Lesson 30: Isaiah Prophecies of Judgment on all the Earth

Reading Preperation:
  • Isaiah 29-32; 36-37
  • 2 Chronicles 29-32
  • 2 Nephi 27
Lesson Notes:
1. Introduction
I will continue with the format introduced in Chapter 29 of our text. First, I will provide an overview of the stated Isaiah chapters so that the reader may become familiar with the primary content and focus of Isaiah’s writings. Second, we will examine each individual chapter, noting those verses that are representative of the concept that Isaiah is addressing. We will also draw upon various commentators for further clarification or enlightenment. I believe in this manner, the reader will come to a better understanding of the truths that Isaiah has to offer each of us.
2. Overview of Isaiah Chapters
I am greatly indebted to Terry Ball and Nathan Winn whose summaries of the Isaiah chapters, I have here quoted.
2.1. Isaiah 29: A Book that is sealed
The original prophecy in Isaiah is directed to “Ariel,” the “city where David dwelt,” which is commonly understood to be Jerusalem (29:1). It foretells a time when Jerusalem will experience invasion, siege, disasters, and conquest, leaving its inhabitants to whisper from the grave like one who communicates with the dead through a necromancer, or familiar spirit(29:2-6). It further prophecies that the nations who fight against Jerusalem will not be satiated by their conquests and will eventually pass away like chaff (29:5, 7-8).
The prophecy then speaks of a time Latter-day Saints typically understand to be the Apostasy, a time when men spiritually stagger as if inebriated or in a deep sleep, for they have rejected the prophets, seers, and rulers (29:9-10, see also 2 Nephi 27:1-5). The books are sealed to them, and when the books are delivered cannot be read by them (see Joseph Smith-History 1:63-65; 2 Nephi 27:15-20). The apostates teach the precepts of men, and the desires of their hearts do not match the words of their lips (29:11-13). In response to such apostasy, we are told, God will intervene to perform a “marvelous work and a wonder” that will vanquish and expose the foolish who think themselves prudent, who suppose that they can hide their thoughts and activities from God and who seek to discount or explain away the work of God (29:14).
This great work will change the people’s values. The forests of Lebanon, a symbol of pride and arrogance (for example 2:13) will be replaced by fruitful fields, a symbol of righteous covenant people (29:17; see also example, 5:1-7; 27:2-6). The deaf will hear the “words of the book” that is to play a role in God’s marvelous work, and the blind will be given vision (29:18). They will sanctify God’s name, and those who erred will learn truth, while the scornful and conspirators will be brought to naught (29:20-24).
2.2. Isaiah 30: This Is the Way, Walk Ye In It
In the opening verses of Isaiah 30, the prophet again admonishes Israel and Judah against making alliances with Egypt to protect themselves from their enemies (30:1-2; compare Isaiah 13, 20, 31). Isaiah warns of the shame and failure that will accompany such an alliance (30:3-7). He then chastises the people for rejecting the Lord’s prophets and seers and for despising their teachings, trusting in their alliances and their own strength for deliverance rather than God (30:8-11, 15-17). With vivid imagery Isaiah describes the defeat the people will experience for their rebellion, warning that they are a ‘breach ready to fall,’ that they will be broken like the ‘potters’ vessel,’ and that ‘one thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one’ (30:13-14, 17).
The prophecy then turns from one of warning and rebuke to one of hope and encouragement. Isaiah assures the people that the Lord is gracious, merciful, patient, and willing to answer their cries (30:18-19). Though He gives them the bread of adversity and water of affliction when they are disobedient, yet He will give them righteous teachers to show them the way and will bless them abundantly with prosperity, productivity, and light as they repent (30:20-26).
In the closing verses of the chapter Isaiah returns to his apocalyptic theme, foretelling the ultimate victory of the Lord. He speaks again of the indignation of the Lord that will devour the evil, sift the nations, beat down the Assyrians, and kindle the burning of those ordained for destruction, while the faithful will celebrate His victory with song and gladness of heart (30:27-33).
2.3. Isaiah 31: Their Horses Are Flesh
Isaiah 31 is the last of a series of chapters warning Israel and Judah against trusting in Egypt for deliverance or protection from Assyria (compare Isaiah 18, 20, 30). Isaiah warns that though the Egyptian military resources may appear formidable, if the people choose to turn to Egypt for help rather than to the Lord, then ‘both he that helpeth’ and ‘he that is holpen’ will fall (31:3). The prophet then encourages the people to trust in God by assuring them that the Lord will fight for mount Zion and will defend and deliver Jerusalem (31:4-5). He promises Israel and Judah that as they turn unto God and put away their idols, the Assyrians will fall and flee back to their homes in fear, a promise realized as chronicled in Isaiah 36 and 37 (31:6-9).
2.4. Isaiah 32: Rise Up, Ye Women That Are At Ease
A description of the millennial reign of the king Messiah opens Isaiah 32. We learn that He ‘shall reign in righteousness,’ lead and protect His people, change the values and perspectives of humankind, and expose the wicked (32:1-8). The chapter closes with a beautiful portrayal of a faithful covenant people living in peace and prosperity (32:15-20). These prophecies of hope bracket a warning and rebuke given to the covenant people who are at ease here symbolized as women without are. They are admonished to hear the voice of God and cease being complacent, for famine and desolation await them (32:9-14). By placing this warning in the middle of the passage, the prophet emphasizes that the promised blessings of peace and prosperity are not intended for those who are at ease of careless.
2.5. Isaiah 36: But They Held Their Peace [Historical]
King Hezekiah had inherited Assyrian vassalage from his wicked father, Ahaz (7; 2 Kings 16:7-20). In 701 B.C. Assyria attacked Judah for Hezekiah’s failure to pay in the annual tribute they demanded… While attacking the city of Lachish, the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, sent his captain, Rabshakeh, to begin the siege of Jerusalem (36:1-3)… Standing outside the wall of the city he shouted threats to the people, warned that resistance would be futile, ridiculed their faith in Jehovah, mocked their defenses, and made empty promises if they would surrender (36:4-20). Had a wicked king ruled Jerusalem at the time, it likely would have fallen, as Isaiah foretold in chapter 22, but King Hezekiah trusted Jehovah and had inspired his people to do the same. Accordingly, the people followed Hezekiah’s instructions and refused to respond to Rabshakeh’s diatribe, holding their peace and answering him not a word (36:21-22).
2.6. Isaiah 37: Incline Thine Ear, O Lord, and Hear [Historical]
The account of the Assyrian invasion of Judah in 701 B.C. [begun in Isaiah 36] continues in Isaiah 37. After listening to the threats and ridicule of Rabshakeh (36:4-20), Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah, King Hezekiah’s representatives, rush to report to him. The wise king rent his clothes as a sign of grief, went to the temple to position the Lord, and sent his messengers to consult with Isaiah (37:1-5). The prophet [Isaiah] counseled the men to fear not and made four prophecies in the name of the Lord concerning the fate of the king of Assyria (37:6-7):
(1) God would send a blast, or plague upon him;
(2) The king would hear a rumor;
(3) The king would return to his own land;
(4) The king would fall by the sword in his own land.
The fulfillment of each of these prophecies is recorded in Isaiah 37. Following the conquest of Lachish, while attacking Libnah, Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, did indeed hear a rumor. He heard that Ethiopia was entering the war against him. Apparently fearing the consequences of having too many battlefronts, he sent a threatening letter to King Hezekiah, hoping to frighten the ruler of Judah into a quick surrender (37:8-13). King Hezekiah took the letter to the temple and spread it before the Lord as he pleaded for God’s help and direction (37:14-20). The Lord answered the faithful king’s fervent prayer through Isaiah, assuring him that the Assyrians would not come into the city or even shoot an arrow there (37:21-35).
That night the promised blast, or plague, befell the besieging Assyrian army as the angel of the Lord went through the camp, slaying the attackers (37:36). Giving up the campaign, Sennacherib returned as promised to his own land, where he was assassinated by two of his own sons (37:37-38). As Isaiah prophesied, the king of Assyria heard a rumor, suffered a “blast,” returned to his home, and died there by the sword. Though the Assyrians had invaded Judah like a flood, conquering many cities, reaching even up to the neck, Jerusalem, the head and capital, did not fall (8:7-8). Though the Assyrians had reached the spiritual center of the promised land, they enjoyed no victory but rather were broken and trodden under foot upon God’s mountain (14:24-25). Though their forces appeared an unconquerable foe, they were chased and dispersed like chaff in the wind (17:12-14)” (Making Sense of Isaiah. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2009, 86-87, 90-91, 93, 95, 104-105, 107-108).
3. Examination of Isaiah Chapters
In the previous chapters of Isaiah we have examined we have used Nephi’s commentary as noted in the Book of Mormon. Nephi has then included or quoted the corresponding chapter as was recorded on the Brass plates. In Isaiah 29, Nephi does not quote all of Isaiah’s writing, but instead adds his own commentary to specific verses in Isaiah. It does this by “likening” Isaiah’s writing to his people, the Nephites, as well as to us the readers of the Book of Mormon.
Robert A. Cloward notes,
“Isaiah 29 is not [completely] found in the Book of Mormon where readers usually look, that is, in 2 Nephi 27. The intent and meaning of Isaiah 29 are found in 2 Nephi 25:9-20. The first section of Nephi’s “own prophecy” deals with Jerusalem and the Jews, just as Isaiah 29 does. [In the second section]… He [Nephi] is no longer speaking of Jerusalem. He has “likened” the words of Isaiah 29 to his own people and to the gentiles” [204].[Thus] Nephi is not paraphrasing 2 Nephi 26:15-27:35, that is giving new words to the same meaning, he is “Likening” meaning he is giving new meaning for the same words [239]” (“Isaiah 29 and the Book of Mormon” in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, Provo: FARMS (Neal A. Maxwell Institute), 1998, 204, 239).
3.1. Isaiah 29; 2 Nephi 25:9-20 – 27:35
Isaiah 29:1-2 JST, Isaiah 29:1-2
1 Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices. 1 Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! Add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices.
2 Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow: and it shall be unto me as Ariel. 2 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.
David R. Minert states,
“Isaiah now pronounces judgment upon Jerusalem and the temple of Solomon. He testifies that the day will soon come that the Jewish people will continue to offer sacrifices and observe the law of Moses even after that law has been fulfilled… Isaiah is told to prophesy by the voice of the Lord that the Israelites in Jerusalem and throughout the nation will be punished (for their rejection of the Savior” (Simplified Isaiah for the Latter-Day Saints. Orem: Granite Publishing & Distribution L.L.C., 2006, 106-107).
Nephi adds his witness as a prophet as to why the Jews will be destroyed.
2 Nephi 26:9-13
9 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.
10 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,… they have been destroyed, save it be those which have been carried away captive into Babylon.
11 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.
12 But, behold they shall have wars, and rumors of wars; and when the day cometh that the Only Begotten of the Father,… shall manifest himself unto them in the flesh, behold they will reject him, because of their iniquities, and the hardness of their hearts, and the stiffness of their necks.
13 Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in a sepulcher for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings; and all those who shall believe on his name shall be saved in the kingdom of God…
Just as Isaiah saw the destruction of Jerusalem, Nephi also witnessed their destruction and then being taken captive by Babylon. Following the return of the Jews to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of their city and temple, Nephi saw both the birth and crucifixion of their Messiah. He then saw a second destruction of Jerusalem and scattering of the Jews.
2 Nephi 25:14-15
14 And behold it shall come to pass that after the Messiah hath risen from the dead, and hath manifested himself unto his people, unto as many as will believe on his name, behold, Jerusalem shall be destroyed again; for wo unto them that fight against God and the people of his church.
15 Wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered among all nations; yea, and also Babylon shall be destroyed; wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered by other nations.
Isaiah 29:4
4 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 switches at this point in his prophecy of Jerusalem to the destruction of another nation located in the America’s, the Nephites. The Nephites originally consisted of Lehi and his family who left Jerusalem in 600 B.C. They developed a civilization, had scriptures and were taught by prophets. They kept a record of their history on plates of ore. Their record includes a visit made by Jesus Christ following his death and resurrection. Prior to the destruction of the Nephite civilization in 400 A.D., the plates were buried in the ground. Centuries later, 1830 A.D., these plates were delivered to Joseph Smith. Through the power of God, they were translated and published to the world as the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Isaiah is referring to this record.
Isaiah 29:5
5 Moreover the multitude of thy 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.
Nephi’s commentary regarding this verse provides further insight.
2 Nephi 26:18-19
18 Wherefore, as those who have been destroyed have been destroyed speedly; and the multitude of their terrible ones shall be as chaff that passeth away—yea, thus saith the Lord God: It shall be at an instant suddenly—
19 And it shall come to pass, that those who have dwindled in unbelief shall be smitten by the hand of the Gentiles.
Isaiah 29:6
6 Thou shalt 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.
Nephi, in his commentary, offer a timetable for when the outpouring noted by Isaiah shall occur.
2 Nephi 27:1-2
1 But, behold, in the last days, or in the days of the Gentiles—year, behold all the nations of the Gentiles and also the Jews, both those who shall come upon this land and those who shall be upon other lands, yea, even upon all the lands of the earth, behold, they will be drunken with iniquity and all manner of abominations-
2 And when that day shall come they shall be visited of the Lord of Hosts, with thunder and with earthquake, and with a great noise, and with storm, and with tempest, and with the flame of devouring fire.
According to Nephi, Isaiah’s prophecy is regarding the last days when many of the inhabitants of the earth will be “drunken with iniquity and all manner of abominations”.
Isaiah 29:7-8 2 Nephi 27:3
7 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. 3 And all the nations that fight against Zion, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision; yea, it shall be unto them, even as unto a hungry man which dreameth, and behold he eateth but he awaketh and his soul is empty; or like unto a thirsty man which 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.
8 It shall be even as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh,and his soul is empty; or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion.
Nephi clarifies that Ariel is Zion or the kingdom established by the Lord in the latter days. Its citizens are those who have made sacred covenants of obedience. When they are persecuted by the unrighteous of the world, the Lord will be their protector.
Isaiah 29:9 2 Nephi 27:4
9 Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. 4 For behold, all ye that doeth iniquity, stay yourselves and wonder, for ye shall cry out, and cry; yea, ye shall be drunken but not with wine, ye shall stagger but not with strong drink.
Nephi clarified to whom Isaiah is speaking. It is possible that Nephi and Isaiah are describing the reaction of the wicked to the calamities of nature that shall occur including floods and earthquakes which shall cause great pain and disorientation to those who are afflicted.
Isaiah 29:10 2 Nephi 27:5
10 For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes; the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. 5 For behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers, and the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity.
Nephi clarifies that while it is the Lord who will bring upon the wicked a “deep sleep” [no longer speaks?], it will because they have rejected the words of the Lord as given through his servants, the prophets.
Isaiah now speaks specifically of an event in the last days when a book will be brought forth to the world. Initially the characters from a book will be brought to the learned from a book that is partly sealed. When the entire book cannot be brought to him from which these characters originated, he will refuse there translation. The book will be delivered to one who is not learned and he will state, he is not learned.
Isaiah 29:11-12 2 Nephi 27:15-21
11 And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed. 15 But behold, it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book: Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying: Read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say: Bring heither the book, and I will read them.
16 And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God.
17 and the man shall say: I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed.
18 Then shall the learned say: I cannot read it.
12 And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. 19 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned shall say: I am not learned.
20 Then shall the Lord God say unto him: the learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.
21 Touch not the things which are sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work.
The following quotes the words of Martin Harris which he shared with Joseph Smith upon his return from his visit to New York. The “characters” he references are those given to him by Joseph Smith. These were taken directly from the plates he had received from the angel Moroni:
Martin Harris states,
“I went to the city of New York, and presented the characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments [Professor Charles Anton is of Columbia College (later Columbia University}. Professor Anthon stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those which were not translated, and he said that they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyric, and Arabic; and he said that they were true characters. He gave me a certificate, certifying to the people of Palmyra [New York] that they were true characters, and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct. I took the certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr. Anthon called me back, and asked me how the young man found out that there were good plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him.
He then said to me, “Let me see that certificate.” I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it to him, when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying, that there was no such thing now as ministering angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him, he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, “I cannot read a sealed book.” I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation” (History of the Church 1. Edited by B.H. Roberts. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1969, Second Edition, Revised, 20).
As in all material presented in this text, the reader must judge for themselves the accuracy of this report.
Isaiah 29:13; 2 Nephi 27:24 (no changes)
13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
Jesus confirmed the words He had previously spoken to to Isaiah and Nephi as He addressed the scribes and the Pharisees when he lived upon the earth.
Matthew 15:7-9; [see also Mark 7:6-7]
7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias [Isaiah] prophecy of you [all hypocrites] saying,
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of me.
What action will the Lord take, according to Isaiah, in an effort to thwart the evil designs of men who attempt to thwart the work of the Lord among the righteous?
Isaiah 29:14 2 Nephi 27:26
14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. 26 Therefore, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, yea, a marvelous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid.
Nephi earlier in his writings had also addressed the marvelous work and wonder which the Lord would do and its purpose.
1 Nephi 14:7
7 For the time cometh, said the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other—either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity, and also into destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the devil, of which I have spoken.
The marvelous work and wonder occurred with the publication of the Book of Moron and when the Lord restored upon the earth his church on April 6, 1830, complete with the doctrine of salvation and eternal life. Previously He had bestowed once again upon the earth, the authority to act in his name. His Church, established in these latter days, is build upon a foundation of prophets and apostles to whom He continues to reveal his word to his people, just as he did thought his prophets of old.
Isaiah 29:15 2 Nephi 28:9
15 Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? 9 Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark.
It is my opinion that both Isaiah and Nephi are referring to the period in Christian history known as the apostasy. The prophet Amos had previously warned of this time.
Amos 8:11-12
11 Behold, the days come, said the Lord God,that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the words of the the LORD:
12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.
This famine or period of absence of the word of the Lord was then filled by those whose work was in darkness or not motivated by righteous purpose and often was not based on the true teachings of Jesus Christ. The foundation of their teachings may be best describe as being based upon “the learning of men mingled with scriptures.”
Isaiah 29:20-21 2 Nephi 27:31-32
20 For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off: 31 For assuredly as the Lord liveth they shall see that the terrible one is brought to naught, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off;
21 That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a things of naught. 32 And they that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for the thing of naught.
The Lord will not allow the works of those who are evil to succeed, but eventually will bring their works of darkness into the light of truth. As noted in Ecclesiastes, “He that diggeth a pit [false teachings] shall fall into it [will be exposed]” (Ecclesiastes 10:8).
Isaiah 29:22 1 Nephi 15:19-20
22 Therefore thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. 19 and it came to pass that I, Nephi, spake… unto them concerning the restoration of the Jews in the latter days.
20 And I did rehearse unto them the words of Isaiah, who spake concerning the restoration of the Jews, or of the house of Israel [Jacob]; and after they are restored they should not more be confounded, neither should they be scattered again…
Eventually, as Isaiah and Nephi note, Israel or the house of Jacob, will be restored in the latter days, never again to be confounded or scattered. At that time, they will recognize their Messiah and receive his teachings.
Isaiah 29:24
24 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured learn doctrine.
Orson Pratt offers the following commentary regarding this verse in Isaiah,
“Oh, How precious must be the contents of a book which shall deliver us from all the errors taught by the precepts of uninspired men! Oh, how gratifying to poor, ignorant, erring mortals who have murmured because of the multiplicity of contradictor doctrines that have perplexed and distracted their minds, to read the plain, pure and more precious word of God, revealed in the Book of Mormon! It is like bread to the hungry-like the cool refreshing fountain to him that is ready to perish with thirst. Lift up your heads ye meek of the earth; let the poor among men rejoice in the Holy One of Israel; let them that have erred in spirit and stumbled in judgment, drink from the fountain of understanding; let all that have murmured because of the uncertainty of the precepts of men, read the words of the book, and they “shall learn doctrine;” let the humble and contrite in heart among all nations be exceedingly glad, for the hour of their redemption from Babylon is at hand; let all Israel praise the God of their fathers in songs of everlasting joy; for that which He spake by the mouth of their prophets, concerning their restoration to their lands is at hand to be fulfilled; already has the book which Isaiah said should accomplish your restoration and turn Lebanon into a fruitful field, made its appearance; and it truly is “a marvelous work—even a marvelous work and a wonder!” (Orson Pratt’s Works on the Doctrines of the Gospel. Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1945, 278-279).
I believe that Isaiah, along with Nephi, saw the coming forth of the Book of Mormon through the unlearned boy, Joseph Smith, and the restoration of the Lord’s Church in the latter days. These are important events for each member of the house of Jacob or Israel.
3.2. Isaiah 30-31: Isaiah denounces leaders in Jerusalem and warns against military alliance with Egypt.
Isaiah 30:1-2
1 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:
2 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.
What is the sin that Isaiah is addressing? The leaders of Judah, rather than turning to the Lord for protection, have chosen to rely upon the strength of a foreign nation for protection! They have sought military power over spiritual strength.
The Old Testament student manual states,
“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 form the Assyrians” (Old Testament student manual: 1 Kings—Malachi. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, Second Edition, 166).
Isaiah reference to Judah as “rebellious children” refers to the truth that when the Lord gives counsel on political matters, or any matter, and his children choose to ignore the warning, it is counted by the Lord as a manifestation of wicked rebellion on the part of his people.
Isaiah 30:3, 5, 7
3 Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.
5 They were all ashamed of a people that could not profit them, nor be an help nor profit, but a shame, and also a reproach.
7 For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still.
The decision by the leaders to proceed against the Lord’s direction to form the alliance with Egypt will ultimately fail for when Judah is in need of assistance, Egypt will not honor their agreement. Egypt sees no benefit to themselves to form an alliance with a lesser nation. It of interest to note that Isaiah’s direction to Judah’s leaders is also sit still. Isaiah cautions that if Judah continues to pursue a military alliance with Egypt, that will provoke Assyria to attack Judah before they go down to Egypt.
Isaiah 30:8-11
8 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:
9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:
10 What say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.
In these verses, Isaiah brings further evidence against Judah for her rebellion against the Lord. He is requesting that these charges be recorded for the benefit of future generations. Judah will not obey the law of the Lord; she will not heed the counsel of her prophets and seers, but instead seeks for advice that pleases her, and by rejecting the word of the prophets, she is also rejecting the word of the Lord.
An important lesson for us to learn is to follow the direction of the living prophet, even if it goes contrary to our own opinion. False prophets always tell the people what they want to hear, rather than what is true. True prophets always tell the truth even when their counsel is not in keeping with popular opinion or in keeping with current practices, and it often also requires changes in the lives of the righteous. It is also important that when we seek the Lord’s direction in our lives that we should follow the promptings rather than following our own wisdom. The Lord will never lead us astray.
Before we proceed, I would like to share another perspective regarding the prior verses, especially Isaiah 30:1-8. I wish to express my appreciations to Monte S. Nyman and Ivan D. Sanderson.
Monte S. Nyman notes,
In the King James Bible, [Isaiah 30:8] ‘the time to come for ever and ever’ refers to footnote 3. Heb. The latter days. This “marginal note… [therefore] specifically identifies [Isaiah’s reference] to ‘the latter days’ (King James Bible. n.p., 902; also see Great are the Words of Isaiah. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980, 121).
Ivan D. Sanderson notes,
“In the latter days, the modern superpower equivalent of Egypt—would not be willing to assist Israel when the modern equivalent of Assyria threatens to attack” (Isaiah: The Times of Fulfillment. Salt Lake City: Westbench Publishing, 2009, 298).
These two factors which Isaiah saw in vision may involve the final battle in the last days as, according to Zechariah, “… all the people of the earth [will] be gathered against it” [Judah and Jerusalem] (12:3). We learn in Revelations, “and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” and the only defense against the complete destruction of Jerusalem by the nations of the world will be “my two witnesses and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth” (11:2-3).
The gathering of all nations against Israel in the latter days may be proceeded, according to Isaiah’s vision, by America defaulting on her military treaty with Israel. The reasons offered initially by Egypt to Judah, according to Isaiah, may then be given by America in the latter days. In this manner Isaiah is speaking not only to those of his days, but also to us in the latter days. As we will learn in Isaiah, Chapters 36-37, it will be the Lord God in heaven who will intervene to protect Judah from the Assyrians, not Egypt. In the latter days, according to Zechariah (Chpts.12-14) and John the Revelator (Rev. 11), it will also be the Lord who will spare the remaining inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah against total destruction, not America, or any other military super power.
Isaiah 30:11-13
11 Get ye out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.
12 Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon:
13 Therefore this iniquity shall be to us as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.
When the leaders of Judah chose to ignored the warnings of the prophet Isaiah, the Lord withdrew his protective hand from her. In her rebellion, Judah chose to continue to pursue a course of “oppression and perverseness.” This course will only end in disaster. Like a weak spot in a wall that breaks without warning, Judah will suffer defeat by her enemies. Repentance is Judah’s only option.
Isaiah 30:18-21
18 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.
19 For the people shall dwell in Zion in Jerusalem: thou shall 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.
20 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 eye shall see thy teachers:
21 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.
Monte S. Nyman states,
“These verses are the message of hope which Isaiah holds out for the time when Jerusalem shall become a Zion society, when the Lord will hear Israel’s prayers and answer them. The Jewish Publication Society Translation capitalizes and singularizes the word “Teacher” in verse 20, showing that they consider the verse to be a messianic prophecy of the time following their affliction among the nations, when they shall see the Messiah among them. But verse 21 shows that the Holy Ghost will also be their guide” (Great Are the Words of Isaiah. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980, 121).
While the Lord may seem distance to Judah due to her disobedience, he will never be far from her. The time will come when Judah will again be granted mercy after she has gone through a period of adversity and affliction. We will see that during the reforms initiated during the reign of king Hezekiah In the latter days, when Jerusalem embraces her Messiah and follows the counsel of the Lord, she will then know continual peace. Until she can have the presence of her Messiah to abide with her, she will have the promptings of the Holy Ghost to give her the guidance and direction to help her walk on the correct path.
Isaiah 30:22-23
22 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.
23 Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.
As Judah rids herself of her idolatrous ways and disposes of her graven images, and hearkens to the words of the Lord’s prophets, the Lord will bless her as a nation. He will provide the necessary rain in season so that she will have sufficient nourishment and resources to provide for the increase in her population. She will be noted for her prosperity amongst her neighbors.
Isaiah 30:26
26 Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of this people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.
At the time when Judah shall prosper, great light or heavenly inspiration will be given from the Lord. This light will serve to “bindth up the breach [note: breach in vs. 13 that suddenly fell will be repaired] and he will heal “the stroke of their wound” [wounds created by prior wickedness] At this time, peace and harmony will be widespread amongst her people. This condition will occur in its fullness following the Lord’s return to the earth.
B/M, 2 Nephi 30:7
7 And it shall come to pass that the Jews which are scattered also shall begin to believe in Christ: and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land: and as many as shall believe in Christ shall also become a delightsome people.
Isaiah 30:27-28, 30-31
27 Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire:
28 And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people causing them to err.
30 And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones.
31 For though the voice of the LORD shall the Assyrian be beater down, which smote with a rod.
The King James Bible states,
The footnote in Isaiah 30:27 states, “name of the LORD: a symbol of his power will come to destroy ‘Assyria’ or wickedness (see v. 31)” (King James Bible. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1979, 898).
Isaiah is describing the devastation that Judah will receive at the hand of Assyrians due to her wickedness and disobedience, however for the sake of the righteous, the Lord will intervene and Assyria will be beaten down. The Lord uses, as he sees fit, other nations to vex his children so that they will continue to be humble and to remember the covenants which they have made.
3.3. Isaiah 31: Israel reproved for turning to Egypt for help
Isaiah 31:1
1 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!
While Isaiah specifically castigates Judah for turning to Egypt for military assistance against the Assyrians, it appears to me that his greater concern is that Israel chose not to turn to the Lord nor to listen to his prophets. There trust is in “the arm of flesh,” rather in their God.
Isaiah 31:3
3 Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together.
Not only Judah, but each of us, when we turn to sources other than to the Lord for our protection, there will be times when they will fail us. We will be disappointed for no source can grant us the protection and guidance that the Lord can offer us.
Isaiah 31:4-5
4 For thus hath the LORD spoke unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion rearing 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
5 As birds flying, so will the LORD of host defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it.
The Lord has promised through his prophet to defend Judah against her enemies. Just as the lion need not be afraid of the shepherds when they are making noise, neither need Judah be afraid when her enemies make threats against her. The Lord will fulfill his promise of protection to Judah if she will hearken to the voice of his prophets.
Isaiah 31:6
6 Turn ye unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted.
Isaiah pleads with Judah not to be like their Northern nights who just 16 years (721 B.C.) earlier had been destroyed by the Assyrians and lead off into captivity. In 705 B.C., the Assyrian under Sennacherib, are going to conquer several cities in Judah and will be prepared to destroy the city of Jerusalem if the Jews do not repent and hearken to the warning of the Lord.
Isaiah 31:8
8 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 sword, and his young men shall be discomfited.
Isaiah warns Judah not to be like her northern neighbors and then prophecies that the Assyrians will be at the city walls of Jerusalem. He adds, they will not destroy Jerusalem. They will instead suffer defeat by a power other than military force! While many of the inhabitants expected Assyrian to attack Judah, they would have been shocked to learn that Assyria, not Judah, would be defeated but, it would not occur by military might!
Isaiah 31:9
9 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.
Ivan D. Sanderson states,
“The Assyrians and their modern analog, will be struck with terror as they flee from the destructive power of the Lord. “Zion” means both a place of lattr-day spiritual gathering and the temple at Jerusalem. “Fire” and “furnace” both refer to the fires of destruction that await the wicked in the latter days, thus protecting the righteous” (Isaiah: The Times of Fulfillment. Salt Lake City: Westbench Publishing, 2009, 311).
We learn from modern day revelation that due to the righteousness of those of the latter days who chose to gather to Zion, they will be protected from their enemies, who like the Assyrians of Isaiah’s day, sought to destroy the city of Jerusalem.
Doctrine and Covenants 45:69-70
69 And there shall be gathered unto it [Zion] out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another.
70 And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand.
We shall learn that the power that defeated the Assyrians was not military force, but the power of the Lord. This power will again be manifest in the latter days as the wicked then will seek to destroy the city of Zion. Due however to the righteousness of her inhabitants, the Lord’s power will be manifest and the wicked will not be successful.
3.4. 2 Chronicles 29-31 and Isaiah 36-37
Sandwiched between the reign of his wicked father, Ahaz, and his son, Menasseh, is the reign of king Hezekiah. He will reign from 726-697 B.C. One of his advisors is the prophet Isaiah.
As soon as Hezekiah began to rule Judah, he began implementing a number of reforms that would return the nation once again to a kinship relationship with the Lord. In his speech to the priests and Levities, king Hezekiah stated his purpose for beginning his reign with the restoration of the temple.
2 Chronicles 29:6-9
6 For our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the LORD [Temple], and turned their backs.
7 Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy place unto the God of Israel.
8 Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes.
9 For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons, and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this.
Andrew C. Skinner observed,
“The message, therefore, seems clear for every group in every dispensation which has placed itself in a covenant relationship to God through temple ordinances: community well-being depends on purity and exactness in temple worship (2 Chronicles 29:10-11)” (“The Reign of Hezekiah,” in Studies in Scripture 4. Edited by Kent P. Jackson. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993, 76).
King Hezekiah knew what many nations and governments have not yet learned, namely if you want to have a strong nation, you must insure that the spiritual foundation upon which all nations succeed or fall is strong. In the United States, Judeo-Christian values were supported by our forefathers who knew this fact from their study of history. When any nations fails, it is because they have passed laws that disregard the fundamental rights of her citizens and also had disregard for the moral character of her people thereby contributing to the breakdown of the family. These factors are major contributors leading to the collapse of any nation.
Hezekiah began his reform with the cleansing of the temple. He admonished the priests and Levities by directing them to first “sanctify now yourselves and sanctify the house of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 29:4-5). He admonished those who would serve in the house of the Lord.
2 Chronicles 29:11
11 My sons, be not now negligent: for the LORD hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense.
Having completed their task and now made the temple ready, they reported back to their king.
2 Chronicles 29:18-19
18 Then they went in to Hezekiah the king, and said, we have cleanse all the house of the LORD, and the altar of burnt offering, with all the vessels thereof, and the showbread table, with all the vessels thereof.
19 Moreover all the vessels, which king Ahaz in his reign did cast away in his transgression, have we prepared and sanctified, and, behold, they are before the altar of the LORD.
Hezekiah then “gathered all the rulers of the city and went up to the house of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 29:20). While gathered in the temple, a “sin offering” was made unto the then and then “before the king and all the congregation” they made “an atonement for all Israel” (2 Chronicles 29:23-24). Hezekiah then spoke to those who were assembled.
2 Chronicles 29:31
31 …Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings.
The purpose of cleansing the temple, restoring the priests and Levities to serve in the temple and inviting the congregation to again offer sacrifices in the temple was to spiritually cleanse Judah following their period of wickedness and to offer them the opportunity to renew their covenants with the Lord.
The next step Hezekiah instigates is to invite all Israel to come to Jerusalem and partake of the Passover. The Passover is a celebration held yearly in remembrance of the Lord having passed over the homes of the Israelites and killed the first child of Egyptians while they were being held captive in Egypt (see Exodus 12:21-23). It was this miracle that persuaded the Pharaoh to let the children of Israel, under Moses, to leave Egypt.
The invitation stated,
2 Chronicles 30:7-8
7 And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the LORD God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see.
8 Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your father were, but yield yourselves unto the LORD, and enter into his sanctuary, where he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.
Some rejected his invitation to gather in Jerusalem but, many came.
2 Chronicles 30:25, 27
25 And all the congregation of Judah, with the priests and the Levities, and all the congregation that came out of the land of Israel, and the strangers that came out of the land of Israel, and that dwelt in Judah, rejoiced.
27 Then the priests the Levites arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, even unto heaven.
The final reformation of Hezekiah’s cleansing of Judah occurred following the celebration in Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 31:1
1 Now when all this was finished, all Israel that was present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned, ever man to his possession, into their own cities.
Having completed the reforms of the country, Hezekiah is now prepared to lead Israel in righteousness and independence from Assyria.
W. Cleon Skousen states,
“Although King Ahaz, Hezekiah’s father, had paid tribute to Assyria, the current king of Judah felt the strength of Judah’s new independence made it possible to remain aloof. Sennarcherib promptly dispatched some of his troops against Judah’s military outposts and “fences cities” with devastating results (2 Kings 18:13). Hezekiah therefore prepared for the siege of Jerusalem which thereafter appeared inevitable” (The Fourth Thousand Years. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1972, Sixth Printing, 556).
In 705 B.C., the Assyrians under king Sennacherib, will invade Judah and destroy many of her cities. In preparation for Sennacherib’s conquest against Jerusalem, He “stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land;… he strengthened himself, and build up all the wall that was broken;… and made darts and shields in abundance” (2 Chronicles 32:3-5). He then prepared the people.
2 Chronicles 32:7-8
7 Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him;
8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
When Sennacherib arrives at the walls of the city, he does not attack. He begins instead a war of words designed to frighten the inhabitants. His attack is on two fronts: (1) disparage the effectiveness of their king to resist, and (2) to cause them to doubt any assistance from their God.
Isaiah 36:13-14, 18
13 … Hear ye the words of the great king, the king of Assyria.
14 Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you
18 Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, The LORD will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?
The words of the Assyrian general were effective. The people and their king were frightened. (see Isaiah 36:22-37:1). They turn to Isaiah for guidance and direction.
Isaiah 37:6-7
6 And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your master [king Hezekiah], Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard wherewith the servant of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.
7 Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour [report, or tidings], and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.
Upon hearing Isaiah response and another communication from the Assyrian king, Hezekiah enters the House of the Lord and petitions the Lord in prayer.
Isaiah 37:14, 18, 20
14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messenger, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.
18 Of a truth, LORD, the king of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries,
20 Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only.
Hezekiah knows that Assyria is a formidable opponent and that king Sennacherib has the power to destroy the city of Jerusalem. In faith, Hezekiah also knows that the Lord has the power to destroy the Assyrian forces and in humility seeks his intervention.
Isaiah 37:21-23
21 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent unto Hezekiah saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria:
22 This is the word which the LORD hath spoken concerning him; the virgin, the daughter of Zion, hat despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee.
23 Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel.
Ivan D. Sanderson states,
“In verse 22 Isaiah proclaims the word of the Lord, first speaking against Sennacherib: ‘This is the word which the LORD hath spoken concerning him; the virgin, the daughter of Zion, that despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee.’ The phrase “the virgin, the daughter of Zion’ is chiastically equivalent to ‘the daughter of Jerusalem;’ as used here, it means the city of Jerusalem (see 2 Kings 19:21, 31; Psalms 9:14; 51:18; Isaiah 10:32; 16:1; 52:2; 62:11). Equivalency of ‘daughter of Zion’ and ‘daughter of Jerusalem’ reflects the dual nature of the prophecy and its fulfillment in two different periods of history… The Lord defended Jerusalem at the time of Hezekiah and will defend Zion in the latter days, both in a similar manner and both in fulfillment of this prophecy” (Isaiah The Times of Fulfillment. Salt Lake City: Westbench Publishing, 2009, 360-361).
Isaiah 37:31-32
31 And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward:
32 For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of host shall do this.
W. Cleon Skousen states,
“Here we see a clear distinction between Jerusalem and Mount Zion [JST, Isaiah 37:32] of America. The Lord says a special remnant of the Jews will escape from Jerusalem and go to America. Two groups of REMNANTS escaped from the doomed Jerusalem. The first group consisted of the families of Lehi [Nephi was a member] and Ishmael, who were led out of Jerusalem by the Lord in 600 B.C. The second group left at the close of the Babylonian war, which totally destroyed Jerusalem around 587-8 B.C. This group of Jews took the young son of King Zedekiah, named Mulek, and were led by the Lord to America… They… became known as Mulekites. The Mulekites, in addition to the families of Lehi and Ishmaels, are the only remnants which are known to have escaped from Jerusalem and who were led to America by the “zeal of the Lord” (Isaiah Speaks to Modern Times. Salt Lake City: Ensign Publishing Company, 1984, [Second Edition, First printing, February, 1993], 502).
What happens next is no less a miracle as witnessed by the inhabitants of Jerusalem, king Hezekiah and prophesied by Isaiah! Not only is it recorded in the writings of Isaiah, but it is also found in 2 Kings 19:35-37 and in 2 Chronicles 32:21.
Isaiah 37:36-38
36 Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and four score and five thousand [185,000]: and when they [inhabitants of Jerusalem] arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.
37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.
38 And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia: and Esar-haddon his son reigned in his stead.
W. Cleon Skousen states,
“When the terrible destruction of 185,000 Assyrians was completed, the terrified Sennaherib was among those who were ‘left.’ Fleeing in a state of virtual panic, he returned to his own land and once more took up his residence at the royal palace in Nineveh. But some time later, when he was worshipping his pagan god, Nisroch, two of his own sons crept up behind him and ran a sword through him. These two sons are believed to have been jealous of their brother, whom Sennacherib had designated as his heir” (Isaiah Speaks to Modern Times. Salt Lake City: Ensign Publishing Company, 1984, [Second Edition, First printing, February, 1992], 504).
As I have considered the scriptural accounts of this miraculous event as recorded in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles and Isaiah, I have asked myself what was the purpose for Isaiah to include it in his writings? My response is two-fold. First and foremost, Isaiah was a personal witness of all that had transpired, therefore he could leave his first-hand account as to the verity of this miracle.
Secondly, and possibly equal in importance, he could bear personal witness that the Lord answered the petition of this righteous king for he had done all in his power to restore Judah to a nation of righteousness.
2 Chronicles 31:21
21 And in every work that he [Hezekiah] began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.
Having done all that he could to prepare Israel and himself in righteousness, king Hezekiah could in humility petition the Lord and his prophet for guidance and direction. This is an important lesson for each of us to learn. As we daily live lives of righteousness, when obstacles and adversity arise and all seems lost, we too can petition the Lord for guidance and direction. Because we are clean before him and are willing to trust the counsel of his prophets, we are now worthy to know his will for us. When we are faithful, no enemy can triumph over us. When we are not faithful, we are not entitled to receive divine promises of either direction or protection.
If Isaiah’s prophecy has dual meaning, Zion will yet experience her enemies at her walls, and be required to face a dreaded opponent. Will she then be clothed in righteousness? Will I?; Will you?
4. Conclusions
There is much we can learn from the writings of Isaiah Isaiah truly saw our day. He saw the latter day apostasy that would come about similar to his own day when the people would turn from the prophets to follow after their own wisdom. He saw that this would bring about their eventually destruction. The record of this remnant would be preserved and like a voice speaking from dust would yet bring many to the Lord. Isaiah also saw that a marvelous work and wonder would occur in the latter-days and again lost truths would be restored. Israel would yet become righteous and those in spiritual bondage would be delivered.
Just as a wicked king brought about much wickedness, the righteousness of King Hezekiah and the reforms that he enacted would eventually save the Jews from destruction and captivity by the Assyrians. Their repentance justified divine intervention. The Jews were spared captivity in 701 B.C. because of their righteousness. Unfortunately, the Jews would again turn away from righteousness to wickedness. In 587 B.C., Judah’s enemy was again at her walls. It was not the Assyrians, but the dreaded Babylonians. Having chosen wickedness as a nation, divine intervention was not available, and destruction and captivity was the consequence.
As a nation and as individuals living in the latter days, we too can be the beneficiaries of the Lord’s guidance and blessings, but we too, must repent of our sins and live lives of righteousness. It is important that we chose to make and keep our covenants with the Lord. The most sacred covenants available to us today are found within the walls of his latter days temples. These are the treasures found in the teachings of Isaiah.