Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Compassion is Synonymous to Covenant
After listening to the analytical lecture by Avraham Gileadi, I learned at least one new thing. He mentioned that the word covenant and compassion are synonymous. In Isaiah 54:7-8, he translates the word mercy to compassion. I also found at least one thesaurus website that confirms this (http://thesaurus.reference.com/browse/charity) in which it links charity to compassion and covenant.
In Isaiah 54:11-12, the "afflicted" are those who are tried and go through a refiner's fire. As a result, they are no more common. They are gifted with pleasant or precious stones. In today's world, wickedness abounds and surrounds us. If we successfully navigate through these waters, we emerge refined and are more highly valued because we are rare. We also inherit and refined and glorified earth which too must pass through a refiner's fire in the Last Days.
Mobs Gather to Oppose Righteous
In Isaiah 54:15, we learn that mobs will gather against the Lord's people. In the recent elections, California passed an amendment making marriage legal only between a man and a woman. The citizens of that state voted against gay marriage several years ago. Again in 2008, they voted against gay marriage. The backlash against the Church and its members was strong during the election and after the election. Several newscasts showed mobs of gay marriage supporters acting lividly against those who support the sanctity of marriage. This trend will undoubtedly continue in the future.
Summary of Isaiah 54 (Ludlow)
Ludlow gives a nice summary of Isaiah 54 (see page 462):
Husband Provides Wife
1. Children (1-3)
2. Love (4-8)
3. Commitment (9-10)
4. Material comfort (11-12)
5. Protection (13-17)
Jehovah Provides Israel
1. Great numbers (1-3)
2. Reconciliation (4-8)
3. Covenant relationship (9-10)
4. Prosperity (11-12)
5. Peace (13-17)
Sunday, December 21, 2008
After doing a little reading about Avraham Gildeadi and his sites, I realized that I am skimming the skim of the surface of Isaiah. There is so much to study and learn.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
For the last few weeks, I've been trying to memorize this chapter. It has always been a goal of mine to memorize Isaiah 53/Mosiah 14 and then repeat it in my mind and think about the words each time I take of the sacrament.
Friday, September 26, 2008
|Isaiah||Jacob||Abinadi||Jesus Christ||Moroni||Joseph Smith|
|1-2||2 Ne. 8:24-25||-||3 Ne. 20:36-37||Moroni 10:31||D&C 113:7-10 D&C 82:14 (see D&C 109:61-67|
|3, 6||-||-||3 Ne. 20:38-393 Ne. 16:18-20||-||-|
|7-10||-||Mosiah 12:20-25 Mosiah 15:13-31||3 Ne. 20:32-35, 40||-||D&C 19:29; 31:3; 79:1; 84:98-99; 113:10; 128:19; 133:3|
|11-12||-||-||3 Ne. 20:41-42 3 Ne. 21:29||-||D&C 5, 14-15 (see D&C 38:42; 49:27; 84:88; 101:68|
|13-15||-||-||3 Ne. 20:43-453 Ne. 21:8-10||-||D&C 101:94|
The Sign and Missionary Work
Obviously, Isaiah 52 is a very important chapter. It is referenced multiple times throughout the scriptures. Many prophets and general authorities have quoted Isaiah 52 as well (see all the citations for Isaiah 52 at scriptures.byu.edu). The reason why it is so important to the work today is because it is precisely why the Church has been established again on the earth.
Going back to the sign that is given in 3 Nephi 21:4 it reads, "For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth from them unto a remnant of your seed, that the covenant of the Father may be fulfilled which he hath covenanted with his people, O house of Israel" (emphasis added). In other words, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today. And that the Church has been established in order to spread the gospel to the entire world and especially scattered Israel.
Be Ye Clean
Why does the Church have to be so strict in the seemingly numerous commandments we must keep? Isaiah 52:11 tells us exactly why. "Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord." Symbolically, we are the "vessels of the Lord." What we do reflects on the Church and the gospel. If we keep the commandments and are clean, then others will desire to know more of the truthfulness of the gospel. But if we are not clean, we set a poor example and hinder the work of gathering Israel.
Isaiah 52:15 reads, "So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider."
This scripture reminds me of what Nephi saw in the Tree of Life vision. "And it came to pass that I looked and behold the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.
"And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw." (1 Nephi 14:11-12)
It would seem that the Lord has sprinkled the nations with the saints who in turn have a positive influence on the citizens of the world. Another way to read this is the seemingly small army of missionaries who cover the earth. With this small force, many people are brought to the knowledge of the gospel.
Monday, September 1, 2008
The Lord reminds and comforts Israel as he commands them to "look unto the rock whence ye are hewn" and to "look unto Abraham your father" (Isaiah 51:1-2). As a continuation from the previous chapter, the Lord is trying to comfort Israel by telling her to trust in Him. He provides more evidence to Israel by showing her how He has blessed Abraham and his posterity. Abraham was a single man. Now his posterity are nations.
The covenants the Lord made with Abraham were in effect during Isaiah's time and are still in effect today. They were fulfilled and being fulfilled in Isaiah's time and they are fulfilled and still being fulfilled today.
Being heirs and descendants of Abraham, we too can receive the same blessings Abraham was promised if we keep the covenants we've made with the Lord.
Elder Nelson summarizes the blessings we will receive as we keep our covenants.
"Abraham’s posterity would be numerous, entitled to eternal increase and to bear the priesthood;
• He would become a father of many nations;
• Christ and kings would come through Abraham’s lineage;
• Certain lands would be inherited;
• All nations of the earth would be blessed by his seed;
• That covenant would be everlasting—even through “a thousand generations.”"
(Russell M. Nelson, “Children of the Covenant,” Ensign, May 1995, 32)
He references the following scriptures in his talk:
Gen. 17:1–10; Gen. 22:15–18; Gal. 3:28–29; Abr. 2:9–11.
Gen. 26:1–5, 24.
Gen. 28:1–4, 10–14; Gen. 35:9–13; Gen. 48:3–4.
1 Chr. 16:15. See also Gen. 17:1–10, 19; Lev. 26:42; Acts 3:25; LDS Bible Dictionary, “Abraham, Covenant of,” p. 602.
The Work and Glory (v 4-8)
The Lord further comforts Israel by telling her His work will last forever. In Isaiah 51:6 he says "the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished."
Like Joseph Smith has declared, the Lord's work cannot be stopped. My parents sent me a quote from Joseph Smith while they and I were on missions. They said they repeated this quote every conference and were asked to memorize it.
In the Wentworth Letter, Joseph Smith wrote, "Our missionaries are going forth to different nations, and in Germany, Palestine, New Holland, Australia, the East Indies, and other places, the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear; till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done." (see Joseph Smith Jr., “The Wentworth Letter,” Ensign, Jul 2002, 27)
Our Protector, Our Comforter (v 9-16)
The Lord reminds Israel that he has comforted and protected them. He has done so in the past and he will continue to do so in the future. If ever we feel fear or doubt, reading Isaiah 51:12-16 will bring us comfort.
Two Sons to Lead (v 17-23)
The Book of Mormon version of Isaiah 51 sheds some vital information that is left out in the Old Testament version. I've marked the key difference between the two sources.
Isaiah 51:19-20 says, "These two things are come unto thee; who shall be sorry for thee? Desolation, and destruction, and the famine, and the sword: by whom shall I comfort thee?
"Thy sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as a wild bull in a net: they are full of the fury of the Lord, the rebuke of they God."
2 Nephi 8:19-20 reads, "These two sons are come unto thee, who shall be sorry for thee—thy desolation and destruction, and the famine and the sword—and by whom shall I comfort thee?
"Thy sons have fainted, save these two; they lie at the head of all the streets; as a wild bull in a net, they are full of the fury of the Lord, the rebuke of thy God."
Ludlow notes that in Revelation 11:1-6, "John the Revelator describes two great servants of God who will stand and fight for Jerusalem against the armies of the world. For three and one-half years they will have power over the heavens, earth, and their enemies. Then they will killed." (431) The entire chapter of Revelation 11 is a great source for more information on these two prophets.
Joseph Smith also spoke of these two great prophets in D&C 77:15 teaching us that they will be "raised up to the Jewish nation in the last days, at the time of the restoration, and to prophesy to the Jews after they are gathered and have built the city of Jerusalem in the land of their fathers."
This article (Brent Bulloch, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Dec. 1981, 58–60) notes that "Two prophets will be raised up unto (not from) the Jewish nation after the gathering." They key point being that they will not be Jewish.
In another article (Daniel H. Ludlow, “The Future of the Holy Land,” Ensign, May 1972, 96) the author quotes Orson Pratt, “We might bring up, also, the declaration of John in relation to the two witnesses who are to prophecy about that period. They are to prophecy three and a half years, and their field of labor will be Jerusalem, after it shall have been rebuilt by the Jews. By means of their prophecies and the power of God attending them, the nations who are gathered together against Jerusalem will be kept at bay, these Prophets will hold them in check by their faith and power. By and by these nations overcome the two witnesses and, having finished their mission, they are slain, and their bodies will lie three days and a half in the streets of the city. Then a great earthquake will take place, and these two witnesses will be caught up to heaven.” (JD, vol. 16, p. 329. Italics added.)"
Bruce R. McConkie has also commented on these two great prophets. "These two shall be followers of that humble man, Joseph Smith, through whom the Lord of Heaven restored the fullness of his everlasting gospel in this final dispensation of grace. No doubt they will be members of the Council of the Twelve or of the First Presidency of the Church. Their prophetic ministry to rebellious Jewry shall be the same in length as was our Lord's personal ministry among their rebellious forebears." (McConkie, Bruce R. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary. 3:507-511. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-73)
On a personal note … I have always been fascinated with this prophecy. As a kid, I imagined that the whole world will see these two prophets' bodies lying in the streets dead. I can almost hear the commentary of the newscasters and the world rejoicing that they are dead. Then they will be resurrected and fear will grip the world … much like the fear that gripped the people of Ammonihah when they saw Alma and Amulek stepping out of the ruins of the prison in which they were held. The people fled before those two prophets "as a goat fleeth with her young from two lions" (Alma 14:29)
I don't know when all this will happen, but deep down inside, I feel strongly that it will happen in my lifetime.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
A Call to Israel (v 1-3)
Like all of us, Israel has gone astray and has not followed the Lord. When we sin, we distance ourselves from the Holy Ghost and we begin to feel isolated and abandoned. Israel pleads to the Lord and says that the Lord has divorced her.
The Lord replies that he has not divorced her nor has He sold them like children into slavery. He tells them why they feel abandoned, “Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.” (Isaiah 50:1) The Lord will always “be there” for us. We are the ones to blame for feeling like the Lord has left us … we leave the Lord, not the other way around.
The Lord reminds them that his hand is always there. “Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem?” (Isaiah 50:2) He also reminds them that he has power to dry up the seas and cloud the skies as well as power to redeem his people.
The Servant Song (v 4-9)
Follow the Prophet
The reason Israel fell away from the Lord was because she failed to heed the prophets. Failure to listen to the prophets has resulted in sin and other transgressions which lead to unhappiness in this life and a damned life in the eternities.
The Servant Song in Isaiah 50:4-9 goes into some detail about the life of a prophet. The same things that describe the life of a prophet also describe the life of the Savior. The prophet is to “speak a word in season to him that is weary” (Isaiah 50:4). I don’t think the weary in this verse is referring to those who lack physical strength. Rather I think it refers to those who are spiritually weary … those who need spiritual strengthening. Verse 4 also mentions that a prophet awakes every morning to hear what the Lord would have him speak to the people.
Both Jesus Christ and the prophets are humble and willing to listen and heed the will of God. Isaiah 50:5 says the “Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious neither turned away back.” This verse reminds me of Nephi. In 1 Nephi 3:6, before that well-known verse 7, Lehi tells his son Nephi that he is favored of the Lord because he has not murmured. Unlike Laman and Lemuel, Nephi never turned his back on the Lord verbally or otherwise. And because he was humble and willing to listen, he was a great prophet.
Isaiah 50:6 refers to the persecution that Jesus Christ and the prophets experienced. They were smitten and abused. They did not shirk in the face of persecution. In fact, they turned the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).
Despite all the persecution heaped on them, the Lord God will uphold his servants. He will not abandon them. All the persecutors will “wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.” (Isaiah 50:9) Whether in this life of the next, those that persecute the prophets will have to pay.
I’ve not read the entire book, but as I kid I would peruse a book entitled “The Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith” by N.B. Lundwall published by Bookcraft in Salt Lake City in 1952. Here is one of the more interesting passages from that book:
“James Head, of McComb, was also one of the murderers at the Carthage Jail; he was heard by Captain Lawn and others to boast of it afterwards, and Captain Lawn drew a pistol and chased him, but he ran away. He was always gloomy and troubled from the time he helped murder the Smiths, and frequently declared that he saw the two martyrs always before him! He had no peace.
“A colonel of the Missouri mob, who helped to drive, plunder and murder the Mormons, died in the hospital at Sacramento, 1849. Beckwith had the care of him; he was eaten with worms – a large black-headed kind of maggot – which passed through him by myriads, seemingly a half pint at a time! Before he died these maggots were crawling out of his mouth and nose! He literally rotted alive! Even the flesh on his legs burst open and fell from the bones! They gathered up the rotten mass in a blanket and buried him, without waiting a coffin!”
The story goes on to tell of another member of the mob who killed Joseph and Hyrum who died in the same hospital. He too was infested with maggots. He died when the maggots ate through his jugular vein and he bled to death. These two men stank so badly, they had to keep them in a separate room by themselves (Lundwall, 335).
An Injunction to All People (v 10-11)
I’ve made comments on these two verses in the 2 Nephi 7 counterpart (see my Book of Mormon post on 2 Nephi 7). Note: There is a small difference in the Isaiah version which I have noted below with italics and other indicators. Here is what I said:
I really like the last two verse of this chapter. Verse 10 and 11 say, "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God
"Behold all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks [which] that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand—ye shall lie down in sorrow."
Verse 10 seems to refer to trusting in the Lord. The Lord asks us to believe in him, to trust in him and to take those steps in the darkness.
But there are some of us who cannot accept this and think that we must have some light so that we see where we are going. And so we try to light our own fire and our own fire is small and cannot show us the complete path. If we decide to tread the path on our own with our own fire, then the Lord warns us that we will suffer.
And so the point of verses 10-11 is that we must trust in the Lord to show us the way if we are to avoid spiritual injury.
Overall, Isaiah 50 is about obeying the prophets. If we give diligent heed to the living oracles, we will be safe. We will have nothing to fear for the Lord will be on our side.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
In Isaiah 48, covenant was made. In Isaiah 49, the covenant is broken and now a court is convened to hear the two sides. Isaiah 49 will contain four steps of this court hearing: the summons, the plaintiff’s charge, the defendants plea and the judge’s indictment.
The Summons (v 1-6)
The Servant Song
Ludlow points out that these “six verses comprise on of the four recognized ‘servant songs’ of Isaiah (along with 42:1-4; 50:5-9 and 52:13-53:12)”
This servant has the following attributes:
1. He is “called from the womb” foreordained (v 1)
2. He is “in the shadow of his [the Lord] hand” (v 2)
3. He is like a “polished shaft” (v 2)
4. He seemingly labors in vain (v 4)
5. He is involved in the gathering of Israel (v 5-6)
Ludlow lists several people who fit this description. Israel, Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith all fit these descriptions in one way or another. He also cites Ephraim, who is a recipient of Jacob’s birthright, as another possible person who fits the description.
The Plaintiff’s Charge (v 7-13)
In the charge, the Lord reminds Israel that he has “fulfilled his obligations” in that he will gather her from all parts of the earth.
Isaiah 49:9 refers to the liberation of the people from darkness and a life of sin. This seems to refer to our day when we have the fullness of the restoration of the Gospel. This could also allude to the liberation of those who sat in the prison world before Christ organized the preaching of the gospel to those souls (see D&C 138).
Isaiah 49:12 refers to the gathering of Israel from all quarters of the earth. Ludlow points out that some Bible scholars believe that the land of Sinim may be China. Others believe it may be a place in Egypt.
The Defendant’s Plea (v 14, 21, 24)
Israel responds to the Lord’s charge. In Isaiah 49:14 she claims the Lord has forsaken and forgotten her.
In Isaiah 49:21 she claims she is left childless, alone without friends and held captive.
And in Isaiah 49:24 she “fears she has been robbed of her heritage” (Ludlow 412).
The Judge’s Indictment (v 15-20, 22-23, 25-26)
The Lord Will Not Forget
In verse 14, Israel has lost faith in the Lord’s capacity to deliver her. But the Lord cannot forget his chosen people. A woman may (although unlikely) forget her baby and focus on her pregnancy, the Lord will never forget his chosen people.
A mark of the laborer is his hands. He will have worn and bruised hands if he has labored hard. The Lord’s work also can be seen by looking at his hands. He says to Israel and to us, “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16).
When I read those words, I almost instantly think of that wonderful, soul-penetrating hymn “Reverently and Meekly Now” (Hymn #185)
Think of me, thou ransomed one;
Think what I for thee have done.
With my blood that dripped like rain,
Sweat in agony of pain,
With my body on the tree
I have ransomed even thee. . . .
Oh, remember what was done
That the sinner might be won.
On the cross of Calvary
I have suffered death for thee.
Nursing Fathers and Mothers
Israel complains to the Lord that her numbers are too few. The Lord assures her that she will have plenty of help. “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 they daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.
“And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens they nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me” (Isaiah 49:22-23)
Anyone who has read or is familiar with the history of the nation of Israel will know that this scripture has been fulfilled. Wikipedia does a good job summarizing the history of Israel as a nation (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel).
I am not going to copy it in full here, but Ludlow does an amazing job summarizing the prophecies pertaining to the return of Judah that have either been partially or fully fulfilled.
Included in this list are:
1. Elijah the Prophet to return to the earth
2. Descendants of Judah to gather
3. Gold and silver from the nations to revive the land
4. The land of Jerusalem to be made productive
5. The descendants of Judah to be attacked and delivered
6. Jerusalem will come under the control of Israel
7. The Jewish people will begin to believe in Jesus Christ
He also lists many prophesies about the Jews that have not been fulfilled.
1. A new temple will be built in Jerusalem
2. A leader named David … will lead Israel
3. The nations … will gather … and Judah will be smitten
4. Two prophets are to be raised up to the Jewish nation
5. The Savior to appear to the descendants of Judah
6. The Messiah to lead Israel to victory and rule as King of Kings
7. Two great world capitals are to be established, Zion and Jerusalem
Ludlow notes scriptures and other references for each point, along with some brief information regarding the point. These lists can be found in the book on pages 415-416).
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Isaiah in the Book of Mormon
Ludlow makes a few notes about these two chapters in the Book of Mormon. He says, "chapters 48 and 49 are the first Isaianic chapters to be quoted in their entirety in the Book of Mormon. (1 Nephi 20-21.) Also, approximately one-third of the Isaianic verses in the Book of Mormon containing major changes are located in these two chapters." He goes on to explain that some of these changes found in the Book of Mormon help clarify passages that have confused scholars in the past. (399)
Isaiah 48 is in covenant form. Ludlow explains that there are six parts to a treaty between a king and his vassal or in this instance, a covenant between the Lord and his people.
The six parts are 1) Preamble, 2) Historical prologue, 3) Stipulations, 4) Witnesses, 5) Curses and blessings and 6) Perpetuation of the contract.
Isaiah 48 has all these elements, although they slightly different order (400).
Preamble (v 1-2)
The preamble is an introduction to the people.
"or out of the waters of baptism"
The 1 Nephi 20:1 rendition of Isaiah 48:1 adds the phrase "or out of the waters of baptism." This phrase did not originally appear in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon. It first showed up in the 1840 edition. Ludlow cites Daniel H. Ludlow to explain this.
The term "or out of the waters of baptism" did not appear in the first edition of the Book of Mormon. It first appeared in the edition of 1840 on page 53, and the sentence in which it appeared was punctuated as follows: "Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, (or out of the waters of baptism,) who swear by the name of the Lord," etc. It is not absolutely clear who was responsible for the insertion of this phrase, although the title pages of this edition indicates that it was the "Third Edition, Carefully Revised by the Translator" and was published in Nauvoo, Illinois.Israel
In the "Committee Copy" of the Book of Mormon that was used by Elder James E. Talmage and his committee in making changes for the 1920 edition, the words "or out of the waters of baptism" were not printed in the text although they had been inserted in red ink in parentheses. However, the parentheses were crossed out by red pencil. These words are printed in the current edition of the Book of Mormon without parentheses. (A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, 120).
When Isaiah speaks to Israel, he may be addressing three different groups of people.
Blood Israel - those who are literal descendants of Jacob or Israel.
Covenant Israel - those who accept God and the covenants of Israel.
The people who live in the land of Israel - those inhabitants of the land that was granted to the tribes of Israel.
Historical Prologue (v 3-8)
In this section, "Isaiah reviews Israel's covenant relationship with the Lord." (403)
The Lord's Foreknowledge
The reason the Lord "declared the former things from the beginning" was so that Israel had no doubt it came from the Lord and would not be able to say that their dumb idols were responsible for the events.
Regarding the foresight and foreknowledge of the Lord, I have found it interesting how even today the Lord gives ample warning to his people. I remember in October 1998 sitting in a chapel in Provo listening to President Hinckley warn all of us priesthood holders to get our houses in order (Gordon B. Hinckley, “To the Boys and to the Men,” Ensign, Nov 1998, 51). He made it clear he was not prophesying that there would be a famine, but he made it clear that he was giving counsel.
To fully understand the context of this talk, you need to understand that 1998 was a great year. The economy was virtually booming. The Internet as we generally know it had been around for a few years and businesses were jumping on board with on-line models and such. It is not a far stretch of the imagination to think that some scoffed at the idea of a prophet counseling to reduce debt and cut back.
Yet just a few years later, the .com bust occurred and scores of on-line companies went out of business. Then September 11, 2001 happened and the world has never been the same. I remember filling my car up at the Chevron across from the football stadium for $.99 a gallon in 1998. Today, the gas prices are $3.50 a gallon and were up to $4.00 a gallon earlier this year. The dollar has hit historical lows against the euro. There were stories of food shortages around the world earlier this year too. Wheat and rice were very expensive and still are. The housing bubble has finally "popped" and there has been a lot of uneasiness in the economy since October 1998.
But looking back to President Hinckley's talk, it is amazing to see the wisdom in his counsel. No doubt he was inspired by the Lord.
Stipulations of the Covenant (v 8-13)
In this next section, the Lord "explains that his efforts are in fulfillment of the covenants made with Israel. He promises that in spite of Israel's rebellions, he will not completely destroy her; still, he will not let her disregard her covenant without punishment." (404)
"but not as silver"
The phrase "but not as silver" found in Isaiah 48:10 is not found in 1 Nephi 20:10. Ludlow states that this phrase has confused scholars for many years. But as the Book of Mormon version stands, the verse is crystal clear in its meaning.
The Right Hand
In Isaiah 48:13, the Lord's "right hand hath spanned the heavens." Ludlow commentates that favoring the right hand is not an invention of man, but it comes from the Lord and is a symbol of righteousness. (405)
I found one Ensign article that discusses using the right hand when making covenants, especially with regard to taking the sacrament.
“I Have a Question,” Ensign, Mar 1983, 67–69
Perpetuation of the Covenant (v 13-15)
In Isaiah 48:13-15, Ludlow identifies the person referred to here as Jesus Christ or Cyrus. Whether Christ or Cyrus, this person will "foretell the future, fulfill the Lord's word, wield power over Babylon, and ultimately succeed in his foreordained mission." (405)
Witnesses of the Covenant (v 16)
It appears in Isaiah 48:16 that the Lord himself and Isaiah are witnesses to this covenant.
Blessings and Curses (v 17-22)
The blessings or curses for obeying or disregarding the covenant are: peace as a river and righteousness as the waves of the sea or tumult and wickedness (Isaiah 48:18), seed as the sand and not being cut off from the Lord or no posterity and living in apostasy (Isaiah 48:19).
Saturday, August 9, 2008
The two idols Isaiah targets are Bel and Nebo. Bel is also known as Marduk.
Ludlow explains the reason why these idols were loaded onto carts and moved by beasts to a different location. "Ancient man believed that each god had a certain territory in which he was to be worshipped. (Though a god could be worshipped anywhere, it was most effective to worship him in his own land.) If a person moved to another location, he would then worship and give honor to the god of that particular land. Ancient man also believed that the lives of the gods were reflected in their own lives. For example, if the people of one city were defeated by the people of another city, they believed it to be because there had been a war in heaven in which the god of the victorious nation defeated their god." (391)
Isaiah ridicules the idols and mocks how they must be transported by beasts. "They are a burden to the weary beast. They stoop, they bow down together, they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity." (Isaiah 46:1-2)
Furthermore, these idols cannot answer prayers. In Isaiah 46:7 he says, "one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble."
The Living God
In contrast, the Living God is unique. He can see from the beginning to the end and he has his own will … he can act. Isaiah 46:10 says, "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are no yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure."
The Living God can also save his people. Isaiah 46:13 says, "I bring my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory."
In Isaiah 47, Isaiah describes why Babylon fell and will fall again in the latter-days.
Isaiah 47:10 sums up nicely Babylon's greatest weakness. "For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me."
Babylon saw no need and felt she had no obligation to anyone. She was an agent unto herself … free to do as she pleased. She attained her own wisdom and knowledge and thought she was powerful. She did not acknowledge the true and Living God. She did not understand her position in the world … she trusted in the arm of flesh rather than in the arm of God.
How often do we thank the Lord for his help in our lives? Do we recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives or do we think we are solely responsible for all our successes?
We are commanded and counseled to gain as much education as possible, but we must also always recognize the hand of the Lord in all our studies and gains and labors.
The Book of Mormon teaches, "O that cunning plan of the evil one! 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. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God" (2 Nephi 9:28-29)
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Ludlow refers the reader to Deut. 33:5, 26 for more information regarding Jesurun. He also states that this name is Hebrew for "upright" or "righteous" (377)
In Isaiah 44:3, the Lord says he will "pour water upon him that is thirsty" and will also "pour [his] spirit upon they seed" symbolizing the ordinances of baptism and confirmation.
In Isaiah 44:5, Isaiah continues by describing the steps converts take in their "growing relationship with the Lord (377).
First, they say they are the Lord's or in other words, they take upon them the name of the Lord. This is what we do when we are baptized and when we partake of the sacrament each week.
Next they will desire to take upon them the name of Jacob. Today, we receive patriarchal blessing which declare our lineage. Additionally, those who honor the oath and covenant of the priesthood become "the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham" (D&C 84:34).
Third, they "subscribe with [their] hand unto the Lord" meaning they use their hand to "witness [their] relationship with the Lord" (378). Ludlow additionally teaches "the hand could be used in a sign, token, or witness of a person's promises and covenants with God." In the Church today, we make many covenants with our hands.
Lastly, when a person takes upon himself the name of Israel, he is further developing the 2nd step. Ludlow states, "he actually receives the name. The actualization of the full blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob come only to those who enter into the 'new and everlasting covenant' in the temples of the Lord" (378).
Scorn for Idolatry
Isaiah uses "sharp sarcasm" (380) to describe the idols that men make. He describes how men use iron and wood to make idols as well as how man will plant trees, harvest them and then use some of the wood for fuel and some of it to make idols. For all this effort, the idols and the gods they represent cannot save the man. Only the true and living God can provide true life for man.
Ludlow makes a couple of really interesting comments regarding idolatry.
First he said, "The Ten Commandments strictly forbade images of God because, among other reasons, nothing material can capture the full glory of God." (380) I somewhat appreciate art … paintings, sculptures and such. But there is a fine line between idolatry and art. I know the goal of Temple Square the Visitor's Center is to help visitors feel the spirit and want to come to Christ. But do we indulge in idolatry when we "must see" the Christus statue as well as the many other art displays?
In the following paragraph he said, "These idolators worshipped the efforts of their craftsmanship and deprived themselves of the resources the wood, metal, and their labors could otherwise provide." When I read this sentence, I wondered if we sometimes raise LDS painters and sculptors on a pedestal. Do these artists get caught up in their craftsmanship? I don't know the answer to these questions, but I simply wonder sometimes.
The bottom line and modern-day application of guarding against idolatry is to ask ourselves certain questions. Are our thoughts centered on God or on something else? Do we spend more time building up our financial portfolio or building up the kingdom of God? We should be worshipping God in our thoughts, words and actions. We should not be idolizing anything.
For another great article on idolatry, read Dennis Largey, “Refusing to Worship Today’s Graven Images,” Ensign, Feb 1994, 9
Isaiah 44:21-22 offers counsel to Israel. The Lord tells Israel to remember these things that the Lord has taught them. He pleads for them to remember who they are and that He has blessed them. He reminds them too that they will not be forgotten.
He also tells them that He has blotted out their transgressions, thus referring to His atoning sacrifice He would perform when he received a mortal body.
Cyrus the Great
From wikipedia's entry … "The Bible records that a remnant of the Jewish population returned to the Promised Land from Babylon, following an edict from Cyrus to rebuild the temple. This edict is fully reproduced in the Book of Ezra. As a result of Cyrus' policies, the Jews honored him as a dignified and righteous king. He is the only Gentile to be designated as a messiah, a divinely-appointed king."
Purpose of the Earth
Isaiah 45:18 has an interesting snippet. "God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited." Mankind was not made inhabit the earth, rather the earth was made for mankind to live on it. Indeed we are to be good stewards of the earth and keep it clean and let it be healthy, but we do not necessarily have to submit to the earth. The earth was made for us to live on it and not the other way around.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
A. Israel's future gathering (v. 1-7)
B. A trial scene of God before Israel and the other nations (v. 8-13)
A' Israel's future blessings (v. 14-21)
B' A trial scene between God and Israel; present Israel merits condemnation (v. 22-28)
Jacob and Israel
Ludlow makes a note about the use of the names Jacob and Israel to reference the same person. He says that Jacob and Israel are used together seventeen times between Isaiah 40 and 49 (363). Isaiah 43:1 is an example of how the two names are used together. He further states, "It is the order of the two names that makes the repetition significant, for "Jacob" nearly always precedes "Israel," hinting, perhaps, that a change in Jacob's character prompted the Lord to change his name also. Jacob, the "supplanter," who worried about his relationship with his twin brother, Esau, became Israel, the "prevailer," who worked together with God to overcome wickedness. (See Bible Dictionary "Jacob"; "Israel.")"
Do we not also take upon us a new name? As we are born again and truly become converted to Christ, we take upon ourselves the name of Christ. We become a different person, casting off our old selfish selves and in turn begin to work with God in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
Isaiah seems to be teaching the Israelites that they too need to cast off their old selves and become true Israelites.
Water and Fire
In Isaiah 43:2 the Lord promises to be with Israel as she passes through the waters and through the fire. The water will not overpower her nor will the fire burn her.
Ludlow suggests that this verse alludes to baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Another layer of symbolism may be how the Lord delivered Israel through the Red Sea and protected her from the fiery serpents as she left Egypt.
Similarly, we must repent of our sins, be baptized by one who has authority and then receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. As we do so, we are delivered by the hand of the Lord from spiritual captivity.
Promise of Gathering
In Isaiah 40:5-6, the Lord promises that all of Israel, including the Ten Lost tribes will be gathered from east, to west, from the north and the south.
Ludlow discusses the modern-day manifestation of this gathering as a Jewish nation was organized in 1949 and how Israel the nation has thrived in the midst of her enemies.
No Other God, No Other Savior
One of the common arguments against the LDS church and restored Gospel is that we believe in multiple gods (God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost). To support their argument, many will exclusively use the last phrase of Isaiah 43:10. Taking it out of the context of the verse and chapter, the phrase seems to support their argument. But in reading the entire verse and chapter, the true meaning of the phrase becomes clear.
The Lord Jesus Christ or Jehovah was addressing the world and Israel. He called Israel to be His witness. Ludlow states, "Israel is not only God's special witness, but also his servant to the world, and her inspired records are to go to all people. No other nation can give a similar witness of its gods." (367)
"Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
"I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour" (Isaiah 43:10-11)
This idea of no other God formed before or after Christ means that there was and is only one Savior provided. The way to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father is to follow Christ. He provided the way and we must follow him. In John 14:6, Christ offers a similar statement, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
For more on this subject of one God vs mankind's ability to become like God, read this entry from my other blog.
Israel's Future Blessings
The Lord will bless Israel with many blessings including: freedom (v. 14), miracles in the sea (v. 16), protection from every enemy and army (v. 17), a restoration (v. 19), and miracles in the desert (v. 19-20) (Ludlow 368).
One of the most fascinating things to see, speaking personally, is how the modern nation of Israel has been established and flourished right in the midst of her enemies. I have always been awed by how Israel has been able to hold back every Arab state that surrounds her. To me, Isaiah 43:17 has been, is being and will be fulfilled.
In Isaiah 43:21, the Lord states the reason for his blessing Israel … "they shall shew forth my praise."
Israel's Sins, the Lord's Mercy
In Isaiah 43:22-24, the Lord accuses Israel of many sins. In the face of all of Israel's sins, the Lord offers mercy (Isaiah 43:25).
"I, even I, am he that blotteth out they transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."
As the Lord stated earlier in Isaiah, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18)
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Discourse 1 Part A: Isaiah 41:1
Discourse 2 Part A: Isaiah 41:21-24
Discourse 1 Part B: Isaiah 41:2-7
Discourse 2 Part B: Isaiah 41:25-29
Discourse 1 Part C: Isaiah 41:8-10
Discourse 2 Part C: Isaiah 42:1-9
Discourse 1 Part D: Isaiah 41:11-16
Discourse 2 Part D: Isaiah 42:10-13
Discourse 1 Part E: Isaiah 41:17-20
Discourse 2 Part E: Isaiah 42:14-17
Idols are Nothing
Part A of the two discourses deal with one theme: idols are less than nothing (read Isaiah 41:24). In the second discourse in part A, all the idols and false gods are called out to do something great. But that cannot because they are false. Only the true and living God can has power to renew our strength (Isaiah 40:31).
Part B discusses the coming of a prophesied leader. Ludlow does a fine job summarizing the qualities of this leader:
A. An important person comes from the east (or rising sun)
B. He has power over rulers and kings
C. He turns them unto dry powder and molds them as wet clay
D. His feet pursues them and treads them under
E. His coming is foretold
F. The Lord is the one who has announced it
G. People are powerless though they try to obtain counsel from each other
H. The people try to secure idols, but they cannot ward off the ensuing wind and confusion.
Servant of the Lord
The qualities of the servant of the Lord are worth emulating.
He does no coerce, but uses gentle persuasion (see Isaiah 42:2, D&C 121:41).
He does not get discouraged in the face of adversity (Isaiah 42:4).
He is righteous … he keeps the commandments and is pure, thus ensuring his calling from the Lord (Isaiah 42:6).
He teaches truth and light and delivers the prisoners and blind from spiritual darkness (Isaiah 42:7).
The Living God Provides
The next part demonstrates the kindness and charity the Living God has for those who follow Him. While on the other hand, false gods and idols can offer no such help to their worshipers.
Isaiah 41:17 - "I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them."
The hand of the Lord makes the wilderness a pool of water (read Isaiah 41:18, 20).
Isaiah 42:16 and 17 offer the stark contrast between the Living God and false gods.
"I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them."
To those who worship false gods, "they shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods."
Ever since I first read Spencer W. Kimball's talk "The False Gods We Worship", I've always come back to it again and again as I read and ponder the scriptures. I think our society thinks that we are not an idolatrous people, but in reality we are. As President Kimball defined it, we are idolatrous.
He said, "we learn from the scriptures that because the exercise of faith has always appeared to be more difficult than relying on things more immediately at hand, carnal man has tended to transfer his trust in God to material things. Whatever thing a man sets his heart and his trust in most is his god; and if his god doesn't also happen to be the true and living God of Israel, that man is laboring in idolatry." (Spencer W. Kimball, “The False Gods We Worship,” Ensign, Jun 1976, 3)
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Living, Loving God
In the first two verses, God gives comfort and forgives his people. In Isaiah 40:2 the message to his people is, "that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned."
To me, this means that if we keep the commandments (warfare … read 2 Tim 4:7) then we will be forgiven of our sins and comforted by God.
The other example of this attribute is comparing idols to God (Isaiah 40:18-20).
If we compare our worship of God to those who make graven images, by far God outshines and outperforms any of the dumb idols man makes with his hands and then worships. Idols cannot forgive or live or love. Only God can do this.
"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." (Isaiah 40:3)
John the Baptist was an "Elias" or forerunner to Jesus Christ.
Creative, Powerful God
With his power, "every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low (Isaiah 40:4). The nations are a drop in a bucket and small dust compared to God (Isaiah 40:15).
Supreme, Eternal God
Man's nature is transitory and unsteady. Our flesh is like grass that withers and our good actions are like flowers that fade with time (Isaiah 40:6-7). We are even likened to grasshoppers (Isaiah 40:22). But our God is supreme and eternal. His word will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8) and he makes the princes of the earth nothing and the judges vain (Isaiah 40:23).
Active, Caring God
God feeds his flock, gathers his lambs, carries them in his bosom and gently leads (Isaiah 40:11). He calls his children by their names (Isaiah 40:26).
Consistent, All-knowing God
God has all power and knowledge. He never tires or wearies. No one can fathom his knowledge and wisdom (Isaiah 40:28).
Trust in God
To those that trust in the Lord and "wait upon" him, their strength shall be renewed and "that shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)
A similar promise is given in the Doctrine and Covenants to those who obey the Word of Wisdom (see D&C 89).
The overall message I get from Isaiah 40 is that the personage we worship is truly awesome and supreme. I feel a sense of nothingness and am humbled. I feel similar to how Moses must have felt after he visited with God and saw the endless creations of God. Moses was left to himself for many hours, unable to move for lack of strength. When he regained his strength, he said to himself, "Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed." (Moses 1:10)
It is easy for us to lose perspective when we see all the things our hands have made … the cities, the cars, the towers, the military machines, the boats, the bridges, the rockets, space shuttles, satellites, and everything imaginable man has created. But all these things are nothing compared to the grandeur and ultimate power of God.
We worship the ultimate source of power and knowledge and wisdom in the universe. This is the lesson I learned while reading Isaiah 40.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Isaiah 36 & 37 and Isaiah 38 & 39 are bridges between the two Isaiah collections. Isaiah 1-35 are prophecies to Israel during the Assyrian period. Isaiah 40-66 are prophecies to Israel during the Babylonian period. Isaiah 36 & 37 dealt with the Assyrian attack on Israel, while Isaiah 38 & 39 deal with the healing of Hezekiah and the Babylonian delegation and the prophecy of Israel's captivity by Babylon.
In Isaiah 38, Hezekiah is sick and prays to the Lord for healing. In this prayer, he touches on repentance. There are four verses that I particularly like.
In Isaiah 38:14 Hezekiah pleads, "mine eyes fail with looking upward: O Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me." To me this sounds like Hezekiah is having a hard time looking to the Lord … as if he is in sin (I am having a hard time praying or being faithful … looking toward heaven) He pleads to the Lord to "undertake" him. Ludlow's translation for "undertake" is "stand surety for me" while the footnote in the JST says "be my security." In both cases, it seems that Hezekiah is pleading for strength from the Lord.
In Isaiah 38:17 Hezekiah is forgiven his sins; "for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back." This reminds me of Alma the younger where he describes how he was "snatched" out of hell by the Lord (see Mosiah 27:28-29 and Alma 26:17 … also read footnote d for Mosiah 27:29 where is says HEB natzal, to snatch away from danger, to save.)
I've often wondered at what point are our sins forgiven. Is it at baptism if we are not baptized at age 8? Is it at the point where we feel Godly sorrow? I don't know why I wonder this. The point is that I can be forgiven of my sins … that Christ has provided a way. The only concern I should have is that Christ accepts my broken heart and contrite spirit. I guess when we have that "great bitterness" replaced with "peace" we know we are forgiven. When our hearts turn from stones to clay, we know we have changed to the right direction. We choose to call upon the Lord and the Lord grabs us from a course to Hell and he frankly tosses our sins behind his back. To me, that is a miracle and I stand all amazed. I wish my resolve were more sure like His.
Isaiah 38:18-19 teach us that now … today … this life is the time to repent. The grave and death cannot easily call for forgiveness. Only the living can call upon the quick and sure grasp from Hell. The Book of Mormon teaches us that we should not "procrastinate the day of [our] repentance." (Alma 34:33-35)
In Isaiah 39, the king of Babylon sends a delegation to Hezekiah congratulating him on his recovery from sickness. Hezekiah then shows this delegation all of Israel's wealth. When Isaiah hears this, he prophesies that all of these riches will be carried off and Hezekiah's posterity will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon (Isaiah 39:7). To this prophesy Hezekiah responds, "Good is the word of the Lord … there shall be peace and truth in my days" (Isaiah 38:8) as if to say, "boy that sounds bad for my kids and grandkids … I'm glad it's not going to happen while I'm alive."
Although each of us is responsible for our own actions, we still will be held accountable for our children. If we don't do our part to help the next generation, the natural consequences are easily seen. Each generation builds on the previous generation. If we don't establish a base upon which the next generation can build, then what good are we doing? Each of us must be a strong link in the eternal chain of families.
Friday, July 4, 2008
"In 701 BC, Sennacherib, King of Assyria, launched the third military campaign of his reign, directing his armies toward the Mediterranean. His first objective was to reestablish the taxing of his rebellious tributaries, but he also hoped to bring them completely within the Assyrian Empire and to invade and subdue Egypt." (p. 316)
Sennacherib conquered many important cities along his way to Egypt. "Assyrian records and carvings portrayed with pride their techniques of conquest: hands and heads cut off, rebels impaled upon stakes, soldiers flung off walls, generals skinned alive, and multitudes led away as captives. Such a fate threatened the Jews in Jerusalem." (p. 317-318)
King Hezekiah prepared well years before the attack. He built a special tunnel to bring water from the spring of Gihon to within the city walls. He built and fortified the city and prepared the people. Ludlow cites 2 Chr. 32:1-8, 30.
Hezekiah also sent a monetary tribute to Sennacherib in hopes of staving off the attack (see 2 Kings 18:13-16). "But Sennacherib wanted more; he demanded absolute submission, and he knew that Hezekiah was one of the leaders in the revolt against Assyrian authority. He wanted nothing less than the unconditional surrender of Jerusalem, and he wanted her king still alive, so that he could humiliate, torture, and finally slowly impale King Hezekiah upon a pointed stake, just as he had done to the rebel kings of the Philistines." (p. 319)
• Isaiah 36:3 … a delegation is sent to meet Sennacherib's personal representative The Rabshakeh.
• Isaiah 36:4-7 … The Rabshakeh insults Jerusalem and scoffs at her allegiance with Egypt and with the Lord.
• Isaiah 36:8-10 … The Rabshakeh bets with them that they don't even have 2000 men to ride horses.
• Isaiah 36:11 … the delegation requests that the Rabshakeh talks to them in Aramaic as is the custom. Also, they don't want the people on the wall to listen.
• Isaiah 36:12-20 … The Rabshakeh denies the request and says he wants everyone to hear what he has to say. He shouts to the citizens on the wall and tries to bribe them to surrender the city by offering them farms. He tries to drive a wedge between them and their king. He mocks them by asking them if any of the other countries Sennacherib has conquered had their god save them. He tells them that their God will be no different.
• Isaiah 36:21-22 … The people on the wall don't respond and the delegation retreats to the city and rip their clothes to shreds as a sign of desperation.
• Isaiah 37:1-5 … Hezekiah also tears his robes and dresses in sackcloth as a sign of humility and mourning. He sends a message and a delegation to Isaiah. He requests Isaiah's prayers.
• Isaiah 37:6-7 … Isaiah replies to Hezekiah that a report will reach Sennacherib that he is needed at home and he will return home. There he will be killed.
• Isaiah 37:8-13 … Sennacherib is indeed distracted by the approaching Egyptian army. He continues to press Jerusalem to surrender by threatening annihilation of the city. Jerusalem will suffer the same fate as the other cities he has conquered.
• Isaiah 37:14-20 … Hezekiah takes the letter from Sennacherib to the Temple and prays to God. He tells God that the other cities' gods did not save them because they were false and that He, God, is indeed a living god. He pleads with God to save Jerusalem.
• Isaiah 37:21-29 … Isaiah speaks for the Lord and has a message sent to Sennacherib for Hezekiah. The Lord chides Sennacherib for being prideful and mocking the Lord. The Lord knows all and decided Sennacherib's fate long ago. The Lord is displeased with Sennacherib.
• Isaiah 37:30-32 … the Lord provides proof that He is delivering Jerusalem from Assyria. He gives a prophesy.
• Isaiah 37:33-38 … He prophesies that Sennacherib's army will depart and will be decimated by losing 185,000 soldiers. He also predicts that his sons will kill him.
The rest of the story is not found in the bible. But from other historical sources we learn that field mice overran Sennacherib's army and ate their bowstrings. Consequently they fled before the Egyptians. Ludlow also suggest that the mice may have carried the plague and the plague caused the 185,000 soldiers to die. Thus the prophecy was fulfilled.
The single most important lesson learned from these two chapters is that "the Lord defended the Jews and defeated the Assyrians." (Ludlow, 327) As an extension to our personal lives, how often do we trust in the Lord to deliver us from our problems and/or enemies? I am reminded what Christ taught, "seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you." (3 Nephi 13:33) If we focus on the Lord first and foremost, then everything else will be taken care of.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
There really isn't much to say about what Isaiah prophesies regarding the times before the Second Coming. Many other scriptures give similar prophesies. It really is amazing to read all these passages and ponder upon them.
"And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree."
"And it shall come to pass that he that feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man.
"And they shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath.
"And they shall behold blood, and fire, and vapors of smoke.
"And before the day of the Lord shall come, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon be turned into blood, and the stars fall from heaven.
"And the remnant shall be gathered unto this place."
"And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
"And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree asteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
"And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
"And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
"And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
"For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"
3 Nephi 26:1-5
"And now it came to pass that when Jesus had told these things he expounded them unto the multitude; and he did expound all things unto them, both great and small.
"And he saith: These scriptures, which ye had not with you, the Father commanded that I should give unto you; for it was wisdom in him that they should be given unto future generations.
"And he did expound all things, even from the beginning until the time that he should come in his glory—yea, even all things which should come upon the face of the earth, even until the elements should melt with fervent heat, and the earth should be wrapt together as a scroll, and the heavens and the earth should pass away;
"And even unto the great and last day, when all people, and all kindreds, and all nations and tongues shall stand before God, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—
"If they be good, to the resurrection of everlasting life; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of damnation; being on a parallel, the one on the one hand and the other on the other hand, according to the mercy, and the justice, and the holiness which is in Christ, who was before the world began."
"Therefore, tarry ye, and labor diligently, that you may be perfected in your ministry to go forth among the Gentiles for the last time, as many as the mouth of the Lord shall name, to bind up the law and seal up the testimony, and to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come;
"That their souls may escape the wrath of God, the desolation of abomination which awaits the wicked, both in this world and in the world to come. Verily, I say unto you, let those who are not the first elders continue in the vineyard until the mouth of the Lord shall call them, for their time is not yet come; their garments are not clean from the blood of this generation.
"Abide ye in the liberty wherewith ye are made free; entangle not yourselves in sin, but let your hands be clean, until the Lord comes.
"For not many days hence and the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man; and the sun shall hide his face, and shall refuse to give light; and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that alleth from off a fig-tree.
"And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people.
"For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.
"And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.
"And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people.
"And angels shall fly through the midst of heaven, crying with a loud voice, sounding the trump of God, saying: Prepare ye, prepare ye, O inhabitants of the earth; for the judgment of our God is come. Behold, and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
"And immediately there shall appear a great sign in heaven, and all people shall see it together.
"And another angel shall sound his trump, saying: That great church, the mother of abominations, that made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, that persecuteth the saints of God, that shed their blood—she who sitteth upon many waters, and upon the islands of the sea—behold, she is the tares of the earth; she is bound in bundles; her bands are made strong, no man can loose them; therefore, she is ready to be burned. And he shall sound his trump both long and loud, and all nations shall hear it.
"And there shall be silence in heaven for the space of half an hour; and immediately after shall the curtain of heaven be unfolded, as a scroll is unfolded after it is rolled up, and the face of the Lord shall be unveiled;
"And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him.
"And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven—
"They are Christ’s, the first fruits, they who shall descend with him first, and they who are on the earth and in their graves, who are first caught up to meet him; and all this by the voice of the sounding of the trump of the angel of God."
Desert Blossoming as a Rose
Ludlow offers some insight into this chapter.
With regard to Isaiah 35:1-4, he says, "The source of the people's weaknesses or fears is also unnamed, though it could result form the horror of their life in the desert. Desert life for the Hebrew usually symbolizes one of two conditions: either a place of refuge and asylum, or a place into which one is forced as a trial and tribulation. In either case, the desert is where God segregates and tests his people. (See Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, p. 115)"
Christ was also "tested" in the wilderness or desert. After he was tested, he formally began his ministry. It too blossomed like a rose.
Isaiah 35:3-4 is another one of those little gems. "Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
"Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you."
Did not Christ fulfill these words? He strengthened the weak hands and feeble knees. He brought comfort to those who sought it. He came and saved us all.
We too, as we follow Christ, can strengthen the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees as we serve our fellow men.
In the October 1992 Priesthood session of General Conference, President Hinckley said, "Be strong, my brethren, in the quality of mercy. It is easy to be a bully in one’s home, in one’s business, in one’s speech and acts. This sick world so cries out for kindness and love and mercy. These virtues become an expression of strength rather than weakness on the part of any holder of the priesthood of God. Be strong with that strength of which Isaiah speaks when he said, “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees." (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Building Your Tabernacle,” Ensign, Nov 1992, 50)
As we build up Zion, the desert will blossom like a rose. The knowledge of the Lord will grace His people and He will administer to them. The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the lame will walk. Just as He administered to the people in the ancient world and in the new world, He will administer to those who will live on the earth at His coming.
Highway to Holiness
How will one arrive at Zion? Isaiah 35:8 says, "And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein."
Of this passage, David O McKay said, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bears testimony to the world that this will of God has been made manifest in this dispensation, that the principles of the gospel, the principles of life, have been revealed. They are in harmony with the principles that Christ taught in the meridian of time. It is impossible to give here all the principles that constitute that will, but they are so simple that, as the scriptures say, "the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein" (David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1966, pp.136-138)
Sunday, April 13, 2008
The time will come when the Savior will rule and reign on the earth. As a result, the people of the earth will find a refuge from lies, false understandings and all the deceptions of the devil. The Savior will be a "hiding place from the wind" and a "cover from the tempest" and water in a dry place and a shadow from elements (Isaiah 32:2).
As a result, the people of the earth will see and hear and understand things as they really are. Fools will be seen as fools, knaves as knaves, nobles as nobles and honorables as honorables (see Isaiah 32:3-8). To clarify, Satan has so thickly deceived us that in many cases our society praises liars and hypocrites while we shun and scorn good people. We call good evil and evil good (2 Nephi 15:20). But when the Lord comes again, all the shrouds of deceit will fall and we all will see people and ideas as they really are.
When Christ reigns, He will govern the earth by the power of the Priesthood. John Taylor once taught, " I shall … briefly answer that [the priesthood] is the government of God, whether on the earth or in the heavens, for it is by that power, agency, or principle that all things are [upheld and] governed on the earth and in the heavens, and [it is] by that power that all things are upheld and sustained. It governs all things—it directs all things—it sustains all things—and has to do with all things that God and truth are associated with.
“It is the power of God delegated to intelligences in the heavens and to men on the earth. … When we arrive in the celestial kingdom of God, we shall find the most perfect order and harmony existing, because there is the perfect pattern, the most perfect order of government carried out, and when or wherever those principles have been developed in the earth, in proportion as they have spread and been acted upon, just in that proportion have they produced blessings and salvation to the human family; and when the government of God shall be more extensively adopted, and when Jesus’ prayer, that He taught His disciples is answered, and God’s kingdom comes on the earth, and His will is done here as in heaven, then, and not till then, will universal love, peace, harmony, and union prevail.” (“On Priesthood,” Improvement Era, June 1935, 372.)
Righteousness is Peace
Isaiah 32:17 is another one of those gem verses. "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever."
What is the "work of righteousness?" To me this means becoming a true disciple of Christ. It is not an easy work. But if strive to follow the Savior's teachings of denying ourselves (Luke 9:23) then we are on the path of discipleship.
Neal A. Maxwell wrote, "What is it that we are to deny ourselves? The ascendancy of any appetites or actions which produce not only the seven deadly sins but all the others. Happily, self-denial, when we practice it, brings great relief. It represents emancipation from all the “morning after” feelings, whether caused by adultery or gluttony. Being concerned with tomorrow, true disciples are very careful about today! Self denial also includes not letting our hearts become too set on any trivial or worldly thing. Then we can learn the great lessons about the relationship of righteousness to the powers and the joys of heaven.
"The fundamental fact is that if we do not deny ourselves, we are diverted. Even if not wholly consumed with the things of the world, we are still diverted sufficiently to make serious discipleship impossible. As a consequence, all the gifts and talents God has given us are not put meekly on the altar to serve others and to please God. Instead, we withhold to please ourselves. Diversion, therefore, is not necessarily gross transgression, but it is a genuine deprivation, especially if we consider what we might have become and what more we might have done to bless and to help others.
"Ironically, the natural man, who is so very selfish in so many ordinary ways, is strangely unselfish in that he reaches for too few of the things that bring real joy. He settles for a mess of pottage instead of eternal joy.
"By denying the desires of the natural man to the degree that they exist in each of us, we avoid this diversion, making it easier for us to take up the cross of discipleship. Of course, when it occurs in our lives, emancipation from various forms of bondage brings no celebrating parades, nor does it make the evening news. But it is big news because we “come off conqueror” (D&C 10:5).
"So it is that discipleship, far from being ascetic, is to choose joy over pleasure. It is to opt for the things of eternity over the trendy and appealing things of the moment. Eventually, we become readied for the final moment of consecration, when, gladly and completely, we let our wills be swallowed up in the will of the Father. Jesus did this in Gethsemane, where he said, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). What was God’s will? That Jesus complete the Atonement. Even so, Jesus prayed, “Take away this cup from me” (Mark 14:36); and still later he cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). Yet Jesus yielded. (Neal A. Maxwell, “Becoming a Disciple,” Ensign, Jun 1996, 12)
I believe that in denying ourselves and truly seeking the will of God, we then are able to "work righteousness" and in turn we find peace, quietness and assurance for ever.
Fear of the Lord
Isaiah 33:6 says, "And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the Lord is his treasure."
Ludlow cross references four scriptures to this verse. Each note the association of wisdom and fear of the Lord.
Proverbs 1:7 - "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction."
Proverbs 3:7 - "Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil."
Job 28:28 - "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding."
Psalms 111:10 - "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments."
Marion G. Romney gave a good explanation of the word "fear" in this context.
He said, "Now, I have done a little homework on the meaning of the word fear as here used. And I assure you that the Psalmist did not intend it to mean dread, fright, terror, or dismay. What he did intend to express by whatever word he actually used was “profound reverence.” Webster uses this phrase, “profound reverence,” as one of the definitions of fear. A more meaningful version of the Psalmist’s statement would be, “Profound reverence for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
"Let us consider now for a moment the significance of profound reverence. One definition of profound is “arising from the depth of one’s nature.” Reverence is the soul of true religion. Its seedbed is sincerity. Its quality is determined by the esteem in which one holds the object of his reverence. And this esteem is evidenced by his behavior toward that which he reverences. When one reverences God, the profoundly reverent person has a worshipful adoration coupled with a respectful behavior toward him and all that pertains to him. One who has a profound reverence for the Lord loves him, trusts in him, prays to him, relies upon him, and is inspired by him. Inspiration from the Lord has always been, and now is, available to all mankind who have a profound reverence for him. (Marion G. Romney, “Converting Knowledge into Wisdom,” Ensign, Jul 1983, 2)
Isaiah teaches what we must do to inherit eternal life or "everlasting burnings" (Isaiah 33:14, see also Joseph Smith Jr., “The King Follett Sermon,” Ensign, Apr 1971, 13–14)
We must walk righteously, speak uprightly, despise the gain of oppressions, shake our hands (fingers) at bribes and corruption, stop our hearing of violence and close our eyes to all evil.
If we do these things, we "shall dwell on high" with our Lord.