Sunday, January 27, 2008

Isaiah 26 & 27

The 26th chapter of Isaiah contains some wonderful verses about trusting in the Lord and prayer.

Trust in the Lord

The first verse about trusting in the Lord is found in Isaiah 26:3, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." To me, this simply means that if I trust in the Lord and constantly remember and think of the Lord, then I will have true peace in my life.

Ezra Taft Benson referenced this scripture once in a talk. He said, "Let your minds be filled with the goal of being like the Lord, and you will crowd out depressing thoughts as you anxiously seek to know him and do his will. “Let this mind be in you,” said Paul. (Philippians 2:5.) “Look unto me in every thought,” said Jesus. (D&C 6:36.) And what will follow if we do? “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.” (Isaiah 26:3.) (Ezra Taft Benson, “Do Not Despair,” Ensign, Nov. 1974, 65)

We trust in the Lord when we strive to remember him in all that we do. This is another reason why we need to partake of the sacrament each week. We will only have the Spirit with us as we "always remember him" (see Moroni 4 & 5). If we can train our mind and heart to stay on the Lord, then remembering Him will be much easier.

One of my favorite scriptures is Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all they ways, acknowledge him, and he shall direct they paths."

But how do we trust in the Lord and keep on mind focused on Him?


Isaiah 26:9 holds the answer to this question. "With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me I seek thee early."

President Thomas Monson often likes to quote the hymn "Prayer Is the Soul's Sincere Desire" (Hymn 145)

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed,
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast. …

O thou by whom we come to God,
The Life, the Truth, the Way!
The path of prayer thyself hast trod;
Lord, teach us how to pray.

The Resurrection

Isaiah references the resurrection in this chapter as well. "They dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead" (Isaiah 26:19).

This free gift from God is granted unto all regardless of the life we have lived on this earth.


To point out how little I know, I've always know that Leviathan was a deep sea monster and that there was a movie made about it. I had no idea it is a creature that has roots in the creation and ancient biblical texts.

Isaiah 27:1 says, "In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea."

As Ludlow points out, the footnote in the LDS KJV notes that leviathan is "a legendary sea-monster representing the forces of chaos that opposed the Creator." The forces of chaos are Satan and his followers.

The Wikipedia entry on Leviathan goes into more detail about how this creature is described in Judaism and Christianity.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Isaiah 24 & 25

An Empty Earth

The main theme of Isaiah 24 is that the earth will become desolate.

Isaiah 24:1 reads, "the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof."

Isaiah 24:3 reads, "The land shall be utterly emptied and utterly spoiled."

Isaiah 24:6 clarifies, "the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left."

Isaiah 24:20 also reads, "The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard" (see also D&C 45:48; 49:23; 88:87).

We don't know how the earth will be emptied of its people and become desolate, but we do know that many prophets have foreseen the day the earth will be burned. Some suggest it will be by nuclear destruction. Others may think it will be by global warming.

When I read scriptures as these, I always recall 2 Peter 3:10 which states, "the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (see also 3 Nephi 26:3; Mormon 9:2). D&C 101:25 goes a bit further and adds, "all things shall become new, that my knowledge and glory may dwell upon all the earth."

Why an Empty Earth?

Isaiah explains why the earth will become desolate. He teaches that the earth is "defiled under the inhabitants thereof: because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hat the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left" (Isaiah 24:5-6).

I like how Ludlow explains this verse. He says, "Each gospel principle, commandment, and ordinance was designed by God to help his children grow spiritually. Isaiah emphasizes that their changes have occurred upon three levels of the gospel: the knowledge level (teachings, instruction, or understanding), the action level (laws, commandments, or guidelines), and the contractual level (covenants, ordinances, or promises)" (242).

Not only will the earth become desolate because her people disobey the gospel, but as verse 6 states, "they that dwell therein are desolate." To me, that means their souls become void or are empty and of no worth. The destiny of the earth is linked to the destiny of our souls. If we care for our souls, we will care for the earth.

Many voices today declare that mankind has caused global warming. These same voices advocate a change in everyone's lifestyle. They demand everyone drive cleaner cars, use less and recycle more. Instead, if we want to "save the earth" we must clean the inward vessels first (Matthew 23:25-26).


Isaiah 24:13-14 talks about those who will be saved in the last days. "When thus it shall be in the midst of the land among the people, there shall be as the shaking of an olive tree, and as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done. They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the Lord, they shall cry aloud from the sea."

I searched to see if there was any reference to Zion with regard to these two verses, but I did not find anything. But as I read these two verses, it seems to me that Isaiah saw the establishment of Zion.

A Glorious Worked Finished

In Isaiah 25, Isaiah teaches that we will rejoice in the last day when the victory over death and sin has been fully achieved. Christ will "swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth" (Isaiah 25:8)

There will be many who will have waited patiently for the Lord. They will say, "this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him; we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation" (Isaiah 25:9).

Now let us rejoice in the day of salvation.
No longer as strangers on earth need we roam.
Good tidings are sounding to us and each nation,
And shortly the hour of redemption will come.

In faith we'll rely on the arm of Jehovah
To guide thru these last days of trouble and gloom,
And after the scourges and harvest are over,
We'll rise with the just when the Savior doth come.

Then all that was promised the Saints will be given,
And they will be crown'd with the angels of heav'n,
And earth will appear as the Garden of Eden,
And Christ and his people will ever be one.

(Hymns, "Now Let Us Rejoice", 3)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Isaiah 21-23

There is not a whole lot to glean from Isaiah 21-23. Ludlow discusses some parallels between Isaiah's writings and historical events.

Desert of the Sea

The nation described as "the desert of the sea" is never actually named. Many had speculated which nation it might be. Some think it is Babylon (see OT Student Manual: 1 Kings to Malachi p. 157).

Isaiah's Reaction to the Destruction

In Isaiah 21:3-4, Isaiah is painfully afflicted by seeing this vision of the destruction of the desert of the sea. If this nation is indeed Babylon and if this vicious destruction foreshadows the destruction of the world (Babylon = The World) in the Last Days, then Isaiah's reaction should be another warning to us who live in these latter-days.

Dumah and Arabia

I like what the OT Student Manual says about this. "As Isaiah used the destruction of every major sister nation to Israel as a type of the judgment that is to be administered to the wicked and their organizations in the last day, so he here, almost parenthetically, prophesied the destruction of even the minor nations of the east."

Valley of Vision: Jerusalem

Ludlow points out that "although the Assyrians have already destroyed dozens of Judean cities and take thousands of Jewish captives, the people of Jerusalem celebrate their freedom" (231). The people of Jerusalem make preparations for battle (Isaiah 22:6-11) but she does not remember the most important aspect in preparing for battle: remembering the Lord.

Isaiah rebukes them for making the "ditch between the two walls for the water of the old pool: but ye have not looked unto the maker thereof, neither had respect unto him that fashioned it long ago" (Isaiah 22:11).

We can make all the preparations in the world to fight temptations, but unless we invoke the Lord's help, all our work and preparations will avail us nothing.

Shebna and Eliakim and the Temple

Shebna was the leader of the king's court. Ludlow states that according to some scholars, Shebna was a foreigner. Because Shebna did not have Jerusalem in his best interests, the Lord replaced him with Eliakim.

Eliakim, which means "God shall cause to rise", is also a type for Christ. Isaiah, like many other times, uses language to not only describe the historical figure, but he uses language to describe Christ.

As you read Isaiah 22:21-25, you will note the significance of the language as it pertains to temple ordinances.

Elder Nelson's April 2001 General Conference talk does a wonderful job of explaining many aspects of the temple. He references Isaiah 22 in the following quote, "One may also read in the Old Testament and the books of Moses and Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price. Such a review of ancient scripture is even more enlightening after one is familiar with the temple endowment. Those books underscore the antiquity of temple work" (Russell M. Nelson, “Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings,” Ensign, May 2001, 32)


The concluding "burden" is directed at Tyre. As Babylon is the symbol of wickedness and idolatry, Tyre symbolizes worldliness and materialism (Ludlow 236). Just as Babylon would fall, so too Tyre would loss her glory. Perhaps this means that in the last days as the world and its wickedness is destroyed, so too will the markets and trade systems collapse.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Isaiah 19 & 20

These two chapters deal with the "burden" of Egypt. There are several chapters in Isaiah which cannot not be particularly applied to one's spiritual life. When that happens, I look for prophecies dealing with the last days. Isaiah usually prefaces his latter-day prophecies with the phrase "in that day." There are a handful of latter-day events listed in this section.

Judah Terrorizes Egypt

In this context, the word terrorize means torment or overpower and not the current use of the word today in this post 9/11 world.

Ludlow thinks that this verse (Isaiah 19:17) was fulfilled in the 1970s when Israel dominated Egypt in modern warfare. He explains, "until the time of modern wars between Israel and Egypt - which began in 1948 and included conflicts in 1956, 1967, and 1973 - Egypt has historically had no hesitation in carrying on battles in Palestine. The low point of Egyptian military power in comparison to that of Israel was the Six Day War of June 1967." (218).

A Temple in Egypt?

Isaiah 19:19 says, "in that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord."

I do not know how much advancement the Church has made into establishing itself in Egypt, but I did find an article from 1983 describing a special mission for a couple who served there for 18 months (see Thomas and Judith Parker, “‘Blessed Be Egypt My People’,” Ensign, Sep 1983, 40).

In this age of temple building, there are still many, many places throughout the earth that do not have a temple. Slowly but surely, the work is moving forward and one day we may see an LDS temple in Egypt.

Isaiah 19:21 gives encouraging insight when it states, "And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day."

Egyptian, Iraqi and Israeli Alliance

Another latter-day prophecy describes an alliance between Egypt, Iraq and Israel (see Isaiah 19:23-25)

Ludlow's book was published shortly after the Camp David Accords and so he provides an interesting perspective on this prophecy. He explains, "most readers of the scriptures who understand the history of the area find it incredible that these peoples could ever come together before a millennial era is established upon the earth." He continues, "If, in the summer of 1977, experts on the Middle East had been polled and asked if they thought Israel and Egypt would sign a peace treaty before the summer of 1979, scarcely any would have thought it possible." (221).

Two nations of the three listed in the prophecy seem to have established peace. What about the third? Ludlow writes, "considering Iraq's strong ties with Russia and the fierce anti-Zionist attitudes of the Iraqi leaders, it seem highly unlikely that Iraq will ever be pro-American, let alone pro-Egyptian or pro-Israeli, within the next few decades."

Twenty six years since Ludlow's book was published, the likelihood of a "pro-American/Israeli/Egyptian" Iraq is closer than ever. After clearing the terrorists out of Afghanistan, the United States invaded Iraq in order to oust Saddam Hussein in 2003. In the following years, the popularity of the Iraq War has waned. Then in the summer of 2007, a surge of troops went into Iraq and now Iraq is more stable than since before the war began. Iraqis have held elections and are now considered allies to the United States. Much remains to be seen as to what will happen, but as of today, the fulfillment of this Isaiah prophecy is closer than ever.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Isaiah 18

America - The Land Shadowing with Wings

There is not much to write about this very short chapter. It is only seven verses long. According to Ludlow, this chapter has perplexed Bible scholars and translators "as much as any other Isaianic chapter" (203). Despite all this confusion, we have a few modern day prophets who leave little doubt as to this mysterious "land shadowing with wings" (Isaiah 18:1).

In the April 1844 general conference, Hyrum Smith referred to Isaiah 18 when he said, "North and South America are the symbols of the wings" (HC 6:322).

Joseph Fielding Smith said the following in the April 1966 General Conference, "America was discovered because the Lord willed it. The gospel was restored in America, rather than in some other land because the Lord willed it. This is the land "shadowing with wings" spoken of by Isaiah that today is sending ambassadors by the sea to a nation scattered and peeled, which at one time was terrible in the beginning (Isaiah 18:1-2). Now that nation is being gathered, and once again they shall be in favor with the Lord." (Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report, April 1966, pp. 12-15).

Missionaries - Ambassadors by Sea

One of the most important roles of the restored Gospel is that of gathering Israel (D&C 110:11). Isaiah saw that America would be the land of the restored Gospel and from it he saw thousands of "ambassadors" who scoured the earth gathering Israel.

Today, there are more than 50,000 missionaries worldwide who are gathering Israel. One by one, the lost of Israel are coming to accept the restored Gospel and are coming back into the fold. Elder Russell M. Nelson gave a wonderful talk on the gathering of Israel. He said, "Here on earth, missionary work is crucial to the gathering of Israel. The gospel was to be taken first to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:6; 15:24) Consequently, servants of the Lord have gone forth proclaiming the Restoration. In many nations our missionaries have searched for those of scattered Israel; they have hunted for them “out of the holes of the rocks”; and they have fished for them as in ancient days. (Jeremiah 16:16)." (Russell M. Nelson, “The Gathering of Scattered Israel,” Ensign, Nov 2006, 79–82)

What is expected of the world? The Lord plainly proclaims to the world, "when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye." (Isaiah 18:3). We would hope that everyone would sincerely listen to the restored Gospel message.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored Gospel on the earth today. It is the ensign to all nations (Isaiah 18:3).