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.

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