Lesson 31: Isaiah Prophecies of Israel’s Deliverance

Reading Preperation:
  • Isaiah 40-41; 43; 45; 47; 48-49
Lesson Notes:
1. Introduction
As we continue with our endeavor to uncover the treasures of Isaiah, we will continue with the format previously introduced at the beginning of our examination of Isaiah. We will begin with an overview of the designated chapters in Isaiah, and then examine each chapter in greater depth drawing upon specific verses and selected commentary. It is my desire that each of us come to better understand the treasures found within the selected writings of Isaiah.
2. Overview of Isaiah Chapters
Again, I am indebted to Terry Ball and Nathan Winn whose summaries I have selected to quote.
2.1. Isaiah 40: He Shall Feed His Flock
Isaiah 40 introduces the prophecies of redemption and restoration that constitute the closing sections of Isaiah’s prophecies (40-66). It presents the credentials of Jehovah as one who is willing and able to save, restore, and bless His people (40:1-17, 21-31), in contrast to idols and graven images that can do nothing (40:18-20)… Isaiah teaches us that God is omnipotent, or all-powerful (40:3-5, 12, 15-17, 22-25), that He is omniscient, or all-knowing (40:13-14, 26, 28), that He is omnipresent, meaning that His power and influence are both everywhere and eternal (40:6-8, 21, 28), and that He is omnibenevolent, or all-loving and good (40:1-2, 9-11, 29).
2.2. Isaiah 41: I Have Chosen Thee
Isaiah 41 compares the power of the Lord to that of impotent idols. The Lord illustrates His agency and omniscience by declaring that it is He who raised up the righteous man from the east (41:1-5) and the one from the north who will call upon His name (41:25-27).
This conquering deliverer is a type for the Messiah, often identified with Abraham or the magnanimous Persian king Cyrus, who allowed the Jews to return from Babylon. Moreover, the Lord chose Israel to be his servant (41:8-9) and will strengthen, protect and help His chosen people (41:14). He will make them mighty in battle, enabling them to thresh and winnow their enemies (41:15-16). He will nurture and care for the poor and needy among them (41:17). He will give them water and make their land to flourish (41:18-20). He will do all this that Israel “may see, and know, and consider, and understand” what “the hand of the Lord hath done” (41:20).
In contrast, idols have no volition but must be manufactured by carpenters and goldsmiths (41:6-7). They cannot act or reveal future and are but vanity, confusion, and an abomination to those who choose them (41:21-24, 29).
2.3. Isaiah 43: Beside Me There is No Saviour
The testimony of the power, agency, wisdom, and love of God continues in Isaiah 43. The Lord assures us that He is our Redeemer, Savior, Creator, Guide, Protector, Defender and Healer (43:1-21). Though the people of Israel had failed to worship, obey, and recognize Him (43:21-24, 27-28), they are invited once again to remember Him, plead with Him, and be justified by Him (43:25-26).
[An important doctrine] of Latter-day Saints is the understanding that God the Father and God the Son are separated, distinct beings who share a common purpose, work, and glory. Latter-day Saints further understand that the Lord, Jehovah, the God who spoke to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who parted the Red Sea and fed Israel manna in the wilderness is the same being who became known as Jesus of Nazareth in mortality. Divinely invested with authority of the Father, Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament.
2.4. Isaiah 45: I Am the Lord, and There is None Else
In the final verse of Isaiah 44, as the Lord lists some of the wonderful things He has done and will yet do for His people. He identifies Cyrus, the mighty Persian who conquered Babylon (ca. 538 B.C.), as the one He will raise up to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple (44:28). This prophecy introduces Isaiah 45, which records a message directed to Cyrus.
Cyrus was a type for Christ as he conquered Babylon, restored the covenant people t their promised land, and helped them rebuild their cities, lives, an faith (compare 41:25). In this prophecy, given about two centuries before Cyrus’s birth, the Lord calls Cyrus by name, referring to him as His anointed, one raised up and empowered by God to conquer nations for the sake of Israel (45:1-4). The Lord describes His power and works for Cyrus (45:5-8, 11-12) and admonished the king to recognize His role in his establishment (9-10). After describing what God has done for him, the Lord tells Cyrus what he must do in return. Cyrus is to rebuild Jerusalem and let His “captive” people go (45:13). After instructions to Cyrus, Isaiah 45 continues testifying of God’s power and efforts to redeem and restore His people (45:14-25).
2.5. Isaiah 47: The Widow Babylon
With vivid imagery the prophet foretells in Isaiah 47 how proud and pampered Babylon will become like a humiliated slave and be heft forsaken and barren (47:1-5, 7-9). Her punishment will be just recompense for her mercilessness, haughtiness, and conceit (47:6, 7-10). All this will befall her despite her acclaimed astrologers, sorcerers, and prognosticators (47:11-13). These diviners will not be able to save Babylon—or themselves (47:14-15).
2.6. Isaiah 48: Then Had Thy Peace Been As A River (B/M, 1 Nephi 20)
Isaiah 48 and 49 are the first of Isaiah’s writings to appear in the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 20). Nephi quoted the chapters to his brethren that he “might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer” (1 Nephi 19:24).
Isaiah begins with a divine dialogue that demonstrates God’s patience, determination, and mercy The Lord speaks to those who “are come forth out of the water of Judah (48:1), or the waters of baptism (1 Nephi 20:1), who act as if they are righteous and obedient but in truth are not (48:1-2). Though they are stubborn and obstinate, with brows like brass and necks like iron, the Lord will yet declare that which is to come even to this hypocritical portion of the covenant people, lest they ascribe God’s work to their idols or to their own genius (48:3-8). Moreover, the Lord assures these rebellious people that He will not cut them off immediately, reminding them that they were refined and chosen in the furnace of affliction (48:9-11). Rather He invites them to hearken and come unto Him, their Creator and Redeemer (48:12-19). He encourages them to flee Babylon, promising them that if they do, He will provide for them, even as He provided water to flow out of the rock for their forefathers in the wilderness (48:20-22).
2.7. Isaiah 49: These, Where Had They Been (B/M, 1 Nephi 21-22)
Isaiah 49 opens with another Servant Song(compare Isaiah 42)… our current Old Testament version begins with simple imperative, ‘Listen, O isles, unto me’ (49:1), [1 Nephi 21:1]… begins, “And again: Hearken, O ye house of Israel… Thus we learn that isles, as used by Isaiah, refers to the scattered covenant people.
After this introduction the Servant speaks to the isles in the first person. His words add a second witness to many of the truths taught in the first Servant song (42:1-7;49:1,5,6,8,9-13).
The Servant further explains that though he is both well prepared and powerful, having his mouth made ‘like a sharp sword’ and a ‘polished shaft,’ yet he is hidden in the Father’s hand and kept in the Father’s quiver (49:2), remind us again that the mortal Messiah conducted His ministry humbly and quietly in a part of the world that many of His contemporaries would have considered obscure and unimportant (see also 42:2-3).
The paradox continues in the following verses as the Servant present opposing perspectives on the accomplishment of His moral ministry. He observes that while on one hand His strength and labor might appear to have been spent in vain, for ‘Israel be not gathered,’ yet on the other hand He will have accomplished God’s work and is to be judged of the Lord (49:5). In response to the Servant’s observation, God assure him that though Jacob may not be gathered during His mortal ministry, His efforts would still be pleasing and glorious to the Lord, and God will strengthen Him (49:5). Thus we understand that while to some it might appear that Christ spent His labor and strength in vain, the Father knows that His Servant’s work will bring salvation unto the end of the earth (49:4,6). Though He may be despised of men, ultimately He is chosen of God, and kings and princes will come to worship Him (49:7).
After the Servant Song, the Lord assures the isles that though they may feel forsaken, He had not—and, in fact, cannot—forget them, for they are graven upon the palms of His hands (49:14-16). With further stirring imagery, the Lord then reveals how He will gather and restore His scattered and lost people (49:18-26)” (Making Sense of Isaiah. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2009, 115-118; 122; 127-128; 134-135; 138-139).
3. Examination of Isaiah Chapters
Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s manual,
“Isaiah’s prophetic writings in these chapters provide rich insights into Christ’s mission, the scattering and gathering of Israel, the latter days, and the covenant relationship. Through Isaiah the Lord speaks to Israel of all ages, renewing their hope in the coming of Christ and reassuring them that they are His people—to be upheld, refined, and delivered from temporal and spiritual Babylon” (Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1989, 31).
With this simple excerpt from a prior Gospel Doctrine manual, we are introduced to the writings of Isaiah for this chapter of our study. I are reminded once again of the value of Isaiah’s writings to me in these latter days. It is for me, like taking a break on a hike up the mountain. It serves to refresh me and again remind me as to why I decided to undertake this arduous hike in the first place. Though I am perspiring, due to the steepness of the climb and the heat of the sun, the vista’s that surround me, even at this junction of my adventure, are invigorating to my soul. The fragrance of the pines that envelop me and the coldness of the mountain stream make me grateful that I made the decision to trade the comforts of home for this exciting journey. I hope that this effort to unearth the treasures of Isaiah also has meaning for you.
Old Testament student manual observes,
“Isaiah 40 through 60 is prophetic. Although reference is made to Isaiah’s immediate future, the burden of his prophecy is for the latter days. Lacking this perspective, most Bible scholars feel that these chapters are historical and that they were written by authors after Isaiah’s era. Such position is untenable in light of revealed scripture, however. Isaiah saw the end from the beginning, and his prophetic pronouncements concerning Israel’s destiny are more reliable than any historian’s limited perspective of the past” (Old Testament student manual: 1 Kings—Malachi. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, Second Edition, 182).
3.1. Isaiah 40: He Shall Feed His Flock
Isaiah 40:1-2
1 Comfort ye, comfort my people, saith your God.
2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare [time of service] is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned [forgiven]: for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double of all her sins.
Monte S. Nyman clarifies,
“The message of comfort to Jerusalem, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned,” clearly refers to the latter days. The Anchor Bible translates this line “that her sentence is served, her penalty is paid.” Judah was to be sent through the “furnace of affliction (see 48:10), so the message given here is to be fulfilled after she has been through that furnace. At look at history and at present-day circumstances shows her still to be going through that furnace. The rest of the chapter also supports a Second Coming time period” (Great are the Words of Isaiah. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980, 141-142).
Knowing that this chapter is directed to events that will occur in the latter days increases our understanding of Isaiah’s vision.
Isaiah 40:3
3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
In the book of John in the New Testament, we learn who it is that will prepare the way of the Lord.
John 1:23
23 He [John the Baptist] said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make strait the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias [Isaiah].
It was John the Baptist who came before Jesus during his mortal ministry to prepare the way for his teachings to the Jews.
In the book of Luke, from the Joseph Smith translation, we are given yet additional information as it relates to the latter day mission of the Lord.
JST, Luke 3:4-11
4 As it is written in the book of the prophet Esaias [Isaiah]; and these are the words, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight
5 For behold, and lo, he shall come, as it is written in the book of the prophets, to take away the sins of the world, and to bring salvation unto the heathen nations, to gather together those who are lost, who are of the sheepfold of Israel;
6 Yea, even the dispersed and afflicted; and also to prepare the way, and make possible the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles;
7 And to be a light unto all who sit in darkness unto the uttermost parts of the earth; to bring to pass the resurrection from the dead, and to ascend up on high , to dwell on the right hand of the Father,
8 Until the fullness of time, and the law and the testimony shall be sealed, and the keys of the kingdom shall be delivered up again unto the Father;
9 To administer justice unto all; to come down in judgment upon all, and to convince all the ungodly of their ungodly deeds, which they have committed; and all this in the day that he shall come;
10 For it is a day of power; yea, every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall brought low; the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth;
11 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
Monte S. Nyman adds,
“John the Baptist was the prophet to prepare the way for the Lord’s ministry in the flesh in the meridian of time. He came again on 15 May, 1829, to restore the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood and thus commence the preparation for the Lord’s second coming (see D&C 13)” (Great are the Words of Isaiah. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980, 143).
Joseph Fielding Smith taught,
“Old Testament prophecies about a messenger preparing the way of the Lord have had a double fulfillment (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3;1-4.) Besides referring to John the Baptist, these prophecies refer “… also to the coming of the Prophet Joseph Smith, because that messenger which was to come and prepare the way before [Christ] was to come in this day” (Doctrines of Salvation 1. Compiled by Bruce R. McConkie. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954, [Twenty-fourth Printing, 1980], 193).
Isaiah thus saw John the Baptist preparing the way of the Lord in the meridian of time, he also saw his coming to the Prophet Joseph Smith in order to restore priesthood power that was necessary for the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days to prepare for the Savior’s second coming.
Isaiah 40:6-8
6 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:
7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.
8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
In these verses, the prophet Isaiah likens the grass and the flowers of the earth which provide temporary beauty on the earth yet shortly “withereth” and “fadeth” away in contrast to the word of the Lord which endureth. This analogy is also found in the writings of Peter.
1 Peter 1:23-25
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower faileth away:
25 But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
W. Cleon Skousen states,
“The Apostle Peter [and Isaiah] used these verses to emphasize the importance of living by the word of the Lord for security rather than trusting in the fragile elements of human flesh and earthly things” (Isaiah Speaks in Modern Times. Salt Lake City: Ensign Publishing Company, 1984, [Second Edition, First Printing, February, 1993], 522).
Isaiah continues his admonishment to each of us to forsake the wickedness of the world. We, like lambs, are venerable to the evils of the world and are in need of the watchful care and protection the shepherd can provide.
Isaiah 40:11
11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lad those that are with young.
It was Jesus Christ who announced to the Jews during his mortal ministry his role as a shepherd.
John 10:11-14
11 I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
Delbert R. Stapley taught,
“The testimony that Jesus is the Good Shepherd was a figure of speech familiar to those accustomed to the pastoral conditions of Palestine. Jesus knew His hearers were acquainted with the prophecy that a shepherd had been promised the children of Israel. Isaiah prophesied that when God shall came down, ‘He shall feed his flock like a shepherd he shall gather the lambs with his arms.’ There was no mistaking what Jesus meant. He was their Lord—the promised Messiah! By likening false teachers and pastors to thieves and hirelings whose concern was for money, rather than the flock, Jesus repudiated all pretenders. A stronger indictment could not be imagined!” (“What Constitutes the True Church.” Ensign, May, 1977, 21).
After noting that the Lord alone has all power, he then asks both Judah and us, an important question.
Isaiah 40:18
18 To whom then will ye like God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?
Judah has continued to worship the idol images of their own creation whether it be plated with gold or silver, rather than to worship the one true God of heaven and earth.
Isaiah 40:21
21 Have ye not known? Have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? Have ye of understood from the foundation of the earth?
The Lord has always been there to guide and protect Israel from her enemies when they have forsaken their idols and worshiped him. Surely they recall the care and protection he had given the children of Israel during their wandering in the desert. This teaching, as Isaiah cautions them, is not foreign to them.
Isaiah 40:26, 28
26 Lift up your eyes on high…
28 Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
Isaiah admonishes Judah and each of us to look up and worship our Lord who is the creator of the earth upon which we live. He and His Father, have all-knowledge, all-power, all-mercy, all-truth, and they will not fail us.
Joseph Smith states the following in regard to the attributes of God, the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ and their importance to each of us,
“For inasmuch as God possess the attribute of knowledge, he can make all things known to his saints necessary for their salvation; and as he possesses the attribute power, he is able thereby to deliver them from the power of all enemies; and seeing, also, that justice is an attribute of the Deity, he will deal with them upon the principles of righteousness and equity, and a just reward will be granted unto them for all their afflictions and sufferings for the truths sake, and as judgment is an attribute of the Deity also, his saints can have the most unshaken confidence that they will, in due time, obtain a perfect deliverance out of the hands of all their enemies, and a complete victory over all those who have sought their hurt and destruction. And as mercy is also an attribute of the Deity, his saints can have confidence that it will be exercised towards them, and through the exercise of that attribute towards them comfort and consolation will be administered unto them abundantly, amid all their afflictions and tribulations. And, lastly, realizing that truth is an attribute of the Deity, the mind is lead to rejoice amid all its trials and temptation, in hope of that glory which is to be brought at the revelation of Jesus Christ, and in view of that crown which is to be placed upon the heads of the saints in the day when the Lord shall distribute rewards unto them… when he shall bring them in the midst of his throne to dwell in his presence eternally” (Lectures of Faith. Salt Lake City: Deseret book, 1985, Lecture Fourth, 17, 55).
The attributes Isaiah notes [all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, all-loving] and more are held by both the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. They use these attributes in order to direct the sons and daughters of God towards righteousness. Their ultimate desire is to see as many as possible of God’s children return to live with Him forever.
Isaiah 40:31
31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings of eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
These words, “shall run and not be weary, and shall walk, and not faint” are familiar to the Latter-day Saints. They are part of the promises given to the saints who choose the Lord’s revelation regarding health.
Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21
18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow in their bones;
19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
20 And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
21 And I, the Lord, given unto them a promise that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen
If we will turn to the Lord for guidance and direction in our lives, rather than to other images, we will note a change that will come into our lives. We will have increased health in our bodies; we will expand our knowledge, both temporal and spiritual; our stamina will increase and we will be given both physical and spiritual protection. These blessings are available to all who are willing to be obedient to the Lord’s law of health.
As we turn to the Lord, we will feel as if our burdens have been made lighter thereby enabling us to bear them. As we wait upon [hope for, or anticipate direction from] the Lord, rather than seeking direction from other sources, we will be able to meet the challenges that come into our lives. We will feel “as if” we have been “mount[ed] up with wings as eagles” (Isaiah 40:31).
3.2. Isaiah 41: I Have Chosen Thee
Isaiah 41:1
1 Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.
Monte S. Nyman states,
“The command to ‘keep silent before me’ may have reference to the Americas’ being kept hidden from the world let they be overrun by other nations (see 2 Nephi 1:8). ‘Let the people renew their strength’ could refer to the establishment of a free nation in the land of America that the Lord might accomplish his purposes (see 3 Nephi 21:4). After the free nation is established, the Lord commands to ‘let them come near’; this alludes to the restoration of the gospel, whereby Israel now come to him to be his people. ‘Then let them speak’ refers to the proclaiming of the gospel to the nations of the earth. All these things will bring about the purposes of the Lord (through his servants in the isles of the sea) to ‘let us come near together to judgment,” meaning ot commence the work of the last days, to sound a warning to all the nations of the earth so that they may either accept the gospel and be gathered to Israel or suffer the wrath which will follow the testimony of the Lord’s servants (see D&C 43:23-28)” (Great Are The Words of Isaiah. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980, 151).
Isaiah 41:2
2 Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? He gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow.
Who is the man from the east that was raised up by the Lord? Some say that it is Cyrus, the king of Persia who defeated the Babylonians and then allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and build their temple. Others state it is Abraham.
Monte S. Nyman states,
“Abraham who was called by the Lord to leave the Ur of the Chaldees and go to the land of Canaan… where He was given ‘the nations before him’ extending from ‘the river of Egypt unto the great river Euphrates’ (Genesis 15:18). Isaiah seems to refer to Abraham’s smiting of the kings as he rescued his nephew Lot (see Genesis 14). A more positive identification of Abraham comes from verse 4 wherein the Lord makes reference to ‘calling the generations from the beginning” (Great Are the Words of Isaiah. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980, 152).
Isaiah 41:4
4 Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.
Monte S. Nyman continues,
“Abraham was chosen in the pre-mortal life to be a ruler (see PGP, Abraham 3:22-23; Genesis 18:19) and was blessed that through the literal seed of his body the Lord would bless all the nations of the earth (Genesis 12:2-3; Abraham 2:8-11). These verses in Isaiah proclaim that the Lord was the one who had so ordained these things” (Great Are the Words of Isaiah, 152).
Isaiah 41:5-7
5 The isles saw it, and feared; the ends of the earth were afraid, drew near, and came.
6 They helped every one his neighbor; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage.
7 So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the sodering: and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved.
Monte S. Nyman stated,
“Verse 5 describes the gathering of the nations to the Americans, as prophesied in verse 1. ‘The isles saw it, and feared,’ meaning thy responded to Jehovah’s call and, in the fear (love) of the Lord, ‘drew near, and came,’ and built up a might Gentile nation in the land of America (see 1 Nephi 22:7). Verses 6 and 7 describe the cooperation required of the people from many lands who firmly established a nation ‘that should not be moved.’ Actually, this could be a dual prophecy of the establishment of the nation and of the Church upon that land” (Great Are the Words of Isaiah. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980, 152-153).
Isaiah 41:8-9
8 But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.
9 Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.
Monte S. Nyman states,
“These verses identify the servant who is to speak. The Lord promised Abraham that his literal seed would bless the nations of the earth (Abraham 2:11). He now calls Israel the literal seed of Abraham, whom he has gathered from the nations of the earth to the islands (America) to be his servant in bring judgment upon all the nations of the earth… Thus chapter 41 is a prophecy of latter-day Israel, called initially to gather upon the isles of the sea (America) to be servant in the hand o the Lord to fulfill the covenant he made with Abraham to bear the ministry and the priesthood to the nations of the earth” (Great Are the Words of Isaiah. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980, 153).
Isaiah 41:10
10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Robert Keen, ca. 1787, put these words [Isaiah 41:10] to music. They were selected to be included in the first LDS hymnbook in 1835. The title of the hymn is “How Firm a Foundation.”
“1 How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord, Is laid or your faith in his excellent word! What more can he say than to you he hath said, Who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior, Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?
2 In every condition, in sickness, in health, In poverty’s vale or a bounding in wealth, At home or abroad, on the land or the sea, As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand, As they days may demand, so they succor shall be.
3 Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed, For I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, an cause thee to stand, Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous, Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
7 The soul that on Jesus hat leaned for repose I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes; That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake”
(“How Firm a Foundation.” Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, #85. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1985, 85-86).
Karen Lynn Davidson shares the following in reference to the words of Isaiah,
“The words of the seventh verse were repeated to Amanda Smith. It occurred “during the dark days of 1838 in Missouri” at a place called Haun’s Mill where “the state militia attacked the defenseless group and killed seventeen Saints, including… [her] husband and ten-year old son… Another son, Alma, had been seriously wounded. Amanda Smith gathered with other bereaved women and children at the home of one of the Saints. ‘In our utter desolation,’ she wrote later, ‘what we women do but pray?’ [A message was received from the militia]… they would have to cease praying or be killed… Amanda Smith stole out into a cornfield. ‘I prayed aloud and most fervently,’ she said. When I emerged from the corn a voice spoke to me. It was a voice as plain as I ever heard one. It was no silent, strong impression of the spirit, but a voice, repeating [the seventh] verse of the Saints’ hymn… From that moment I had no more fear. I felt that nothing could hurt me.’ The attackers later shared some food with the Saints, and Amanda Smith remarked: ‘The Lord had kept his word. The soul who on Jesus had leaned for sour had not been forsaken even in this terrible hour of massacre” (Our Latter-Day Hymns The Stories and the Messages. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988, 115).
Isaiah 41:11-13
11 Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish.
12 Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be nothing, and as a thing of nought.
13 For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
Will there be trials that will come to those who obey the call to gather scattered Israel, the seed of Abraham, from among the nations of the earth? The words of Isaiah confirm this truth. Persecution of the righteous will continue as the forces of evil and wickedness seek to prevent this gathering from occurring. Their efforts will not succeed. The Lord promises, “Fear not; I will help thee.”
Bruce R. McConkie offered,
“We do not know when the calamities and troubles of the last days will fall upon any of us as individuals or upon bodies of the Saints. The Lord deliberately withholds from us the day and hour of his coming and the tribulations which shall precede it—all as part of the testing and probationary experiences of mortality. He simply tells us to watch and be ready. We can rest assured that if we have done all in our power to prepare or whatever lies ahead, he will then help us with whatever else we need” (“Stand Independent above All Other Creatures.” Ensign, May, 1979, 93).
Isaiah 41:17-20
17 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I God of Israel will not forsake them.
18 I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
19 I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together:
20 that they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.
Isaiah states that in the latter days, the “poor and needy” saints of God will be driven to lands where there is practically no water. They will pray to the Lord for help in making the land fertile.
Brigham Young records regarding their arrival in the valley of the mountains [1847],
“We came here penniless in old wagons… in addition to all this we have gathered all the poor we could, and the Lord has planted us in these valleys, promising that He would hid us up for a little season until His wrath and indignation passed over the nations. Will we trust in the Lord? Yes” (Journal of Discourses, 13. Liverpool: Horace Elderedge, 1871, Eighth Reprint, 1974, 217).
Susan Young Gates adds,
“By the end of the Civil War, the Salt Lake Valley had 227 canals irrigating over 150,000 acres of what would otherwise have been arid, unusable land” (The Life Story of Brigham Young. New York: Macmillan Co., 1930, 130).
What Isaiah saw in vision was literally fulfilled by the establishment of the saints, under the leadership of Brigham Young, in the valleys of the mountains. All this was accomplished “under the hand of the LORD.”
Isaiah 41:25
25 I have raised up one form the north, and he shall come: from the rising of the sun shall he call upon my name: and he shall come upon princes as upon morter, and as the potter treadeth clay.
W. Cleon Skousen states,
“The Lord declares to the unbelieving that he has already raised up a great prophet from the north who came out of the east. This is probably making further reference to Abraham, who came to the land of Canaan from Haran in the north, but had previously come from Ur in the east. Unlike those who doubt the Lord, this great servant of God called upon the Almighty in humble prayer form the rising of the sun. Consequently, he is chosen of God to overcome all princes and powers. They will be subject to him, and to his posterity, as clay under the feet of a potter who mixs it by treading upon it” (Isaiah Speaks to Modern Israel. Salt Lake City: Ensign Publishing Company, 1984, [Second Edition, First Printing, February, 1993], 542-543).
Isaiah 41:24, 26, 29
24 Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought: an abomination is he that chooseth you.
26 Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? And befortime, that we may say, He is righteous? Yea, there is none that sheweth, yea, there is none that declareth, yea, there is none that heareth your words.
29 Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing: their molten images are wind and confusion.
In these last two verses, the Lord chides those in Israel and today who choose to place their trust in idols or pursuits that “are of nothing” and “their works are nothing.” They can offer no peace or comfort because they are the designs of man and therefore “none… heareth your words.” If we will turn to the Lord, as did Abraham, the Lord will guide and direct our efforts so that we will be successful in those matters that have greatest value and will bring us lasting happiness rather than momentary pleasure. In our effort to find lasting relief, if we will turn to the Lord, He will hear our prayers and, like Amanda Smith, we will then know peace.
3.3. Isaiah 43: Besides Me There is No Saviour
Isaiah 43:1-3
1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, ad he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walket through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ranson, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.
In these verses, the Lord declares his relationship with covenant Israel. Speaking for God, the Eternal Father, he reminds Israel that He crated and formed them as male and female. In spite of their wickedness, they need not fear for if they will repent, He, [speaking for himself] Jesus Christ, the God of the Holy Testament, will redeem them and therefore “thou art mine.”
He was with the children of Israel as they passed with Moses through the Red Sea; He was there with Joshua when the River Jordan was parted, and their forefathers entered the promised land; He has protected them from the attacks by their enemies regardless of their nationality who sought to destroy them. He has done all this as He is “the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.”
Mosiah, a prophet of the Americas, added his witness.
B/M, Mosiah 3:17
17 And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
Isaiah 43:5-6
5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;
6 I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.
Mormon, the abridger of the plates that will make up the Book of Mormon, gave the purpose for the gathering of the Jews or all of the house of Israel, who are scattered in all directions of the compass.
B/M, Mormon 5:14-15
14 And behold, they shall go unto the unbelieving of the Jews; and for this intent shall they go—that they may be persuaded that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God; that the Father may bring about, through the most Beloved, his great and eternal purpose, in restoring the Jews, or all the house of Israel, to the land of their inheritance, which the Lord their God hath given them, unto the fulfilling of his covenant.
15 And also that the seed of this people may more fully believe his gospel, which shall go forth unto them from the Gentiles…
The Jews, including all the house of Israel will be gathered from their locations around the globe to their lands of inheritance so that they may be taught the truths of the Gospel. Primary among the truths they will learn will be the true identify of their Messiah, even the Lord of the Old Testament. It is He of whom Isaiah bears witness.
Isaiah 43:10-11
10 Ye are my witnesses, said the LORD, and my servant which I have chosen: that ye may know and believe in me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
11 I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no savior.
Nephi adds yet further witness to the writings of Isaiah regarding the purpose of the gathering of scattered Israel.
B/M, 2 Nephi 25:15-16 [underline added]
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.
16 And after they have been scattered, and the Lord God hath scourged them by other nations for the space of many generations, yea, even down from generation to generation until they shall be persuaded to believe in Christ, the Son of God, and the atonement which is infinite for all mankind—and when that day shall come that they shall believe in Christ, and worship the Father in his name, with pure hearts and clean hands, and look not forward any more for another Messiah, then, at that time, the day will come that it must needs be expedient that they should believe these things.
With prophetic vision, Isaiah sees the destruction of the Babylonians, at a time when as a nation that have not yet risen to power. Babylon will initially be used by the Lord to scourge Judah in an effort to bring her to remembrance of the covenants she has made, and then due to the wickedness of Babylon, she will also be destroyed.
Isaiah 43:14, 17
14 Thus said the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon and have brought down all their nobles, and the Caldeans, whose cry is in the ships.
17 Which brought forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power; they shall lie down together, they shall not rise: they are extinct, they are quenched as tow.
This scripture may also have dual meaning. Babylon was destroyed as a nation by the Caldeans. Also Babylon is a symbol of the wickedness of the world. It will appear that the forces of evil are winning the war against the forces of righteousness, however, the Lord, Our Redeemer, and his forces will intercede and bring about the defeat of Satan and his followers.
Isaiah 43:18-19
18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new things; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
W. Cleon Skousen observed,
“… the Lord says they can forget about all those wonders of the past. He is going to do something even more spectacular. It will be something new—a marvelous work and a wonder. This will take place in the latter days when Israel has been gathered together from the ends of the earth. The Lord will make a way for them in the wilderness, and rivers will begin to flow in the desert. It is interesting that the modern Jews returned to a wilderness and had to make it blossom as a rose. The Saints faced the same task in the Great Basin of the Rocky Mountains and the deserts of the nearby states where they settled” (Isaiah Speaks to Modern Times. Salt Lake City: Ensign Publishing Company, 1984, [Second Edition, First Printing, February, 1993], 565-566).
Isaiah 43:25-26
25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.
26 Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.
Despite the challenges that Israel has and will experience, all is not lost. There is hope that she may receive her promised reward. If she will come to the Lord, and obey his will. If she will take this action, the Lord is ready to forget and to bestow upon her the covenant promises he made with her forefathers.
3.4. Isaiah 45: I Am the Lord, and There is None Else
Isaiah 44:28
28 That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.
This chapter from the writings of Isaiah, in combination with the last verse in chapter 44 (see above), where Isaiah identifies the name of Cyrus, the king of Persia, has fueled controversy and doubt as to the authorship of Isaiah. Please refer to chapter 29 of this text. Cyrus will lead a battle to defeat the Babylonians in 538 B.C. Though a member of a heathen nation, Cyrus will respond to the direction of the Lord and enable the Jews in captivity to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their city and temple.
Isaiah 45:1-3
1 Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;
2 I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:
3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.
As the Lord used Babylon to scourge Israel, he will now use Cyrus, the king of Persia, to free the Jews in Babylonian captivity and enable them in righteousness to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and her temple. These events had previously been prophesied by Jeremiah20:10. (see also 2 Chronicles 36:22; Ezra 1:1).
Isaiah 45:11-12
11 Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands
12 I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.
The Lord is all-knowing, meaning that his knowledge includes all things, past, present and future. He has all-power and, under the direction of his Father, created this earth and all that is upon it. The only exception is man which was done by the Eternal Father. As the creator of heaven and earth, all creation is subject to his will.
Isaiah 45:13
13 I have raised him [Cyrus] up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build up my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts.
Flavius Josephus records a letter of Cyrus, king of the Persians,
“for he [Lord] stirred up the mind of Cyrus, and made him write this throughout all Asia:-‘Thus saith Cyrus the King:-Since god Almight hath appointed me to the be the king of the habitable earth, I believe that he is that God which the nation of the Israelites worship; for indeed he foretold my name by the prophets, and that I should build him a house at Jerusalem, in the country of Judea.’ This was known to Cyrus by his reading the book which Isaiah left behind him of his prophecies… This was foretold by Isaiah one hundred and forty years before the temple was demolished. Accordingly, when Cyrus read this, and admired the divine power, an earnest desire and ambition seized upon him to fulfill what was so written; so he called for the most eminent Jews that were in Babylon, and said to them, that he gave them leave to go back to their own country, and to rebuild their city Jerusalem, and the temple of God” (The Complete Works of Josephus. Translated by Willian Whiston. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1991, Antiquities of the Jews, book XI, chapter 1:1-2, 228).
In Isaiah 45:1, Cyrus, a Persian King is referred to as “his anointed” by the Lord. How can this reference be valid?
Alfred Martin states,
“Cyrus is the only Gentile king who is called God’s ‘anointed.’… Cyrus is in a sense a type of the Anointed One, the Lord Jesus Christ… when it is asserted that Cyrus is a type of Christ, it is not said that he was like the Lord Jesus Christ in every respect. The only intended resemblance is in the fact that Cyrus was the anointed one who delivered the people of Israel from their captivity. As such he points us to the greater Anointed One who saves His people from their sins” (Isaiah, the Salvation of Jehovah. Chicago: Moody Press, 1956, 77-78).
Isaiah 45:18-19
18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
19 I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak in righteousness, I declare things that are right.
Isaiah bears his witness to the verity of the Lord as being the creator of the earth and that the purpose of its creation was to be a dwelling place for his Father’s children. This truth is not declared by Isaiah in secret or in obscurity, but to all who are open to the truth.
Isaiah 45:21-23
21 … there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
These words as written by Isaiah are given to us as they were spoken by the Lord himself. They represent his witness that He alone is their Lord and Savior, and they need not look for another Messiah. He is the only one who could offer the sacrifice sufficient to pay for the sins of all mankind. At a future day, all will know He is their Savior and Redeemer, and when they come to know individually this truth, they will fall upon their knees and bear their witness.
3.5. Isaiah 47: The Widow Babylon
Due to the clarity that the following chart: Babylon of the Chaldes / Babylon, or Spiritual Wickedness provides with its corresponding commentary, I have included it. It given insight to this chapter of Isaiah and is extremely important due to the parallels with our times.
Babylon of the Chaldees Babylon, or Spiritual Wickedness
Isaiah 47:5
5 Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thous shalt no more be called The lady of kingdoms.

As society is attracted to a beautiful woman, so the children of men are attracted to the glitter and power of spiritual Babylon.

Isaiah 47:6
6 … thou didst show them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke.

Though the wickedness of Babylon may appear attractive because it is easy or pleasurable, it only enslaves its subjects.

Isaiah 47:7
7 And thou sadist, I shall be a lady for ever… .

In blindness, spiritual Babylon wrecks havoc upon the world, failing to see the self-destructive nature of her acts.

Boasted of being indestructible, but failed to see the judgment that would finally destroy her.
Isaiah 47:8
8 Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am,and none else beside me;…
Declared her pleasures to be the end and fulfillment of life’s dream, not merely the means to it.

The Babylon of the world is enthroned triumphantly when men worship the lust of the flesh She becomes a counterfeit god. This damnable doctrine would ‘deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and… say unto the people… there is no God’ (2 Nephi 28:5), and ‘there is no hell’; thus the Devil ‘grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance’ (2 Nephi 28:22)

Isaiah 47:10
Through Babylon’s own wicked power subjected men to her will.

The Babylon of the world, through wicked covenants and deeds, binds a man’s loyalty to the prince of darkness by the promise of secret gain (see Hebrews 9:16-25).

Isaiah 47:10
So great had this “lady of the kingdoms” become that her rulers gloried in the thought that they were the center of knowledge and wisdom and forced their subjects to kneel to the king, and not to God (see Daniel 3:1-6; 6:1-7)

The Babylon of the world assumes expertise in all knowledge and decrees that men should worship at her door. As men embrace this hellish doctrine, they begin to believe that they know when others do not, and they become self-appointed gods, even to the giving and taking of life (compare the attitude of 2 Nephi 9:20). “O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.’ (2 Nephi 9:28) emphasis added.)”

Reference: (Old Testament student manual 1 Kings—Malachi. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, Second Edition, 188).
This chapter appears at first glance to be confined to the empire of Babylon as Isaiah saw it in vision. As one gives the matter further thought, it becomes clear that its meaning extends beyond the great power of Babylon to include the period of the last days. The parallels as noted in the chart are undeniable to anyone who lives in the world of today. Because of Isaiah’s prophetic vision, not only did he see the rise and fall of the Babylonian empire, but he also saw the existence of similar conditions in our day. Just as Isaiah gave a voice of warning to Israel to honor her covenants and to worship the Lord or suffer the consequences, he is giving the same warning to us. Will we heed his warning?
3.6. Isaiah 48: Then Had Thy Peace Been As A Rives (B/M, 1 Nephi 20)
Sidney B. Sperry states,
“Chapter 48 is in certain respects a recapitulation or summary of points touched on in chapters 40-47. The chapter is of special importance to students of the Book of Mormon because it is quoted in full in 1 Nephi 20” (The Voice of Israel’s Prophets. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1962, 111).
Monte S. Nyman notes,
“Every verse of this chapter is quoted differently in the Book of Mormon. Some of these differences are significant… Chapter 48 foretells the destiny of Judah and declares the omniscience of God” (Great Are the Words of Isaiah. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980, 168-169).
Isaiah 48:1-2 B/M, 1 Nephi 20:1-2
1 Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the LORD, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness. 1 Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob, who are come forth out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism, who swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, yet they swear not in truth nor in righteousness.
2 For they call themselves of the holy city,and stay themselves upon the God of Israel; The LORD of hosts in his name. 2 Nevertheless, they call themselves of the holy city, but they do not stay themselves upon the God of Israel, who is the Lord of Hosts;yea, the Lord of Hosts is his name.
Isaiah is not speaking to the Gentiles of the surrounding nations. He is speaking to those of Israel who have made sacred covenants of obedience with the “Lord of Hosts” by entering into “the waters of baptism,” including latter day Israel. In spite of presenting themselves as members of his kingdom or “the holy city,” they have failed to keep their sacred promises.
Isaiah 48:4-6, 8 B/M, 1 Nephi 20:4-6, 8
4 Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass; 4 And I did it because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and they brow brass;
5 I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them. 5 And I have even from the beginning declared to thee; before it came to pass I showed them thee; and I showed them for fear lest thou shouldest say–Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image hath commanded them.
6 Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have shewed thee new things, and thou didst not know them. 6 Thou hast seen and heard all this; and will ye not declare them? And that I have showed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.
8 Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knowest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb. 8 Yea, and thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time thine ear was not opened; for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.
Reg Christensen notes,
“A neck like an ‘iron sinew’ is a neck that does not bend or bow down in humble prayer. A brow of brass implies thick headedness, or an unwillingness, to ponder and accept the counsel of God. Rather, the stubborn rationalize away inspired counsel and are prone to give credit to false gods of their own design and purpose… ” (Unlocking Isaiah. American Fork: Covenant Communications, Inc., 2013, 220).
The traits that Isaiah notes were found not only in ancient Israel, but among the covenant members of today. These qualities interfere with our receiving the blessings the Lords has for us. The following incident illustrates this concept:
On Wednesday, a young mother gave birth to a new baby. The baby came out blue and not breathing at all. After working on her for a long time, the hospital staff finally got her to breathe. The anxious father asked the doctor if she would be okay. The doctor’s reply was “I don’t know.” Two days later, the doctor told the parent “that they were doing everything they knew how to do, but it seemed as though she didn’t have the will to struggle and survive.” He continued, “Her outcome was grim and unless something drastically changed, they did not think she would make it. If she did survive, she would be in the hospital at least an extra 10 day to two weeks and there could be retardation.” At this point, a priesthood blessing was offered and the following morning, Saturday, it was given. Later that afternoon, the doctor spoke to the parents and said, “he wasn’t sure what had happened, but all of a sudden their infant was responding to treatment and if she continued to improve, she would most likely be able to go home the following Monday.” Some knew that the blessing the infant had received was the reason for her improvement, and offered personal prayers of gratitude to a kind and merciful Heavenly Father. Her mother’s response was different. She said, “Oh yeah, [she] survived not because of anything even connected to a God, who doesn’t exist anyway, but because of the knowledge of skilled doctors and nurses who were just doing their job” (Personal communication on file).
While some would agree with the infant’s mother; others see another option. While the improvement of her infant is not in opposition to the care and expertise of the attending doctors, it is the mother’s own disbelief and prior disappointments that ruled out for her an ability to recognize the tender mercies of a loving Father in Heaven. Sometimes, we have eyes, but we can’t see; ears, but we can’t hear. When we are spiritually blind to the miracles around us and deaf to the witness of the spirit, we are more receptive to feelings of disappointment and abandonment. We then are more easily influenced by “other voices” that tend to lead in a downward spiral of our emotions. Despondency, despair and anger are often the result.
If we want to draw closer to the Lord and to be guided by his spirit, we need to take the necessary steps in our lives that will lead us to be more receptive to his guidance. If we close ourselves off from even a consideration of heaven sent direction or intervention, we will surely miss blessings that would have been ours.
Isaiah 48:9-10 B/M, 1 Nephi 20:9-10
9 For my name’s shake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off. 9 Nevertheless, for my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain from thee, that I cut thee not off.
10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. 10 For, behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
W. Cleon Skousen states,
“Nevertheless, the Lord now declares that He will not allow his anger and sense of justice to completely cut them off even though their abominable behavior deserves it. The Lord says He will ‘defer’ his judgment so that his calling as a Savior may not be nullified. His name is Jesus the Christ (the latter word is Greek for Savior). Therefore, He will be their Savior for his name’s sake, and He will put Israel through an extended course of training and discipline rather than cut them off” (Isaiah Speaks to Modern Times. Salt Lake City: Ensign Publishing Company, 1984, [Second Edition, First Printing, February, 1993], 606).
Like the prophets who have gone before us, we of modern Israel, will also have to undergo our trials of faith through the adversities that we will experience. It is “in the furnace of affliction” where we will be refined in order to become the individuals we have the potential to be. As we endure and learn from our individually designed trials, we will come closer to our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, and thereby become more usable servants.
Isaiah 48:18 B/M, 1 Nephi 20:18
18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! Then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea: 18 O that thou hadst hearkend to my commandments—then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.
The singular desire of Our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, is for his children/ brothers and sisters to be obedient to his commandments. Their purpose is not for control, but because of their foreknowledge, they know that our obedience to heavenly counsel will bring us the greatest amount of joy and happiness, here and hereafter.
Isaiah 48:20-22 B/M, 1 Nephi 20:20-22
20 Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say ye, The LORD hath redeemed his servant Jacob. 20 Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter to the end of the earth; say ye: The Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob.
21 And they thirsted not when he led them through the deserts: he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: he clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out. 21 And they thirsted not; he led them through the deserts; he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them; he clave the rock also and the waters gushed out.
22 There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked. 22 And notwithstanding he hath done all this, and greater also, there is no peace, said the Lord, unto the wicked.
The directive to Israel and to us is to “Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans” or the wickedness and idolatry that Babylon represented then and the spiritual wickedness represented in Babylon or the world today. If it were apparent to us, as it is to Our Lord, we would forsake the wickedness of the world with “singing” and rejoicing.” Just as the Lord brought water to the parched lips of the children of Israel while they were in the desert; he now brings words of peace and direction that will bring relief to our parched souls and will protect us from the addictions and diseases rampant in the world today.
3.7. Isaiah 49: These, Where Had They Been? (B/M, 1 Nephi 21)
Monte S. Nyman states,
“Chapter 49 is one of the most important chapters in the whole book of Isaiah, because it also clearly foretells the mission of the Latter-day Saints and the destiny of the land of America in connection with the house of Israel. Nephi interpreted the chapter as foretelling that the land of America would receive some of scattered Israel, while his brother Jacob applied it both to the Jews in Jerusalem and to the Gentiles. Chapter 49 is of such importance that it ought to be studied diligently by every member of the Church” (Great are the Words of Isaiah. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980, 173-174).
If it is important for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to study, I believe this injunction also applies to all honest seekers of the truth.
Isaiah 49:1 B/M, 1 Nephi 21:1
1 Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. 1 And again: Hearken, O ye house of Israel, all ye that are broken off and are driven out because of the wickedness of the pastors of my people; yea, all ye that are broken off, that are scattered abroad, who are of my people, O house of Israel. Listen, O isles unto me, and hearken ye people from far; the Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.
The additional verse found in the writings of Nephi taken from the writings of Isaiah on the brass plates which the Nephites brought with them confirm that Israel will be “scattered abroad” including the Americas. Nephi speaking to his brothers gives further commentary.
B/M, 1 Nephi 22:3, 5
3 Wherefore, the things of which I have read [Isaiah 49]… it appears that the house of Israel, sooner or later, will be scattered upon the face of the earth, and also among all nations.
5 And since they have been led away, these things have been prophesied concerning them, and also concerning all those who shall hereafter be scattered and be confounded, because of the Holy One of Israel; for against him will they harden their hearts; wherefore, they shall be scattered among all the nations and shall be hated of all men.
Nephi, like Isaiah, saw in prophetic vision events that will occur in the future, including the mission of Jesus Christ during the meridian of time and his rejection by the Jews. He also saw the subsequent scattering of the house of Israel. Many, during the period of the scattering will be hated and persecuted by many nations. The Holocaust under Nazi Germany is just one example of the hatred of the Jews by other nations.
We learn that there will be one who was “called… from the womb” or selected before their mortal birth to perform a special mission regarding the gathering of scattered Israel. Who might this individual be? Some scholars have suggested Isaiah himself; Others, a member from the tribe of Ephraim who will have a major responsibility to assist in the gathering; Jesus Christ or even the Prophet of the Restoration, Joseph Smith.
Andrew C. Skinner states,
” … taken together, the words Isaiah uses [49:1-9; 1 Nephi 21:1-9] to describe the helper of Israel in the latter days apply only to two beings: the Messiah and the Prophet Joseph Smith. Nephi and Lehi seem to know not only that Isaiah intended to prophesy of Jesus and Joseph Smith (see 2 Nephi 3), but also that the latter-day restoration of the gospel would help bring about the final redemption of Israel” (“Nephi’s Lessons to His People: the Messiah, the Land and Isaiah 48-49 in 1 Nephi 19-22” in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon. Edited by Donald W. Parry and John W. Welch. Provo: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1998, 107).
Jesus Christ is the orchestra leader of both the scattering and gathering of the house of Israel. Joseph Smith as the guest soloist was the instrument in the Lord’s hand in bringing about the restoration of his church once again upon the earth. To Joseph will come heavenly messengers who will restore to him the sacred keys that will enable him to bring about the gathering of scattered Israel.
Lehi spoke to his sons regarding a vision of Joseph of Egypt of the last days.
B/M, 2 Nephi 3:5-6, 15, 24
5 Wherefore, Joseph truly saw our day. And he obtained a promise of the Lord, that out of the fruit of his loins the Lord God would raise up a righteous branch unto the house of Israel; not the Messiah, but a branch which was to be broken off, nevertheless, to be remembered in the covenants of the Lord that the Messiah should be made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the spirit of power, unto the bringing of them out of darkness unto light—yea, out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom.
6 For Joseph truly testified, saying: A seer shall the Lord my God raise up, who shall be a choice seer unto the fruit of my loins.
15 And his name shall be called after me; and it shall be after the name of his father. And he shall be like unto me; for the thing, which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation.
24 And there shall rise up one mighty among the, who shall do much good, both in words and in deed, being an instrument in the hands of God, with exceeding faith, to work mighty wonders, and do that thing which is great in the sight of God, unto the bringing to pass much restoration unto the house of Israel, and unto the seed of thy brethren.
It is the position of this text that Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days is the prophet and seer spoken of by Joseph of Egypt. He is of the tribe of Joseph, not Judah which is the tribe through whom Jesus Christ was born. The branch broken off or separated from the land of Israel is the group consisting of Lehi and his family who left Jerusalem in 600 B.C. and were led by the Lord to the Americas. Joseph Smith was born on December 23, 1805. He was the third son, born to Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith. In his fifteen years, he sought through personal prayer to know which of all the churches was true. He received a vision of God the Father and his son, Jesus Christ. He was instructed to join none of the churches. He received visits from heavenly visitors, including the angel Moroni, over the intervening years. On April 6, 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized. The authority and organization was now upon the earth that would bring about the gathering of scattered Israel and the teaching of heavenly truths to the Gentiles under the direction of Jesus Christ himself.
Isaiah 49:6 B/M, 1 Nephi 21:6
6 And he said, It is light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. 6 And he said: It is light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel, I also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the ends of the earth.
David R. Minert states,
“The Savior… explains to the saints [members] that while they will be part of the important work of gathering Israel they will also be involved in the work of preaching the gospel to the gentile nations. As they bring the light of the gospel to the world they will provide the means of salvation to those who will listen to their message (Luke 2:32; Acts 13:47; D&C 86:11; LDS Hymns #329)” (Simplified Isaiah for the Latter-Day Saints. Orem: Granite Publishing and Distribution LLC, 2006, 203).
It is Jesus Christ who will orchestrate this great work upon the earth in the latter days through his prophet, Joseph Smith.
Isaiah 49:14-16 B/M, 1 Nephi 21:14-16
14 But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. 14 But, behold, Zion hath said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me—but he will show that he hath not.
15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. 15 For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel.
16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. 16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
Monte S. Nyman states,
One symbolic meaning of the term “graven thee upon the palms of my hands” “would be that the covenant made by Christ (to atone for the sins of the world and to bring to pass the resurrection) would be sealed or completed by his being nailed to the cross. These nail prints in the palms of his hands would then be a sign to the world, and especially to the Jews, that he had kept his promise {see Isaiah 22:23, 25; Zechariah 12:10; 13:6; D&C 45:48-53)” (Great Are The Words Of Isaiah. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980, 181).
The promise given by the Lord is directed to all, and especially to those who will experience great persecution over an extended period of time. Christ suffered pain that no man could ever suffer as the nails were driven into the palms of his hands and into his feet for this was but an extension of the pain that for him had begun in the garden of Gethsemane. A pain that He voluntarily bore for each of his Father’s children, whether they accept his offering or not.
Isaiah 49:22; B/M, 1 Nephi 21:22 unchanged
22 Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.
Nephi speaking to his brothers provides the following commentary regarding the above verse.
1 Nephi 22:8
8 And after our seed is scattered the Lord God will proceed to do a marvelous work among the Gentiles, which shall be of great worth unto our seed; wherefore, it is likened unto their being nourished by the Gentiles and being carried in their arms and upon their shoulders.
The Old Testament student manual states,
“The ‘when’ of the prophecy is now. Converts throughout the world have joined the Church and then have gone throughout the world seeking to reclaim the house of Israel and bring them back to the Lord” (Old Testament student manual 1 Kings—Malachi. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, Second Edition, 193-194).
The immediacy of gathering Israel and teaching the Gentiles so that they may also enjoy every blessing promised to the faithful by the Lord underscores the importance of the writings of Isaiah for they are directed to each of us in these latter days.
Following the gathering of all, who are willing, into the fold of the Lord for protection and guidance, then comes the destruction of the world, prior to Second coming of the Lord. Nephi taught his brothers this truth after his commentary on Isaiah’s writings.
B/M, 1 Nephi 22:16
16 For the time soon cometh that the fullness of the wrath of God shall be poured out upon all the children of men; for he will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous.
When the time for the gathering has concluded, then comes the judgment upon the wicked. Let us now choose which side we will be on.
4. Conclusions
The blessings of the Lord are available to all of God’s children who are willing to accept the Lord as their Savior and to be obedient to his teachings.
How blessed we are to live in these latter days when the gospel has been restored to the earth in its fullness. How grateful we should be to have the Book of Mormon, a second witness to the truths of the Bible, to assist us in furthering our understanding of the writings of Isaiah.
Isaiah saw our day, our trials, and our pending afflictions. He gave us the words of the Lord to serve as a fountain of knowledge and strength during our trials and tribulations. If we are wise, we will continue to study the words of Isaiah until they become written upon our hearts and minds. Then they can serve to lift us up, now and in the future.