The Old Testament (Isaiah 1 to Isaiah 34)
The Prophet Isaiah
Our study now brings us to the book written by the Prophet Isaiah, a record so valuable in our canon of scripture that the Savior has given a specific commandment to search its contents:
And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, A COMMANDMENT I GIVE UNTO YOU THAT YE SEARCH THESE THINGS DILIGENTLY; FOR GREAT ARE THE WORDS OF ISAIAH.
For surely he 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.
And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake.
Therefore give heed to my words; write the things which I have told you; and according to the time and the will of the Father they shall go forth unto the Gentiles.
And whosoever will hearken unto my words and repenteth and is baptized, the same shall be saved. Search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things. (3 Nephi 23:1-5).
Many have thought the words of Isaiah are difficult to understand, and therefore skip over the book whenever they are studying the scriptures. Nephi offers this insight concerning the prophecies of Isaiah:
Now I, Nephi, do speak somewhat concerning the words which I have written, which have been spoken by the mouth of Isaiah. For behold, Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand; for they know not concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews.
For I, Nephi, have not taught them many things concerning the manner of the Jews; for their works were works of darkness, and their doings were doings of abominations.
Wherefore, I write unto my people, unto all those that shall receive hereafter these things which I write, that they may know the judgments of God, that they come upon all nations, according to the word which he hath spoken.
Wherefore, hearken, O my people, which are of the house of Israel, and give ear unto my words; for because the words of Isaiah are not plain unto you, nevertheless they are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy. But I give unto you a prophecy, according to the plainness which hath been with me from the time that I came out from Jerusalem with my father; for behold, my soul delighteth in plainness unto my people, that they may learn.
Yea, and my soul delighteth in the words of Isaiah, for I came out from Jerusalem, and mine eyes hath beheld the things of the Jews, and I know that the Jews do understand the things of the prophets, and there is none other people that understand the Jews like unto them, save it be that they are taught after the manner of the things of the Jews.
But behold I, Nephi, have not taught my children after the manner of the Jews; but behold, I, of myself, have dwelt at Jerusalem, wherefore I know concerning the regions round about; and I have made mention unto my children concerning the judgments of God, which hath come to pass among the Jews, unto my children, according to all that which Isaiah hath spoken, and I do not write them.
But behold, I proceed with mine own prophecy, according to my plainness; in the which I know that no man can err; nevertheless, in the days that the prophecies of Isaiah shall be fulfilled men shall know of a surety, at the times when they shall come to pass.
Wherefore, they are of worth unto the children of men, and he that supposeth that they are not, unto them will I speak particularly, and confine the words unto mine own people; for I know that they shall be of great worth unto them in the last days; for in that day shall they understand them; wherefore, for their good have I written them.
And as one generation hath been destroyed among the Jews because of iniquity, even so have they been destroyed from generation to generation according to their iniquities; and never hath any of them been destroyed save it were foretold them by the prophets of the Lord.
Wherefore, it hath been told them concerning the destruction which should come upon them, immediately after my father left Jerusalem; nevertheless, they hardened their hearts; and according to my prophecy they have been destroyed, save it be those which are carried away captive into Babylon.
And now this I speak because of the spirit which is in me. And notwithstanding they have been carried away they shall return again, and possess the land of Jerusalem; wherefore, they shall be restored again to the land of their inheritance. (2 Nephi 25:1-11).
Far from being a dusty old book of ancient gibberish, as some might suppose, Isaiah's prophecies stretch into the millennial era. As with all prophecy, there are multiple eras of fulfillment. Seldom do prophecies have only one application. The reason Isaiah's words are of value to us today is that his prophecy applies as much to us today as it did anciently when he was alive on the earth. The hearts of the children of Israel are not greatly different or more devout today than they were then. Isaiah was called to minister among Israel in a day of apostasy and rebellion. He foretold the Babylonian captivity, as Nephi reaffirms in the above quotation. The Savior commands us to study his record. His prophetic utterances are a clarion call for the Latter day Saints today.
Not only did Isaiah prophesy concerning the latter day Zion, but his doctrinal themes also include the purging of Israel, the restoration of righteous judges in Israel, the destruction of the unrighteous, the mountain of the Lord's house, the establishment of two world capitols in Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem, the judgment of the nations, and the ushering in of the Millennium. In addition to all of this he saw the Savior's reign among men during his mortal ministry, and he sought to prepare a people for that day. By any measurement he failed in the attempt, was rejected of his own, and stands as a witness to us today that the promises of the Lord are immutable and sure. Isaiah has a message for us as vital as it was in his day. Will we listen?
It had not occurred to me until compiling this study how much of the Isaiah material pertaining to Zion was included in The Book of Mormon. Chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 29, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53 of Isaiah are quoted by The Book of Mormon prophets. Each bolded chapter relates in whole or in part to the subject of Zion, 11 of 20 chapters! Even more compelling is the fact that Isaiah mentions Zion in these additional chapters not quoted in The Book of Mormon -- 1, 16, 18, 24, 28, 30, 31, 33, 34, 35, 37, 40, 41, 46, 59, 60, 61, 62, 64, 66. If my math is correct, Isaiah refers to the topic of Zion in 40 of his 66 chapters! Roughly sixty percent of all that Isaiah wrote pertains directly to establishing Zion!
We will cite each of these chapters in our examination of the words of Isaiah, and we will quote extensively from the Joseph Smith Translation where applicable. As a passing foot¬note, it should be stated for the record that the words of Isaiah in the JST are precisely the words found in The Book of Mormon text with a few minor exceptions. This fact suggests that he probably used The Book of Mormon translation in compiling the Joseph Smith Translation. In all likelihood, had he had sufficient time to return to make additional improvements in the text, he may have revised The Book of Mormon text of Isaiah. Footnote 12, 2a in 2 Nephi 12:2 of the new triple combination reveals the following information:
Comparison with the King James Bible in English shows that there are differences in more than half of the 433 verses of Isaiah quoted in The Book of Mormon, while about 200 verses have the same wording as KJV.
In this first chapter of Isaiah we have a summary of God's dealings with rebellious Israel. In every dispensation the Father seeks a marriage between his Son, the Bridegroom, and the children of Israel, represented symbolically throughout scripture as the bride. Too often, however, Israel played the harlot and the bride proved unfaithful. Perhaps this simple parable will aid our understanding as we take up our study of Isaiah's ministry among a rebellious Israel who had forsaken the Bridegroom.
The Parable of the Bride:
Unto what shall I liken the Kingdom of God on the earth? Behold, I will liken it unto a bride who is betrothed to the Bridegroom, and waits at the altar for the Bridegroom to come to fulfill His promise of marriage.
And it came to pass that the bride grew weary of waiting. She told her friends she was certain she was still chosen of the Bridegroom, but when they could see the Bridegroom tarried so long they began to ridicule her and tease her, saying unto her, "Thou foolish woman. Thou art not chosen, thou hast been forsaken." And thus did they contend against her, and did attempt to persuade her to abandon her assertions that she was the chosen one. "Come with us to the party," they urged. "Exchange your white wedding gown for this more acceptable dress."
At first she resisted, because the Bridegroom had promised He would take her to the altar, and she was certain He would yet arrive. But it came to pass that the subtle and persistent invitation of her friends convinced her to join them at the party. She removed her white wedding dress, now soiled and stained as she had waited, and put on her strapless red silk evening gown. She put on her makeup and her jewels, and departed from the altar with her friends.
Her friends welcomed her, and her former detractors now praised her lavishly for her presence at their party. And it came to pass they were more comfortable around her, because she was arrayed like unto them. She partook of their elaborate food, drank their expensive wine, and danced to their exotic music. As the night grew darker, her popularity increased in their eyes, they toasted her beauty and influence, and she was the admiration of the crowd.
Suddenly the room shook with a mighty shaking, and a loud knock was heard at the door. Everyone gasped in amazement when they saw the Bridegroom standing in the doorway. "Which one of you is my bride?" He inquired. She stepped forward, and He embarrassed her by condemning her conduct in the presence of her friends. He wiped off her rouge and eye shadow, and told her He was ashamed of her immodest dress. She left the party with Him, humiliated and repentant, but grateful He had not altogether rejected her.
And it came to pass in course of time that the wedding of the bride and the Bridegroom was accomplished. But only after the much humiliation and tribulation the bride was compelled to suffer, and this because of her willingness to hearken unto the counsel of her double-minded friends in order to please them as she had supposed, and her failure to remember the promise of the Bridegroom.
He who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
This parable is based upon a Zion motif that is at least as old as the fourth century, mentioned by Eusebius in his Church History (see 10.4). His account that follows has strong Masonic overtones, yet another echo of the ancient nature of these promises that Zion will yet be redeemed despite her infidelity. It has forever been the same with Israel -- The Father seeking a pure and virtuous bride for his Son, but the bride always defiling herself before the wedding can occur. With three notable exceptions when Zion was brought to pass on earth among Enoch's people, Melchizedek's society in Salem, the Nephites in America following Christ's visit among them, and the promise of a Zion society yet to come upon the whole earth, Israel has played the harlot. Despite becoming spiritually dead, however, the Father always holds out the promise of restoration and breathing new life into the dead corpse of the Church. (See TPJS, 129). We observe this promise in the writings of Eusebius. Pay particular attention to the italicized words in this dominant theme of innocence, sin, death, redemption and finally restoration:
Now the Savior has come to his Holy Hill. Seeing his Bride lying desolate upon the ground, he stretches forth his hands and raises up her dead carcass, causing her to stand upright. She who was assailed by the batteries of her enemies and left for dead upon the earth becomes a restored Temple, whose chief Cornerstone is the Savior himself. In its Holy of Holies the Spouse reclaims his Wife – a woman once deserted and rejected – now clothed in glory and ornaments befitting a royal Bride. Then seeing her promised sons, she asks, “Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children and am a Widow?” Yet her promised restoration was inscribed of old on Sacred Tablets, and is now brought to reality by “Bezaleel,” the new and excellent “Zerubbabel,” our most peaceful “Solomon,” i.e. Jesus Christ, the Architect of the New Temple. Wonderful and mighty is this work, but more wonderful than wonders are these archetypes, these renewals of divine and spiritual buildings in our souls, which the Son of God himself framed and fashioned according to his own image, and to which everywhere and in all respects he imparted the likeness of God.
Then Eusebius summarizes the meaning of his parable by saying: “A kind of intellectual image on earth of those things beyond the vault of heaven. . . A Temple of celestial types, a Temple given in symbols and figures.”
The grossest of the sins of the children of Israel is idolatry – the worship of false gods. In the marriage imagery it is the equivalent of adultery. We will suspend judgment concerning the status of Israel today, but we would make a grave mistake if we were to assume that Isaiah's words of prophecy were about another people at another time. Let Nephi's words guide us unerringly toward the meaning of Isaiah's prophecies:
And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning. (1 Nephi 19:23).
Jacob recounts the history of his people, and is filled with the spirit of prophecy "for the welfare of your souls." In preparing to quote the words of Isaiah he says essentially the same thing as Nephi:
And now, the words which I shall read are they which Isaiah spake concerning all the house of Israel; wherefore, they may be likened unto you, for ye are of the house of Israel. And there are many things which have been spoken by Isaiah which may be likened unto you, because ye are of the house of Israel. (2 Nephi 6:5).
Make no mistake, Isaiah's words are meant for us today, if we have even a sliver of the spirit of prophecy:
Isaiah 1:1-9; 25-27
The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.
Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.
And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.
Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah. (Isaiah 1:1-9).
Despite Isaiah's stern introduction to his record in the preceding verses, the first chapter ends on a hopeful note that a purging of Israel’s sins will redeem Zion:
And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:
And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.
Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness. (Isaiah 1:25-27).
JST Isaiah 2:1-9
This remarkable prophecy by Isaiah describes what he saw in vision – the “mountain of the Lord’s house” standing in the “top of the mountains” in the last days. This is a powerful symbolic image, as well as a literal fulfillment. The top of a mountain is symbolically and literally the highest point on earth that stands closest to heaven. As the Latter-day Saints worship in their temples they are reaching up to new heights of spiritual understanding and growth. Temples, often constructed on an elevated plateau in their proximity to other geographical features nearby, are mountains. The granite used to build the Salt Lake Temple, standing in the tops of the Rocky Mountains, was literally taken from a mountain to make a mountain for the Lord. In every sense the Salt Lake Temple is “the mountain of the Lord’s house,” or “the Lord’s house made of a mountain.”
Both the Kirtland Temple then later the Salt Lake Temple are types of the greatest temples yet to be built in Independence, Missouri (see D&C 57:1-5; 84:2-4; 110:9), and in Jerusalem. In reality all temples stand as the perfect loss of innocence motif in this mortal world, pointing us forward to the final scenes of reconciliation and homecoming with God. There is much, much more to come in this dispensation, and it may very well prove that the best is yet to come in temple building [remember, this was written in 1986]. When I began this compilation many years ago, no one was talking about the reality of 100 operating temples dotting the globe by the turn of the twenty-first century. Yet, all the temples symbolize the hope of a homeward journey to reclaim our inheritance with God. The vision of temples stretches far beyond the scope of one temple standing in Salt Lake City in the tops of the mountains.
The significance of this prophetic latter-day fulfillment of erecting a temple in Salt Lake City was not lost on President Wilford W. Woodruff, who said in the dedicatory prayer, “In past ages thou didst inspire with thy Holy Spirit thy servants, the prophets, to speak of a time in the latter days when the mountain of the Lord’s house should be established in the top of the mountains, and should be exalted above the hills. We thank thee that we have had the glorious opportunity of contributing to the fulfillment of these visions of thine ancient seers, and that thou hast condescended to permit us to take part in the great work.” (Cited by James E. Talmage, The House of the Lord, 135).
Numerous are the prophets since in this dispensation who have quoted verses 2-4 in this chapter and testified that these verses related to the Saints, their trek westward from Nauvoo to the Rocky Mountains, the building of their temple, the sending out of our missionaries to gather converts, the conducting of General Conference sessions and presiding over the Lord’s kingdom in the last days. (Ibid., Ludlow provided this list, for example: John Taylor, JD 6:167; 11:345; 21:32; 23:333; Joseph Fielding Smith, CHMR 4:129-30; Harold B. Lee, CR Oct. 1945, p. 47; Apr. 1966, p. 68; Oct. 1972, p. 63; Apr. 1973, p. 5; Orson Pratt, JD 14:350; Ensign Nov. 1972, p. 14; LeGrand Richards, CR Oct. 1962, p. 109; Apr. 1967, p. 22; Oct. 1970, pp. 61-62; Apr. 1971, p. 143; Oct. 1975, p. 77; and Bruce R. McConkie, CR Oct. 1967, p. 43; MD pp. 518, 690, 691, 781, 855).
Without the added light of the JST, these verses might have a constricted meaning. Notice the change of one word in verse 2 -- when instead of that -- gives a totally different insight. Isaiah, speaking of the establishment of Zion at the New Jerusalem and Jerusalem, says it will occur "when the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains" -- not that it will be established. Similarly, two capitols of Zion in the last days are spoken of here -- "out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." There is no end to the commentary on that verse! Note that Isaiah begins his prophecy by stating that he saw things "concerning Judah and Jerusalem." While not inaccurate to state that this prophecy deals with the building of the temple in Salt Lake City, it should be clear the prophecy may extend beyond such a narrow interpretation when studied in its full context. I suspect, as with President Hinckley’s statement in 2000, the years ahead will produce additional prophetic interpretations of these verses.
If nothing else, it is obvious Isaiah saw more than his own day in the closing verses of this excerpt. Some authors suggest that the vision of the future in this chapter shifts back to local events in Isaiah’s generation, but who would limit Isaiah’s scope? Idolatry has forever been Israel's most consistent sin. He must have inevitably seen our day too.
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it;
And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem; [see also Micah 4:2, where Micah uses essentially the same language in describing his vision of futurity].
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord; yea, come, for ye have all gone astray, everyone to his wicked ways.
Therefore, O Lord, thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and hearken unto the soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers.
Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots.
Their land is also full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made.
And the mean man boweth not down, and the great man humbleth himself not; therefore, forgive them not.
JST Isaiah 3:13-17
The daughters of Zion are condemned and tormented for their worldliness, and the verses that follow these quoted give graphic detail of their suffering in the last days as the judgments are poured out upon the earth.
The Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.
The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof; for ye have eaten up the vineyard; and the spoil of the poor is in your houses.
What mean ye? ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor, saith the Lord God of hosts.
Moreover, the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet;
Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts.
JST Isaiah 4
In this short chapter we are given tremendous insight into millennial conditions. The key phrase "in that day," applies to the seventh thousand-year period of the earth's history as it is used by all the Lord's prophets. (See D&C 77:7). Similar references include "the day of the Lord," "the Sabbath," "the Millennium," "the Sunday of time," "the Son's day," and "the great day of the Lord." A description of the glorious city of Zion, the New Jerusalem, is given in the closing verses.
In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely to them that are escaped of Israel.
And it shall come to pass, they that are left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even everyone that is written among the living in Jerusalem;
When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.
And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory of Zion shall be a defense.
And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain. (This reference to a covering seems to correlate with "the veil of the covering of my temple, in my tabernacle, which hideth the earth [and] shall be taken off," mentioned in D&C 101:23, when "all flesh shall see me together").
Isaiah prophesies that many will stumble at the "stumblingstone" of Christ among the house of Israel. He holds Christ up as our ideal, "our sanctuary," then specifies his dwelling place in mount Zion.
Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
And he shall be for a sanctuary; but 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.
Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.
Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.
JST Isaiah 10:5-12, 20-25, 30-32
These verses specify the destruction of the Assyrians as a type and shadow of the consumption decreed for the world in the last days prior to the Second Coming. The Lord reaffirms again that the remnant of Jacob will return to reclaim her inheritance in Zion, and that there is nothing to fear in the eternal sense for those who are faithful to the gospel. The concept of two world capitols is again restated -- Zion and Jerusalem. Note Isaiah says destruction will come "when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon Mount Zion and Jerusalem." Since the apparent demise of the Soviet Union, speculation once again abounds over which nation(s) might someday qualify as the latter day Assyria. Focus is now shifting to the Muslim nations.
O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is their indignation.
I will send him against a hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but in his heart it is to destroy and cut off nations not a few.
For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings?
Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus?
As my hand hath founded the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria;
Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and to her idols?
Wherefore it shall come to pass, that, when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon Mount Zion and upon Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.
The remnant shall return, yea even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.
For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return; the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.
For the Lord God of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in all the land.
Therefore, thus saith the Lord God of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian; he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt.
For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction.
Lift up the voice, O daughter of Gallim; cause it to be heard unto Laish, O poor Anathoth.
Madmenah is removed; the inhabitants of Gebim gather themselves to flee.
As yet shall he remain at Nob that day; he shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.
This chapter could well be called "The Psalm of Isaiah." He speaks of the millennial day when all men shall praise the Lord, when the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as with a flood, and the Lord shall dwell once more among men. It is no wonder the Jews had such a hard time identifying Christ when he came to earth the first time. In their expectation of the Millennial Messiah, as foretold here and elsewhere, they did not recognize Christ among them.
And in that day thou shalt say: O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.
Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.
Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.
JST Isaiah 14:32
This chapter gives the promise once again that Israel will be gathered in the last days, and that the Millennium will bring the peace for which the earth has pled in her travail (see Moses 7:48), "The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing (verse 7)."
The only reference we have to the name of Lucifer in the KJV Old Testament is made in this chapter, "O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!" (See footnote 12c in the LDS edition of the KJV, which says, referring to the name of Lucifer, "morning star, son of dawn. The ruler of the wicked world [Babylon] is spoken of as Lucifer, the ruler of all wickedness"). At some future day the inhabitants of the earth who were obliged to feel his influence while clothed upon with flesh will exclaim together, "Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; that made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?" (Verses 16-17).
Babylon (the world, meaning the people of the world who are steeped in worldly traditions and practices contrary to Zion and her people) will be destroyed before Zion is fully established again. (See JS-M 4, where Joseph Smith links the destruction of the wicked to the synonymous thought of the destruction of the “world”). “The world” pertains to people. “The earth” pertains to the terra firma upon which we stand. Joseph Smith said, "The world and earth are not synonymous terms. This world is the human family. This earth was actually organized, or formed, or created out of other planets which were broken up and remodeled and made into the one on which we now live." (Joseph Smith, Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Alma P. Burton, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1965, 207).
What shall then answer the messengers of the nation? That the Lord hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.
Isaiah speaks Messianically of throne of David being established in "the mount of the daughter of Zion," reference once again to the temple mount at Jerusalem. In his mercy, Christ will judge the nations.
Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land from Sela to the wilderness, unto the mount of the daughter of Zion.
For it shall be, that, as a wandering bird cast out of the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon.
Take counsel, execute judgment; make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday; hide the outcasts; betray not him that wandereth.
Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler: for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land.
And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.
Isaiah prophesies that the gospel ensign will be raised to all the nations of the earth in the last days, and foretells the gathering to mount Zion. It should be clear at this point, having now examined many scriptures, that the term "mount Zion" is both symbolic and literal symbolic in the sense that it represents the fullness of the blessings available in the gospel plan, and literal in its reference to the temple mount at Jerusalem and ". . .Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem." (D&C 84:2). Once again, we see reference here to two world capitols in the last days – Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem in Independence.
In that time shall the present be brought unto the LORD of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the LORD of hosts, the mount Zion.
These verses describe conditions and events that will come to pass before the Second Coming. Throughout the scriptures we find the subject matter of the earth reeling to and fro linked with signs in the heavens, "the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed." (Verse 20, and 23. See also Revelation 6:12-17; Joel 2:28-32; D&C 34:7-9; D&C 45:39-42; D&C 88:86-91. The Prophet Joseph Smith also understood the correlation between earthquakes and the signs in the heavens. See TPJS, 17, 29, 71, 160-1, 219, 286-7). These events are still future. They will be fulfilled as part of the fulfillment of the sixth seal of John's Revelation, or the time in which we are now living.
Once again Isaiah reiterates the themes of the gathering and two world capitols. The reference by Isaiah to those who are "shut up in the prison," pertains to the wicked who will be destroyed in the upheavals that precede the Second Coming. (D&C 88:100-101). Note the constant distinction between mount Zion and Jerusalem.
And it shall come to pass, that he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake.
The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly.
The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.
And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.
Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.
This chapter is a direct and unequivocal message to Israel. As we learned in the introduction to Isaiah's writings, we are to liken these words to ourselves, our time, our church, and our day. Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear will recognize the familiar themes in Isaiah's warnings to a rebellious Israel. They will repent, acknowledge Christ as their personal Savior, build upon the rock and foundation of Christ and his gospel (see also Helaman 5:12; 1 Corinthians 3:9-16), and will seek an alliance with the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. Those who seek the pride of the world will make a covenant with death, for all things temporal will surely pass away.
There is nothing that would so soon weaken my hope and discourage me as to see this people in full fellowship with the world, and receive no more persecution from them because they are one with them. In such an event, we might bid farewell to the Holy Priesthood with all its blessings, privileges and eternities of the Gods. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, reported by G. D. Watt and J. V. Long, [Liverpool: Daniel H. Wells, 1865], Vol. X, 32, hereafter cited as "JD").
In the same sermon a little later on, Brigham Young speaks of the true riches in these words:
The possession of all the gold and silver in the world would not satisfy the cravings of the immortal soul of man. The gift of the Holy Spirit of the Lord alone can produce a good, wholesome, contented mind. Instead of looking for gold and silver, look to the heavens and try to learn wisdom until you can organize the native elements for your benefit; then, and not until then, will you begin to possess the true riches. (Ibid., 35).
Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are over-come with wine!
Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.
The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet:
And the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up.
In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people.
And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.
But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.
For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.
Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.
Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem.
Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.
And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.
From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night; and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.
For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.
For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.
Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord GOD of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth.
JST Isaiah 29:1-8
It is obvious by comparing the KJV and the JST that the Prophet Joseph added much material to chapter 29. Eight additional verses found in the JST have no corresponding material in the KJV. The enemies of the restoration and Joseph Smith have concluded he fabricated scripture that speaks of him. One only need compare the text of The Book of Mormon to see that Nephi had the complete account in his day from the brass plates, but that presupposes a belief in The Book of Mormon as scripture. Even if one were to assert that Joseph in essence “wrote his own patriarchal blessing” in these verses, consider that he somehow acquired the power to fulfill it in every particular! How improbable is that? Isn’t it easier, really, to believe that Joseph was translating from an earlier record?
Once again in the opening verses of this chapter Isaiah speaks to all the house of Israel. The prophets apparently recognized the applicability of prophecy to their respective branches of Israel, for Isaiah makes reference to "Ariel," a Hebrew word meaning "Hearth of God," i.e. the temple, translated as "the altar" in Ezekiel 43:15 (see footnote 29b, Isaiah 29:1, LDS edition of the KJV); and Nephi translates the word as "Zion" in his record. (2 Nephi 27:3). In the JST Joseph Smith leaves the word Ariel in the text with no changes. Monte S. Nyman has suggested three alternatives as an explanation for these textual disparities. He concludes they relate to dual prophecy pertaining both to Zion and Jerusalem, since both cultures were brought low, and their records speak as if from the dust of their destruction, and the reality that the Prophet could not complete the text in his lifetime. (The Joseph Smith Translation, 126).
Were Joseph Smith an impostor trying to cover his tracks in everything he professed to have come from God, I suggest he certainly would have had the presence of mind to clean up the record a little better, rather than leaving a lot of obvious inconsistencies. It is far more palatable and believable to assert as we do that he was God's chosen instrument and was martyred in his prime by assassins, than to condemn his work as the product of a deranged egocentric.
Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices.
Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow; for thus hath the Lord said unto me, It shall be unto Ariel;
That I the Lord will camp against her round about, and will lay siege against her with a mount, and I will raise forts against her.
And she shall be brought down, and shall speak out of the ground, and her speech shall be low out of the dust; and her voice shall be as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and her speech shall whisper out of the dust.
Moreover the multitude of her strangers shall be like small dust, and the multitude of the terrible ones shall be as chaff that passeth away; yea, it shall be at an instant suddenly.
For they shall be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.
And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, even all that fight against her and her munition, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision.
Yea, is shall be unto them even as unto a hungry man who dreameth, and behold, he eateth, but he awaketh and his soul is empty; or like unto a thirsty man who dreameth, and behold, he drinketh, but he awaketh, and behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite. Yea, even so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against mount Zion.
Isaiah 30:1-3, 8-14, 18-22
Israel anciently rejected her prophets and seers, and trusted in the arm of flesh. The types and shadows of those earlier events as they point to the future day in which we live are compelling as we examine our circumstances in the world today. Isaiah, speaking for the Lord, condemns Israel for her lack of faith but inevitably holds out the promises of the establishment of Zion in the last days for those who are faithful to the call of the gathering. In that future day Israel will finally cast away her idols. The closing verses of this chapter are filled with the promise that the Lord will destroy the wicked in a future day (then and now) of apostasy. But the earlier verses describe in detail how completely the people had rejected the prophets God sent to them.
The modern type in similitude of ancient Egypt’s power and glory is the American economy today, the only “superpower” left in the world. To forsake our trust in the illusory power of the mortal arm of flesh and to turn to God is the ideal. Consider how far ancient Israel had slipped when all they wanted from the prophet was to hear “smooth things” and prophecies that were full of “deceit.” Israel today, it would seem, wants a cheerleader instead of the warning voice God gives through Isaiah and the modern prophet about the destruction of the last days that will come upon Israel “suddenly at an instant.” It should be of particular concern to the Latter-day Saints when we hear today’s Prophet almost apologize for even seeming to prophesy.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said in the General Priesthood Session, October 2, 1998, “Now, brethren, I want to make it very clear that I am not prophesying, that I am not predicting years of famine in the future. But I am suggesting that the time has come to get our houses in order.” We need only examine our own hearts here – the Prophet is not on trial. We need to ask, “Is my rebellion against the word of the Lord causing His mouthpiece on the earth in my day to be reduced from ‘prophesying’ to ‘suggesting?’” [At this writing, one week after terrorists toppled the World Trade Center twin towers on September 11, 2001, many and varied are the predictions of economic difficulties that lie ahead for America. The stock market has plunged, America is now at war against terrorists, and there are compelling evidences of troubled times ahead. The airline industry – manufacturers and carriers – for example, immediately laid off close to 100,000 workers in response to the immediate decrease in passengers, and the leaders in that industry asked Congress for $40 billion in financial assistance to stay afloat (they received $15 billion). It would appear that President Hinckley was indeed prophesying! Now, one year later, the airline industry is near bankruptcy]. When I wrote that last editorial note in 2001, little could I imagine then the depth and breadth of the Bush and Obama adminstration's bailout orgy of 2008-09, now amounting not to mere billions but trillions of dollars! It boggles the logical mind to think that such a path of deficit spending and borrowing is sustainable.
The promise that the people will "dwell in Zion at Jerusalem" (verse 19) gives rise to the speculation in my heart that Enoch and his society were perhaps translated from the American continent as the type and shadow of Zion in New Jerusalem to be established at Independence, Jackson County. Further, Melchizedek and his society were likely "taken up" (the JST says, "his people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven" -- see JST 14:34) from Salem as the type and shadow of Zion to be established in Jerusalem. I've never heard anyone offer that explanation, so I've tried to bury it in the middle of this text and label it appropriately as "speculation." In all the events of the Restoration, however, it strikes me as odd that both Enoch and Melchizedek, two of the greatest patriarchs we know anything about, are conspicuously absent.
Knowing our glorious destiny, why do we linger on the desert floor of the love of this world, when Zion is calling to us to exercise our faith and call upon God to deliver us from bondage? There is the usual bad news – Israel’s rejection of God – then the good news: Zion will be reclaimed and established in our day:
Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:
That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!
Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.
Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:
That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:
Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.
Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon:
Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.
And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters' vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.
And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.
For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:
And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the ornament of thy molten images of gold: thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence.
The Lord chastises Israel again for leaning upon Egypt, the type for worldliness throughout the scriptures. The message is consistent -- Isaiah says again that we must turn away from the world and all it allurements, not rely upon the things that fail, but put our faith in the God of Israel who is about to destroy the wickedness of the works of men's hands. The pattern of this chapter is consistent with all Isaiah's writings -- first comes the rebuke, then the promise of future redemption. The metaphor "like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey" (see verse 4) deserves closer attention in yet another parallel in The Book of Mormon. (See 3 Nephi 21:12-29, where Christ speaking to the Nephites gives commentary concerning this metaphor. He says the remnant of Jacob, "my people" as he calls them, will be as the young lion that is the instrument of destruction among the Gentiles who possess America, the land of their inheritance, if the Gentiles do not repent and embrace the gospel. The Gentiles who do repent are numbered with the house of Israel, and given the blessing of assisting in the building of New Jerusalem. In the dedicatory prayer at the Kirtland Temple Joseph Smith identifies us with the Gentiles [see D&C 109:60]. How can we be referred to as “Gentiles” and yet we know we are Israelites? By way of clarification, Joseph speaks of us [most of whom are of the tribe of Ephraim by spiritual birthright] as Gentiles in the nationalistic sense, in that America is a Gentile nation. The rough equivalent would be like saying we are Utah Mormons who live in America).
Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!
Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity.
Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together.
For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.
As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it.
Turn ye unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted.
For in that day every man shall cast away his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which your own hands have made unto you for a sin.
Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man; and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him: but he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be discomfited.
And he shall pass over to his strong hold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, saith the LORD, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.
Isaiah 33:5, 14, 20
Isaiah's themes are now familiar to us, and they repeat themselves again in this chapter. Apostasy and wickedness precede the Second Coming, judgment will be poured out upon the world, Zion and her stakes shall never be removed, and they shall be perfected. The imagery of the stakes of Zion is more easily understood given a mental picture of the portable tabernacle of Moses that served as the predecessor of Solomon's Temple at Jerusalem. (See Exodus 25-27; D&C 101:16-21; Isaiah 54:2-7). The outlying stakes surround the "centerstake," and the promise is that none "shall ever be removed." (See D&C 101:17).
The LORD is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness.
The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?
Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, 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.
Isaiah 34:8, 16-17
Isaiah warns that the Second Coming will occur after vengeance and judgment, his indignation shall be upon all nations, and his sword will fall upon the world. The doctrinal themes of the signs preceding the Lord's coming include the heavens being rolled together as a scroll (see verse 4, and JST Revelation 6:14; D&C 88:95; 101:23), the stars falling, or appearing as though they are falling (see verse 4, and Revelation 6:13; D&C 88:87), and the sword of God being "bathed in heaven" and poised to fall upon Idumea. (Idumea is the Hebrew translation of "Edom," yet another type like Egypt and Babylon, meaning the world. This definition is upheld by Joseph Smith's use of the word in D&C 1:36. The phrase "his sword is bathed in heaven," is an idiomatic expression used in fencing parlance to describe an unsheathed sword, drawn and prepared for battle). The visions of futurity given to all prophets in every dispensation are one continuous appeal for obedience, repentance, and sacrifice, for surely God's words will all be fulfilled.
For it is the day of the LORD'S vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion.
I am including verses 16 and 17 in this compilation, for surely they relate to our subject of Zion. On the surface it would appear that Joseph made only a slight variation in changing the pronouns, but the doctrinal implications relate to those who have their callings and elections made sure, a shared experience between husband and wife. For comparison's sake I have shown the texts side by side of the KJV and the JST. While this may not seem a significant point, it is yet another insight into the depth of understanding the Prophet was accumulating even in the developmental stages of the sealing doctrines and ordinances of the Kingdom.
KJV Isaiah 34:16-17
Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.
And he hath cast the lot for them, and his hand hath divided it unto them by line: they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein.
JST Isaiah 34:16 17
Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read the names written therein; no one of these shall fail; none shall want their mate; for my mouth it hath commanded, and my Spirit it hath gathered them.
And I have cast the lot for them, and I have divided it unto them by line; they shall possess it for ever; from generation to generation they shall dwell therein.