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Isaiah, Part 3

Isaiah 24–35

Isaiah 24-25 contains many prophecies regarding the Last Days before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  This is the time in which we now live, and it is also called the dispensation of the “fulness of times,” because all things will be gathered in to one in the Kingdom of God on Earth.  This is also the time of the “restoration of all things,”  in which the ancient church of Jesus Christwill be restored, with its priesthood authority, and the principles of the gospel will be had in their fullness.

Isaiah was a seer as well as a prophet:

 “A seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light” ( Mosiah 8:17 ).

 Second-Coming-Jesus-Christ-MormonIsaiah 24:1–6 could be used to speak of apostasy in any day.  The passage speaks of a time when the Lord will make the earth “empty” ( v. 1 ) and will scatter its inhabitants abroad because the people have defiled the earth.

“They have transgressed the laws [of God], changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant” ( v. 5 ). As a result the earth will be “burned, and few men left” ( v. 6 ).

Isaiah 24:19–23 describes events and conditions as they will be just before or in conjunction with the Second Coming of the Lord. A more penetrating description of these same events is found in Doctrine and Covenants 88:86–94 .  These events will be devastating for the wicked and very difficult, even for the righteous, but in chapter 25, Isaiah sings songs of joy.   “The Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces” ( Isaiah 25:8 ). This figure is used twice in the book of Revelation ( Revelation 7:17 ; 21:4 ) and obviously represents a millennial condition.

With chapter 26, we see that in addition to being a poet, Isaiah is a psalmist.  In chapter 27, the leviathan, serpent, and dragon all represent Satan, who will have no power during the millennium.  In chapters 27 and 28, Isaiah foresees devastation for both Israel and Jerusalem before the great day of the Lord and the regathering of the righteous.

“One of Isaiah’s great Messianic prophecies was that the promised Messiah would be ‘for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.’ ( Isa. 8:14–15 .) Both Paul ( Rom. 9:33 ) and Peter ( 1 Pet. 2:7–8 ) record the fulfilment of this prophecy.” ( Mormon Doctrine, p. 657.)

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Jacob referred to this figure when he said that “by the stumbling of the Jews they will reject the stone upon which they might build and have safe foundation” ( Jacob 4:15 ).  The stone is Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 29:11–12 has great meaning for Latter-day Saints, because they have watched the fulfillment of this prophecy.  It refers to a book that is sealed.  Part of the original Book of Mormon record was sealed and not to be translated, because it contains gospel knowledge the world is unprepared to receive:

Early in the process of translating the Book of Mormon, Martin Harris desired proof that the translation Joseph Smith was making was genuine. He obtained permission to carry a copy of several of the “words” from the plates, together with their translation, to some learned men. Martin Harris’s account given to the Prophet Joseph Smithstates that he took the copy to Professor Charles Anthon of New York City, who certified that the characters were real and correctly translated. But when Professor Anthon discovered that the record from which the characters were obtained was itself received by supernatural means, he retracted his statement by asking for his certificate back and tearing it to bits. Martin Harris reports that Anthon said that “if I would bring the plates to him he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, ‘I cannot read a sealed book.’ I left him, and went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation.” ( Joseph Smith—History 1:65 .)

The unlearned man to whom the book was delivered was, of course, Joseph Smith. Elder Orson Pratt once said: “Now in regard to Joseph Smith’s qualifications or attainments in learning, they were very ordinary. He had received a little education in the common country schools in the vicinity in which he had lived. He could read a little, and could write, but it was in such an ordinary hand that he did not venture to act as his own scribe, but had to employ sometimes one and sometimes another to write as he translated. This unlearned man did not make the same reply that the learned man did. For when the book was delivered to this unlearned youth and he was requested to read it, he replied, ‘I am not learned.’ I suppose he felt his weakness when the Lord told him to read this book; for he thought it was a great work.” (In Journal of Discourses, 15:186.)

The “marvelous work and a wonder” cited by Isaiah is the coming forth of the Book of Mormon out of the dust (Isaiah 29:14 ).    The Book of Mormon surprises those who might be  intitially afraid to read it, because it contains clear doctrine that supports and enlightens us to the messages in the Bible:

“Oh, how my heart has been pained within me when I have seen the blindness of the Christian world, and I knew that many of them were sincere! I knew they desired to know the truth, but they scarcely knew whether to turn to the right or to the left, so great were the errors that were taught in their midst, and so strong the traditions which they had imbibed, the fear of the Lord being taught them by the precepts of men instead of by inspiration and the power of the Holy Ghost. ‘They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding’ when this book comes forth, and ‘they that murmur shall learn doctrine.’

“. . . But those who have read this book will bear me record that their minds have been forever set at rest in regard to doctrine, so far as the ordinances of the kingdom of God are concerned. Those who erred, and did not know whether sprinkling, pouring or immersion was the true method of baptism, now know? Why? Because the Book of Mormon reveals the mode as it was given to the ancient Nephites on this continent. So in regard to every other principle of the doctrine of Christ—it is set forth in such great plainness that it is impossible for any two persons to form different ideas in relation to it, after reading the Book of Mormon.” (Parley P. Pratt, In Journal of Discourses, 15:188–89.)

In Isaiah 31, we are warned against putting our trust in the wisdom of men or in the “arm of flesh.”  Wicked Judea constantly sought alliances with powerful nations to support them against their enemies, when they should have repented and sought help from God.

Isaiah 33:14–15 is interesting because it talks about “everlasting burnings.”  When referring to hell, the scriptures speak of “unquenchable fire,” which is the torment of the wicked and probably caused by ongoing guilt and agony of soul.  Everlasting burnings, however, refers to the highest kingdom of heaven.  These burnings are visible because of the light and glory of God and His angels, but they do not hurt or consume those who dwell in them, because they qualify and are quickened to this glory.  These same people will be unhurt by the fire that cleanses the earth at the Second Coming.  That fire is the glory of Christ.

Joseph Smith taught that some men “shall rise to the everlasting burnings of God; for God dwells in everlasting burnings, and some shall rise to the damnation of their own filthiness, which is as exquisite a torment as the lake of fire and brimstone” ( Teachings, p. 361; compare D&C 128:24 ; 130:7 ; 133:41 ; Hebrews 12:29 ). In one of the most beautiful scriptures of the Old Testament, the Lord asked who would be able to abide this devouring fire, and then described the kind of person that would be able to abide it (see vv. 14–15 ).

Isaiah 34:16–17 speaks of the “book of the Lord,” which is a record kept in heaven of men’s works on the earth.  It is also called the “book of life,” and the names of the righteous are recorded in it.

*Parts of this article were adapted from the LDS Institute Old Testament Manual.

Next: Isaiah, Part 4

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