Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Isaiah 44 & 45


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

Isaiah 43

Isaiah 43 is divided into four sections which make up a chiasmus. Ludlow divides them thusly (361):

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

Isaiah 41 & 42

Ludlow explains that there are two discourses and five parts in Isaiah 41 and 42. Here is how it is broken down:

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).

Prophesied Leader

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

Isaiah 40

Some of these headers are taken directly from Ludlow's book.

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 38 & 39


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)

Hezekiah's Near-Sightedness

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

Isaiah 36 & 37

Without Ludlow, I would not have gotten much out of these two chapters. He does a wonderful job of summarizing and explaining everything. As these two chapters are heavy in history and light in doctrine and application, I will rely mostly on Ludlow's words.


"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.