Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Isaiah 7 & 8

Isaiah's Warning to Judah

The Lord commanded Isaiah to warn Judah not to form a political alliance with Assyria. To briefly provide a background, the superpower of that day was Assyria. Assyria was on the move and was going to invade Israel and Jerusalem. Israel (Ephraim) saw the imminent invasion and formed an alliance with Syria. This alliance also wanted Judah to join them, but Judah refused. Therefore the Syro-Israeli alliance was going to force Judah into the alliance by attacking her. Hoping to repel this attack, Judah intended to form an alliance with Assyria whereby Assyria would protect Judah from the Syro-Israeli alliance. Isaiah and his son were sent to the king of Judah to warn him against forming an alliance with Assyria and instead to put faith in the Lord.

Isaiah tells Ahaz to "fear not, neither be fainthearted" (Isaiah 7:4). Syria and Israel will not attack Judah. Instead, they will be scattered and broken. But Ahaz lacks faith. Isaiah further warns him, "If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established" (Isaiah 7:9). I like the translation Ludlow uses; "If you do no stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all" (140).

In order to prove the legitimacy of Isaiah's words, the Lord tells the king through Isaiah to ask for a sign. But Ahaz refuses. It almost seems that he is like an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand. He trusts more in establishing an alliance with Assyria to protect Judah than in having faith in the Lord. Either is trust in the arm of flesh or his complete lack of faith in the Lord causes him to not even want to see a sign. But the Lord insists he sees the sign.

The Immanuel Prophecy

We have been taught my modern revelation that the Immanuel referred to in this prophecy is Jesus Christ. But given that this prophecy to Ahaz was delivered centuries before Christ, this prophecy may also have referred more directly to a boy who lived in during this era. As with many prophecies from Isaiah, there are multiple levels and meanings.

Ludlow offers three theories in his book. The one I tend to agree with is multi-level meaning prophecy. He describes the three levels:

1. As mentioned earlier, Ahaz and the people of Judah needed to develop faith in the Lord to deliver them from the confederacy of Rezin and Pekah. A son was to be born and named Immanuel as a sign of the Lord's power of deliverance in the subsequent withdrawal and humiliation of the threatening alliance.

2. To the people at the time of the birth of Christ, it was a sign to know that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was to come. Therefore, Isaiah was promised that God himself should "come down from heaven among the children of men and dwell in a tabernacle of clay" (Mosiah 3:5) to free them from the threat of sin and spiritual bondage. (This level of fulfillment is the one usually stressed by General Authorities of this dispensation as they quote and apply the Immanuel prophecy.) (See Matt. 1:21-23.)

3. Isaiah's prophecy is a call to faith in the last days. The birth of Christ strengthens our faith that in the end of the world, against all odds, the Lord "shall bring again Zion." (See Isa. 52:9-10; D&C 84:99.) The memorial of Immanuel's birth is a sign of God's help in such extremity and is intended to build our faith today that indeed "God is with us."
Isaiah's Warning Reiterated

Judah received confirmation of Isaiah's legitimacy as a prophet when his second son began to speak. He warned the people by writing on a large parchment that the attack of the Assyrians on Israel to the north was approaching. He embodied this warning in his son's name which meant "to speed to the spoil, he hasteneth the prey" (see footnote Isaiah 8:1d). He further stated that before the boy would be able to speak, all the spoils of Israel and Syria would be carried away by Assyria. The people observed closely and received a confirmation that Isaiah was a prophet of God.

Next he warns them that as they have rejected the "waters of Shiloah," which meant they rejected the Lord, then they would be flooded by the waters of the river or "the king of Assyria" (Isaiah 8:7).

He also warns them again of forming an alliance with Assyria (Isaiah 8:9). He also warns those who would fight Judah. In Isaiah 8:10, he tells them that for all their planning, it will be for naught, "for God is with us."

The Lord commands Isaiah to not follow the way of the people. Rather, he needed seek the will of the Lord. Those who listen to Isaiah and the Lord will find a sanctuary or a protection in the Lord. Those who do not heed the Lord's counsel will stumble, then fall and then be broken and then snared by the devil and finally taken to hell (Isaiah 8:15). This verse reminds me of 2 Nephi 26:22 where we learn that the devil would lead us by the neck with a flaxen cord until he binds us with strong cords forever.

Isaiah conclude by testifying of himself and his sons as signs from God (Isaiah 8:18). Then he teaches them to not seek after mediums and "wizards that peep." Rather, they should go directly to the source for revelation. One of the great lessons from the Restoration is that each of us can go directly to the source. We do not have to seek "wizards that peep" to tell us God's will concerning us. Each of us can pray and receive personal revelation and testimony from above.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Isaiah 6

Isaiah's Calling

In this short chapter, Isaiah is called by the Lord.

Isaiah sees the Lord sitting on his throne. Next he sees seraphs and realizes he is indeed in the presence of the Lord. He recognizes his unworthiness, but one of the seraphs takes a hot coal and places it on Isaiah's lips. Isaiah's iniquities and sins are forgiven and purged.

The Oven Analogy

While I was reading about the part of the coal purging Isaiah's sin, I thought of something that happened recently in our home. While cooking Thanksgiving dinner, my wife noticed that the juice from the stuffing was spilling over and burning on the burners and making the oven smoke. By the time the dinner was all cooked, she had decided it was time to clean the oven. She read the cleaning instructions and then followed the process. First we had to scrape all the excess off and do what we could to clean the oven. Even after all that scrubbing, the oven still wasn't not spotless. The next step involved the automated process whereby the oven cleans itself. The oven locks itself and then the burners burn at an intense heat. The burn cycle takes four hours and burns everything leftover in the oven. When we awoke the next day, we opened the oven and it looked brand new.

I don't know if this is a good analogy or not, but to me it's applicable. We must do our part to repent of our sins, but we will never really be cleansed until the Lord does His part. We did the best we could to prepare the oven to be cleansed, but it would never be clean until it went through that burn cycle.

Hear, but not Understand

Ludlow has a lot to say on this subject in his book. One of the things he points out is the Book of Mormon clarification. Isaiah 6:9 says, "And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not." 2 Nephi 16 makes it clearer by adding a key word - "they". In 2 Nephi 16 it reads, "Hear ye indeed, but they understood not; and see ye indeed, but they perceived not." The Book of Mormon makes it clearer … we now know that the Lord did not want the people to misunderstand, rather he teaches us that when Isaiah would preach to them, they would not understand because they chose not to listen.

We gain further insight into passage by reading the cross references to Isaiah 6:9, namely Matthew 13:14-15 and Acts 28:26-27. In these passages, we learn the reason why the Lord taught in parables and why the Lord commanded Isaiah to teach the way he taught. They taught in this manner so that those who were ready to hear the word, heard what they were supposed to hear while those who were not ready either misunderstood or never completely understood and thus avoided condemnation (Ludlow 133).

While Jesus taught in parables, Isaiah taught in symbolism, poetry and complex terminology. As Ludlow states, "instead of speaking at a simple level and letting his listeners build upon that foundation, Isaiah spoke at a high intellectual and spiritual level, thus challenging or even forcing his listener to attain that level before they could begin to understand his word. Isaiah was not only difficult, he was deliberately difficult. We must study his words, wrestle with them, and ponder them at great length before his powerful, sublime teachings begin to emerge and inspire us" (135).

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Isaiah 5

The Parable of the Vineyard


The Parable of the Vineyard is the first of three sections in Isaiah 5. The parable is found in verses 1-7.

Ludlow writes in his book that he along with “many scholars” (p. 115) (although he doesn’t cite any other scholar) believed that Isaiah delivered this parable to the people gathered in Jerusalem for the yearly Feast of the Tabernacles (see “Feasts” in the Bible Dictionary for more information). Ludlow states that during Isaiah’s time, the Feast of the Tabernacles had been corrupted. The Day of Atonement was observed a few days before the Feast of the Tabernacle, during which they should be fasting and praying. After observing the Day of Atonement, the people participated in “excessive revelry and merrymaking” and this “distracted them from the fasting and rededication rites they had performed” during the Day of Atonement (p. 116).
To bring this back to modern-day application, today many of our holy days (holidays) are drowned out by the materialism of our society. Instead of thinking on why we give gifts on Christmas day, we think more about what we want to receive as gifts. In this scenario, Isaiah apparently delivers his parable to the people.


Isaiah uses a pattern in this parable and other parts of this chapter.

He begins by identifying (I) and defining the people to which the message will apply.

Secondly, he describes (D) the Lord’s work or power or judgment upon the previously defined people.

Lastly, he contrasts (C) “the initial expectation of the Lord or the people” with what actually occurs. The initial expectation and reality are usually opposite of each other.

What I have done in my scriptures is color-code each part of the pattern. Pink is the identifying pieces of the pattern; orange is the description; and green is the contrast.

The Parable

The parable has four parts with each part containing the pattern. The first part sets the stage for the lesson that Isaiah is about to give to his audience. He tells them that he has a friend who planted a choice vineyard. But instead of yielding delicious grapes, it produced wild grapes.

The second part switches to first person, indicating that Isaiah is speaking on the Lord’s behalf. He seeks the audience’s advice and asks “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?”

In the third part, the Lord tells them what he will do to the vineyard. He will knock down the hedge and leave the vineyard unkempt and he will also take the rain away from it.

I particularly like what Ludlow had to say about this part, “His process of abandoning the vineyard exemplifies the judgments of God, who usually does not destroy or severely punish a wicked person; God simply leaves him alone to face the challenges of life and buffetings of Satan without the protection of the Spirit” (p. 114).

The last part of the parable contains the surprise. Up until now, the audience may have been enjoying that parable and were enthralled with the story of this friend who planted the finest vineyard in the finest ground, yet still yielded sour grapes. Perhaps they gave Isaiah some advice to pass along to his friend because they had a similar experience. But now Isaiah reveals the true purpose of the parable. The story of his friend is about them! The vineyard is the house of Israel “and the men of Judah his pleasant plant” (Isaiah 5:7). If they audience is quick on the uptake, they will realize where they stand with the Lord.

Have you ever had a child who doesn’t want to eat his peas or doesn’t want to take a bath? Simply telling him to eat his peas or telling her to take a bath won’t fix the problem. Sometimes we have to take a backdoor approach. Telling them a story of a girl who refused to take a bath might help. The girl’s parents were so tired of fighting with the girl, they decided to let her win … she would never have to take a bath again. But soon the dirt in her hair and arms were so thick that one day at dinner, her dad planted radish seeds in her hair! In a few weeks they were able to pluck the radishes from her head! The girl was so mortified, that she decided she wanted to take a bath. By telling this story and other similar stories, we hope to grab our children’s attention and teach them a lesson. Isaiah used a similar method by telling the people this parable of the vineyard.

The Woes

There are six woes pronounced by Isaiah to Israel. I’ve tried to glean what I can and apply it to our day.

The first one deals with landowners buying up the poorer farmers land until all the wealthy landowners are joined house to house and field to field that there be no poor between them. The poor are thus forced to move to the cities or live on the land as indentured servants (Ludlow 117).

In our day, greed is common. People try to keep up with their neighbors. Families buy big homes and then fill it with things they do not need. Sometimes their greed pushes them to purchase beyond their means. Greed is a sin.

The second woe is to those who are continually drunk. In our day, we may think that this scripture might not apply to us; that we might use it against those who drink. But we can still apply it to ourselves. The drunkard is simply an addict. Do we not all have to be careful of addictions? The prophet has warned repeatedly against the vice of pornography. He has also warned that we should get our houses in order. Are we addicted to spending money? As King Benjamin instructed the Nephites, “there are divers ways and means” of committing sin and establishing addictions.

The third woe warns against those who would hasten the Lord’s work (Isaiah 5:19). To me this sounds like a lack of patience. Sometimes we want to see the signs so that we may know if it is true. But we would be wise not to tempt the Lord for a sign as Jacob and Sherem taught us in the Book of Mormon (see Jacob 7).

The fourth woe is for those who call evil good and good evil. In our world today, there are many who call evil good and good evil. Just off the top of my head, I can list a handful of examples: prayer in school or public settings is shunned; alternate lifestyles are promoted while wholesome marriages are derided; politicians are praised for their ability to lie. The reason good is called evil and evil is called good is because standards have been assailed. And when standards are torn down, there are no principals and nothing is labeled either good or evil. As the cliché goes, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.

The fifth woe is to those who think they are wise and prudent in their own eyes. Those who are wise in their own eyes are proud. They would remove the speck of dust in your eye while there is a 2x4 in their own eye! These will not listen to counsel, especially the Lord’s counsel. They are not “easy to be entreated” (Alma 7:23).

The last woe cautions those who “justify the wicked for reward” (Isaiah 5:23). I think this refers to bribery. Instead of meting our justice, they let the guilty go free for money. In the preceding years before the coming of the Lord to the Nephites, many judges were corrupted and let the guilty go free because of their money. There is no doubt that this wicked practice thrives today in our legal system.

Promises of Redemption

Despite all their sins and iniquities and the consequences that follow, the Lord will still redeem his people. “For all this his anger is not turned away, but his had is stretched out still” (Isaiah 5:25). I’m sure that the act of the Lord’s hand being stretched out has double meaning. It is stretched out with a sword of vengeance to deliver the consequence of sin and when the people repent and humble themselves, the hand is open and ready to give aid and comfort (see Ludlow 121).

The Lord promises Israel that He will “lift up an ensign to the nations from far” (Isaiah 5:26). In the latter days, we have been taught that the ensign is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, when Brigham Young and the saints entered Utah, a few of the leaders stood on a summit that overlooked the valley. They named it Ensign Peak out of reference to this verse (see Gordon B. Hinckley, “An Ensign to the Nations,” Ensign, Nov 1989, 51)

Other general authorities have compared the descriptions given by Isaiah to the modern day missionary work. The apostles and other general authorities are constantly traveling abroad and preaching. They seem to never rest. Modern day transportation must have been tough for Isaiah to describe, but he did the best he could; perhaps calling our trains, jets, cars and other forms of rapid transportation “whirlwind” and “flint” and as the roar of the lions.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Isaiah 3 & 4


In the first 8 verses of Isaiah 3, the Lord warns Judah and Jerusalem of famines. He warns that unless they repent, they will suffer physical famine … the “whole stay of bread and the whole stay of water.”

The Lord also warns against a famine of leadership. Their “mighty men” and soldiers and judges and prophets and the “prudent” and “ancient” will be taken from them. None will be left but children to rule over them. Ludlow states in his book that this “likely refers to people with childish understanding who will unsuccessfully face the challenge of bringing order to anarchy.”

Indeed the lack of leadership is so deep that a brother will ask his eldest brother to lead him. Seeing that the eldest at least has “clothing” the brother begs his older brother to take him in. But the eldest refuses because he lacks the support or stay of food and water. Isaiah paints a ominous picture for the people.

Judah’s Sins

The reason Judah was destroyed was because of his sins. One of Judah’s most vile sins was that she “declared their sin as Sodom” and they did not even try to hide it. They were proud of their sins.

Another sin that Judah commits is the abuse of the poor and weak by the rich and powerful (Ludlow 107). In Isaiah 3:15 says, “ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor.” In other words, the people lacked charity. They were ever concerned about themselves and continually forgot the poor and weak in spirit.

Daughters of Zion

Next, Isaiah catalogs the excessive vanity of the daughters of Zion. These women who take pleasure in immodesty will be cursed. Instead of a sweet smell, they will stink. Instead beautiful hair, they will become bald. Instead of fine clothing, they will wear sack cloth.

Another plight the daughters of Zion will face will be the lack of men. “And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man (Isaiah 4:1). I like how Ludlow describes this verse, “In their humiliated state, the women have abandoned coquettish, alluring tactics for a direct, pragmatic approach befitting their desperate situation (109).

Ludlow also includes this quote from Wilford Woodruff:

I had been reading the revelations . . . [when] a strange stupor came over me
and I recognized that I was in the Tabernacle at Ogden. I arose to speak and
said . . . I will answer you right here what is coming to pass shortly. . . . I
then looked in all directions . . . and I found the same mourning in every place
throughout the Land. It seemed as though I was above the earth, looking down to
it as I passed along on my way east and I saw the roads full of people
principally women with just what they could carry in bundles on their backs . .
. It was remarkable to me that there were so few men among them. . . . Wherever
I went I saw . . . scenes of horror and desolation rapine and death . . . death
and destruction everywhere. I cannot paint in words the horror that seemed to
encompass me around. It was beyond description or thought of man to conceive. I
supposed that this was the End but I was here given to understand, that the same
horrors were being enacted all over the country. . . . Then a voice said "Now
shall come to pass that which was spoken by Isaiah the Prophet "That seven women
shall take hold of one man saying &C." (Journal of Wilford Woodruff, June
15, 1878, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, Salt Lake City.)

Promise of a Better Day

Isaiah also foretells of brighter days. After the darkness and famines comes the promised hope. “In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel” (Isaiah 4:2).

Smoke by Day, Fire by Night

I know this might be taking the counsel “apply the scriptures” a bit far, but I find it interesting. In the MTC, many pointed out that the Provo temple seemed to looklike a “cloud of smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night.”

This phrase, if I remember correctly, reminds us what the Lord did for the Israelites when he led them out of Egypt. He led by a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire by night. The cloud and the fire symbolize protection and guidance.

It is not a far stretch to apply this imagery and symbolism to the Provo or any other temple.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Isaiah 2

Temples and Zion

Growing up in the Church, the phrase "mountain of the Lord" has always been synonymous with temple. In fact, the first image I have in my mind when I think of that phrase is that of the Salt Lake City Temple.

I believe that the Saints who built the temple in Utah literally fulfilled the prophecy regarding the "mountain of the Lord's house" being established in the top of the mountains.

Many nations already are flowing unto the temple. Indeed many may say today, "let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths." The verse continues, "for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3).

Before President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, he said this, "As I contemplate this marvelous structure, adjacent to the temple, there comes to mind the great prophetic utterance of Isaiah:

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

“And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. …

“O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isa. 2:2–3, 5).

I believe that prophecy applies to the historic and wonderful Salt Lake Temple. But I believe also that it is related to this magnificent hall. For it is from this pulpit that the law of God shall go forth, together with the word and testimony of the Lord." (Gordon B. Hinckley, “This Great Millennial Year,” Ensign, Nov 2000, 67–71).

Modern Idolaters to be Humbled

Isaiah next describes the endless treasures we possess and our worship of them.

Indeed, our nation as well as many nations of the world have vast amounts of treasures … gold, silver, homes, cars, boats, planes, electronics and the list goes on and on. Some are obsessed with taking care of their things and they do not focus on serving others - they forget the fatherless and widows. When our possessions own us, then we are worshipping idols.

In his timeless article, Spencer W. Kimball said this to the Saints, "The Lord has blessed us as a people with a prosperity unequaled in times past. The resources that have been placed in our power are good, and necessary to our work here on the earth. But I am afraid that many of us have been surfeited with flocks and herds and acres and barns and wealth and have begun to worship them as false gods, and they have power over us. Do we have more of these good things than our faith can stand? Many people spend most of their time working in the service of a self-image that includes sufficient money, stocks, bonds, investment portfolios, property, credit cards, furnishings, automobiles, and the like to guarantee carnal security throughout, it is hoped, a long and happy life. Forgotten is the fact that our assignment is to use these many resources in our families and quorums to build up the kingdom of God—to further the missionary effort and the genealogical and temple work; to raise our children up as fruitful servants unto the Lord; to bless others in every way, that they may also be fruitful. Instead, we expend these blessings on our own desires, and as Moroni said, “Ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not.” (Morm. 8:39.)" (Spencer W. Kimball, “The False Gods We Worship,” Ensign, Jun 1976, 3)

As my dad and I were discussing the other day, we really do not own anything. We are born into this world with nothing and we leave this world with no possessions. The only thing we take with us are the memories and experiences and knowledge we have gained in this life - those things that moths and rust cannot corrupt (see Matt. 6:19-20, 3 Ne. 13:19-20; 27:32)

If we are not careful and do no repent of our sin of idolatry, then we will be among those the Lord will humble. "For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon everyone that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low" (Isaiah 2:12).

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Isaiah 1


This outline is from Ludlow's book.

A. Introductory discourse (vs. 2-20)
1. The Lord's accusation (2-6)
a. The Lord speaks—Israel has rebelled (2)
b. Animals know their master's crib (food supply) (3)
c. Sinful people! (4)
d. People stricken—every head and heart sick (5)
e. Open sores everywhere are not cared for (6)
2. Immediate judgments (7-15)
f. Strangers consume the land (labor of hands yields nothing) (7)
g. Zion is desolate after the harvest (8)
h. People are like Sodom and Gomorrah (blatant wickedness) (9)
i. Hear the word of the Lord (10)

Pivot point: For what purpose are your sacrifices?
Obedience is better than sacrifice! (See 1 Sam. 15:22.) (11)

i'. Who asked you to come to the Lord? (Haven't you heard?) (12)
h'. The Lord rejects sabbaths, religious assemblies (hiding wickedness) (13)
g'. No more harvest feasts accepted by the Lord (14)
f'. Sinful hands raised in prayer bring no results (15)
3. Promise of pardon (16-20)
e'. People wash themselves clean (16)
d'. Noble learning (head) and justice (heart)—oppression ended (17)
c'. Promise of forgiveness to people (18)
b'. If people follow God, they will eat food of the earth (19)
a'. Rebellious Israel will be devoured—the Lord has spoken (20)

B. Pronouncement upon Israel (21-31)
1. Apostasy (21-24)
u. Jerusalem and wickedness together (21)
v. Watered wine (22)
w. Greed for wealth (23)
x. The Lord will send vengeance on his enemies (24)
2. Restoration (25-27)
y. Wickedness will be purged out (25)

Pivot point: The LORD will restore proper leaders
God will restore to righteousness! (See Jer. 33:7-9.)

z. Jerusalem will be the faithful city again (26)
y'. Repentant ones will be redeemed (27)
3. Judgment (28-31)
x'. The Lord will destroy sinners (28)
w'. Coveting for property (29)
v'. Gardens without water (30)
u'. Selfish ones and their wealth burn together (31)

The Great Arraignment

Ludlow calls the first chapter in Isaiah the "Great Arraignment." (71) The arraignment is divided into four parts.

Accusation: where the Lord describes the charges against Israel. In Isaiah 1:2-6, the Lord describes the ills (sins) of the people.

Immediate judgments: because the people have disobeyed, the Lord will visit them with immediate consequences (Isaiah 1:7-15)

Promise of pardon: conditions of repentance and blessings wherein the basic gospel principles are established (Isaiah 1:16-20)

Final sentencing: those who repent are redeemed and those who do not repent are destroyed (Isaiah 1:21-31)

Desolate Country

As I read Isaiah 1 for the first time, one of the most striking verses was verse 7. "Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers." I know this verse warned the Israelites in Isaiah's time and this prophesy was fulfilled when the Assyrians and Babylonians invaded their nation, but I can't help but think this verse might not also apply to us today.

Just today (November 6, 2007), I read an article by Pat Buchanan who cited many shocking facts about our nation's economic state. In 2001, the euro was worth $.83. Today it is worth $1.45. The British pound is over $2 and the Canadian dollar is worth more than the U.S. dollar for the first time in 50 years.

Then he said, "The dollar is plunging because America has been living beyond her means, borrowing $2 billion a day from foreign nations to maintain her standard of living and to sustain the American Imperium." (Opinion by Pat Buchanan November 3, 2007 http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=58476)

I can't help but think that "strangers [are devouring our] country in [our] presence."


One of the accusations the Lord lays on the people is their lack of sincerity. In Isaiah 1:11-15, the Lord tells His people that He is tired of their lack of sincerity. He doesn't want "vain oblations" (Isaiah 1:13) and He is "weary" bearing all the peoples' sacrifices and burnt offerings and assemblies because the people have lost their sincerity.

Perhaps more applicable to us today is Isaiah 1:15 where the Lord says, "And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear." Other scriptures have taught us the importance of sincerity in prayer and how the Lord will not listen to insincere prayer.

Alma quoted a prophet by the name of Zenos regarding sincere prayer. "And thou didst hear me because of mine afflictions and my sincerity" (Alma 33:11). A search of the scriptures on sincere prayer teaches us that if we do not pray with sincerity, the Lord will no hear our prayers (see Matt. 6:6-15; 3 Nephi 13:5-15; Matt. 23:14; Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47; Alma 38:13; 3 Nephi 19:24; Moroni 7:48)

Prayer is only a part of our worship. If we are not sincere in all aspects of our worship, then our worship is in vain. We must be sincere in our temple worship and when we partake of the sacrament. We must be sincere when we serve others.

As I read these verses, I could see and feel the Lord's frustration. He doesn't only want us to be baptized and pray and partake of the sacrament for the sake of doing those things … what he really wants is a "broken heart and contrite spirit" … he wants us live the gospel and mean it. We cannot give lip service; we must mean it and live it. We must be sincere.

Repentance and Baptism

A person who has open sores or wounds would not leave them to rot and become infected (see Isaiah 1:6). Rather, we would clean the sore and wounds and anoint them with ointment. So should it be with our sins. We need to wash them from us and allow Christ to heal them. As we repent, we will "cease to do evil" and "learn to do well" (Isaiah 1:15-16).

The remedy to a sick head (Isaiah 1:5) is to learn to do well (Isaiah 1:17). The remedy to a faint heart (Isaiah 1:5) is to seek judgment or justice (or to devote our hearts to justice). We are to serve and help the fatherless and the widow.

One of the greatest scriptures in all books is Isaiah 1:18. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: thought your sins be as scarlet, theyshall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." No other doctrine should be as soothing as that of repentance. We have all sinned and need the Physician. We can always repent no matter the sin.
Failure to repent and turn to the Lord will bring grave consequences. The Lord will purge his people like dross from silver (Isaiah 1:25). The choice is ours. Will we repent or will we suffer the consequences?

Those who do not repent will suffer "destruction" and will be "consumed" and will "burn" and nothing will quench the fire (see Isaiah 1:28-31).