present should 'be brought unto the Lord of Hosts.'" (History of the Church, 2:132.) Mount Zion is identified in modern revelation as the New Jerusalem (see D&C 84:2). Thus, once the Church is restored and Ephraim begins the work of gathering Israel from their scattered and peeled condition (see Notes on Isaiah 11:13-14), they can present a restored house of Jacob to the Lord as a gift that will delight Him.
The Jerusalem Bible renders the phrase in Isaiah 18, "a people terrible from their beginning," as "the nation always feared"; and it renders the phrase "whose land the rivers have spoiled" as "the country criss-crossed with rivers." These passages seem to refer to America, where the Restoration was to take place.
Isaiah 19:3. What Was a Wizard That Dealt with Familiar Spirits?"One of the most evil and wicked sects supported by Satan is that which practices witchcraft, such craft involving as it does actual intercourse with evil spirits. A witch is one who engages in this craft, who practices the black art of magic, who has entered into a compact with Satan, who is a sorcerer or sorceress. Modernly the term witch has been limited in application to women.
"There are no witches, of course, in the sense of old hags flying on broomsticks through October skies; such mythology is a modernistic spoofing of a little understood practice that prevailed in all the apostate kingdoms of the past and which even now is found among many peoples." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 840.)
Isaiah 19:8-9. What Was the Significance of Fishing, Fine Flax, and Weaving?These three things represent the major industries of Egypt for which she had gained a fine reputation. Fishing was universally important in this river-nation. The fine flax represents the fine-twined linen that was world renowned. It was the white material used in the sacred coverings of the tabernacle of Moses (see Exodus 25:4). The "network" weaving is the process of making the cotton garment common in Egypt. To have all three fail would be a national calamity.
Isaiah 19:11-25. Was This Burden More Than a Judgment against Egypt?Once again Isaiah used prophetic dualism. His "burden" on Egypt has (1) a physical fulfillment experienced by the nation and her people both in Isaiah's time and in future times, and (2) a spiritual fulfillment that pertains to the world of the latter days.
Isaiah used a phrase to signal to the reader the parts of his vision that pertained to the last days. "In that day," in verses 16, 18, 19, 23, and 24, suggests future fulfillment. (For other uses of this phrase and its meaning see Isaiah 2-4, 11)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie used a quotation that shows why Isaiah may have used such neighbors as Egypt, Moab, and Babylon to describe the wicked of latter days. Speaking of the world, he said: "'Babylon marks its idolatry, Egypt its tyranny, Sodom its desperate corruption, Jerusalem its pretensions to sanctity on the ground of spiritual privileges, whilst all the while it is the murderer of Christ in the person of his members.' ([Robert Jamieson and others, Commentary on the Whole Bible,] p. 577.)" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:510)
Isaiah 19:11-25. What Are Some Possible Fulfillments of This Prophecy?Isaiah 19:11-14 clearly promises that the leaders of Egypt's major centers would be as fools and unable to save their nation. Zoan was Tanis, Noph was Memphis, and No was Thebes. The prophecy in verses 16-17 that in the latter days Judah would strike terror in the hearts of the Egyptians may have been partially fulfilled in some of the battles of those two nations during the 20th century. Verses 24-25 are of particular interest to Latter-day Saints, for they promise that Egypt and other nations of that part of the world will embrace the restored gospel.
Isaiah 19:22. What will the lord do to Egypt?
Isaiah 19:23-25. Who will be blessed with Israel?
Isaiah 19:23-25. What Might Be Some Spiritual Fulfillments of the Prophecy?The meaning of Isaiah 19:23-25 is not clear. These verses seem to suggest some future alliance among Israel, Egypt, and Assyria (or the nations that inhabit those ancient territories). Keil and Delitzsch explained the alliance in this way: "Israel has now reached the great end of its calling -- to be a blessing in 'the midst of the earth' ... all nations being here represented by Egypt and Assyria. Hitherto it had been only to the disadvantage of Israel to be situated between Egypt and Assyria. The history of the Ephraimitish kingdom, as well as that of Judah, clearly proves this. If Israel relied upon Egypt, it deceived itself, and was deceived; and if it relied on Assyria, it only became the slave of Assyria, and had Egypt for a foe. Thus Israel was in a most painful vise between the two great powers of the earth, the western and the eastern powers. But how will all this be altered now! Egypt and Assyria become one in Jehovah, and Israel the third in the covenant. Israel is no longer the only nation of God, the creation of God, the heir of God; but all this applies to Egypt and Assyria now, as well as to Israel." (Commentary, 7:1:368.)
Isaiah 20:1. Who Was Tartan? Tartan was the cupbearer, the most trusted servant of Sargon (see the Jerusalem Bible). Tartan probably became the chief captain of Sennacherib at the siege of Jerusalem (see 2 Kings 18:17; Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:370).
Isaiah 20:2. What Was Meant by Isaiah Walking "Naked and Barefoot"?"With the great importance attached to the clothing in the East, where the feelings upon this point are peculiarly sensitive and modest, a person was looked upon as stripped and naked if he had only taken off his upper garment. What Isaiah was directed to do, therefore, was simply opposed to common custom, and not to moral decency. He was to lay aside the dress of a mourner and preacher of repentance, and to have nothing on but his tunic (cetoneth); and in this, as well as barefooted, he was to show himself in public." (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:372)
Isaiah 20:4. What will Assyria do to Egypt?
Isaiah 21:1-2. What Was the "Desert of the Sea"?The use of this phrase has puzzled many commentators. Specific countries have received the burden, yet no known country is named. Keil and Delitzsch believed Isaiah used a symbolic name, and they believe it alluded to Babylon. That city sat on a hot and dusty plain in the Euphrates valley, but anciently, before flood control dams were built, the whole plain was flooded each spring during the high water runoff of the Euphrates. Thus, Babylon sat both in a desert and on a sea. (See Commentary, 7:1:377.) This interpretation seems to be supported by Jeremiah's description of Babylon as she that "dwellest upon many waters" (Jeremiah 51:13) and his promise that her waters would be "dried up" (Jeremiah 50:38).
Spiritually or symbolically, John described Babylon as sitting upon many waters. He then explained that the waters represent the nations and peoples of the earth. (See Revelation 17:1, 15.) If Isaiah used the same concept, then the sea would represent Babylon's dominion and the desert, the coming loss of those dominions.
Isaiah 21:3-10. Why Was Isaiah Made So Sorrowful by His Vision?The pain caused by the vision given to Isaiah was so intense that its descriptive words in Hebrew portray his condition to be more than mere sorrow: "Chalchalah is the contortion produced by cramp, as in Nahum 2:11; tzirim is the word properly applied to the pains of childbirth; na avah means to bend, or bow one's self, and is also used to denote a convulsive utterance of pain; ta ah, which is used in a different sense from Ps. 95:10 (compare, however, Ps. 38:11), denotes a feverish and irregular beating of the pulse. The darkness of evening and night, which the prophet loved so much (cheshek, a desire arising from inclination, 1 Kings 9:1, 19), and always longed for, either that he might give himself up to contemplation, or that he might rest from outward and inward labour, had been changed into quaking by the horrible vision." (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:379.)
The destruction of Babylon was not a pleasant thing to behold. But some commentators believe that here again Isaiah saw another destruction, the destruction of the Babylon of the world before the advent of the Lord Jesus Christ in the last days. Although necessary, this destruction would be a great tragedy.
The description of the many asses and camels and horsemen seems to refer to the physical trappings of the Persian Army. The animals provided useful carriage for food and implements of war but were also effectively used by the Persians "to throw the enemy into confusion" (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:381).
Isaiah 21:9. What is fallen?
Isaiah 21:10. What Did the Reference to Threshing Mean?Israel was threshed: mowed off its own field, beaten, and carried captive into Babylon. This verse seems to be a foreshadowing of the event that is portrayed in some detail in Isaiah 22 (see especially the "threshing" language in vv. 3-4).
Isaiah 21:11-17. What Significance Was Attached to the Mention of the Arabians and Edomites?
As Isaiah used the destruction of every major sister nation to Israel as a type of the judgment that is to be administered to the wicked and their organizations in the last day, so he here, almost parenthetically, prophesied the destruction of even the minor nations of the east. Dumah is located in the northern heart of the Arabian Desert; Dedanim identifies the residents of Dedan, which is southeast of the gulf of Aqaba along the coast of the Red Sea; and Kedar is the region eastward from Mount Hermon that includes the area called Bashan.
Isaiah 22:1-2, 5-9. What will happen to Jerusalem?
Isaiah 22:1-7. What Was Meant by the "Valley of Vision"?Undoubtedly Isaiah here refers to Jerusalem (see Isaiah 22:9). Because it was his home, and therefore the place where he received his visions and revelations, it is not surprising that he would call it the place of vision. After making it clear that the enemies of Israel would not go unpunished by revealing the various "burdens" upon them (see Isaiah 13-21), the Lord had Isaiah return to the theme he was developing before -- that Israel and Judah faced the judgments of God. Thus, following the pronouncements on the world, a pronouncement was added for Jerusalem, who had become part of the world.
Isaiah 22:3. What will happen to her people?
Isaiah 22:8. What Was the House of the Forest?"The forest-house [was] built by Solomon upon Zion for the storing and display of valuable arms and utensils ... and so called because it rested upon four rows of cedar columns that ran all round (it was in the centre of the fore-court of the royal palace ...)" (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:394).
Isaiah 22:12-13. A Call to Sorrow and MourningThe descriptive terms used here by Isaiah are clearly signs of great sorrow and grief. Baldness (not natural baldness, but the shaving of the hair) was a great shame and signified great calamity (compare Isaiah 3:24). The Lord suggests that when Judah saw their impending doom they should have seen it as a call to deep repentance and clothed themselves with sackcloth and baldness. Instead, they acted as though they had been called to a joyous feast, and they were singing the refrain of the world: "let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die" (Isaiah 22:13). As is typical of the wicked in a time of crisis, they would prefer to indulge their passions than to repent (see vv. 17-19).
Isaiah 22:15-25. Types of ChristShebna, a leading official in the royal courts of Judah, had become proud and wicked (see Isaiah 22:15-16) and thus had been rejected by the Lord (see vv. 17-19). Eliakim was the righteous son of Hilkiah the priest. Though the Lord described Eliakim's power and authority and the position which he would be given (see Isaiah 36:3; 37:2), as used in these last verses of this chapter, Eliakim is clearly a type for the Savior. The description may have accurately described the actual authority of Eliakim, but it is also a powerful description of Jesus Christ, who will ultimately replace the rulers of Israel who, like Shebna, had become full of pride.
"Eliakim signifies The resurrection of the Lord; or, My God, he shall arise." Thus, even the name typified Christ, "for the hope of salvation and eternal life comes only through Eliakim, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible ... with a Commentary and Critical Notes, 4:107.)
When the patriarch Israel gave his son Judah his blessings, he said, among other things: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be" (Genesis 49:10). Thereafter, the ruling power in Israel was enjoyed by Judah and was particularly evident in the reign of King David. The key of the house of David, the right to rule, was a symbol for the real right to rule, which is only enjoyed through the holy priesthood of God. This power was focused upon and centered in the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom was given power to "shut" and to "open" with no one who could override that power. John and Isaiah both clearly show that the key of David, or the government, was to be upon the shoulders of the Savior of the world (see Isaiah 9:6; Revelation 3:7).
The "nail in a sure place" (Isaiah 22:23) is messianic and symbolizes the terrible reality of the cross, though only a part of the total suffering of the Lord that caused Him to "tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit" (D&C 19:18). Just as the nail of the cross that was driven in the sure place secured the body of the one being crucified, so the Savior Himself is, to all who will, a nail in a sure place, for He has given them power so that none need be lost (see John 17:12). As Christ brings the redeemed to the Father, the glory becomes His own, and the redeemed and their offspring will become part of the family of heaven under the throne of Christ (see D&C 19:2; Matthew 28:18; 1 Corinthians 15:27-28; Philippians 2:5-11; 3:21).
Isaiah 22:20-24. List three the Messiah will do. (See also Isaiah 22:22a)
Isaiah 23. The Lord's Hard Line against TyreThis chapter closes one phase of Isaiah's prophecies against Israel's heathen neighbors and their types of wickedness. Even though Babylon would have possession of the world's imperial power in the near future, Tyre had control of, and was the commercial center of, that contemporary world. Therefore, holding a grasp upon the traffic in the world's wealth, it was fitting that the Lord address them with a separate warning. (Compare Ezekiel 26-28.)
Isaiah 23:1. What will happen to Tyre?
Isaiah 23:1. Where Were Tarshish and the Land of Chittim?Tarshish may have been Tartessus in Spain, a sister merchant to Tyre in shipping and trade. Chittim was an early name for present-day Cyprus. Phœnicia should properly be seen as the center of world trade during this period.
Isaiah 23:2-3. Zidon, a City-StateSidon (Zidon) was the older city of the Phœnicians, whereas Tyre was the newer site that had gained supremacy during the Assyrian era. Sidon received her revenue from the grain (seed) of Sihor (the Nile waters of Egypt). So renowned had the merchants become that they were honored by their national associates as great ones. (Compare Revelation 18:23; Isaiah 23:8.)
Isaiah 23:14-18. Why Was Tyre Called a Harlot?Like Babylon, Tyre represented the world and so eventually would come under the judgments of God. Like Babylon, she was seen as a harlot committing fornication (joining in wickedness) with the kingdoms of the world (see Isaiah 23:15, 17-18; compare Revelation 17:1-2). The seventy years may refer to her coming judgments. Isaiah 23:18 shows that eventually the merchandise of Tyre (the world) will be put to proper use in building the kingdom of Jehovah.
Isaiah 24:1-6. Of What Period or People Was the Lord Speaking?In one sense, Isaiah 24:1-6 could be used to speak of apostasy in any day. The passage speaks of a time when the Lord will make the earth "empty" (v. 1) and will scatter its inhabitants abroad because the people have defiled the earth. "They have transgressed the laws [of God], changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant" (v. 5). As a result the earth will be "burned, and few men left" (v. 6).
Isaiah 24:2. "As with the People, So with the Priest"President Spencer W. Kimball said:
"The term priest is here used to denote all religious leaders of any faith. Isaiah said: 'The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.' (Isa. 24:5) From among the discordant voices we are shocked at those of many priests who encourage the defilement of men and wink at the eroding trends and who deny the omniscience of God. Certainly these men should be holding firm, yet some yield to popular clamor.
"I give some quotes from the press:
"'Many churchmen are reluctant to give a definite yes or no to marijuana.' 'It depends upon circumstances.' (Time, August 16, 1968)
"They have developed 'situation ethics,' which seem to cover all sins.
"Other religious leaders are saying: '... precise rules of Christian conduct should not necessarily apply to problems of sexuality.' (London --British Council of Churches)
"In contrast hear the strong voice of a prophet. Peter prophesied:
"'But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them ...
"'And many shall follow their pernicious ways ...' (2 Pet. 2:1-2)." (In Conference Report, Apr. 1971, p. 9)
Isaiah 24:5. What will men do?
Isaiah 24:5. Why Was Changing the Ordinances So Serious?The gospel ordinances are part of the specific means outlined by the Lord whereby one can overcome his natural state, receive a spiritual rebirth, and become like God. Each ordinance was designed by God to teach spiritual truths and move His children toward godliness. When the ordinances are changed, their power to save is lost. The Prophet Joseph Smith said of the ordinances: "If there is no change of ordinances, there is no change of Priesthood. Wherever the ordinances of the Gospel are administered, there is the Priesthood." (Teachings, p. 158)
Isaiah 24:6, 20, 23. List three things that will happen at the Second Coming.
Isaiah 24:6-12. The Result of ApostasyThe punishment decreed for breaking God's everlasting covenant is to be burned with fire. These verses describe the great mourning that will accompany the destruction.
Isaiah 24:19-23. Great Physical Changes Will Attend the Second Coming of the LordIsaiah 24:19-23 describes events and conditions as they will be just before or in conjunction with the Second Coming of the Lord. A more penetrating description of these same events is found in Doctrine and Covenants 88:86-94. The "prisoners ... gathered in the pit" and those "shut up in the prison" (Isaiah 24:22) are those locked in the spirit world awaiting the preaching of the gospel (see Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:155). According to Elder Orson Pratt, the moon will be confounded and the sun will be ashamed because the brilliance which attends Christ in His return to earth will be a "superior light," one which will make all else seem dark by comparison (in Journal of Discourses, 20:12).
Isaiah 24:23. Where will the Lord reign when he comes?
Isaiah 25:1-11. The Second Coming Will Be a Time of Great Rejoicing for the Righteous
The Second Coming will be a time of great rejoicing that follows "much tribulation" (D&C 58:3-4). A great "feast of fat things" (Isaiah 25:6) will also attend the Lord's return, meaning that men will feast upon the fruits of the gospel until they are full (compare D&C 58:8). The Lord's coming will help to dispel "the vail that is spread over all nations" (Isaiah 25:7). This veil may be the "dark veil of unbelief" (Alma 19:6; see also Ether 4:15) which characterizes those of the latter days who reject the gospel. Or, it could be a more literal "veil of darkness," such as that described in Moses 7:61 when the heavens shall be darkened and "shall shake, and also the earth." But great joy will also follow, for the time will come when "the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces" (Isaiah 25:8). This figure is used twice in the book of Revelation (Revelation 7:17; 21:4) and obviously represents a millennial condition.
Isaiah 25:6. What will the Lord prepare in Mount Zion?
Isaiah 25:9. What will be said of the Lord?
Isaiah 26. "In the Way of Thy Judgments, O Lord, Have We Waited for Thee"Isaiah 26 is a song, or psalm, of praise that gives tribute to the Lord. It appears to be a response to God's release of Israel from her scattered condition in the earth (see v. 15). Isaiah rejoiced that the righteous are highly blessed of God and observed that wicked are those who do not respond to the Lord's opportunities (see vv. 10-11). In typical fashion, Israel turned unto the Lord for help only when they were in great pain. In the same way a woman struggling to give birth is delivered of pain only when her child is born, so Israel will be free of pain when the Lord restores Zion once again (see vv. 16-18). Verse 18 is a clear statement of the fact of resurrection, the Lord's and our own.
C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch said of the song of Isaiah: "The prophet, whom we already know as a psalmist from [Isaiah 12], now acts as choral leader of the church of the future, and praises Jehovah for having destroyed the mighty imperial city, and proved Himself a defence and shield against its tyranny towards His oppressed church" (Commentary on the Old Testament, 7:1:436-37).
Isaiah 26:3-4. In whom are we to trust?
Isaiah 26:19. What will Jehovah do?
Isaiah 26:19. Who will rise in the resurrection?
Isaiah 27:1-6. What Are the Meanings of Leviathan, Dragon, and Serpent?When Israel is restored, she "shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit" (Isaiah 27:6). That fruit is the gospel of peace (see vv. 5-6). At the same time the Lord "shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, ... and he shall slay the dragon" (v. 1). Both dragon and serpent are scriptural terms for Satan, the common enemy of God and all mankind (see Revelation 12:9). Thus, leviathan probably includes not only Satan personally but all who serve him. In other words, what Isaiah saw is the necessary destruction of Babylon, or the world, before Zion can be fully established. Here again, as in chapter 26, Isaiah is so taken with the joy of that future day that he couches his words in a hymn of praise.
Isaiah 27:6, 12-13. What will Israel do?
Isaiah 27:7-13. What Did Isaiah See in Store for Jerusalem?Before Jacob shall be restored, "the defenced city [Jerusalem] shall be desolate, and the habitation forsaken" (Isaiah 27:10), because "when the boughs thereof are withered [when the tribes of Israel become wicked], they shall be broken off" and cast into the fire, that is, they shall come into judgments (v. 11). Later, they shall "be gathered one by one" back to their holy city, Jerusalem (v. 12; see also v. 13).
The allegory of Zenos in Jacob 5 contains similar imagery and may be studied profitably in connection with this chapter.
Isaiah 28:1-8. "Woe to the Crown of Pride, to the Drunkards of Ephraim"Here Isaiah continues the theme that Israel (both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms) must face judgments before Jacob's final restoration. Isaiah, chapter 28, speaks of the rebellion of the ten tribes inhabiting northern Israel, of which Ephraim was the acknowledged leader. "The Lord hath a mighty and strong" nation, Assyria, waiting like "a flood of mighty waters" to humble Israel by casting her "down to the earth" (v. 2). Then, like a flower that fades in the hot sun (see v. 4), or a drunken man who staggers under wine (see v. 7), Israel will be removed from her promised land. In 724 BC, Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, besieged Samaria. The siege ended after three years with Sargon II finally carrying the ten tribes away into captivity.
Isaiah 28:5a. What day is referred to in verse 5? (See Isaiah 28:5a)
Isaiah 28:14-15. In What Way Had Judah "Made a Covenant with Death, and with Hell"?"The prophet confronts the rulers of Jerusalem with the assertion that their policy and behavior are bringing inevitable ruin. This time the fault is that they have deliberately entered into a covenant to serve, in return for protection, a god or gods other than their own. Death, maweth, is here the god of the underworld, Sheol or hell. Perhaps the Canaanite god of the underworld, Mot, is intended, or the reference may be to the Egyptian Osiris. It was customary for the prophets to speak of the alien deities as lies and falsehood (compare Amos 2:4; Jer. 10:14). In contrast to this act of panic by the rulers, Isaiah declares that faith in God is the only secure foundation of Zion's security, and that his justice and righteousness alone can erect a building that will stand. Those who in fright have sought to secure themselves by worshiping other gods as well, will experience in sheer terror the effects of Yahweh's decree of destruction." (The Interpreter's Bible, 5:317)
Of course, the phrase may have a spiritual meaning as well. Israel made a covenant with death because that is what "the wages of sin" are -- death (Romans 6:23).
For other references to the overflowing scourge in modern times, see Doctrine and Covenants 29:17-19; 45:31; 84:96-97; 97:22-26; 105:15.
Isaiah 28:16. Who is promised as "a sure foundation"? (V. 16)
Isaiah 28:16. What Is the Tried and "Precious Corner Stone"?The tried and precious cornerstone is Jesus Christ Himself. Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: "One of Isaiah's great Messianic prophecies was that the promised Messiah would be 'for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.' (Isa. 8:14-15) Both Paul (Rom. 9:33) and Peter (1 Pet. 2:7-8) record the fulfilment of this prophecy." (Mormon Doctrine, p. 657)
Jacob referred to this figure when he said that "by the stumbling of the Jews they will reject the stone upon which they might build and have safe foundation" (Jacob 4:15).
Paul also used the same imagery when he said the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ was Apostles and prophets, with Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone (see Ephesians 2:19-20).
Isaiah 28:17-22. What Was Meant by "Righteousness to the Plummet" and a "Bed ... Shorter Than That a Man Can Stretch Himself" Upon?With Christ as the chief cornerstone in our spiritual "house," we are prepared to face the justice of the Lord with equity and faith. Jesus Christ becomes our advocate and pleads our case with the Father (see D&C 45:2-5).
"Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet" alludes to the building trades and continues the imagery. Christ is the cornerstone from which all other stones are laid. When something plummets, it drops straight down. A builder uses a plumb bob to find a straight vertical line. The plumb bob is a weight attached to a cord that, when extended, hangs perpendicular to its beginning point. Thus the builder knows he has a straight line. With righteousness and justice as His measuring tools, the Savior starts with the chief cornerstone (Himself) and lays out a perfect and firmly built house, one which can resist any storm that would sweep away a house reared through other means, especially one reared through the "covenant with death" (Isaiah 28:18).
The imagery of the bed and the inadequate covers is more easily understood than the imagery of the plummet. Obviously, if we are not covered by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, we will find ourself like a man in a bed too short for him with a blanket that is too small to cover him. No matter how appealing sin may look at first, it can never satisfy our inner needs. The sinful person will be ever like the man in a short bed with inadequate covers. He will twist and turn and constantly seek comfort, but he cannot find it. The Atonement of Christ for sin covers, or is efficacious for, only those who trust in God with all their hearts and keep His holy commandments.
Isaiah 28:23-29. What Was the Significance of the Parable of Sowing and Threshing?Keil and Delitzsch explained the beauty and power of Isaiah's parable, noting that "fitches" (Isaiah 28:25) were probably the black poppy, and cummin (see v. 25) the same as modern cummin. Both are herbs derived from the seeds of the plants mentioned.
"The ploughing ... which opens the soil, i.e. turns it up in furrows, and the harrowing ... which breaks the clods, take place to prepare for the sowing, and therefore not interminably, but only so long as is necessary to prepare the soil to receive the seed. When the seedfurrows have been drawn in the levelled surface of the ground ... , then the sowing and planting begin; and this also takes place in various ways, according to the different kinds of fruit ... The wheat he sows carefully in rows ..., i.e., he does not scatter it about carelessly, like the other two, but lays the grains carefully in the furrows, because otherwise when they sprang up they would get massed together, and choke one another ... the barley is sown in a piece of the field specially marked off for it, or specially furnished with signs ...; and ..., the spelt [rye] ..., along the edge of it, so that spelt forms the rim of the barley field. It is by a divine instinct that the husbandman acts in this manner; for God, who established agriculture at the creation ..., has also given men understanding ...
"... (For) [v. 27] introduces another proof that the husbandman is instructed by God, from what he still further does. He does not use the threshing machine ... which would entirely destroy the more tender kinds of fruit, but knocks them out with a staff ... Is bread corn crushed? Oh no, he does not crush it. This would be the case if he were to cause the wheel ... of the threshing cart with the horses harnessed in front to rattle over it with all their might ... The wise, divinely inspired course adopted by the husbandman in the treatment of the field and fruit, is a type of the wise course adopted by the divine Teacher Himself in the treatment of His nation. Israel is Jehovah's field. The punishments and chastisements of Jehovah are the ploughshare and harrow, with which He forcibly breaks up, turns over, and furrows this field. But this does not last for ever. When the field has been thus loosened, smoothed, and rendered fertile once more, the painful process of ploughing is followed by a beneficent sowing and planting in a multi-form and wisely ordered fulness of grace. Again, Israel is Jehovah's child of the threshing-floor [see Isaiah 21:10]. He threshes it; but He does not thresh it only: He also knocks; and when He threshes, He does not continue threshing for ever, i.e., as Caspari has well explained it, He does not punish all the members of the nation with the same severity; and those whom He punishes with greater severity than others He does not punish incessantly, but as soon as His end is attained, and the husks of sin are separated from those that have been punished, the punishment ceases, and only the worst in the nation, who are nothing but husks, and the husks on the nation itself, are swept away by the punishments' [compare Isaiah 1:25; 29:20-21]. This is the solemn lesson and affectionate consolation hidden behind the veil of the parable. Jehovah punishes, but it is in order that He may be able to bless. He sifts, but He does not destroy. He does not thresh His own people, but He knocks them; and even when He threshes, they may console themselves in the face of the approaching period of judgment, that they are never crushed or injured." (Commentary, 7:2:14-17)
Isaiah 29:1-4. What Does the Phrase "It Shall Be unto Me As Ariel" Mean?David dwelt in Jerusalem, and Ariel is another name for that city. In typical prophetic fashion this prophecy has a multiple application. It could be applied to any time when Jerusalem faced a major catastrophe because of its apostasy. Also, Jerusalem is sometimes used as a generic name, not just for the city but for the entire nation, much as people say Washington and mean the United States or Moscow and mean Russia. Elder LeGrand Richards noted the dualism of the prophecy:
"If you will read [Isaiah 29:1-2] thoughtfully, you will know that [Isaiah] not only saw the destruction of Jerusalem, but he saw the destruction of another great center like unto Jerusalem. Then he adds:
"'And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.' [Isaiah 29:4]
"Nobody in this world could explain that intelligently or know what people Isaiah saw like unto Jerusalem without the Book of Mormon. Here is the explanation in the Book of Mormon. 'After my seed and the seed of my brethren shall have dwindled in unbelief, and shall have been smitten by the Gentiles; yea, after the Lord God shall have camped against them round about, and shall have laid siege against them with a mount, and raised forts against them; and after they shall have been brought down low in the dust, even that they are not, yet the words of the righteous shall be written, and the prayers of the faithful shall be heard, and all those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not be forgotten.
"'For those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him power that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground, and their speech shall whisper out of the dust.
"'For thus saith the Lord God: They shall write the things which shall be done among them, and they shall be written and sealed up in a book, and those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not have them, for they seek to destroy the things of God.' (2 Nephi 26:15-17)
"How could Joseph Smith have known these things when the Book of Mormon was published even before this Church was organized, except for the fact that the Book of Mormon is the promised record that God said he would bring forth and join to the record of Judah. How could anyone understand this prophecy of Isaiah without the explanation contained in the Book of Mormon." (In Conference Report, Apr. 1963, p. 118) The Book of Mormon is truly the voice of a people brought low, speaking from the dust, for the book was in fact taken from the ground, just as Isaiah prophesied.
Isaiah 29:4. Who will speak as a voice from the dust? (See also Isaiah 29:1a)
Isaiah 29:10-14. List three things that are foretold.
Isaiah 29:18-19. What Do the Allusions to the Deaf and Blind Mean?One can be either spiritually or physically deaf or blind, or both. Elder Bruce R. McConkie defined spiritual deafness as "the state of those who are lacking in spirituality, whose spirit ears are not attuned to the whisperings of the still small voice of the Spirit. Similarly, spiritual blindness is the identifying mark which singles out those who are unable to see the hand of God manifest in the affairs of men. Such have 'unbelief and blindness of heart' (D&C 58:15); they are 'hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds.' (3 Ne. 2:1)" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 184)
Isaiah 29:24. To Whom Does the Phrase "They Also That Erred in Spirit Shall Come to Understanding" Refer?Many in the Christian world are sincere, and their false doctrinal conclusions are not their own fault. Elder Orson Pratt, who commented extensively on Isaiah 29, explained:
"Oh, how my heart has been pained within me when I have seen the blindness of the Christian world, and I knew that many of them were sincere! I knew they desired to know the truth, but they scarcely knew whether to turn to the right or to the left, so great were the errors that were taught in their midst, and so strong the traditions which they had imbibed, the fear of the Lord being taught them by the precepts of men instead of by inspiration and the power of the Holy Ghost. 'They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding' when this book comes forth, and 'they that murmur shall learn doctrine.'
"... But those who have read this book will bear me record that their minds have been forever set at rest in regard to doctrine, so far as the ordinances of the kingdom of God are concerned. Those who erred, and did not know whether sprinkling, pouring or immersion was the true method of baptism, now know? Why? Because the Book of Mormon reveals the mode as it was given to the ancient Nephites on this continent. So in regard to every other principle of the doctrine of Christ -- it is set forth in such great plainness that it is impossible for any two persons to form different ideas in relation to it, after reading the Book of Mormon." (In Journal of Discourses, 15:188-89)
Isaiah 30. "Woe to the Rebellious Children"Israel and Judah had been cautioned by the Lord not to put their trust in other nations. But this people refused to hearken, and they turned to Egypt for protection from the Assyrians. The Lord berated them for seeking to "strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt" (Isaiah 30:2). All of this, Isaiah said, "shall help in vain, and to no purpose" (v. 7). As a result, Israel would be broken as easily as a clay pot (see v. 14).
But God will be gracious to Israel. Although He feeds them for a time with "the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction" (v. 20), yet in the last days their teachers shall once again teach the true gospel and show them how to walk in it (see v. 21). Not only will prophets return, but great temporal blessings will be restored. The earth "shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures" (v. 23). In the end the Lord will redeem Israel. Even "the Assyrians" who carried away the ten tribes into captivity shall eventually "be beaten down" (v. 31).
The theme of Isaiah 30 is that men trust in the wisdom of other men instead of looking to God for counsel (see vv. 1-2) or to His prophets for instruction (see vv. 9-11). The Lord stated that this rejection of God's word is the direct cause of their destruction (see vv. 12-14).
Monte S. Nyman wrote: "The warning in verses 1 through 7 is here extended to our day by the Lord's commanding Isaiah to record it as a witness for the latter days (verse 8); a marginal note in the KJV identifies the 'latter day'" ("Great Are the Words of Isaiah," p. 121).
Isaiah 30:10-11. What happened to Israel? Why?
Isaiah 30:23-26, 29. What will happen to Israel?
Isaiah 30:27-28, 30. When and why will the Lord come?
Isaiah 31. Trust in the Lord Instead of in the "Arm of Flesh"This chapter follows a theme similar to that of the chapter preceding it. However, "the first warning speaks against trusting the wisdom of man, and the second against trusting the power of man" (Nyman, "Great Are the Words of Isaiah," p. 118). "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help," for there is none there (Isaiah 31:1). "The Egyptians are men, and not God"; they themselves and those they help "shall fail together" (v. 3). Only the Lord can save Israel. Isaiah said, "Turn ye unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted," and "then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man," but of the Lord (vv. 6, 8). The "Egyptian" and the "Assyrian" of the latter days may be those in whom a modern people trust rather than in the Lord.
Isaiah 31:1. Why was Israel reproved?
Isaiah 31:4-5. What will the Lord do when he comes?
Isaiah 32. Israel Will Be a Desolation until the Messiah Begins the Preparation for His ReturnOrson Pratt saw this scripture as applying not only to ancient Israel but also to the Latter-day Saints, who were driven from their homes in the East to the deserts of the Rocky Mountains.
"Did you see it, Isaiah, as well as the people that live in our day? Did you see a people go into the desert and offer up thanksgiving and the voice of melody? Did you see that desert and wilderness redeemed from its sterile condition and become like the garden of Eden? 'O yes,' says Isaiah, 'I saw it all, and I left it on record for the benefit of the generation that should live some two or three thousand years after my day.' But Isaiah, are we to understand that the people are to be gathered together in that desert, and that the gathered people are to be instrumental in the hands of God, in redeeming that desert? Yes, Isaiah has told us all this. We will go back to what we read in his thirty-second chapter -- 'Until the spirit be poured out upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.' What fruitful field? Why, the wilderness that will be converted into a fruitful field. 'The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness, and assurance forever; and my people shall dwell in peaceable habitations, and in sure dwellings and in quiet resting places.'
"Was that the way we dwelt in Missouri or Illinois? Did we live in quietness and with assurance continually in those States? Oh, no, we were tossed about; as Isaiah says -- 'tossed to and fro and not comforted.' That was the case with Zion while down in the States, and that was in accordance with a modern revelation, in which, speaking of Zion, the Lord says -- 'You shall be persecuted from city to city and from synagogue to synagogue, and but few shall stand to receive their inheritance' [D&C 63:31]. But when the time should come for Zion to go up into the wilderness things would be changed; then my people shall dwell in peaceable habitations, in sure dwelling places, and in quietness and assurance.
"Will they have any capital city when they get up into the mountain desert? O, yes. Isaiah says here -- 'When it shall hail, coming down on the forest, the city shall be low in a low place.' How often have I thought of this since we laid out this great city, twenty-eight years ago! How often have this people reflected in their meditations upon the fulfillment of this prophecy! they have seen, on this eastern range of mountains and on the range of mountains to the west of this valley, snow and storms pelting down with great fury, as though winter in all its rigor and ferocity had overtaken the mountain territory, and at the same time, here, 'low in a low place,' was a city, organized at the very base of these mountains, enjoying all the blessings of a spring temperature, the blessings of a temperature not sufficient to cut off our vegetation. What a contrast! 'When it shall hail, coming down on the forest, the city shall be low in a low place.' That could not be Jerusalem, no such contrast in the land of Palestine round about Jerusalem! It had reference to the latter-day Zion, the Zion of the mountains." (In Journal of Discourses, 18:148-49)
Isaiah 32:1. What will the Messiah do when he comes?
Isaiah 32:13-20. How long will the land of Israel be a wilderness?
Isaiah 33:1, 11, 14. What will precede the Second Coming?
Isaiah 33:10-14. What will come with the Lord?
Isaiah 33:14-15. "Who ... Shall Dwell with Everlasting Burnings?"Joseph Smith taught that some men "shall rise to the everlasting burnings of God; for God dwells in everlasting burnings, and some shall rise to the damnation of their own filthiness, which is as exquisite a torment as the lake of fire and brimstone" (Teachings, p. 361; compare D&C 128:24; 130:7; 133:41; Hebrews 12:29). In one of the most beautiful scriptures of the Old Testament, the Lord asked who would be able to abide this devouring fire, and then described the kind of person that would be able to abide it (see vv. 14-15).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie discussed Isaiah's question of "who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" (v. 14):
"That is, who in the Church shall gain an inheritance in the celestial kingdom? Who will go where God and Christ and holy beings are? Who will overcome the world, work the works of righteousness, and enduring in faith and devotion to the end hear the blessed benediction, 'Come, and inherit the kingdom of my Father.'
"Isaiah answers: [Isaiah 33:15-16.]" (In Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p. 55)Elder McConkie continued:
"Now if I may, I shall take these words of Isaiah, spoken by the power of the Holy Ghost in the first instance, and give some indication as to how they apply to us and our circumstances.
"First, 'He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly.' That is, building on the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must keep the commandments. We must speak the truth, and work the works of righteousness. We shall be judged by our thoughts, our words and our deeds.
"Second, '... he that despiseth the gain of oppressions.' That is, we must act with equity and justice toward our fellowmen. It is the Lord himself who said that he, at the day of his coming, will be a swift witness against those that oppress the hireling in his wages.
"Third, '... he that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes.' That is, we must reject every effort to buy influence, and instead deal fairly and impartially with our fellowmen. God is no respecter of persons. He esteemeth all flesh alike; and those only who keep his commandments find special favor with him. Salvation is free; it cannot be purchased with money; and those only are saved who abide the law upon which its receipt is predicated. Bribery is of the world.
"Fourth, he '... that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil.' That is, we must not center our attention on evil and wickedness. We must cease to find fault and look for good in government and in the world. We must take an affirmative, wholesome approach to all things." (In Conference Report, Oct. 1973, pp. 55-56)
Isaiah 33:20, 24. Who will be perfected?
Isaiah 33:20-24. What Is Known of Zion's Future?In its redeemed condition, Zion will be a place of singular beauty and righteousness. Therefore, "look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities" (Isaiah 33:20), that is, consider what it will be like to live in Zion. "There the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; ... he will save us" (vv. 21-22). Then too, "the inhabitant [of Zion] shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity" (v. 24). Clearly, these are those who have applied the atoning blood of Christ in their own behalf.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie said of the word stakes:
"In prophetic imagery, Zion is pictured as a great tent upheld by cords fastened securely to stakes. Thus Isaiah, envisioning the latter-day glory of Israel, gathered to her restored Zion, proclaimed: 'Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left ... For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.' (Isa. 54:2-7) And of the millennial Zion, Isaiah exulted: 'Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.' (Isa. 33:20)
"In keeping with this symbolism, the great areas of church population and strength, which sustain and uphold the restored Zion, are called stakes. They are the rallying points and the gathering centers for the remnants of scattered Israel. (D&C 68:25-26; 82:13-14; 101:17-21; 115:6, 18; 124:134; 133:9)" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 764)
Isaiah 33:22. What will the Lord be?
Isaiah 34:1-2, 8. What will happen at the Second Coming?
Isaiah 34:1-10. What Does the Term Idumea Mean and Why Is It Used?The Second Coming of Christ will be a day of vengeance and recompense. As formerly seen, "the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations," for "he hath delivered them to the slaughter" (Isaiah 34:2). Moreover, the heavenly bodies, those luminaries such as the sun, stars, and moon, "shall be dissolved," that is, "shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine" while "the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll" (v. 4). Isaiah's description is reminiscent of a similar one in Doctrine and Covenants 88:95 in which we are taught that when the Lord returns, "the curtain of heaven shall be unfolded, as a scroll is unfolded after it is rolled up, and the face of the Lord shall be unveiled." Then the sword of the Lord, which represents His power and judgment, "shall come down upon Idumea," or the world (Isaiah 34:5).
President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: "Now, some Bible commentators, because of the name of Idumea, a little country east of the Jordan, is mentioned, have an idea that this had reference to that little country; but the term Idumea is one that the Lord uses to mean the world. You will find it so recorded in Section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants. He is speaking of the world." (The Signs of the Times, p. 150)
Blood is a biblical symbol of wickedness. The whole earth, stained with blood, will experience a "great slaughter" at the time of the Second Coming, for "it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion" (Isaiah 34:6, 8).
President Joseph Fielding Smith again: "That is to take place in the dispensation of the Fulness of Times, and this prophecy had nothing to do with that little country called Idumea but to the nations of the earth" (Signs of the Times, p. 151).
Isaiah seems to parallel passages in Ezekiel, Joel, and Jeremiah where the great battle of Armageddon is foretold. This parallelism explains the reference to the "armies" (Isaiah 34:2) and the vast slaughter that will take place (see vv. 3, 5-7). The "pitch" and "brimstone" and "smoke" of verses 9 and 10 suggest the results of nuclear warfare, which could logically accompany the last great wars.
Isaiah 34:2. What will be upon all nations?
Isaiah 34:5. Upon whom will the Lord's sword fall?
Isaiah 34:16-17. What Is the "Book of the Lord"?Not all people, of course, are wicked, and those who are not will be saved from the destroying fire -- both the spiritual (hell) and the physical (see 1 Nephi 22:15-17). The names of the children of the Lord who have kept their covenants are enrolled in a special book known as "the book of the Lord" (Isaiah 34:16), "the book of the law of God" (D&C 85:5; see also vv. 9, 11), or "the book of life" (Revelation 20:12). Records of our works are kept on earth by the Lord's clerks, but the book of life is the record kept in heaven. Both records should agree (see D&C 128:6-9). Of those whose names are recorded in the heavenly book, "no one of these shall fail" (Isaiah 34:16). The promise that "none shall want [lack] their mate" (JST, Isaiah 34:16) is particularly interesting to Latter-day Saints since we know that only through the ordinance of celestial marriage can we have our mate eternally.
Isaiah 35:1-4, 8-10. List four things that will happen in the day of restoration.
Isaiah 35:1-7. "The Desert Shall Rejoice, and Blossom as the Rose"Several General Authorities have seen the settlement of the mountain valleys of the Rockies by the Latter-day Saints as a fulfillment of these verses in Isaiah (see Milton R. Hunter, in Conference Report, Oct. 1965, p. 81; LeGrand Richards, in Conference Report, Oct. 1966, p. 42; Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:346-47; Orson Pratt, in Journal of Discourses, 18:145). When the Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847, it could be described as a "wilderness" and a "solitary place" (Isaiah 35:1). The Saints went to work immediately, and soon the desert valleys of Utah began to "blossom as the rose" (v. 1). But this prophecy may also be fulfilled by the settlement of modern Jews in the Holy Land, where similar things are taking place.
After quoting Isaiah 35:3-4, Elder Orson Pratt reasoned:
"That has never been fulfilled; but preparatory to the time when God will come with vengeance to sweep away wickedness from the face of the earth, the house of Israel will be gathered back to their own lands, and the people of God will be permitted to dwell in the wilderness, and that wilderness will become a fruitful field. It is even said that the desert should rejoice because of those who are gathered, and should blossom as the rose.
"Now that is something that has been fulfilled during the last quarter of a century, here in this wilderness, barren, desert country. The great latter-day work has commenced, the kingdom of God has been reorganized on the earth; in other words, the Christian Church in all its purity and with all its ordinances, has been reorganized upon the face of the earth, and the time has at length come when the Spirit of God has been poured out from on high. Until that period arrived, there was no hope for Israel, no hope for the land of Palestine, no hope for the redemption of the tribes scattered in the four quarters of the earth; but when the wilderness should become as a fruitful field, when the spirit should again be poured out from on high, through the everlasting Gospel of the Son of God, then the people should be gathered together by the commandment of the Lord ... Then we may look out for a change upon the face of the land where this gathering takes place; we may look for the deserts to become like the garden of Eden, to blossom as the rose that blossoms in rich and fertile gardens, to blossom abundantly, and the desert to rejoice with joy and singing ...
"The Prophet says that, when Jesus comes with vengeance and destroys the wicked, redeems the desert, and causes the wilderness to become a fruitful field, then the lame man shall leap as a hart, the tongue of the dumb shall speak, the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert, and the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water." (In Journal of Discourses, 18:145-46)
Isaiah 35:8-10. Who Are the "Ransomed of the Lord" and What Does the Future Hold for Them?Isaiah 35:8-10 is closely related to Doctrine and Covenants 133:26-34 and is generally acknowledged to refer to the return of the ten tribes. But these references may also include all the tribes. Only the "redeemed" of the Lord, that is the righteous, shall tread the "highway" or "way of holiness" -- "the unclean shall not pass over it." Since Ephraim is the source of the ten tribes' blessings (see D&C 133:32), it stands to reason that Ephraim must be gathered first. The ten tribes may then "come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads" (Isaiah 35:10). Judah also shall be gathered as part of this same picture. The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote: "Our western tribes of Indians are descendants from that Joseph who was sold into Egypt, and ... the land of America is a promised land unto them, and unto it all the tribes of Israel will come, with as many of the Gentiles as shall comply with the requisitions of the new covenant. But the tribe of Judah will return to old Jerusalem. The city of Zion spoken of by David, in the one hundred and second Psalm, will be built upon the land of America, 'And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads.' [Isaiah 35:10]; and then they will be delivered from the overflowing scourge that shall pass through the land. But Judah shall obtain deliverance at Jerusalem. [See Joel 2:32; Isaiah 26:20-21; Jeremiah 31:12; Psalm 1:5; Ezekiel 34:11-13]. These are testimonies that the Good Shepherd will put forth his own sheep, and lead them out from all nations where they have been scattered in a cloudy and dark day, to Zion, and to Jerusalem; besides many more testimonies which might be brought." (Teachings, p. 17)
Isaiah 36:1, 18-20. What did the Assyrians do?
Isaiah 37:1-5, 14-20. What two things did Hezekiah do?
Isaiah 37:6-7, 31-34. List three things that Isaiah prophesies.
Isaiah 37:36. Who slayed the Assyrians?
Isaiah 37:38. Who slayed Sennacherib?
Isaiah 38:7-8. What sign was Hezekiah given that his life would be lengthened fifteen years?
Isaiah 38:19-20. What did Hezekiah do?
Isaiah 39:1-2. What did Hezekiah reveal to the Babylonians?
Isaiah 39:5-7. What did Isaiah prophesy would happen?
Isaiah 40-47. Isaiah Changed His Style of Writing to Prophetic PoetryThe preceding chapters in Isaiah include a mix of prophetic poetry and historical prose. The prophet used a beautiful poetic writing style for the entire portion covered in this reading, with the brief exception of 44:9-20. Hebrew poetry differs from poetry written in English, primarily because it emphasizes parallelism in thought, rather than rhyme and meter. Its beauty and sense are wonderful and pleasing to both the mind and the ear. (See Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis-2 Samuel [religion 301, 2003], pp. 303-6)
Isaiah 40:1-3. Why Did Isaiah Say Jerusalem's Warfare Was Over?"The message of comfort to Jerusalem, 'that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned,' clearly refers to the latter days. The Anchor Bible translates this line 'that her sentence is served, her penalty is paid.' Judah was to be sent through the 'furnace of affliction' (see 48:10), so the message given here is to be fulfilled after she has been through the furnace. A look at history and at present-day circumstances shows her still to be going through that furnace. The rest of the chapter also supports a Second Coming time period." (Monte S. Nyman, Great Are the Words of Isaiah, pp. 141-42)
Isaiah 40:3. "The Voice of Him That Crieth in the Wilderness"As with so many Old Testament prophecies, this passage has more than one meaning. The Savior clearly identified the "voice in the wilderness" as John the Baptist (see Matthew 3:3; John 1:23; 1 Nephi 10:8-9). But if this forerunner was to prepare the way for the person who was to tell Jerusalem that times of trial were over (see Isaiah 40:1), then the prophet clearly could not be referring only to John the Baptist's mortal ministry. Elder George Teasdale said: "Instead of speaking comforting words to Jerusalem, He [Christ] exclaimed: 'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the Prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.' Were these comforting words to Jerusalem? I think not. It is very evident that John the Baptist was not only the forerunner of His first coming, but also of His second advent. The Scriptures are plain on this matter." (In Journal of Discourses, 25:16)
Only with the Second Coming of the Lord will Jerusalem find forgiveness and peace. Therefore, the reference to the voice in the wilderness (John the Baptist) making a straight way in the desert applies to his ministry as a forerunner for both the former and the latter days. Luke quoted Isaiah 40:3-5 (see Luke 3:4-6) -- not only verse 3 but also verses 4 and 5, which are clearly millennial in application. When Joseph Smith revised Luke's passage, he added five verses that also apply to the Second Coming and clearly identify the Savior as Him for whom the forerunner would prepare the way.
Since the five verses the Prophet Joseph added were put in the middle of Luke's quotation of Isaiah, it can be assumed they were part of Isaiah's original text. They are therefore cited here (they were inserted between verses 3 and 4 of Luke).
"For behold, and lo, he shall come, as it is written in the book of the prophets, to take away the sins of the world, and to bring salvation unto the heathen nations, to gather together those who are lost, who are of the sheepfold of Israel;
"Yea, even the dispersed and afflicted; and also to prepare the way, and make possible the preaching of the gospel unto the Gentiles;
"And to be a light unto all who sit in darkness, unto the uttermost parts of the earth; to bring to pass the resurrection from the dead, and to ascend up on high, to dwell on the right hand of the Father,
"Until the fulness of time, and the law and the testimony shall be sealed, and the keys of the kingdom shall be delivered up again unto the Father;
"To administer justice unto all; to come down in judgment upon all, and to convince all the ungodly of their ungodly deeds, which they have committed; and all this in the day that he shall come." (JST, Luke 3:5-9)
Clearly John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy twice. But there was to be yet another fulfillment of the prophecy.
Another forerunner who prepared for Christ's coming was the Prophet Joseph Smith. President Joseph Fielding Smith observed that "Malachi [as does Isaiah] speaks of the Lord sending his messenger to prepare the way before him, and while that does have reference to the coming of John the Baptist, it is one of those prophecies in the scriptures that has a double fulfilment. It has reference also to the coming of the Prophet Joseph Smith, because that messenger which was to come and prepare the way before him, was to come in this day. I am going to take just a moment for that because it is important, and I will show you when this messenger was to deliver his message ...
"The Lord declared, through one of his prophets, that before his second coming a messenger should be sent to prepare the way and make it straight. You may apply this to John if you will, and it is true. John, the messenger who came to prepare the way before the Lord in the former dispensation, also came in this dispensation as a messenger to Joseph Smith; so it applies, if you wish to apply it so, to John who came as a messenger to prepare the way before the Lord.
"But I go farther and maintain that Joseph Smith was the messenger whom the Lord sent to prepare the way before him. He came, and under direction of holy messengers laid the foundation for the kingdom of God and of this marvelous work and a wonder that the world might be prepared for the coming of the Lord." (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:193-95)
Isaiah 40:3-4. What was to be prepared?
Isaiah 40:4. Earthquakes Will Change the Face of the LandPresident Joseph Fielding Smith declared that before the Second Coming of the Lord, there will be an earthquake that will be so destructive that mountains will be made low, valleys will be elevated, and rough places made as a plain. It will be so violent that the sun will be darkened and the moon will be turned to blood. The waters will be driven back into the north countries and the lands joined as they were before the days of Peleg. (See Doctrines of Salvation, 1:85; 2:317; Isaiah 54:10; Ezekiel 38:20; Revelation 16:15-20.)
Isaiah 40:6-8. What Does "All Flesh Is Grass" Mean?The metaphors the prophets drew from the land of Canaan had poignant spiritual messages. The spring rains, called the "latter rains" (Jeremiah 3:3), fall through April and May. During these rains the grass springs up in Israel as a spontaneous, green carpet over the land in such abundance and splendor that it seems it could never fail. Within a very short time the rains end, however, and the fierce summer heat turns the grass brown almost overnight. It simply seems to disappear across the barren hills. The withered, lifeless grass was the metaphor Isaiah chose to describe the wicked whose ways seem to be so attractive to the world but cannot endure long. Only those sanctified of the Lord will withstand the glory of His coming, for the wicked will be as the dried grass before a blazing fire.
Isaiah 40:9. Who Was Called "Zion" in the High Mountain?Elder Orson Pratt said that this scripture was a prophecy concerning the Lord's Zion that would be built up upon the earth before He comes in His glory. The prophecy indicated that "the people called Zion" would go to the high mountain territory (the mountain valleys of Utah and nearby areas). He further stated that Joseph Smith had also predicted the same thing and concluded: "Thus the prophecy was uttered -- thus it has been fulfilled." (In Journal of Discourses, 15:48.)
Isaiah 40:10-11. Work Preparatory to His ComingThese verses clearly speak of the preparatory activity required before the Lord comes again. Elder Levi Edgar Young said:
"I sincerely believe that these days are bringing us closer and closer to God ...
"May we become the pure in heart and see God," which is the happy lot of those who are "wise and have received the truth, and have taken the holy Spirit for their guide," for they are the ones who shall not be deceived and shall "abide the day." (In Conference Report, Apr. 1933, p. 121)
Isaiah 40:12-31. What Is the Significance of "Measured" Waters and "Comprehended" Dust?Verse 12 is Isaiah's poetic way of saying that God knows the world so intimately that He knows even the measure of the waters of the ocean and the dust of the earth. (See Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 7:141)
The other verses emphasize through the impressive use of contrasts the greatness of God and the nothingness of mortal nations and the gods they worship.
Isaiah 40:13-18, 25-26. How great is Israel's God?
Isaiah 40:28. Isaiah Identified One of the Names of God"In the same sense in which one of the Lord's names is Endless and another Eternal, so Everlasting is also an appellation of Deity. (Moses 1:3; 7:35; D&C 19:10) He is called the Everlasting God (Gen. 21:33; Isa. 9:6; 40:28; Jer. 10:10; Rom. 16:26; D&C 133:34), signifying that he endures forever, for 'his years never fail.' (D&C 76:4)" (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 243)
Isaiah 40:31. What Did Isaiah See as the Reward of Those Who "Wait upon the Lord"?Speaking of the ultimate power given to those who wait upon the Lord, whose strength "the Lord shall renew," the prophet Isaiah said they shall "mount up with wings as eagles" (Isaiah 40:31). Elder Orson Pratt suggested that those who have been confined to the mortal sphere and its laws may be renewed with the light of truth and be enabled to move from place to place at accelerated velocity, even with the speed of light. (See Journal of Discourses, 3:104)
The greater promise reserved for those who have been true and faithful in keeping the commandments by waiting upon the Lord is found in their being able to "run and not be weary" and to "walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31; compare D&C 89:18-21)
Since everyone who runs far enough experiences some weariness, and anyone who walks long enough feels at least somewhat faint, it is evident that these promises apply also to the things of the Spirit, for the Lord "fainteth not, neither is weary" (Isaiah 40:28).
While there are those who "run" without being sent (see Jeremiah 23:21), the Lord's servants are commissioned to run His errand. One called by the Lord to serve is engaged in a contest in which "the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong" (Ecclesiastes 9:11); but the reward is to those who "endure to the end" (Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13). To have the strength to run the race of life without becoming weary is a valuable promise; to be able to journey with safety and not faint or fall away from the truth is a great blessing. What consolation and encouragement it is to those who wait upon the Lord to be able to serve mightily and not weary of it, to walk with certainty and not fall away.
Isaiah 41-44. A Key to UnderstandingIsaiah 40-66 is prophetic. Although reference is made to Isaiah's immediate future, the burden of his prophecy is for the latter days. Most Bible scholars feel that these chapters are historical and that they were written by others after Judah was exiled to Babylon. Yet Book of Mormon prophets quote parts or all of Isaiah 48-53, indicating these chapters must have been included on the Brass Plates before the Babylonian exile. Christ told the Nephites that Isaiah "spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles" (3 Nephi 23:2). Isaiah's prophecies concerning Israel's destiny are more reliable than the limited perspective of historians.
Isaiah 41:1, 5. What Are the "Isles" Seen by Isaiah?From time to time the Lord has led away remnants of Israel to "isles" from which He will eventually gather them before the Second Coming. The Americas are one of these isles. (See 2 Nephi 10:20-21; compare 1 Nephi 19:10, 16; 21:8; 22:3-4; 2 Nephi 10:8) A study of these references reveals that these "isles" were not known by others (see especially 1 Nephi 22:3-4). Isaiah alluded to scattered Israel when he used the metaphor "isles" and suggested that there, in the isles, they would learn to trust Him and wait upon His word and be renewed together. All of this would come near the time of the harvest. (See Isaiah 24:15; 41:1-5; 49:1; 51:5; 60:9) Then scattered Israel will learn a new song, the song of the redeemed, as they are gathered into the kingdom (see also Isaiah 42:4, 10; Revelation 14:1-3).
Isaiah 41:2. Who Is the Righteous Man from the East?John saw a vision similar to Isaiah's and spoke of this righteous man as an "angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God" (Revelation 7:2). The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that this angel of the east was "Elias which was to come to gather together the tribes of Israel and restore all things" (D&C 77:9).
Of this "angel," Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: "Who has restored all things? Was it one man? Certainly not. Many angelic ministrants have been sent from the courts of glory to confer keys and powers, to commit their dispensations and glories again to men on earth. At least the following have come: Moroni, John the Baptist, Peter, James and John, Moses, Elijah, Elias, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael. (D&C 13; 110; 128:19-21) Since it is apparent that no one messenger has carried the whole burden of the restoration, but rather that each has come with a specific endowment from on high, it becomes clear that Elias is a composite personage. The expression must be understood to be a name and a title for those whose mission it was to commit keys and powers to men in this final dispensation. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 170-174)" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 221)
Thus the "man from the east" seems to mean angels of the Restoration, who are grouped together under the composite title of Elias.
Isaiah 41:8-9. What did the Lord say to Israel?
Isaiah 41:21-29. The Wisdom of the Wicked Is FutilThe Lord challenged the wisest of the world to produce the smallest insight into the future (see vv. 21-23) and reminded them that their works are "nothing" (v. 24) and that in the end their values "are all vanity" and will only bring "confusion" (v. 29).
Isaiah 41:23-24. What are idols?
Isaiah 42:1-4. Who Is the Servant?Only one servant was given power of judgment (see v. 1; compare Romans 14:10; 2 Nephi 9:41), and that is He upon whose law the isles shall wait (see Isaiah 42:4; 51:5; 60:9), the Mediator of Israel and the Savior of the Gentiles. He did not cry or lift up His voice in the streets, that is, raise a great tumult and boast in His own ways. Matthew cited this passage in Isaiah after noting that the Savior charged the multitudes not to make His healings known (see Matthew 12:15-21), for His was not an earthly kingdom wherein His voice and His works and wonders were to be heralded abroad; rather, His was a heavenly kingdom (see John 18:33-37). Thus, He withdrew from multitudes and avoided the honors of men, and He ministered with meekness and gentleness. The spirit of judgment was to be withheld until the Day of Judgment, at which time Christ will claim victory as "King of kings, and Lord of lords" (1 Timothy 6:15).
The imagery of the bruised reed and smoking flax (see v. 3) means that even though He comes in judgment, it is not to destroy souls but to save them. The phrase "smoking flax" was translated by C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch as a "glimmering wick." They explained its use as follows: "In the statement that in such a case as this He does not completely break or extinguish, there is more implied than is really expressed. Not only will He not destroy the life that is dying out, but He will actually save it; His course is not to destroy, but to save." (Commentary on the Old Testament, 7:2:176)
The phrase "he shall bring forth judgment unto truth" that immediately follows the reference to the reed and the flax was interpreted by Keil and Delitzsch "as denoting such a knowledge, and acknowledgment of the true facts in the complicated affairs of men, as will promote both equity and kindness" (Commentary, 7:2:176).
Isaiah 42:5-16. Who Is the Light That Opens the Eyes of the Blind?Isaiah's frame of reference shifts from the Father's relationship with His Son to the Savior's relationship with covenant Israel, particularly with those who would respond to the gospel invitation and be qualified to sing the song of the exalted (both living and dead). (Compare Isaiah 49:7-12; 1 Nephi 21:7-12; Revelation 14:1-3; Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:269-70; 1 Peter 3:18-21; 4:6; John 5:28) When mortals who are blind because they lack gospel light embrace the gospel, they are as prisoners set free.
The Prophet Joseph Smith was speaking of the crucified Christ when he said: "Here then we have an account of our Savior preaching to the spirits in prison, to spirits that had been imprisoned from the days of Noah; and what did He preach to them? That they were to stay there? Certainly not! Let His own declaration testify. [Luke 4:18; Isaiah 42:7] It is very evident from this that He not only went to preach to them, but to deliver, or bring them out of the prison house ... Thus we find that God will deal with all the human family equally, and that as the antediluvians [those who lived before the Flood] had their day of visitation, so will those characters referred to by Isaiah, have their time of visitation and deliverance, after having been many days in prison." (History of the Church, 4:596-97)
Everything centers in the Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the light of the world and "of the gentiles" (Isaiah 42:6). His hand is extended to strengthen, support, and protect covenant Israel; but that is not all. Every covenant person becomes a light to the world by holding up the light of the Savior through faithfully living His commandments (see 3 Nephi 18:24; see also Acts 26:17-18).
Isaiah 42:3-7. List three things the Lord will do. (See also Isaiah 42:7c)
Isaiah 42:9-16. The Restoration of the Gospel in the Latter Days ForetoldThe prophet Isaiah introduced the vision of the restoration of the gospel in the latter days by explaining that the truths and the keys of former days were to be restored. He also observed the restoration of new keys in the dispensation of the fulness of times (see v. 9). Using the metaphor of childbirth he described the restoration of the earthly kingdom following a long period of apostasy, during which the heavens had been sealed (see v. 14; compare Revelation 12:1-2, 13, 17). The Church will be restored in the last days, before the destruction that will make the mountains as plains and dry up the waters, and before the return of the scattered tribes of Israel, when they will come on paths they have not known, and the light of the gospel will dispel the darkness they have so long endured (see Isaiah 42:15-16). Isaiah reiterated the Lord's promise that the restored gospel would not be taken again from the earth and that the Lord will not forsake His own. (See v. 16; compare Isaiah 2:2-3; 11:11-16; 29:14-15, 18-19; Daniel 2:44-45; Joel 2:25-29)
Isaiah 42:10. What Is the "New Song"?Isaiah recorded the singing of the "new song" after he recorded the restoration of the gospel. The song is unique in that only those who are sanctified are worthy to sing it (compare Revelation 14:1-3). The same spirit is reflected in Doctrine and Covenants 84:98-102. In another instance, the song is simply called the "song of the Lamb" (D&C 133:56-57).
Isaiah 43-47. The Lord Will Save Israel and Destroy BabylonIn chapters 43-44 Isaiah assured Israel that the Lord alone is in control and has the power to save her, that He is her Redeemer and will blot out her sins. Then speaking prophetically but in past tense (Isaiah had already seen the redeeming sacrifice of the Lord, although it had not yet occurred), he declared that the Atonement had been made, and that Israel's redemption was predicted only upon her return to Him. (See Isaiah 44:21-22)
Chapter 45 reveals how and by whom the Lord will redeem Judah, a remnant of Israel. Chapter 46 deplores idols and states that the idol gods themselves are in captivity. Chapter 47 reveals the dramatic final destruction of temporal and spiritual Babylon.
Isaiah 43:1-7. A Shadow and a Type for OneWho Is Called, Before He May Be Owned by the Lord In these verses, as Isaiah promised the eventual restoration and regathering of Israel, he compared it to a person's walking on a perilous journey where fire and flood threaten. The metaphor is as valid for an individual as it is for the house of Israel. The Lord called her by name, for Israel is the name given her by covenant and symbolizes the fact that she would eventually be preserved and belong to Him (see Genesis 32:28-30). He then promised that as she passed through the perils of her journey back He would be with her. Neither waters nor flood nor the fires of trial and persecution could take away His protection of His chosen people. There may also be a spiritual symbolism in these promises. When Israel escaped from Egypt, she passed through the water (the Red Sea) and was overshadowed with fire, the pillar of fire, and smoke (see Exodus 13:21-22; 14:21-22). Paul saw these phenomena as types or symbols of the baptism of water and the Holy Ghost (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-4). Here Isaiah showed Israel being gathered. One is gathered into the fold by becoming baptized; thus, the symbolism is both spiritually and temporally significant.
Isaiah 43:3, 5-6, 11-13. List four things the lord said to Israel.
Isaiah 43:4-10. The Gathering of Israel Is a Universal EventIsaiah used east, west, north, and south (see vv. 5-6) to symbolize "all the nations" (v. 9) throughout the world to which Israel was scattered and from which she will be gathered. The promised gathering is to be brought about in the last days by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (See Orson Pratt, in Journal of Discourses, 18:228; Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:181-82)
Isaiah 43:14-17. For Her Own Good, Israel Was Delivered into BondageThe Lord sent Israel into Babylonian bondage for a wise cause. It is likely that the purpose in her captivity was at least twofold: to humble proud and wicked Israel, and to have indisputable cause for destroying Babylon and showing the world that this attractive "daughter of the Chaldeans" was a poor one to emulate, for she would be no more (see Isaiah 47:1-6). And all of this would be as sure as the destruction of the Egyptians in the days of Moses, which had become legendary.
Isaiah 44:1-2. What Was Meant by the Term Jesurun?Isaiah began chapter 44 in the same spirit as he began chapter 43, by reminding Israel that they were the covenant people of the Lord. Jacob was the father of Israel. The Lord renewed the covenant He had made with Abraham with Jacob and changed his name to Israel because of his righteousness (Gen. 35:9-11). It is fitting, therefore, that the Lord also called this faithful servant "Jesurun," (or Jeshurun), which is the Hebrew for upright or righteous. (See James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, no. 3484 in "Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary"; McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 323) The right hand is the covenant hand.
Isaiah 44:3. What will be poured out upon the seed of Israel?
Isaiah 44:5-20. "Is There Not a Lie in My Right Hand?"With great irony, Isaiah brought out the inconsistency of those who work wood and metal, use it for firewood and other mundane things, but fashion idols from the same material and then expect those idols to show forth great power and answer their prayers. Such idolatry precipitates in man "a deceived heart" that has "turned him aside" (v. 20), or in other words, that has such a negative effect as to cause him to lose his soul. Though this principle is true, and obvious to the spiritually alert, the idolater cannot recognize nor admit that there is "a lie in [his] right hand" (v. 20). This tragic phrase reflects the dire consequences for one who lives a lie. Since the right hand is the covenant hand (see Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:107-8), this phrase implies that those who continue to seek treasures, or to worship false gods, become blinded to the truth and cannot recognize that their covenants are broken and become to them as lies that will condemn them at the last day.
Isaiah 44:21-28; 45:1-14. The Lord Prophesied of Cyrus, King of PersiaAt the time Isaiah prophesied, Babylon had not yet come to power, and more than a hundred years would pass before Babylon would carry Judah into captivity. But of course, the calendar in no way affects a prophet's vision. After recording numerous prophecies of Judah's coming destruction and their fall to Babylon, Isaiah revealed the Lord's plan for Judah's restoration to their homeland under a king called Cyrus. At the time Isaiah spoke his name, Cyrus was still in the premortal existence.
"Numerous commentators deny that Isaiah could foresee Cyrus so clearly as to be able to call him by name. They commonly claim, therefore, that this part of Isaiah was written by someone during the Exile and after Cyrus had given Israel help ... -- in other words, after the event. Nevertheless, it is of great interest to find that the Jewish historian Josephus accepted Isaiah's words and even quotes letters from Cyrus confirming the prophet's predictions. Part of the account of Josephus is quoted herewith:
"'... he (God) stirred up the mind of Cyrus, and made him write this throughout all Asia: --
"'"Thus saith Cyrus the king. -- Since God Almighty hath appointed me to be king of the habitable earth, I believe that he is that God which the nation of the Israelites worship; for indeed he foretold my name by the prophets, and that I should build him a house at Jerusalem, in the country of Judæa."
"'This was known to Cyrus by his reading the book which Isaiah left behind him of prophecies; for this prophet said that God had spoken thus to him in a secret vision: --
"'"My will is, that Cyrus, whom I have appointed to be king over many and great nations, send back my people to their own land, and build my temple." "'This was foretold by Isaiah one hundred and forty years before the temple was demolished. Accordingly, when Cyrus read this, and admired the divine power, an earnest desire and ambition seized upon him to fulfill what was so written; so he called for the most eminent Jews that were in Babylon, and said to them, that he gave them leave to go back to their own country, and to rebuild their city Jerusalem, and the temple of God, for that he would be their assistant and that he would write to the rulers and governors that were in the neighborhood of their country of Judæa, that they should contribute to them gold and silver for the building of the temple, and, besides that, beasts for their sacrifices.' (Antiq. XI, 1, 2)" (Sidney B. Sperry, The Voice of Israel's Prophets, pp. 107-8)
Isaiah 44:22-23, 26-28. List two things the Lord will do.
Isaiah 45:1-4. How Could Cyrus, a Persian King, Be Called the Lord's "Anointed"?Alfred Martin, in his work on Isaiah, gave an excellent answer to this question: "Cyrus is the only Gentile king who is called God's 'anointed.' Since this is the translation of the Hebrew word which we spell in English as Messiah, Cyrus is in a sense a type of the Anointed One, the Lord Jesus Christ. Typology is often misunderstood and abused. A type is a divinely appointed prophetic symbol, usually of Christ. When a person or a thing is called a type, that does not alter its literal meaning or deny its historical reality. Cyrus was a Persian king, and we have no evidence that he ever really knew the true God, although the Persian religion was relatively free from the gross idolatries of the Babylonians. Consequently when it is asserted that Cyrus is a type of Christ, it is not said that he was like the Lord Jesus Christ in every respect. The only intended resemblance is in the fact that Cyrus was the anointed one who delivered the people of Israel from their captivity. As such he points us to the greater Anointed One who saves His people from their sins." (Isaiah, the Salvation of Jehovah, pp. 77-78)
Isaiah 45:3. Did Cyrus Gain Riches from Conquering Babylon?When Cyrus conquered in Asia, he carried off vgold and silver estimated by weight in this account, being converted into pounds sterling, amount to one hundred and twenty-six millions two hundred and twenty-four thousand pounds" (Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible ... with a Commentary and Critical Notes, 4:178).
Isaiah 45:7. Does the Lord Create Evil?In the first part of this verse Isaiah laid out contrasts:
"I form the light, and create darkness"
"I make peace, and create evil"
Since the opposite of peace is sorrow or trouble, the translation from the New American Catholic Bible makes better sense: "I form the light, and create the darkness, I make well-being and create woe." The idea is that the Lord is the author of peace, but that He also sends judgments upon the wicked who are ripe in iniquity. Therefore, even when the wicked are punished by the wicked (see Mormon 4:5), it is under the direction of the Lord.
Isaiah 45:8. How Do the Heavens "Drop Down" and the Skies "Pour Down Righteousness"?There is little doubt that Isaiah was referring to the same thing that is recorded in Psalm 85:11: "Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven." Isaiah saw the earth open and a message of salvation brought forth -- a reference to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon from the buried Nephite record. (Compare Ezekiel 37:15-20; see also James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, pp. 275-76; McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 99; Orson Pratt, in Journal of Discourses, 17:287-88)
This latter-day event illustrates that the day truly cannot say to its maker, "What makest thou?" (v. 9). The many men who conspired against Joseph Smith were not reviling merely a man but were reviling their own maker, whose servant that man was.
Isaiah 45:12. What Is the Lord's and What Is Man's Own?People and organizations often deal with the things of the earth in terms of ownership. "I own a large home," one might say, or "I built this business up through my own labors; therefore it is mine." If these statements were really true, then one could understand their reluctance to share it with others or to pay the Lord His required tenth. But people cannot speak of ownership. Through Isaiah, the Lord reminded Israel that He is the creator of the earth and therefore only He can properly refer to it in terms of ownership. In language similar to Isaiah's, the Lord reminded the Latter-day Saints that He created the earth and that we are only stewards over His property. Then He gave this reminder: "And let not any among you say that it is his own; for it shall not be called his, nor any part of it" (D&C 104:70).
Elder Spencer W. Kimball asked some pointed questions concerning this subject:
"'Do you feel generous when you pay your tithes? Boastful when the amount is large? Has the child been generous to his parents when he washes the car, makes his bed? Are you liberal when you pay your rent, or pay off notes at banks? You are not generous, liberal, but merely honest when you pay your tithes.' [Isaiah 45:12.]
"Perhaps your attitudes are the product of your misconceptions.
"Would you steal a dollar from your friend? A tire from your neighbor's car? Would you borrow a widow's insurance money with no intent to pay? Do you rob banks? You are shocked at such suggestions. Then, would you rob your God, your Lord, who has made such generous arrangements with you?
"Do you have a right to appropriate the funds of your employer with which to pay your debts, to buy a car, to clothe your family, to feed your children, to build your home?
"Would you take from your neighbor's funds to send your children to college, or on a mission? Would you help relatives or friends with funds not your own? Some people get their standards mixed, their ideals out of line ... Would you supply gifts to the poor with someone else's money? The Lord's money?" (In Conference Report, Apr. 1968, p. 77)
Honestly answering these questions may reveal to modern Saints how dangerously close they are to walking the same foolish path chosen by ancient Israel.
Isaiah 45:13. What will Cyrus do?
Isaiah 45:15-25. The God of Israel Is the Lord, the Savior Jesus ChristThis is one of the primary testimonies of Isaiah. Many lose sight of the fact that the God of the Old Testament was the premortal Jesus. Often they speak of the theology of the Old Testament as being significantly different from that of the New Testament. Or they talk about how the concept of God mellowed as people became more civilized and sophisticated. The blind refuse to see, for it is not just modern revelation that teaches Jehovah is Christ. Both Old and New Testament writers testified of it again and again, and none did it more frequently or more powerfully than did Isaiah.
In this chapter the identity of the God of the Old Testament is clearly revealed. Consider the witnesses here given:
1. He is the Messiah, the Savior of the world (see v. 15).
2. He shall save Israel with an everlasting salvation (see v. 17).
3. He is the Creator (see v. 18).
4. He is just and is mighty to save (see v. 21).
5. There is no other name given by which we may be saved (see vv. 21-22).
6. His words are truth and righteousness (see v. 23).
7. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ (see v. 23; compare Romans 14:11; see also Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:20).
8. He is the Mediator for all the seed of Israel (see v. 24).
Isaiah 45:23. What will every tongue do? (See also Isaiah 45:23b)
Isaiah 45:23. What Does It Mean to Say "Every Knee Shall Bow, Every Tongue Swear"?President Joseph Fielding Smith said:
"I want to call attention to something that is stated frequently in the scriptures, and I think very often misunderstood, and that is the statement that, 'every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess.' [Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:10-11; Philippians 2:9-11] I wonder how many of us have an idea that if a knee bows and a tongue confesses, that is a sign of forgiveness of sin and freedom from sin, and that the candidate is prepared for exaltation? If you do, you make a mistake. It does not mean that at all.
"The time will come when 'every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess,' and yet the vast majority of mankind will go into the telestial kingdom eternally. Let me read these verses: 'The time shall come when all shall see the salvation of the Lord; when every nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to eye and shall confess before God that his judgments are just.' [Mosiah 16:1-4.]
"It is a wonderful thing when men reach the stage when they will be willing to confess that the judgments against them are just, and they will bow the knee and will understand 'eye to eye.'" (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:30)
Isaiah's intent was to assure all the world, both the wicked and the righteous, that Jesus Christ is the God of Israel and that one day all will be constrained to recognize that fact, whether or not they are or have been His disciples.
Isaiah 46. Idols Are Idols, but Christ Is GodThe poetic refrain of this chapter is at once familiar and new. It is a good example of how the Eastern mind is taught. The same theme is repeated again and again with only slight variations. In this manner the listener is driven to the inescapable conclusion of the teacher. Isaiah was a master of the technique. Isaiah enumerated the ways the Lord had been solicitous of Israel and has left her with only one conclusion: "I am God, and there is none like me" (v. 9).
Isaiah 46:1-5. What are not to be compared to the Lord?
Isaiah 46:9, 13. Who will save Israel?
Isaiah 46:11. What Was the "Ravenous Bird from the East"?This metaphor describes Cyrus, who was prophetically destined to humble Babylon swiftly and decisively (see Isaiah 46:11a). This is a fitting insertion and serves as a prelude to chapter 47, where Babylon's destruction is again shown forth.
Isaiah 47. Spiritual Babylon Is the Perverted Counterfeit of JehovahThis chapter demonstrates as well as any scripture in the Old Testament the extent to which Satan has gone to achieve his eternal lie. From the beginning Lucifer said in his heart, "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High" (Isaiah 14:13-14). As Zion is the spiritual offspring of the Lord Jesus Christ, so Babylon is the evil offspring of Lucifer, who fell and became Satan, "the father of all lies" (Moses 4:4). The accompanying chart demonstrates how the Babylon of this world has sought to assume dominion over the children of men.
Isaiah 47:10-11. What will happen to Babylon and Chaldea? Why?
Isaiah 48:1-8. Judah's ApostasyIsaiah 48:1-2 describes Israel's apostasy from God's revealed ways. While these chosen people of the Lord have "come forth out of the waters of ... baptism" (1 Nephi 20:1; compare Isaiah 48:1-2 with 1 Nephi 20:1-2), "they do not stay themselves upon the ... Lord" (1 Nephi 20:2). In other words, they have apostatized. For this reason, the Lord elected to demonstrate His powers of omniscience. He had, He told them, "declared ... things from the beginning," that is, He spoke of them before their occurrence, and then "shewed them ... suddenly" by bringing them to pass (Isaiah 48:3). This He had done, He said, lest the apostates should say, "Mine idol hath done them" (v. 5), or "Behold, I knew them" (v. 7), that is to say, "I already knew that." The Lord then promised to defer His anger but utterly refused to give His glory to false gods or to suffer His name to be polluted (compare v. 11 with 1 Nephi 20:11). Thus the Lord's purpose for revealing the future unto man is partly made clear: it is the solid proof that
He is truly God, for no mute idol could possibly duplicate such a feat.
Isaiah 48:1-11. "Hear Ye This, O House of Jacob"Isaiah 48 is the first chapter of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon and is found there as 1 Nephi 20. Every verse in the Book of Mormon reads differently from the way it reads in the King James text, and many of the differences are significant. It can be assumed that the Book of Mormon text is more correct than the King James Version because Nephi lived just a little more than one hundred years after Isaiah's time and most likely possessed a purer text than the one the King James translators worked from. Carefully compare verses 1-2, 6-7, 11, 14, 16-17, and 22 in both versions to see the significant changes.
Isaiah 48:6. What did the Lord reveal to Israel?
Isaiah 48:10. Who have been chosen?
Isaiah 49. Israel Scattered on the Isles of the SeaMonte S. Nyman observed that "chapter 49 is one of the most important chapters in the whole book of Isaiah, because it also clearly foretells the mission of the Latter-day Saints and the destiny of the land of America in connection with the house of Israel. Nephi interpreted the chapter as foretelling that the land of America would receive some of scattered Israel, while his brother Jacob applied it both to the Jews in Jerusalem and to the Gentiles. Chapter 49 is of such importance that it ought to be studied diligently by every member of the Church." (Great Are the Words of Isaiah, pp. 173-74)
Isaiah 49:1-3. "Thou Art My Servant, O Israel, in Whom I Will Be Glorified"The entire chapter of Isaiah 49 is quoted in 1 Nephi 21. Half of verse one is missing from the King James text. What was lost from the Bible is the statement that the scattering of Israel was a direct result of the wickedness of the religious leaders. Those on the isles who are invited to hearken are the broken-off or scattered branches of the house of Israel. Nephi wrote that by his time "the more part of all the tribes" of Israel had been "scattered to and fro upon the isles of the sea" (1 Nephi 22:4). Moreover it is made clear that the person speaking in these verses, the "me" of Isaiah 49:1-2, was Israel herself. Her mouth was "like a sharp sword" (v. 2) because she possessed the word of God to give to the nations. In many places God's message is likened to a sword with a keen edge (see Ephesians 6:17; Revelation 1:16; 2:12). It is doubleedged because it cuts regardless of the direction it is moved.
But ancient Israel did not spread the word of God as they might have done. Commissioned by the Lord and placed under covenant to bless all nations with the gospel and its priesthood power (see Abraham 2:11), most of Israel refused even to live the teachings of the Lord. Isaiah 49:2-3 may refer, therefore, to latter-day Israel. Nyman's explanation of why this may be so is important:
"The Lord's hiding Israel in 'the shadow of his hand' is clarified in the Doctrine and Covenants, where the Lord declares that the priesthood holders of this last dispensation are 'lawful heirs, according to the flesh, and have been hid from the world with Christ in God' (D&C 86:8-9). This description of priesthood bearers as 'lawful heirs according to the flesh' is a reference to the covenant which the Lord made with Abraham that all nations of the earth would be blessed through the literal seed of his body, who would bear the ministry and the priesthood (see Abraham 2:9-11). The Doctrine and Covenants also identifies latter-day Israel as the 'seed of Abraham' (D&C 103:17). The world did not know where scattered Israel was, but the Lord knew and had concealed them in his protective hand.
"The 'polished shaft' hidden in the Lord's quiver may be a direct reference to Joseph Smith. As the 'choice seer' of the latter day, he was to be the Lord's servant in a special sense (see 2 Nephi 3:6; 3 Nephi 21:10). The Prophet Joseph's description of himself is interesting in this light:
"'I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women -- all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there. Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty, who will give me dominion over all and every one of them, when their refuge of lies shall fail, and their hiding place shall be destroyed, while these smooth-polished stones with which I come in contact become marred.' (TPJS, p. 304)
"The arrow shaft is polished that it might fly truer and faster, and the shaft that is polished is generally reserved for one's most important shot. The last dispensation, when all things are gathered in one, is the Lord's most important 'shot,' so he saved his 'polished shaft' for this latter-day work. Joseph was called to give this generation the word of God, which recalls also the sharp sword analogy mentioned in verse 2." (Great Are the Words of Isaiah, pp. 176-77)
Isaiah 49:4-12. Did the Lord Forget Israel, His Chosen People?The Restoration was a long time in coming. During the years of waiting, dispossessed Israel undoubtedly felt lonely and forsaken by the Lord. Isaiah 49:4-12 shows that loneliness. Verse 4 describes the attitude of one somewhat discouraged, yet not completely so: "I have spent my strength ... in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the Lord" (Isaiah 49:4). Nephi spoke of the Jews in their cast-off condition as being "a hiss and a byword and ... hated among all nations" (1 Nephi 19:14). Isaiah 49:7 describes that condition: men despise and abhor the Lord's covenant people. But Israel still has hope: "Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I (Israel) be glorious in the eyes of the Lord" (v. 5). Jacob will yet be raised and restored and stand as "a light to the Gentiles" and as a beacon of "salvation unto the end of the earth" (v. 6). "In an acceptable time" God will hear their cry and "give thee ["my servant," in 1 Nephi 21:8] for a covenant of the people" (Isaiah 49:8). That began with the call of Joseph Smith. Since then, the call has gone forth to others, "to the [spiritual] prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in [spiritual] darkness, Shew yourselves" (v. 9). They shall be fed with the fruits of the gospel -- not "hunger nor thirst" -- and shall be gathered into the gospel net "from far ... from the north and from the west" (vv. 10, 12).
Nephi interpreted the foregoing verses in 1 Nephi 22. His brothers had asked if Isaiah's words were to be interpreted spiritually or temporally, and Nephi replied that they were to be interpreted both ways (see 1 Nephi 22:1-3). He then described Israel's scattering and gathering by the Gentiles. First Nephi 22:8-12 gives a very clear interpretation of Isaiah 49.
Isaiah 49:5-6. How will Israel be gathered in the last days?
Isaiah 49:9. What will happen to the prisoners?
Isaiah 49:18-21. Israel's Latter-day Gathering Shall Be Rapid and SustainedIn Isaiah 49:18-21, the latter-day gathering of Israel is spoken of. In the same way that a new bride adorns herself for her wedding day, so will the Zion of the latter days spiritually adorn those who come to her for blessings. This imagery of Christ as the Bridegroom and His covenant people as His bride is seen elsewhere in the scriptures (see Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 3:14; Matthew 25:1-13; Revelation 19:7). And just as a bride puts on her finest clothing in preparation for the marriage, so will Israel clothe herself in righteousness in preparation for her coming "marriage" (see Revelation 19:8, where the "clothing" of the bride is described).
So many people will come, both to Zion and the Old Jerusalem, that they will complain that the land is "too strait [narrow] for me: give place to me that I may dwell" (Isaiah 49:20). This overcrowding has occurred wherever the modern gathering has taken place. The Church has a difficult time keeping up with needs for chapels and leadership because of its many converts. Modern Israel has received so many ingatherers that the land is literally "too narrow by reason of the inhabitants" (v. 19). Thus the reaction voiced in verse 21 is quite real: "Who hath begotten me these ...; where had they been?" In other words, where in the world did all these people (Israelites) come from?
Isaiah 49:22-23. Who will help them?
Isaiah 49:22-26. How Will the Gentiles Be Nursing Fathers and Mothers to Israel?Isaiah 49:22-26 speaks of the day when God's promises will be fulfilled and of how it will be done. The "how" is made clear in verses 22 and 23. God will set up His "standard," the gospel, or the new and everlasting covenant, "and they [the Gentiles] shall bring thy [the house of Israel's] sons in their arms and thy daughters shall be carried on their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers and their queens thy nursing mothers." (Isaiah 49:22-23) This prophecy has, as Nephi said, both a temporal and spiritual fulfillment (see 1 Nephi 22:3).
Following the end of World War I, Great Britain was given the mandate over Palestine and began to facilitate the ingathering of the Jews scattered throughout the earth. Other gentile nations, such as the United States, also rallied to assist. President Joseph Fielding Smith spoke of the role Great Britain played in the establishment of the nation of Israel:
"From the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus until the year 1917, Jerusalem was trodden down of the Gentiles. After General Allenby, at the head of the British forces, captured Palestine, that country became free from the tyranny and oppression of the Turkish empire, and after peace was declared, England sent to Palestine Dr. Herbert Samuel, a Jew, to be governor of the land, and that is the first time in all those years that a Jew has ruled in Palestine ...
"We see today a miracle being performed before our eyes. Following the war, which we are pleased to call the first world war, the British Premier issued a proclamation to the Jews telling them they could gather and they could have in Palestine a Jewish Home, or state. They began to gather in great numbers. At the beginning of [the 20th] century things in Palestine were in a deplorable condition. They were using wooden plows, water wheel irrigation; they had infested wells and streams. They carried water in skins as of old. Sanitation was deplorable.
"The British government changed all of this, when they obtained the mandate. You see, the mandate of Palestine was given to Great Britain. That nation and other nations spent millions of pounds in rehabilitating that land. The Sea of Galilee is now a great reservoir, and the flood waters from the various streams are being diverted into it.
"Canals have been built for irrigation, and the Jordan has been changed from its natural channel into channels or into canals on each side of the original stream. These irrigate some seven million acres, which could not be under cultivation otherwise. Hydro-electric stations have been built on these streams." (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:259-60)
In 1947 the United Nations voted to partition Palestine and create a Jewish state in the land for the first time in nearly two thousand years. Thus, the Gentiles participated in the fulfillment of this prophecy, although there may yet be future fulfillment. The "prey" mentioned in Isaiah 49:24 is the house of Israel in her scattered condition. She is "prey" or "captive" because she has been unable throughout the centuries to return to her promised home or to claim her gospel blessings. Until recently many gentile countries would not permit Jewish residents to emigrate, and many still do not permit the gospel to be preached freely in their borders. All of that will change, for "even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered" (v. 25). When Jacob quoted this verse in the Book of Mormon, he added these significant words:
"For the Mighty God shall deliver his covenant people" (2 Nephi 6:17), and thus, "all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob" (v. 18). First the Lord predicts it, then He brings it to pass; only a "mighty one" could perform such a task. Nephi made it very clear that all who seek to thwart the Lord in bringing this great thing to pass shall be destroyed, for "they shall fall into the pit which they digged to ensnare the people of the Lord" (1 Nephi 22:14).
Isaiah 50. "Where Is the Bill of Your Mother's Divorcement?"The Lord employed the figure of a divorce and the sale of a slave to teach that though Israel's past apostasy scattered them among the nations, the Lord had not set aside the original covenant He made with His people. Chapter 50 continues the theme begun in chapters 48 and 49 that in the last days Israel would be gathered and established again.
Under Mosaic law a man who divorced his wife was required to give her a written bill of divorce. She was then free to marry again (see Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Likewise, under the ancient laws, a man could sell himself or his children into slavery to satisfy his creditors. But the Lord had no creditors; neither had He divorced His "wife," Israel. Instead, Israel had separated herself from the Lord by her sins and was in debt to her evil creditors. "For your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away" (Isaiah 50:1).
But the Lord has power both to redeem Israel from their creditors and to forgive their transgressions against Him. This He assured them He will do. Speaking of the future as if it were already past, He reminded them that He tried to do so once before when He, Jehovah, came to earth as Jesus Christ. This statement is a messianic passage, since Jesus is both Redeemer from sin and Deliverer from evil ways. Yet when He appeared on earth, there was no man ready to receive Him; when He called upon men to repent, there was none to answer (see v. 2). He gave His "back to the smiters" (He was scourged) and hid not His face "from shame and spitting" (v. 6; compare Matthew 26:67; 27:26). But in spite of such rejection and treatment, He still did not divorce Israel or sell her as a slave. The covenant was still in effect, and Israel would be restored to the status of a free and faithful wife of Jehovah.
The foregoing imagery may also refer to scattered Israel, for Israel, too, has been smitten and spat upon and scourged through the centuries. Still, Israel is represented as saying that "the Lord will help me; ... I know I shall not be ashamed" (Isaiah 50:7). Israel's confidence and trust in God appears unbounded. "He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me?" (v. 8). The "he" in this verse is clearly "the Lord" in a parallel verse in 2 Nephi 7:8. "Behold, the Lord God will help me; who is he that shall condemn me?" (Isaiah 50:9). Israel then asks a question, as if they have learned something by their past experiences. "Who is among you ... that walketh in darkness, and hath no light?" (v. 10). People trust in themselves; they do not trust in God. Instead, they "walk in the light of [their own] fire, and in the sparks that [they themselves] have kindled" (v. 11). They who refuse God's revelations and put their trust in their own reason "shall lie down in sorrow" (v. 11).
Isaiah 50:4-7. Who will have the tongue of the learned and not be confounded?
Isaiah 51:1-3. What Is Meant By the "Hole ... Whence Ye Are Digged"?God's promises to Israel were stated in a direct way in the Abrahamic covenant. Most Latter-day Saints have patriarchal blessings that declare their descent from Abraham through one of the twelve tribes. Abraham, then, is the "rock" from whence Israel was hewn and the "pit" from whence they were digged. Israel, both ancient and modern, is urged to "look unto Abraham [our] father, and unto Sarah" (Isaiah 51:1-2). They are the ones through whom the Saints claim their promised blessings. By means of the covenant established with Abraham and Sarah, "the Lord shall comfort Zion" and make "her desert like the garden of the Lord" (v. 3). This passage is a plain assurance that God will fulfill for Abraham and his descendants all that He has promised in the covenant.
Isaiah 51:3, 11. What will the Lord do in the last days?
Isaiah 51:4. What Law Will Proceed from God?Isaiah 51:4 contains a prophecy of the restoration of the gospel law and covenant in the last days. That law and covenant includes modern scripture and living prophets to reveal God's will anew.
Isaiah 51:4-16. Who Is Speaking in These Verses?In Isaiah 51:4-16, great emphasis is placed on the pronouns me and my: "my people," "my nation," "my judgment," "my righteousness," "my salvation," "mine arm," "my law" (vv. 4-8). The Lord emphasized these things to stress His relationship with us. He is our Creator, He is our Judge, He is our Savior, and He is our perfect Exemplar. And though the earth itself "shall vanish away like smoke, and ... wax old like a garment" (v. 6), the qualities He claims for Himself will endure forever. God is permanent, stable, upright, and dependable. Those who trust in Him need not fear "the reproach of men" (v. 7) but should "awake" and "put on strength ... as in the ancient days" (v. 9). This call is from God to His latter-day children to return to Him and "come with singing unto Zion" where "sorrow and mourning shall flee away" (v. 11). As do many other passages in the Old Testament, these verses bear strong witness that Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament, is the same person as Jesus Christ of the New.
Isaiah 51:10-11. Who will come to Zion?
Isaiah 52:1-6. "Put on Thy Strength, O Zion"As shown in Notes and Commentary on Isaiah 2:3, there will be two headquarters for the Lord and His people during the Millennium: Zion, the New Jerusalem, on the American continent; and Zion, the Old Jerusalem, in the Holy Land.
Isaiah 52:7. "How Beautiful upon the Mountain Are the Feet of Him That Bringeth Good Tidings"Isaiah 52:7 is a scripture significant to missionary work. The bringer of "good tidings" is Jesus Christ, the "founder of peace." Those who publish that peace are the servants of the Lord who spread His word.
Isaiah 52:8. What will happen to Zion in the last days?
Isaiah 52:9. What will happen to Jerusalem in the last days?
Isaiah 52:13-15. Who Is the Servant?Isaiah 52:13-15 is a dualistic prophecy. On the one hand, it refers to Jesus Christ. These verses belong with Isaiah 53 as introductory material for the greatest of the Old Testament messianic chapters. The Savior's "visage was so marred more than any man" (Isaiah 52:14) when He suffered for the sins of mankind and was crucified on Calvary. Nails -- metal spikes -- were driven into His hands and feet, and a spear pierced His side to ensure His death (see John 19:17-18, 32-34).
On the other hand, the Savior Himself made it clear that Isaiah 52:13 also had reference to a servant involved in the "great and marvelous work" of the Father in the latter days (3 Nephi 21:9). The Book of Mormon verse undoubtedly refers to Joseph Smith and the Restoration. Men "marred" him, persecuting him throughout his life until they succeeded in killing him. Yet power was given him by the Father "to bring forth unto the Gentiles" the Book of Mormon as well as other latter-day revelations (see 3 Nephi 21:10-11). As a result, kings and rulers of the earth behold and consider things "which had not been told them" (Isaiah 52:15).
Isaiah 53:1-2. How Did Isaiah Foresee People Receiving Christ?When Isaiah spoke of the Savior as being a "tender plant" without form and comeliness, he meant that Jesus was born as a small, helpless infant just as all people are. Jesus grew as other people do. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: "Did not Christ grow up as a tender plant? There was nothing about him to cause people to single him out. In appearance he was like men; and so it is expressed here by the prophet that he had no form or comeliness, that is, he was not so distinctive, so different from others that people would recognize him as the Son of God. He appeared as a mortal man." (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:23)
Isaiah 53:3. In What Ways Was Jesus a "Man of Sorrows and Acquainted with Grief"?Jesus experienced tragedy and sorrow throughout His life. Members of His own family did not accept Him as the Messiah at first (see John 7:5). People in His hometown sought to kill Him (see Luke 4:16-30). His countrymen, the Jews, rejected His messianic calling (see John 1:11). One friend betrayed Him; another denied knowing Him (see Luke 22:48, 54-62). In the end, "all the disciples forsook him, and fled" (Matthew 25:56). His enemies demanded His crucifixion (see Matthew 27:22-23).
President Joseph Fielding Smith asked: "Was not Christ a man of sorrows? Was he not rejected of men? Was he not acquainted with grief? Did not the people (figuratively) hide their faces from him? Did not the people esteem him not? Surely he knew our griefs and carried our sorrows, but he was thought to be stricken of God and forsaken by him. Did not the people say that? How true all these things are!" (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:24)
Isaiah 53:3-5. What would the Messiah experience before his resurrection?
Isaiah 53:4-9. "He Was Wounded for Our Transgressions"Jesus suffered and was crucified for men's transgressions. "But few details of the actual crucifixion are given us. We know however that our Lord was nailed to the cross by spikes driven through the hands and feet, as was the Roman method, and not bound only by cords as was the custom in inflicting this form of punishment among some other nations. Death by crucifixion was at once the most lingering and most painful of all forms of execution. The victim lived in ever increasing torture, generally for many hours, sometimes for days. The spikes so cruelly driven through hands and feet penetrated and crushed sensitive nerves and quivering tendons, yet inflicted no mortal wound. The welcome relief of death came through the exhaustion caused by intense and unremitting pain, through localized inflammation and congestion of organs incident to the strained and unnatural posture of the body." (James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 655)
But it was not just on the cross Christ suffered. In the Garden of Gethsemane He began the suffering that allowed Him to take the sins of the world upon Himself, or as Isaiah says, to bear our griefs and carry our sorrows (see Isaiah 53:4). Speaking of this suffering and pain, Elder Talmage wrote:
"Christ's agony in the garden is unfathomable by the finite mind, both as to intensity and cause. The thought that He suffered through fear of death is untenable. Death to Him was preliminary to resurrection and triumphal return to the Father from whom He had come, and to a state of glory even beyond what He had before possessed; and, moreover, it was within His power to lay down His life voluntarily. He struggled and groaned under a burden such as no other being who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible. It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing. No other man, however great his powers of physical or mental endurance, could have suffered so; for his human organism would have succumbed, and syncope would have produced unconsciousness and welcome oblivion. In that hour of anguish Christ met and overcame all the horrors that
Satan, 'the prince of this world' could inflict. The frightful struggle incident to the temptations immediately following the Lord's baptism was surpassed and overshadowed by this supreme contest with the powers of evil.
"In some manner, actual and terribly real though to man incomprehensible, the Savior took upon Himself the burden of the sins of mankind from Adam to the end of the world. Modern revelation assists us to a partial understanding of the awful experience. In March 1830, the glorified Lord, Jesus Christ, thus spake: 'For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent, but if they would not repent, they must suffer even as I, which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit: and would that I might not drink the bitter cup and shrink -- nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.'" (Jesus the Christ, pp. 613-14)
The Savior's suffering was a vicarious act of one totally innocent assuming responsibility for myriads of guilty ones. Thus, Isaiah said, "He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows" and "was wounded for our transgressions, [and] bruised for our iniquities" (Isaiah 53:4-5).
When Jesus stood before Pilate, the governor of Judæa, "he was accused by the chief priests and elders" of many evil things, but "he answered nothing" in return (Matthew 27:12). "Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?" But Jesus held His peace and "answered him ... never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly." (Matthew 27:13-14) In fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, "as a sheep before her shearers is dumb," so Jesus "openeth not his mouth" (Isaiah 53:7).
While it was yet early in the morning, the soldiers in charge of Jesus brought Him "from Caiaphas [the high priest] unto the hall of judgment" of Pilate's residence (John 18:28). Later, at the time of crucifixion, Jesus' cross was placed between two evil men who were thieves (see John 19:18; Luke 23:32-33). After Jesus' death on the cross, Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man, went to Pilate and begged for permission to bury Jesus. Joseph laid the body "in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock" (Matthew 27:60). An examination of Matthew's account shows that the remarkable detail with which Isaiah foretold the Savior's arrest, trial, death, and burial was accurate.
Isaiah 53:10. What would he make his soul an offering for?
Isaiah 53:10. Did It "Please" Father in Heaven to "Bruise" His Son?Obviously God was not pleased with the way Jesus was treated, but He was pleased with His Son's "offering for sin" (Isaiah 53:10). The Atonement met the strictest demands of God's innate justice and made forgiveness and mercy possible on certain terms.
Elder Melvin J. Ballard explained why it pleased God not to interfere: "In that hour I think I can see our dear Father behind the veil looking upon these dying struggles until even he could not endure it any longer; and, like the mother who bids farewell to her dying child, has to be taken out of the room, so as not to look upon the last struggles, so he bowed his head, and hid in some part of his universe, his great heart almost breaking for the love that he had for his Son. Oh, in that moment when he might have saved his Son, I thank him and praise him that he did not fail us, for he had not only the love of his Son in mind, but he also had love for us. I rejoice that he did not interfere, and that his love for us made it possible for him to endure to look upon the sufferings of his Son and give him finally to us, our Savior and our Redeemer. Without him, without his sacrifice, we would have remained, and we would never have come glorified into his presence. And so this is what it cost, in part, for our Father in Heaven to give the gift of his Son unto men." (Bryant S. Hinckley, Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin Joseph Ballard, pp. 154-55)
Isaiah 53:11. How Did Christ’s Sacrifice "Satisfy" the Father and Thus "Justify Many"?The law of justice requires punishment for every sin. In making an Atonement for the sins of all, Jesus satisfied the full demands of justice and made forgiveness of sins possible. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained:
"Then Jesus Christ came upon the scene as the Mediator between man and God, and the Advocate for man with the Father. He pleads our cause. As our Mediator, through his ministry, he labors to reconcile us, to bring us into agreement with God his Father.
"An advocate is one who defends or pleads for or in behalf of another. A mediator is one who reconciles or brings about agreement between parties.
"That is part of his great mission. He stands between the Father and man. When he was upon earth, he prayed frequently for his disciples, pleading with his Father in their behalf, and he has been pleading ever since, and he stands between us and God our Father." (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:26-27)
Isaiah 53:12. For whom would he make intercession?
Isaiah 53:12. How Will Jesus Receive a "Portion with the Great" and "Divide the Spoil with the Strong"?As the literal and faithful Son of God, Jesus inherits all that the Father has to give (see John 16:15). If we accept the Atonement of Christ and live worthy lives, we may become "joint-heirs" with Christ (Romans 8:17). Elder McConkie defined the term joint heir as follows:
"A joint-heir is one who inherits equally with all other heirs including the Chief Heir who is the Son. Each joint-heir has an equal and an undivided portion of the whole of everything. If one knows all things, so do all others. If one has all power, so do all those who inherit jointly with him. If the universe belongs to one, so it does equally to the total of all upon whom the joint inheritances are bestowed.
"Joint-heirs are possessors of all things. All things are theirs for they have exaltation. They are made 'equal' with their Lord. They gain all power both in heaven and on earth and receive the fulness of the Father, and all knowledge and truth are theirs. They are gods." (Mormon Doctrine, p. 395)
Isaiah 54:2-3. What will happen to Zion and her stakes in the last days?
Isaiah 54:7-8. How will Israel be gathered?
Isaiah 55:3. What will the Lord make with Israel?
Isaiah 55:3. "The Sure Mercies of David"For an explanation of who "David" is, see Commentary on Isaiah 11:1.
Isaiah 55:6. What are we to do while the Lord is near?
Isaiah 55:8-13. How May God's Children Partake of His Goodness?God's ways, words, and thoughts are not like ours: they are higher and greater. As the rain comes down from heaven to help crops grow and provide food for us, so will the words of God feed and prosper our souls if we incline our ears to hear His word. But often we are tempted to forget God and trust in our own wisdom or reject God's way of doing things because they are not done as we think they should be done.
Elder John Taylor commented on the passage in Isaiah: "We know in part, and see in part, and comprehend in part; and many of the things of God are hid from our view, both things that are past, things that are present, and things that are to come. Hence the world in general sit in judgment upon the actions of God that are passing among them, they make use of the weak judgment that God has given them to scan the designs of God, to unravel the mysteries that are past, and things that are still hid, forgetting that no man knows the things of God but by the Spirit of God; forgetting that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God; forgetting that no man in and of himself is competent to unravel the designs and know the purposes of Jehovah, whether in relation to the past, present, or future; and hence, forgetting this, they fall into all kinds of blunders; they blunder over things that are contained in the Scriptures, some of which are a representation of the follies and weaknesses of men, and some of them perhaps may be the wisdom and intelligence of God, that are as far above their wisdom and intelligence as the heavens are above the earth." (In Journal of Discourses, 1:368)
Isaiah 56:1-5. Who will be exalted?
Isaiah 56:1-8. Who Are the "Son of the Stranger" and the "Eunuch"? What Is Their Significance?To understand Isaiah's meaning in 56:1-8, one must understand the significance of three words and their meaning to ancient Israel. The words are Sabbath, strangers, and eunuchs.
Sabbath. Modern readers think only of Sunday, or the Lord's day, as the Sabbath, but for ancient Israel Sabbath had a wider meaning. The weekly sabbath was only one of several days called the Sabbath. All of the feast days, including Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles, and the day of Atonement, were also called sabbaths (see Samuel Fallows, ed., The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopedia and Scriptural Dictionary, s.v. "Sabbath"; James Hastings, ed., A Dictionary of the Bible, s.v. "Sabbaths") Thus, to "keep my sabbaths [plural]" (v. 4) implied a keeping of the whole law of Moses, since the various feasts covered many aspects of the Israelites' commitment to God. Also, by revelation, the Lord told Moses that keeping the Sabbath was a sign of the covenant between Israel and God (see Exodus 31:13, 16-17). When Isaiah talked about polluting the Sabbath, he meant far more than simply working or playing on Sunday (Saturday for the Jews).
Strangers. "A stranger in the Mosaic law, and in the Old Testament generally, means one not of Israelitish descent dwelling with the Hebrews, as distinguished from a foreigner temporarily visiting the land [Exodus 20:10; Leviticus 16:29; 17:8; 2 Samuel 1:13; Ezekiel 14:7]. The stranger was not a full citizen, yet he had recognized rights and duties. He was under the protection of God, and the Israelites were charged to treat him kindly [Leviticus 19:33-34; Deuteronomy 10:18-19]." (Fallows, ed., Bible Encyclopedia, s.v. "strangers")
Eunuchs. Under the Mosaic law, anyone who had been sexually mutilated was not allowed into full fellowship in the house of Israel (see Deuteronomy 23:1-2). The law was likely written because wholeness of body typified or symbolized spiritual wholeness. (See Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis-2 Samuel [religion 301, 2003], pp. 229-30) A priest or Levite who was a eunuch could not function in the priesthood offices (see Leviticus 21:17-23).
With an understanding of these three words, one can see the beauty of Isaiah's promise given in Isaiah 56. Strangers (Gentiles) and eunuchs (those previously excluded from full fellowship with the covenant people, and who felt they could produce no fruit in the covenant, being "a dry tree" [v. 3]) would now find the full blessings of God extended to them if they kept the sabbaths (epitomizing the law of God). Not only will the "outcasts of Israel" (those who were scattered) be gathered in the last days, but so will "others" (v. 8). Whether one is a literal descendant of Israel will not matter as much as whether one will make and keep the covenant with God. In the age of restoration, the house of God will be "an house of prayer for all people" (v. 7; emphasis added).
Isaiah 56:6-8. Whom will the Lord gather to the house of Israel?
Isaiah 56:9-12. To Whom Might the Special Figures in These Verses Refer?There is no general agreement among scholars about the meaning of "beasts," "watchmen," "dogs," and "shepherds" mentioned in Isaiah 56:9-12. The beasts devour, the watchmen are blind, the dogs are mute and greedy, and the shepherds are without understanding. In a latter-day context, which this seems to be, these figures may point to the Gentiles who reject the gospel when it is presented to them and seek to have others do the same. This passage may also refer to those who have the gospel (watch over the flock) but do not make it available to others. "Kimchi observes, 'The flock is intrusted to the care of these watchmen. The wild beasts come; these dogs bark not; and the wild beasts devour the flock. Thus they do not profit the flock. Yea, theyinjure it; for the owner trusts in them, that they will watch and be faithful; but they are not. These are the false teachers and careless shepherds.'" (Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible ... with a Commentary and Critical Notes, 4:212) These words are an apt description of the Christian world of the last days. Read Nephi's comments about the churches of today (see 2 Nephi 28:3-9) and compare them with Moroni's comments (see Mormon 8:31-33, 37-39).
Isaiah 57. "There Is No Peace, Saith My God, to the Wicked"When the righteous die, they go to paradise, a state of peace and rest. The wicked, on the other hand, know no peace. Isaiah 57:3-12 refers to general wickedness and uses Israel's faithlessness to God, described here and in other places as adultery, for an example (see vv. 7-8). "I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works," the Lord said, "for they shall not profit thee" (v. 12). The book of Proverbs perhaps states it best: "Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death" (Proverbs 10:2).
Isaiah 57:1-2. What will happen to the righteous?
Isaiah 58:1-7. Is There a Proper Way to Fast?Men who truly love the Lord seek to overcome their sins and to draw nearer to the Lord in fasting and prayer. Whether Isaiah 58:1-7 refers to ancient or to modern Israel, or to both, is not clear. It is certain that there is a proper way to fast and to commune with God. The guilty Israelites described in these verses seem to have been disturbed because they fasted and God seemed not to notice; they afflicted their souls and God failed to regard their sufferings (see v. 3). But the Lord pointed out that they were fasting for improper reasons. Instead of abstaining from food and the activities of the world, they continued in their labors and pleasures (see v. 3). "Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and [seek for strength] to smite with the fist of wickedness" (v. 4). That is not the kind of fast the Lord enjoined. The Lord challenged them to answer if their kind of fasting is the fast "that I have chosen" (v. 5). In other words, is it a proper fast, pleasing to Him? Does it show true humility and reliance on God? Fasting has genuine spiritual purpose: it breaks the bands of wickedness, sets free the spiritually oppressed, and provides bread for the hungry and covering for the naked (see vv. 6-7). Bishop John H. Vandenberg explained:
"I suppose when he speaks of 'loosing the bands of wickedness' of 'undoing the heavy burdens,' and the 'breaking of every yoke' that he is referring to the wickedness of people who think only of themselves in selfishness, vanity, pride, and having hearts so set upon the things of this world that the two great commandments of loving God and loving neighbor are entirely forgotten. The principles of loving thy neighbor and of loving God are encompassed in the true purpose of the fast.
"Certainly, it takes no imagination to understand what is meant when he says, '... that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?'
"He meant that in addition to taking care of the poor, that we should watch over our own kin and be responsible for our father, mother, brother, and sister when they are in need.
"It is here that I would like to state that the Lord has caused a day of fasting and prayer to be set up in this day so that collectively the Church might join together to fulfil the purposes of fasting." (In Conference Report, Apr. 1963, p. 28)
Isaiah 57:15. What is promised to the penitent?
Isaiah 57:21. Who shall have no peace?
Isaiah 58:6-7. What did the Lord expect on the day of the fast?
Isaiah 58:8. What Is the Meaning of the Word Rereward?Rereward is an older word meaning "rear guard." The Hebrew word asaph has the root meaning of "to gather" and, as used in Isaiah 58:8, "it is applied to the gathering up of the scattered rear of an army, or the keeping it from straggling, and defending it from the attacks of an enemy" (William Wilson, Old Testament Word Studies, s.v. "rereward") A better translation would be "the glory of Jehovah will gather thee, or keep thee together, i.e. be thy rear-guard" (C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, 7:2:390).
"When Israel is diligent in the performance of works of compassionate love, it is like an army on the march or travelling caravan, for which righteousness clears and shows the way as being the most appropriate gift of God, and whose rear is closed by the glory of God, which so conducts it to its goal that not one is left behind" (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:2:390).
Isaiah 58:8-12. What are the blessings of the fast?Bishop Vandenberg explained the significance of the blessings promised in Isaiah 58:8-12:
"Listen again to Isaiah and this promise, 'Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: ...' (Isa. 58:8) What would this be worth to you? Think of what it means. '... and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward ...'
"Further, 'Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am ...' [Isaiah 58:9] What more assurance would we need than this as a promise that we may call upon the Lord and he will answer?
"Then Isaiah reiterates: '... If thou take away from ... thee the yoke, (or wickedness) the putting forth of the finger, (or accusing others) and speaking vanity;
"'And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day:
"'And the Lord shall guide thee continually, (or the Holy Ghost will direct your daily life) and satisfy thy soul in drought, (This is your personal security in times of need and difficulty.) and make fat thy bones: (I believe this has to do with health. In the bone there is marrow and marrow manufactures the blood that is vital to the strength and well-being of the body.) and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not (or inspiration and wisdom will flow from you continually).
"'And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.' (Ibid., 58:9-12) To me this is a promise to those working with the members of the Church who are in need physically and spiritually, 'they that shall be of thee,' or that you may be able to help them -- to do what? 'Build the old waste places,' and as you help them to build 'thou shalt raise up the foundations of (their) many generations (to follow); and then thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach.' In other words, you have helped them overcome their weaknesses, to restore their souls, to bridge the gap through reactivating, rehabilitation, and 'restoring' the path for them to walk in." (In Conference Report, Apr. 1963, p. 29)
Isaiah 58:13-14. What should we do and refrain from doing on the Sabbath? Why?In the same beautifully poetic language with which he portrayed the law of the fast, Isaiah explained the covenant of the Sabbath by using an "if-then" construction: If we do our part (see Isaiah 58:13), then God will bless us in specific ways (see v. 14).
Our part is to turn away our foot (the symbol of following or obeying) from doing our own pleasure on the Sabbath, to call the Sabbath a delight (that is, to take delight in it), to call it the "holy of the Lord" (holy means set apart or sanctified for the work of God), to call it honorable (that is, capable of being honored), and to honor God by not doing our own ways, finding our own pleasures, or even speaking our own words (see v. 13). If we do this, then we will be able to delight ourself in the Lord (a promise similar to "then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God" [D&C 121:45]). We will be able to ride upon the "high places of the earth" (Isaiah 58:14; mountains, or the high places of the earth, have long been the site of revelation and communion with God; see Moses 1:1; 7:2; 1 Nephi 11:1; Ether 3:1; Isaiah 2:2). And we will feed on the heritage of Jacob (eat or consume it so that it becomes part of us). The word heritage comes from the same root as heir and inherit. Latter-day revelation teaches that Jacob's inheritance is exaltation and godhood.
Isaiah 59:1-8. Iniquity Separates Us from the LordThose in any age who transgress God's commands are separated from His Spirit. In their separated condition, they neither hear nor understand the word of the Lord, as Elder Mark E. Petersen explained: "The true Church must always produce new scripture ... If it does not, we must admit that it has drifted from the path of truth and right. It was Isaiah who explained such a situation which existed anciently when he said:
"'... the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: "'For your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and you sins have hid his face from you, ...' (Isa. 59:1-2)
"To say that there can be no new scripture is itself unscriptural and contrary to the teachings of the Bible. If we truly believe the Bible, we must expect additional scripture from time to time, and to do so we must look for living prophets to receive the revelations which are to become that new scripture. We cannot escape this conclusion. It is a well-established pattern of God's hand-dealings with men all down through the ages." (In Conference Report, Oct. 1964, p. 122)
Isaiah 59:9-15. What Occurs When We Refuse to Hearken to God?Failure to heed the word of the Lord causes people to "wait for light" but none comes (Isaiah 59:9), and thus they "walk in darkness" and "grope for the wall like the blind" (v. 10). Judgment (righteousness) disappears, transgression increases, and "truth faileth" (v. 15). Apostasy occurs whenever people turn away from the Lord.
Isaiah 59:2. Why is Israel separated from their God?
Isaiah 59:12-13. What testifies against them?
Isaiah 59:16-20. List three things the Messiah will do.
Isaiah 59:16-21. What Time Periods Do These Verses Refer To?Isaiah 59:16-21 refers to Jesus Christ, our intercessor with the Father. He came to earth because "there was no man" and "there was no intercessor" (v. 16) for the people. If the Savior had not been sent, our state, because of iniquity, would have been grim indeed (see vv. 1-15; compare 2 Nephi 9:8-9). Therefore, Jesus was sent to earth. "His arm brought [man's] salvation unto him," which was possible because "his righteousness, it sustained him," much as a breastplate protects a soldier in battle (v. 16). On His head was a "helmet of salvation," and He was clothed in "garments of vengeance," for He deals with men "according to their deeds" (vv. 17-18).
When the Savior comes again, He will "come to Zion," and if Jacob, or the house of Israel, will "turn from transgression" (v. 20) to the Lord, He will place His Spirit upon them. Elder Orson Pratt said of that promise: "Certainly Jesus, when he came eighteen centuries ago, did not turn away ungodliness from Jacob, for they then were filling up their cup with iniquity. They have remained in unbelief from that day to this; hence, there did not come a Deliverer out of Zion eighteen centuries ago. But the Zion of the last days, that Zion that is so frequently and so fully spoken of by the ancient prophets, especially by Isaiah, is the Church and kingdom of God; and out of that Church or kingdom or Zion is to come a Deliverer, who will turn away ungodliness from Jacob after the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (In Journal of Discourses, 14:64)
Isaiah 60:1. When will Israel rise again as a mighty nation?
Isaiah 60:1-2. "Darkness Shall Cover the Earth"The Light of Zion is the Lord Himself, and these verses refer to conditions of the latter days when Zion shines forth but darkness covers the earth. Elder Orson Pratt wrote: "The Zion that is here spoken of is called to 'arise and shine, for the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.' There is no one thing more fully revealed in the Scriptures of eternal truth, than the rise of the Zion of our God in the latter days, clothed upon with the glory of God from the heavens -- a Zion that will attract the attention of all the nations and kindreds of the whole earth. It will not be something that takes place in a corner on some distant island of the sea, or away among some obscure people; but it will be something that will call forth the attention of all people and nations upon the face of the whole earth." (In Journal of Discourses, 16:78)
Isaiah 60:3, 10-12. Who will join with Israel and serve her?
Isaiah 60:3-18. "Who Are These That Fly As a Cloud"?Although Isaiah 60:3 is sometimes seen by scholars as a prophetic utterance relating to the wise men who came from the east to visit the child born in Bethlehem (see Matthew 2:1-15), in context it is a prophecy of a Zion of the latter days, perhaps the New Jerusalem. Zion's "sons shall come from far" (Isaiah 60:4), and "the forces of the Gentiles" (v. 5) will do the same. Gold, silver, camels, and dromedaries (symbols of earthly wealth) will be brought to "glorify the house of [God's] glory" (v. 7). As these precious things are gathered in, "the sons of strangers" (Gentiles) will build her walls or help in rebuilding Jerusalem (v. 10; compare Notes and Commentary on Isaiah 49:22).
About the phrase "thy gates shall be open continually" (Isaiah 60:11), Elder Orson Pratt said: "'They shall not be shut day nor night, that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought, for the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish, yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.' What! no people or nation left that will not serve Zion? Not one. What will become of this great republic [the United States] ...? If they will comply with the ordinances of Zion, repent of their sins and be prepared for this great and glorious day, God will save them; but if they will not they will be utterly wasted away. Thus have the prophets declared." (In Journal of Discourses, 14:355)
Isaiah 60:14-15. What will be established?
Isaiah 60:17-20. How shall they dwell?
Isaiah 60:19-22. "The Sun Shall Be No More Thy Light by Day"When the New Jerusalem is eventually built, and Jesus Christ returns to earth in glory, the need will disappear for the sun and the moon to give light to God's covenant people. The Lord Himself will be an everlasting light.
"Zion will not need the sun when the Lord is there, and all the city is lighted up by the glory of his presence. When the whole heavens above are illuminated by the presence of his glory we shall not need those bright luminaries of heaven to give light, so far as the city of Zion is concerned. But there will be a great people round about, dwelling in other cities that will still have need of the light of the sun and the moon; but the great capital city where the Lord will establish one of his thrones -- for his throne is not to be in Jerusalem alone, it will also be in Zion, as you will find in numerous places in this Bible. When therefore, he shall establish his throne in Zion and shall light up the habitations thereof with the glory of his presence, they will not need this light which comes from the bright luminaries that shine forth in yonder heavens, but they will be clothed upon with the glory of their God. When the people meet together in assemblies like this, in their Tabernacles, the Lord will meet
with them, his glory will be upon them; a cloud will overshadow them by day and if they happen to have an evening meeting they will not need ... lights of an artificial nature, for the Lord will be there and his glory will be upon all their assemblies. So says Isaiah the Prophet, and I believe it." (Orson Pratt, in Journal of Discourses, 14:355-56)
Isaiah 61:1. What three things will the Messiah do?
Isaiah 61:1-2. "The Lord Hath Anointed Me to Preach Good Tidings"Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1-2 to the people of Nazareth in their synagogue. When He had finished, "the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him" (Luke 4:20). He then said, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears" (v. 21; see vv. 16-19). These verses in Isaiah relate to Jesus as does the rest of Isaiah 61 -- to Him and to the building of His Zion in the latter days. He it is who is appointed of the Father to preach the gospel unto men, to heal or provide forgiveness to the wounded soul, to preach deliverance to those captives in the spirit prison (see 1 Peter 3:18-19). Jesus Himself cited this passage as evidence of His divinity (see Matthew 11:2-5; Luke 7:19-22).
Isaiah 61:3-11. What Are the Robes of Righteousness and the Garments of Salvation?The Lord does not work alone. Isaiah 61:3-11 refers to the physical restoration of Zion and to the priesthood, which Zion's sons will use to restore again this glory of the Lord. Once again the marriage figure is employed to depict the covenant between the Lord and His people in the latter days. Covered "with the robe of righteousness" and dressed "as a bride adorneth herself with pearls" (v. 10), Zion awaits the coming of her "husband," Jesus Christ. John the Revelator used a similar figure when he spoke of "the marriage of the Lamb [Jesus] and his wife [Zion]" (Revelation 19:7). Here the bride is "arrayed in fine linen," symbolic of "the righteousness of saints" (Revelation 19:8). Thus will be fulfilled that part of the tenth article of faith that states: "Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory." Verse 11 of Isaiah 61 clearly describes that day when the Zion of the Lord, the New Jerusalem, will bring forth righteousness and praise "as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth."
Isaiah 61:6-9. What will the Lord do in the last days?
Isaiah 62. How Is the Latter-day Union of God and His People Symbolized?Once again Isaiah referred to the Old and New Jerusalems. Both are to possess "righteousness" that will "go forth as brightness" and offer salvation "as a lamp that burneth" (Isaiah 62:1). Zion is to be called by a "new name" (v. 2), the New Jerusalem, and the Old Jerusalem shall "no more be termed Forsaken" nor "Desolate" (v. 4). Once again Zion shall be married to the Lord. This symbol represents her return to spiritual righteousness, for "as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall [our] God rejoice over [Jerusalem's restoration]" (v. 5).
Isaiah 62:4-5. Why Will the Lord Call Israel "Hephzi-bah" and "Beulah"?The words that Isaiah used to describe this latter-day condition of Zion are important. Hephzi-bah means "delightful" in Hebrew and may refer to Jerusalem and Zion's latter-day righteousness. Beulah means "union" (see Isaiah 62:4). A marriage is once again the symbol of unity, but this time the marriage is not of the people and God but of the land and God.
Isaiah 62:6. Who will teach about the Lord?
Isaiah 62:7. What will be established?
Isaiah 63:4. What will the Second Coming be a day of?
Isaiah 63:10-19. "O Lord, Why Hast Thou Suffered Us to Err?"Isaiah 63:10-19 depicts a people gone astray, a people who have broken their covenants with the Lord. These verses explain the great judgment of the earth described in verses 1-9. Verse 17 in the Joseph Smith Translation contains a significant alteration. Instead of "O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways and hardened our heart," it reads, "O Lord, why hast thou suffered us to err from thy ways, and to harden our heart?" God does not compel people to sin or to harden their hearts. It is possible that the last part of verse 17 is a plea for the Lord to restore the lost tribes of Israel to the lands of their inheritance.
Isaiah 63:16. What will the Saints do?
Isaiah 64:1-4. What did Israel pray for?
Isaiah 64:4-11. Is Our Righteousness like "Filthy Rags" unto the Lord?
When people do evil in the Lord's sight, their ways can be compared to "filthy rags." "We are all as an unclean thing" (Isaiah 64:6). God then hides His face from such individuals (see v. 7), and they must repent and plead to be forgiven (see vv. 8-9). Isaiah said that "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags," or as Keil and Delitzsch translated the passage: "All our virtues [are] like a garment soiled with blood" (Commentary, 7:2:470). That is not to say that God despises virtue and views it as filthiness, but rather to say that Israel's former righteousness has now become evil. Joseph Smith changed Isaiah 64:5-6 to reflect this teaching more clearly: "Thou meetest him that worketh righteousness, and rejoiceth him that remembereth thee in thy ways; in righteousness there is continuance, and such shall be saved. But we have sinned; we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." (JST, Isaiah 64:5-6)
Isaiah 65:1-2. Why was ancient Israel rejected?
Isaiah 65:1-7. Can Men Find the Lord If They Do Not Seek Him?Isaiah 65:1-7 speaks of God as being found by those who did not seek Him. The Apostle Paul interpreted these verses to mean the Gentiles (see Romans 10:20-21). The Prophet Joseph, in his inspired translation of the Bible, expanded the text and changed it: "I am found of them who seek after me, I give unto all them that ask of me; I am not found of them that sought me not, or that inquireth not after me. I said unto my servant, Behold me, look upon me; I will send you unto a nation that is not called after my name, for I have spread out my hands all the day to a people who walketh not in my ways, and their works are evil and not good, and they walk after their own thoughts." (JST, Isaiah 65:1-2)
There is a difference between those who know that they should call upon the Lord but do not and those who do not call upon Him because they do not know they should. The Gentiles are in the latter category. Paul wrote that God manifested Himself to the Gentiles but not to the Jews because He had "stretched forth [His] hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people" all day long (for many generations), and they would not respond (Romans 10:21). It is the Gentiles' turn now. Isaiah 65:3-7 describes the Lord's attitude toward those who, having been given much, return but little to the Giver.
Isaiah 65:17-18. When will the Lord's people rejoice and triumph?
Isaiah 65:17-25. To What Period of Time Do These Verses Refer?Isaiah 65:17-25 refers to the Millennium. People living then will have no desire for things to be as they once were. The old earth, in fact, "shall not be remembered, nor come into mind" (v. 17). Everything will be gloriously new, sorrow will cease (see v. 19), children will not die in infancy (see v. 20), homes will be built, and fruit trees and gardens planted and enjoyed. No one will drive others from their lands, as the Saints were driven in the early days of this dispensation (see vv. 21-22).
In summarizing conditions in this glorious day, Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: "Great and marvelous though the changes will be incident to life during the millennial era, yet mortality as such will continue. Children will be born, grow up, marry, advance to old age, and pass through the equivalent of death. Crops will be planted, harvested, and eaten; industries will be expanded, cities built, and education fostered; men will continue to care for their own needs, handle their own affairs, and enjoy the full endowment of free agency. Speaking a pure language (Zeph. 3:9), dwelling in peace, living without disease, and progressing as the Holy Spirit will guide, the advancement and perfection of society during the millennium will exceed anything men have supposed or expected." (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 496-97) A great deal of information about the Millennium has been revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 101:23-31.
Isaiah 66:1-4. How Is "He That Killeth an Ox ... As If He Slew a Man"?Anciently God required animal sacrifice as a token of the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for the sins of men. But the people took the form of worship that was to teach them faith in the coming of Christ and turned it into a mockery. They maintained the outer form of the ordinances but lost the spiritual meaning, for they showed no corresponding inward righteousness. Thus, the very forms of worship that were intended to save them became an abomination and worked to their condemnation.
In strong language Isaiah revealed the Lord's feelings for their hypocritical religious observances. Those who killed the ox for sacrifice were viewed as though they offered a man, an act of great wickedness. Other sacrificial offerings would mean nothing more than sacrificing a dog or pig, both of which were considered abominable (see v. 3). People had "chosen their own ways" (v. 3) instead of the Lord's. When called by God through His prophets, they refused to hearken. The result was "delusions" and "fears" (v. 4), fit rewards for evildoers.
Isaiah 66:5-14. How Can a "Nation Be Born at Once" and the "Earth Be Made to Bring Forth in One Day"?Even though the Jews have long rejected Jesus Christ as their Messiah, at a critical time in the future He will appear to them. Elder Charles W. Penrose described that great event, which will occur during the battle of Armageddon:
"His next appearance will be among the distressed and nearly vanquished sons of Judah. At the crisis of their fate, when the hostile troops of several nations are ravaging the city and all the horrors of war are overwhelming the people of Jerusalem, he will set his feet upon the Mount of Olives, which will cleave and part asunder at his touch.
"Attended by a host from heaven, he will overthrow and destroy the combined armies of the Gentiles, and appear to the worshiping Jews as the mighty Deliverer and Conqueror so long expected by their race; and while love, gratitude, awe, and admiration swell their bosoms, the Deliverer will show them the tokens of his crucifixion and disclose himself as Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had reviled and whom their fathers put to death. Then will unbelief depart from their souls, and 'the blindness in part which has happened unto Israel' [see Romans 11:25] be removed. 'A fountain for sin and uncleanness shall be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem' [see Zechariah 13:1], and 'a nation will be born' unto God 'in a day' [see Isaiah 66:8]. They will be baptised for the remission of their sins, and will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the government of God as established in Zion will be set up among them, no more to be thrown down for ever." (In "The Second Advent," in Millennial Star, 10 Sept. 1859, p. 583)
The allusion to a woman giving birth who is "delivered of a man child" recalls a similar reference in Revelation 12:1-7 in which a woman is depicted as struggling to give birth and bringing forth "a man child." This child is identified in the Joseph Smith Translation as the millennial kingdom of God (see JST, Revelation 12:7). The man child referred to in Isaiah (Zion), and the child referred to by John in Revelation are probably the same. This is good news for Jerusalem, who will rejoice at the word.
Isaiah 66:8, 15-16, 19. What three events will happen at the Second Coming?
Isaiah 66:15-24. The Final ScenesThese verses relate to the Second Coming of the Lord and the events that will immediately precede it. Verses 15-16 refer to the destruction of the great army that will gather against Jerusalem just before the Millennium begins (compare Isaiah 34:1-10; Jeremiah 25:31-33; Ezekiel 38:17-23; 39:1-16; Joel 3:1-2, 11-14).
Zechariah taught that once the battle was over, those of the heathen nations who survived would eventually turn to Jehovah, and great holiness would prevail in Jerusalem or among God’s people (see Zechariah 14:16-21). This teaching closely parallels what Isaiah revealed here. The wicked will be gathered for destruction (see Isaiah 66:15-18), those who are scattered throughout the heathen nations (Tarshish, Pul, Lud, and so forth) will bring an offering to Jerusalem, and the holy people of God (see vv. 19-23) will marvel at what God has done to the wicked (see v. 24).
Evidently many will then join the Church, for the Lord said He will take of the Gentiles "for priests and for Levites" (v. 21); in other words, they shall receive the priesthood.