Isaiah 13–35 | Sep 12–18 | Come Follow Me Insights – powered by Happy Scribe
And I’m Tyler.
And I’m Shawn.
This is Book of Mormon central.
Come, follow me.
Insights today, isaiah 13 to 39.
Today we’re really excited to welcome Sean Hopkin. He’s a great friend and colleague who has spent many years studying the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible, and many iterations of teaching the Book of Isaiah. So this is a real treat to have you join us today.
It is so fun to be here. Two really good close friends and colleagues and really excited to be with you. Thanks.
We’re having a great time with Isaiah today.
Yeah, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that before. A great time with Isaiah.
So, Sean, to start today, here we are, we have Isaiah, chapters 13 through 39. What would be the most significant mile markers or overview that people could keep in mind before you actually dive into chapter 13?
Okay, I don’t know if you want to put these chapters or not. So we’ve come out of the circle EU from My War, sort of this arc in seven through twelve before we ever get to 13. Now we’re in what is known from My war. And then 13 through 23 are what are often called the oracles against the nation. So you have a series of processes I was 13 through 23 about a lot of different nations directed towards warning of impending destruction. And a lot of people, as they’re reading these, they think, wow, these are so negative. And I would say Isaiah. And there’s so much that’s merciful that encourages people to turn to the Lord. But Isaiah’s a truth teller. These fit what is actually going to happen in history. So you could say, well, he’s being negative, but the reality is this is really what’s going on. Right?
Yeah. Difference between a pessimist and a realist. He’s not candy coating the reality.
Yeah, he’s a truth teller. He’s not a taylor of soothing things, necessarily, although he does soothe right. As he encourages people to turn to the Lord. Okay, so 13th through 23, prophecies and warnings to the nations, 24 through 27 will call the little apocalypse of Isaiah. So if you think of the Book of Revelation, that’s the apocalypse, the one that we’re most familiar with. This is the little apocalypse. And apocalyptic literature generally focuses on end times, on sort of cataclysmic things, but then that resolve with the triumph of God, the triumph of good over evil. So you get that in 24th through 27.
Which. By the way. Is interesting because a lot of people see that word apocalypse. And they think it’s all bad. It’s all death and destruction and despair. When in reality. If God is going to come and restore his kingdom to the earth. That means many of the elements associated with the kingdom of the devil have to be overthrown first.
And in fact, as is very appropriate for Isaiah, you get one chapter of negative. You might say have warnings about things that are going to come of truthful predictions and prophecies and then two chapters of very comforting look at the joy that comes. It might be like what to Expect When You’re Expecting, saying, here’s what you can expect as you’re getting ready for the birth of this baby. And there’s going to be some challenging things. A man talking about this probably doesn’t sound very helpful, but then the baby comes on the other side, there’s life, there’s joy, there’s triumph, right?
So 28 to 35, we’re going to really generalize here with the it’s another negative word, but the woe prophecies and these focus on the failure of worldly kingdoms and worldly ideologies and how God’s loyalty to God, loyalty to a covenantal relationship with God is going to triumph, is going to give greater stability, greater joy, because God is all powerful, because God is constant and consistent. So then that brings us to 36 to 39. And if you are reading Isaiah straight through, this is like a breath of fresh air. These are the historical chapters and you come to them, you’re like, oh, this feels a little bit like I’m reading the Book of Mormon. Right? Isaiah is highly poetic, as you know, and the prophecies are organized after the fact. And by the way, let’s just come back here for a moment. 13 through 23, why are they organized the way they are? There’s a debate about it. So I’m just thinking it starts in the Easternmost kingdoms and then works westward and southern words. So it can be a little disconcerting as you’re reading, to say what’s the organizational pattern here? But this will just sort of give you this really focuses on when a Syria comes against Jerusalem and it’s such a beautiful, powerful story, even though we’re not going to really touch on it today.
Yeah. Which will then set the stage. You’ll notice that 39, as we introduced last week, 39 is the end of kind of the first half of Isaiah, which is all of these consequences for what happens when people reject God odd, reject his laws, reject his profits, do their own thing. And then 40 begins this merciful, comforting, hope filled section of Isaiah all the way through the end.
Yeah. Not to say there isn’t comfort in the first half. These chapters you’re familiar with because of the Book of Mormon are full of comfort as well. But then it shifts even warmer, so to speak, even more positive in the second half. And then one other thing I’ll say really quickly, Tyler is first half oriented primarily to a Syria and to current needs. Second half points forward to future needs, although they’re still relevant in Isaiah’s day and Babylon, a Syrian, Babylon is sort of a generalized view.
So with that overview, let’s jump in to chapter 13. So as we dive into chapter 13, keep in mind this is in the Book of Mormon as second five, chapter 23 and 14 is 24. So these two chapters referring to Babylon, they both show up in that big chunk that NEFA includes for us in his second NFI account.
Can I say a quick word about that, Tyler? So I have in my office a book by a non Latter day Saints highly reputable Bible study scholar who calls chapters two through twelve the Little Book of Isaiah. So it’s the Book of Isaiah. Within the Book of Isaiah. Fascinating that then you say, well, why did Nephi pick this? And it turns out to be the same chapters that this modern scholars said, oh, there’s a book within a book, and this is it. Now, Nephi does add these two additional chapters that sort of start the processes. And I think and what we’re going to talk about is that there’s a reason why because it’s theologically significant to him and to his father.
So let’s jump in chapter 13.
All right, so this is a really intriguing, and I don’t know if you will or have discussed, I expect you’ll discuss it in other places this idea of a prophet speaking about future things that can be applicable. Now, many Bible study scholars will now look at this part and say, well, if he’s focusing on Babylon, if it’s not a major issue in Isaiah’s day, then it must have been written afterwards in the time when Babylon is important. And so those of you who are listening probably have your own opinions. Latterday Saints tends to not be overly bothered by the idea of prophets looking forward and speaking forward.
Yeah. And for me, I would say the prophet in the Book of Mormon who seems to like Isaiah the most, nephi, he had his own little experience on a mountaintop, looking down the corridor of time forward and seeing Jerusalem and Mary and Jesus and his apostles and the Crucifixion. And this idea of prophet seers and revelators, not being bound by only telling the story of their own day, that doesn’t seem to be an issue for many of us to say. Absolutely. He could say very specific things about future events and still have it be relevant and applicable for the people in his own day.
There are tens of thousands of pages written on this, and it’s not just about the view of proxy. There’s grammar and there’s vocabulary and there are complicated things, but we won’t delve into that right now. Certainly now we’ve got Isaiah talking about the overthrow of the prideful King of Babylon, and then there are these hints in the text that he’s using that as a framework to talk about bigger things than that. Right. He’s talking not just about Babylon, but he’s talking about the world in general. Look in chapter 13, verses ten and eleven, and all of a sudden this seems much larger than just talking about the overthrow of one nation for the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light, the sun shall be darkened and is going forward. This is going to sound pretty familiar, this imagery, when you think about Matthew 24, which is Jesus prophecy of the end times, and when you think about the Book of Revelation, when you think about scriptures and doctrines, this idea of the sun being dark and et cetera, et cetera. And then this is pretty fascinating. Verse eleven, I will punish the world for their evil and the wicked for their iniquity.
So just a little Hebrew technical thing here. He does not use Edits or Harris. The world like a land or a specific entity. This is tevel, this is the world in general. And so many read this as then Isaiah using a historical incident or a big thing that’s going to happen to them, speak more broadly, and that prepares us for what happens in 13 and 14.
What I love about this context, Sean, is that if you consider the Babylonian, the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the canines and other surrounding nations, they believe that the constellations, the sun, the moon, the stars, all represented different deities. What do you get over? And again, particularly in Isaiah, throughout the Old Testament, there is only one God. It is Jehovah, it’s Yahweh, and it’s God showing that he has all power over the cosmos. So it’s a very clear argument from Isaiah against all the other ideologies and religions in his time, that the people are hoping and have expectations in God that don’t even exist. They think that these constellations are going to tell them how to order their lives and ultimately they’re missing the fact they just pay attention. Isaiah is testifying, God himself is in charge of the cosmos. Only one God, not a multiplicity. So definitely it deals with like the last days, the destruction, but also it’s just a time of saying god is in the heavens and he is completely.
In control, which, by the way, is a message I think we need now, right? You look at chaos and you think, wait, is God in charge or not? And Isaiah would reach out to our day and say, trust in the Lord. He’s more powerful than the sun, he’s in charge of the heavens, he’s in charge of technology just to bring it into our modern day, right? The different things that we rely on to get our sort of sense of peace and security.
Which by the way. Is a really powerful reminder to us that if you take the Matthew 24 or the Joseph Matthew. These prophecies that Jesus gave his disciples of the latter days. As well as the destruction in his own day from the Romans in 70 Ad. If you look at all of these terrible things that he’s telling us are going to happen. His whole point was. I’m telling you this so that you. My disciples. Won’t be afraid. So that you’ll stand in holy places and be not moved. And so that you’ll see as these things unfold I told you they were going to unfold, it will be this sign that, hey, we are moving right along as planned. In other words, God isn’t up in his heavens wringing his hands saying, oh no, look what just happened, what are we going to do now? No, this is all prophesied so that when you see some of the scarier aspects of these prophecies, for instance, look at verse six and seven. How ye for the day of the Lord is at hand, it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty, therefore shall all hands be faint and every man’s heart shall melt.
This fear and melting and sorrow and travail doesn’t need to permeate your heart as a disciple of Christ. If you stand in holy places, you look to the God of Israel, not to the gods of the world, whether it be technology or money or power, proceed. Whatever this world has to offer, then we really don’t have to be petrified or scared. As we move forward, we can quietly, confidently increase our faith in Christ. When we see these prophecies being fulfilled.
With these two themes, these are going to permeate the entire reading section. I mean, we’ll be hitting these the rest of the time.
So before we jump into chapter 14, I think it would be worth noting the irony of Isaiah’s prophecies regarding Babylon, this huge world empire at that time when Babylon is in its heyday, they are incredibly powerful and the capital city of Babylon is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. As Sean was mentioning earlier, these people are incredible builders and their empire is enormous. And how big is Jerusalem where Isaiah is writing these prophecies from? If you were to do just a size comparison between Babylon, the capital city.
And Jerusalem, it’s laughable, right? It’s so insignificant and we see this happen so often and it’s a great point. It happens in Jesus’day. It’s still the same story.
You can come out of Nazareth.
That’s right. And you look and you’re like, wait, this is not reasonable. Why would I believe in this thing when my eyes are telling me nothing conquers the might of Babylonia. It just doesn’t happen. This is just a quick historical note, neo Babylon for the historians who are sort of following along, neo siri, neo Babylon. If you want to sort of look it up, that’s sort of what you’ll see there.
Yeah. So it’s basically this little teeny provincial capital oliver there. Jerusalem is making fun of this world. It’s a David and Goliath story times ten.
There’s going to be this moment in Isaiah 37 and we won’t jump forward there. It’s in this reading block where Assyria has come and Isaiah gives hezekiah comfort, hezekiah runs to the temple, he sends his servants to the prophets. What more Latterday Saint story do you have than that? That he goes to the temple and he prays directly to God in the temple. And then the answer comes from the words of the prophet. I love it. But the irony says the virgin daughter of Jerusalem tosses her head at you o assyria, right? And so you sort of picture in our sort of modern time, sort of a teenage girl, right, sort of tossing her head at this mighty empire of Babylon. Curious, right? And that imagery is so powerful, but we get so afraid, no, how can we stand here? It’s really great. Isaiah does so many powerful things.
The irony with Isaiah is he doesn’t just taunt Babylon in this instance, but for the rest of all time moving forward. I mean, you look at verse 19 and Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the child, these excellency shall be as when God over through Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation. That’s a pretty serious indictment against this world capital.
And it’s been true, right? It’s a mound, as it’s true of many ancient worlds. And this is part of the fascinating thing, is that the covenantal promises regarding the House of Israel, this doesn’t happen where you have an ancient people that is overthrown and then in the latter days still exists. And then of course, according to beliefs of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, and then it springs up out of the dust, the House of Israel does. And you have all these Latter day Israelite, so to speak, which, by the.
Way, isn’t this fun? We’re talking about these historical cities and these historical people, and Isaiah speaking from the Lord’s inspiration and declaring these things that absolutely have come to pass. Isn’t this fun? The reality is none of this really matters other than we can become experts in ancient Near Eastern history. But when it really starts to matter is when you say, what is the Babylon? Or what is the Assyria today? Because it’s not that location, it’s anything that would set itself up to replace in our mind and in our heart the foremost position that belongs to God. Anything that would take our devotion, our consecrated efforts, anything other than God could be a Babylon. And in the end, all of those things will fall and crumble and be brought low and will never be inhabited in the Eternities. They’re very fleeting elements of mortality. And so, as we now jump into chapter 14, just keep that on the forefront of this isn’t just a history, Dustin. Isaiah is not just about history. Isaiah is about likening all scriptures to us. So keep figuring out where you are in these stories.
There’s an image earlier on in chapters one through twelve where King A Has is terrified of the threat of Ephraim of Israel, the Kingdom of Israel and Syria, and Isaiah calls them smoking fire brands. They’re putting out so much smoke. It’s so threatening looking, but they’re not producing any heat. They’re about to go out, but there’s no way you can survive this. And he’s like, no, this is a smoking firebrand. And I found that image so useful in my life, in the life of Mary students, where they’ll say, wow, that image sticks, right? Whether it’s a final exam, whether it’s a business deal going awry, whether it’s an argument in a marriage, and it seems like, oh, I’ll never recover, it’s all over. And then through the atonement of Jesus Christ, it’s a smoking firebrand. Hang in there, hang in there.
I love that. So, chapter 14.
Yeah, so, I mean, we’ve been talking about this. She tosses her head at you. And this is another moment where this is known as the Taunt Song against the King of Avalon. And it’s really salty, right? It’s really great stuff. Talking about this King of Avalon whose might is above all other things, and Isaiah’s pointing towards this trust in political power, in the power that is awarded by the world. There’s fear, there’s shock and awe, there’s all of these kinds of things, there’s even erudition, right? And he said, you’ve got it all and you want more. You want to even ascend into the heavens and be greater than God. And he says, how art thou fallen? He prophesies of this time when the King of Avalon will be nothing. How art thou fallen from heaven? A Lucifer, son of the morning. How art thou cut down to the ground which did weak in the nations? For thou hast David in thine heart. I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation in the sides of the north. Now, this is another fascinating moment where people will say, well, that’s not talking about Satan, that’s not talking about Lucifer.
But Isaiah is doing some things here where he actually appears to be playing with, as he does throughout the Book of Isaiah, playing with Canaanite mythology, this idea of rebellious gods. And so lucifer. That comes from the Latin Vulgate. The Hebrew here is Khaleban Shahar, the son of the morning. And this idea is of a star that represents a rebellious God in a pantheon of gods that then rebels against God and is cast down, falls from heaven. And so that sounds sort of familiar to us as Latterday Saint, and I think Christian as well. If you think of the Book of Revelation and the dragon that draws a third and then is cast down to the earth. But then of course, the very first time we have someone explicitly, at least it would appear explicitly connecting this about the King of Babylon and reading it as this is a story about the brightly shining one, lucifer, or Satan is probably second ni Fi too. So listen to this. This is fascinating, what Lehi does, and I think this is probably a major reason why Nephi includes these chapters. If you look at verse 17 and I lehi now here’s the thing.
According to the things which I have read where else is he getting this from? Maybe there’s some other ancient text we don’t have access to anymore but this is almost certainly where he’s getting this from. According to what I have read must need suppose that an angel of God according to that which is written had fallen from heaven wherefore he became a devil, right? And so you have Lehigh reading Isaiah, understanding Isaiah as teaching theological ideas about Satan, about the adversary, about the devil.
Which the conclusion in Isaiah chapter 14 verse 16 is fascinating. The wording that comes to us in our King James version here says they that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee. What does it mean to narrowly look upon something? Usually I don’t know. There are lots of ways you can interpret this but for me in a simple way to narrowly look upon something is to squint. Usually you squint when you’re trying to see something more clearly when you’re shocked by what you’re seeing. So they narrowly look upon me and consider these saying is this the man that made the earth to tremble that did shake kingdoms?
Pull back the curtain, wizard of Oz moment, right? And you’re like oh that’s what was intimidating me. That is a smoking firebrand. That is nothing. In fact he’s going to say if you look at verse eleven basically he’s saying maggots are your bed, worms are your blanket and then you’re going to be as one cast out of his grave. And some of the ancient idea here is if you’re a body that doesn’t have burial then your spirit is sort of this disembodied spirit that wanders the earth. And how fascinating is that potential tie in as well as you’re applying this king of Babylon and what we learn about pride. About a desire to abase or push down others in order to get what you want and then it’s futility the futility of doing that king of Babylon Lucifer and then of course we can easily apply this to all of the things that we sometimes get caught up in thinking are important in our own lives. There’s so much here. This is very rich stuff.
It’s beautiful. So now as you turn the page repeatedly through these chapters as Sean had already introduced these are prophecies that Isaiah is making of kind of the demise of multiple kingdoms and countries around that region. None of which are serving God, right? None of which are turned heavenward. They’re all doing their own thing and he makes it pretty clear that it doesn’t end well for any of them.
And can I say some would just read these as well. It’s just doom and gloom. There’s nothing anybody can do about it. He’s just telling them it’s the way it’s going to be. I think we have Jonah’s work and that his prophecy actually turned to Syria to help us understand what’s going on here. They had a lot of influence in his own kingdom, and some would believe that these are being written down and carried to the courts of other nations and empires in order to try to dissuade them. There’s even one prophecy and you get another one similar in Zephaniah that looks like it might be a failed prophecy. In other words, it had an impact and then this isn’t just, hey, it’s all going to go bad, just deal with it. This is no turn to the Lord. Repent and God will bless you.
It’s a loving, prophetic effort here.
So look at chapter let’s pause in chapter 22 for a minute and pick it up in verse 20. It shall come to pass in that day that I will call my servant Iliahi, the son of Hilkaya. So we’re talking about a specific person with this name Eliakim, which in the.
Hebrew, so this is a really great name. It can be translated a few different ways. My God Eli, Yahim will arise, or my God will cause to arise, or my God will establish. Those are each acceptable translations of Eliaquim here. It’s this beautiful theophoric Hebrew name that has the name of God in it.
So you’ve got to love that because now Eliyakim becomes this placeholder, this type shadow symbol, whatever you want to call him for the Messiah, for Christ. Ultimately. Look at it in that context. I will clothe him with thy robe and strengthen him with thy girdle. I will commit thy government into his hand and shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem into the house of Judah. And he’s going to give the key to the House of David to this Elijah.
By the way, when Jesus is talking to Peter and says, I’m going to place, I’m going to give you the keys of the kingdom, most believe he’s pulling from imagery of Isaiah. He’s using this imagery right here to.
Talk to Peter and the keys of the kingdom.
16 connects probably with this.
Absolutely. And then look at what he says in verse 23. A fascinating line here. And I will fasten him as a nail in a short place, and he shall be a glorious throne to his Father’s house. So we get this Father’s house from a Latter day Saint context. We instantly start thinking temple and this idea of a nail in a sure place, what is that in the ancient world?
So as we read this as Christians and as members of the Church of Jesus Christ, obviously we think we go immediately to crucifixion imagery. Right. And it’s very powerful in that sense. There was a form, there appears to have been a form of crucifixion amongst the Assyrians, but not exactly what the Romans would have done. How would Isaiah’s original audience have understood that in Isaiah’s context. So first of all, you can think of a nail or a peg that is put into a wall and then they’d actually not using iron nails probably at that point in Isaiah’s time. And so you sort of fasten it into the wall with claim it becomes part of the wall and you hang things and he’s going to say things of great importance, things of lesser importance. They all hang upon this nail and the nail holds the weight of those issues. Now, there’s one other sort of fascinating possibility. I say we, but I had nothing to do with it. Archeologists have uncovered these foundation nails they’re called, and they actually have terms of the covenant or of treaties written on them. So you’d call them covenant nails or treaty nails.
And that’s pretty fascinating because they’re there to remind the nail itself serves as a reminder that there is a covenant or treaty relationship. You hang the weight of your hopes, so to speak, on that treaty nail, on that covenant nail. So a couple of fascinating possibilities for the way the ancient audience would have understood it. And note, it doesn’t say I will fasten him with a nail, it says he will be as a nail. And if I’m going to point to Jehovah or to Christ as the nail upon which our hopes hang, as the physical evidence, symbol and reminder of God’s everlasting love for us, to me there’s so much that’s powerful here and then not to ignore the crucifixion imagery that’s so important to us as Latterday Saints.
And I think verse 24 bears up that whole concept that you’re talking about. They shall hang upon Him, him being in this context not just Elijah but this nail in a sure place. You can rely on why you hang upon Him all the glory of His Father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels, a small quantity from the vessels of cups even to all the vessels of flagging. You can hang everything on Christ and it’s in a sure place. It’s not going to crumble and fall in that context, of course. Then, verse 25, what do you want to say about when the nails removed?
Well, there’s a couple of different ways to understand this. If you’re going to look at this as talking about Christ and his crucifixion, there is the time when he says it’s finished and the burden is removed. We can then feel that burden removed in our own lives. And Christ descends into heaven and sits as it says here he’s going to become as a throne in His Father’s house, right. And he sits on the right hand of God and then is ready to grant us that glorious joy as joint inheritors in the kingdom of God.
Beautiful. Now keep in mind last week when we mentioned that Nephi turned to Isaiah when reading to his brothers and the purpose that he told us was that I. Might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord, their redeemer. I think anytime you put on lenses to look for Christ or symbols of the Messiah and his mission, his atonement, his redemptive mercy, I think Isaiah and I think Nephi would fully approve of that kind of reading anywhere in the book of Isaiah.
Yeah, I just want to testify. Whatever Isaiah’s ancient audience would have understood for me as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, it is crucial for me. Christ is my secure nail. He’s the nail on which all of my hopes hang. And he will support those things and he will triumph in a way that allows me to triumph. And so that as the Spirit brings these things to life for us, then that becomes for me the most important possible interpretation of this first.
So let’s jump now to 24, where he’s going to finalize this section where he’s been. And I like this perspective of not just saying all these bad things going to happen to the nations, but maybe, look, if you don’t repent, this is what’s going to happen to you and this is what’s going to happen to you. And then saying that’s a powerful and.
He’S truth telling, right? Most of it, if not all of it happens because the people don’t turn. But he’s told that at the beginning, you’re going to preach to people, they’re not going to listen to you. He becomes a tragic prophet, very much like Nephi becomes a tragic prophet. He sees the downfall of his own people, but he still Harris that message forward.
And why is that? Why is it so tragic? It’s not because God is up in Heaven getting some joy out of destroying kingdoms and people. Look at verse five. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein or desolate. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned and few men left. Sounds pretty bleak, but it’s not the Lord’s fault. It’s our fault when that happens.
Quick word about this. So first of all, this is going to be important in Doctrine Covenants One. So when the Lord says here’s the preface to Doctrine Covenants, he’s going to refer to this. It’s sort of funny. He’s quoting Isaiah, quoting him, I guess is what we would say, right? It’s a little circular, right? But he’s going to use this from Isaiah to talk about the straying from this everlasting covenant, this word ordinance and King James version, that has a very particular meaning for Latterday Saints of priesthood ordinances. And that’s not necessarily wrong, but it’s also statutes, right? That sense of ordinance, like a city ordinance, right. So we use it in a very particular way. The Hebrew allows that, but it’s got a broader meaning than that.
Very good. So let’s jump into chapter 25, one of these triumphant sections of this episode today, of these chapters that we’re reading today, where the Lord is actually going to prepare something for those, but he’s not going to force them to come to the feast and he’s not going to force them to eat the food that he’s prepared.
So the verse I want to look at, Tyler, is verse eight. And we’ve come through this difficult chapter in 24 text in 24. And now look at 25, verse eight, this promise he will swallow up death in victory. So it’s not that death doesn’t occur, it’s that death is mediated because there’s victory, right? He’s talking, I think, primarily about all of our mortal deaths, right? But also you think of our little deaths that we all suffer in our careers. And whatever the case may be, that’s.
Really actually a powerful reminder because sometimes we get so focused on the big, the final things like death. And yes, no question Jesus overcame that for us. But I like this idea of those little deaths that are called sin or rebellion or where we get caught up in our own pride or we say the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person in the wrong way, whatever it may be. We can experience these little microcosms of death and we can experience those bigger macro level triumphant atoning redemptive elements at really small levels every day. I love that.
If you think of war, there’s death in war. That is tragic. But when the larger ideology triumphs, right, when your side triumphs, then those deaths, that sacrifice is swallowed up in victory. Think of a basketball game where you’ve got all kinds of baskets that are scored against your team and those are all little mini deaths. But if you win in the end, it doesn’t matter. This is just part of the this is what happens as we’re going to apply this in mortality. There’s lots of little deaths, but they’re swallowed up in the overall victory that comes in the storyline, right? So, yeah, there’s going to swallow up death in victory and then this the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces, where we tend to be most familiar with this imagery from the book of Revelation. But once again, it starts here in Isaiah that you’re going to find that over and over again. And I want you to picture, as Isaiah is so good at describing the almighty Jehovah, the God of the universe, he can hold all things in his hands, right? And he takes those mighty hands and cups your face in them and gently wipes the tears away.
Maybe you might even think he reaches into your heart and the wounds there and he heals them. He wipes it away. This is so tender, this is so personal and this is 700 BC, when we often think, oh, the angry God of the Old Testament, they didn’t get it. We’re the smart ones, they don’t get it. And this is beautiful. Theology is as warm and as tender as it could be, which, by the.
Way, I could be dead wrong in assuming this, but I don’t think John the Revelator was the first to think, here’s a great way to describe God’s mercy. I think John the Revelator is simply quoting Isaiah in the Book of Revelation when he’s saying, you know what, isaiah said it best. I’m going to use the same idea to describe what I’m seeing here. Don’t you love that, how profits aren’t afraid to quote profits? It’s not a pride struggle. I want to be more unique or more eloquent than Isaiah. It’s like, no, that’s a great phrase. I’m going to use it. I like that. And you see, in our profits today, they’re constantly quoting each other and the Scriptures and it’s unapologetic.
I love that they read the Scriptures and then the image, the worldview in the Scriptures changes the way they read the world because they believe the Scriptures and it opens their minds to revelation and then God pours revelation upon them. But often it’s couched in the phraseology and the imagery that has stirred their hearts and minds as they read former prophets, right? So the prophets see eye to eye across the ages.
It’s powerful. And so verse nine, and it shall be said in that day, lo, 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. This is coming from a people who they have been oppressed. They’ve struggled in their own pride cycle through all these lessons that we’ve covered so far this year in the Old Testament, we’ve seen so many highs and so Mary lows, and they have these messianic expectations our Messiah is going to come and save us. And I love this here, this chapter, because it’s the Lord setting out this feast in verse six, this feast of wines on the leaves of fat fings full of marrow and all of this opportunity laid out. And by the way, he doesn’t charge you to come and sit at that table. He’s already paid for it in full. And he David, by shedding his blood and giving his life to provide this feast for us. And unfortunately, we live in a world with all of this banquet that’s laid out who say, no, I’d rather eat the food of the world.
There are hungry people, there were angels. That would have been very meaningful to them, this bountiest feast, and it would be meaningful to many in our world today. And then many of us just don’t live in a way that causes us to be quite as sensitive to how powerful this imagery is. One last quick thought, this word weighted, look back at that, that Tyler was reading, the Hebrew. It’s the same root as the word for hope. And so if you think of this Kaba, right? And if you think of this idea of, no, it’s impossible, but we’ve waited, we’ve hoped, and God does come. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, right in our title is the steadfast belief that God does come. Right?
That’s a beautiful insight. The name of our church embodies this element of waiting for the Lord and hope in the Lord. And it’s not a vain hope. He will come and he will do all of these things. And in fact, remember 35 23, when Jesus gives those nephi and lame knights that commandment to search diligently the words of Isaiah, he qualifies and he says, for greater the words of Isaiah, and all of those words are going to be fulfilled. So when the God of heaven says, I’m going to make sure all of Isaiah’s words get fulfilled, we’ve we can do more than hope. We can live in an absolute certainty that all these things are going to come to pass. That’s exciting.
And there have to be moments where it looks like they’re not going to be fulfilled, where we have to hope, we have to wait. We pay billions of dollars to watch movies that have these moments embedded in them where it’s impossible, it’s not going to work out because our heart is thrilled to the story, except for when it happens in our own lives. And we’re like, no, something has gone terribly wrong. No, this is when the hope of the human heart springs up and you say that tomorrow does come. And I would testify, tomorrow does come. You hold on, you hope on, and God does show up.
So as we jump into chapter 26, I want to just focus on one little verse, one little concept here. It’s so simple, but in my mind, it’s one of the most often repeated concepts that the Old Testament reminds me of. Chapter 26, verse four says, trust ye in the Lord forever, not just when you’re prospering, not just when you’re happy, not just when everything’s working out, but forever. Trust in the Lord, for in the Lord, Jehovah is everlasting strength. And I think in our English King James version of the Bible, the name, the proper name spelled out Jehovah, I believe it only appears four times. And this happens to be one of them, where our King James translators put it out.
And the reason that happens is because Jehovah yahweh is twice in the text, and so they can’t use that all small caps. Lord, yeah, yahweh is often how that appears.
So notice its description there. For in the Lord, Jehovah is everlasting strength. I love that that idea of it’s. Not the strength of my arm or the strength of the things that I’ve surrounded myself from the world, the Babylonian accoutrements, these things that I take on from the culture and the society around me. Everlasting strength comes from reward and it’s.
Those same strong arms that we were talking about before then, white tears from that. It’s so that holding those two images together of tenderness and strength all in one with this powerful but gentle embrace. Right.
Beautiful. And then you turn over to chapter 27. I just want to point out one concept here as we get ready to set the stage for chapter 28. If you look at verse twelve, it shares this concept that seems to be a fairly big deal to Mormon and to some of those nephi writers in the Book of Mormon. Look at verse twelve. It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt and ye shall be gathered. So he’s going to destroy all of the things that are preventing you from coming to Him. And notice he says, ye shall be gathered one by one, o ye children of Israel. It’s this personal nature of the Savior’s atonement. It’s pretty hard for Him to wipe away tears from the masses, but it’s very simple for Him to wipe away the tears of an individual. And he seems to do his greatest work one by one. Now, to be sure, it has capacity to reach to everybody. But to me the most powerful aspects of the Savior’s infinite atonement are those personal things where I recognize that it’s an individual blessing that he has for me.
So this reminds me of a beautiful adjustment that was made in one of our temple recommendations the last time that they did it. In the second question, instead of asking do you have a testimony of the atonement of Jesus Christ of Christ and leaving it at that, the adjustment is you have a testimony of the atonement of Jesus Christ and of his role as your Savior. And redeemer. I think there’s power in that, seeing that it’s not just a generic question. It’s not what do we know? It’s? What do I know? And what is that connection like for me? Not just in the generic form. Wonderful. So now let’s jump into chapter 28.
So there’s a couple of things that I want to point out here in 28. And the one where I believe the church curriculum looks is this precept upon precept in verse ten. So you look at chapter 28, verse ten, for precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line. Here a little there. This is really catchy. The Hebrew, and some would even think it’s like a nursery rhyme. It’s something that can be sung or repeated easily. Saba. I guess I should have used a little bit more ancient pronunciation, the best we know. But anyway, that’s sort of how that plays out. And here’s the fascinating thing. If you look at verse nine, if we just walk back of verse, he says, you’re going to wean people from milk without let’s see whom shall he teach knowledge? This is verse nine. Whom shall we make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk. Right? And then he says, this is how it’s going to be. But then the problem potentially for us, and I like doing this with students of setting up the problem is that this is negative, they’re going to fall backwards and they’re going to be taken in a snare.
And I said, but in the Book of Mormon second, Nephi, 28, nephi uses it in a positive sense. And so what happened there? Did Nephi get it wrong? Did Joseph Smith make a mistake here? Right? And I have them sort of wrestle with that for a moment until finally some student notices. Wait a minute, nephi does line upon line, precept upon precept. You move from sort of these main boundaries, barriers, laws or commandments into, as Joseph Smith might say, I teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves. And I’m trying to wean them and help them understand the broader meaning of spiritual things. And instead, now you’ve got a people in Isaiah that’s moving backwards here, right? And being taken in a snare, and it becomes like a foreign people stammering lips, almost like a Syrians who speak a foreign language, and they’re going to come and conquer you, right? And so then some students like, whoa, usually happens when I pay them $10 afterwards. For the moment that Nephi didn’t get it wrong, he understands Isaiah so well that he can teach the same principle upside down in reverse the positive, what God’s trying to do.
But what we as humans like to do is to move backwards in that from principles to lines to then these man made additions that then we use to control others and judge others, right? And so it’s really fun to see that reversal. There one other thing I want to look at here in 28. So if you’ll go with me to the end and this one we just miss it. The parable of the ploughman. This is as good as it gets. Well, I say that too much when I’m talking about Isaiah. Give ye ear, hear my voice, hearken and hear my speech. Does the plowman plow all day to so? Does he open and break the claws of his ground? And he’s going to talk about the way a plowman works, and it depends on how you translate this, but either the answer is, well, yes, he works really hard, and I want you to think of Jacob Five in the Allegory. He’s going to do all of these things to prepare the ground. And the answer is, yes, he does. But then if you translate it differently, he doesn’t constantly do that. He moves from preparing the ground, then the goal is to planting the seed, but then he plants all different kinds of seeds in just the right place.
And I’m going to interpret it before we read it. He plants these tender cumin in clumps than the clump method because they’re so tender that they need protection from other plants. He plants the wheat, the principal crop, in these straight rows in the middle, and then the rye is almost like a hedge. It’s this sort of feisty crop, right, that he plants like a hedge around the borders. And the barley goes in swampy ground, the ground where nothing else will grow well, but barley grows in swampy ground. And then you can read Him talking about that in verse 25. And then verse 26. For His Goddess instruct him to discretion and death.
In other words, why does the Plymouth do this? Because he learned it from God. This is how God does things. God cares about plants. He cares about us. But he also cares he’s planted us where we need to be. And you can take that in a general sense. Those of you who come from families are like, why is this my situation? Or why is that? Why was I blessed in this really spectacular situation? Why was my friend blessed, but I wasn’t? And I love looking at some of the leaders of the church and as they are open at times about some of the challenges they’ve grown up in and how God has used that. As they turn to Him, God plants us. If you’re in the swampy ground, don’t think God forgot you’re. Maybe your head and we’re different, but we’re the body of Christ, right? Okay. So that’s where he plans. But then it goes on and he starts talking about the reaping, okay? And he says the cumin, there’s a thing called a Threshing sledge, and we’ll need to get the image. The Threshing sledge has holes in the bottom and you put little rocks in it.
And then a man would stand on this Threshing sledge and it gets pulled around and it knocks the grain out of the wheat so you can get the grain. And then you toss the chaff into the air and the grain is left behind. But first you got to knock that grain out. And that’s what a Threshing sledge does. You drag it around and it knocks because grain is hard to get out. But that doesn’t work with cumin. If you do that with a cumin, you’re going to get up. It’s going to be a massive disgusting mess, right? You can tap it lightly with a stick and it just drops at seeds. And so God reaps differently according to the needs of the plants. I’ve got kids that I can look at cross site, and they are other kids. I’m more like the weed. I need the Threshing sledge, right? Teach me, teach me, teach me again. And I’m still going to need more teaching, right? And again. 700 BC. And this is a message that is general conference ready to be able to say, god sees you and he interacts with you just as you need, even though you might think that’s not what’s going on, that’s exactly what’s going on.
And then this final testimony, this also comes from the Lord of hosts. This is 29, verse 29, which is wonderful in council and excellent and working. So the parable of the plow, man, my hope is that will become everybody’s one of their favorite spots in Scripture, that testifies of the wisdom of Jehovah and his personal care for each of us. I love the parable of the plowma.
Isn’t this fun? Isaiah, he’s not as hard to understand as maybe we were raised to believe, right?
We know this story, we know these principles, we know these doctrines. Right. Isaiah speaks like a prophet and we have modern day prophets who speak this way. This has a familiar sound to it.
Yeah. And also, have you noticed how adept Isaiah is at using common, everyday occurrences for these people to be able to teach these really lofty doctrines and theologies and principles of the Gospel? And he’s not just using agrarian examples in the parable of plowmont. Absolutely. That’s going to connect much better with farmers. But as with Jesus Christ, in his own teachings, isaiah uses all kinds of imagery, some of it associated with a farm. Look back at verse 16, for instance. Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, behold, I lay in Zion for a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation he believeth shall not make haste. Here he’s using a building analogy.
Yeah, he keeps going in verse 17, judgment will I lay to the line that’s the horizontal truing of a building and righteousness to the plumbing. If you’ve used a plumba before, wow, that’s really bad.
But that square, right, of judgment and righteousness. And then you get a cornerstone which for Christians right, that Christ is how you true that building. But you might say truth is Jehovah is God’s view of the world, is the correct view of the world. Right.
And one of the grand ironies is Jesus makes it very clear that the chief priests of the people are going to reject that which is going to end up being the head of the corner, this chief cornerstone. And then Peter and John are going to quote that later on in Acts chapter four, three and four. Anyway, this analogy. So whether it’s building, whether it’s medicine, whether it’s farming, whether it’s shepherding, whether it’s nature, whether it’s finance, scriptures are full of all these examples. And every single one of the examples have one purpose to show you how Jesus Christ knows what he’s doing. He knows how to build, he knows how to heal, he knows how to multiply, he knows how to grow, plant, harvest, heat. I think in the Book of Mormon, the phrase that we’re going to see in this next chapter is this idea of I am able to do my own work, and by the way just.
To tie that together, why do they reject him? Because they have moved from precept to line to man made additions. Here a little, there a little so that when God shows up and we should have the same concern in our lives, have I so put God in a box that when God shows up in my life, I can’t recognize them? Well, see, that’s not what I was expecting. That’s not the way God is supposed to act, right. And certainly that’s what I was talking about here.
Or by extension, that’s not what a profit, a real profit should be saying or doing that can’t be from God because it just doesn’t line up. I can’t fit that prophet or that prophetic teaching into my little box that I’ve created for myself. Rather than going to the Lord saying, show me the box, you give me those boundaries, those precepts that I should be looking at. Which brings us to chapter 29. And for those of you who recognize the heading here, it says compare second E 527. This is the chapter, the Isaiah chapter in the Book of Mormon that has more edits, more adaptations than any of the included Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon. And that brings up the question, is it Nephi who’s redacting or do the brass plates show up exactly the way they appear in our book, Mormon? And later on, what the Mazarinic text and the Dead Sea Scrolls and the other ancient parts of the Old Testament we have in the Hebrew? Did they get modified after Nephi had left? Great questions.
So just a quick thought about this. Whether second Nephi 27 restores Isaiah’s original language or whether it’s a Nephi prophetic likening or adaptation that Nephi has authority to do. Now, I actually have an opinion, and that is that this is an example of Nephi addy focusing us in closely on his sacred text, which is the Book of Mormon, right, the one that he’s creating. But others I don’t want to distract because others might disagree with that and we don’t know the answer. At the end of the day. What I do think can be helpful is to broaden our understanding of this beyond the Book of Mormon and view words of sealed texts. Not just as a Book of Mormon has a sealed portion and it goes in the ground and then it comes forth in the last days. Which is true and powerful. But to see how that happens with biblical teachings as well. And biblical prophets also become voices that speak from the dust of the earth, right? Powerful Isaiah certainly does, and the Book of Mormon talks about it this way. Second E five three. I’m going to pull together the teachings of what we understand is the Bible, right, the teachings of Judah and the teachings of Ephraim, and they are going to restore and Joseph Smith as the farmer prophet, right, the ignorant one.
So to speak. Who then doesn’t just unseal an ancient Book of Mormon text, but unseals the Bible for a Latter day Saint audience? And they unseal each other, right?
They work together.
That’s right. If you understand the Bible, you will better understand the Book of Mormon. And if you understand the Book of Mormon, you can use that to unlock greater, deeper insights and meaning in the Bible. And it’s an iterative process. It just keeps feeding and growing over time as you keep immersing in both. So look at verse four, sean’s already alluded to this. Thou shalt be brought down and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit. So there are ways to see how the Book of Mormon, these plates being buried in hill camora, could literally fulfill this. But Isaiah, his Searship writing is so big and so broad that it can be applied in myriad ways for us, as Latter day Saints, we love this Book of Mormon application to that prophecy, that those scriptures were laid low and now they’re speaking out of the ground, out of the dust. And when we hear the words of the Book, they have a familiar spirit. There’s a connection there to what we already know from the Bible.
It’s beautiful imagery.
It’s really powerful imagery. And there are images of sealed books, book of Revelation, this scroll that has seven seals on it. Sometime you should go and spend some time in Jeremiah 32 where he’s talking about buying a plot of land, and you’re going to make two copies of the purchase contract and one you’re going to bury in the ground and one you’re going to keep above the ground. Well, why do you bury the one in the ground? Because there’s a fear that the one above the ground is going to be tampered with. And so if you get that suspicion, you unbury the one and you compare. But you need one above ground so you can read it, right. That has the power that allows you to track the message, right? But then if you get to the point where you’re like, are we sure this is the original message? You unbury the other one, you compare them and they work to corroborate each other. It was sort of a fascinating moment with a sealed, buried record in Jeremiah 32, but also this important above ground record, so to speak.
So verse eleven. I love this introduction here. The vision of all has become unto you, by the way, the vision of all. We sometimes refer to them as panoptic vision, a view of everything. The vision of all is becoming unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee. And he says, I cannot, for it is sealed. And if you. Read this part of the story in 2000 and 527, you’re going to see some significant expansion of detail here in the conversation between he who has learned, he has not learned in the words of the book versus the book. The book is symbolic in this context of the plates and the words being a translation. And you watch chapter 27 unfold in your Book of Mormon. It’s uncanny how beautifully it lines up with that story of Martin Harris taking a translated portion so you have some characters along with the translation. He takes those words to Samuelatham Mitchell and Charles Anthony and then the famous story of Charles Anthony saying, well then bring me the book, I’ll read it.
And Martin saying part of it, I can’t read a sealed book. And later on them making this connection back to Isaiah, chapter 29, it’s pretty.
Fun, it really is. And then, as we’ve been doing, if you think of that famous line that is attributed to Tinder, and I’m going to misquote him a little bit, I will make it so the plowboy can understand the Bible better than you. The Bible in Tindales view has become a sealed book and I want the uneducated to have access to it and they’re going to understand it better than you do. And then that resonates so deeply in the Latter day Saints, of course, because of our boy prophet Joseph Smith, who then the Book of Mormon unlocks the Bible and he becomes that plowboy, you might say.
Which now brings us to look at verse 13, where for the Lord said so this would be Jehovah saying for as much as this, people draw near me with their mouth and with their lips to honor me, but have removed their heart far from me and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men. It’s fascinating because when this ploughboy, this 14 year old farm boy, goes into a grove of trees near his home, he goes in asking which church he should join. And when he is visited by the Father and the Son, and the Father’s message to him is joseph, this is my beloved Son. Hear him. And it seems that Jesus is doing, it seems most of the interacting, most of the talking. Well, in the 1838 account of the first vision, listen to the very first thing after the introduction and telling the answer to his question of which church to join, look at what Jesus Christ, Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Lord hath said. Well, he’s going to say it again. It’s as if he’s quoting Isaiah. But no, Isaiah was quoting the Lord. So Jesus is now just saying the same thing to Joseph.
Look at Josemith history, verse 19, halfway down it says, they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They teach for doctrines, the commandments of men having a form of Godliness, but they deny the power thereof. It’s this exact concept of 29 that he’s just repeating to this young prophet. One of the first things Joseph hears opening up the dispensation is a quote from Isaiah.
Remember the introduction where we were given this over you and said, these are the woe chapters where you see the futility of worldly approaches and worldly kingdoms compared with the wisdom of God. So verse 13 flows into verse 14. He’s setting up this beautiful pronouncement in verse 14. Therefore, behold I will, the Lord will proceed to do a marvelous work among the people, a marvelous work and a wonder. For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. You can jump right into verse 18. In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the Book. Remember these sealed words that are no longer accessible or understood. And the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. And then listen to the way this connects with Second Nephi three. And when it’s talking about the writings of Judah and the writings of Yehra, the result of this book being unsealed, the blind seeing, the deaf hearing the words of the Book, they also that aired in spirit, shall come to understanding. They that murmured shall learn doctrine. And this is the conclusion.
And of course, the Latterday Saint Hart is going to thrill to see this playing out in the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints.
Which, by the way, it shouldn’t come as a surprise or as a shock to anybody that when God begins to do his work, there’s always an opposition from the adversary and from the world. And you even see that here in this chapter, this little illusion along the way to verse 21, that make a man an offender for a word and lay a snare for him, but reproveth in the gate and turn aside the just for a thing of not. You can apply that verse in a variety of ways to prophets and Scripture through the ages, but in the coming Fourth of the Book of Mormon, I think it’s fascinating with that whole sequence of the lost 116 pages. But what did they do? They changed them. Why? So they could make Joseph an offender for a word here and a word there to say, oh, see, he’s not a profit. Because they’re setting aside the Book as a thing of not. It’s of no value. So we’re going to use it as an instrument to destroy you. Now, as you retranslate, the scriptures that.
Describe the coming Fourth of the Book of Mormon are saturated in the words of Isaiah 29, doctrine Covenants Three and Doctrine Covenants Ten that Tyler was just talking about you just over and over and Oliver, again, they interweave. So a couple of things before we’re done that we just have to hit really quickly, because they tie together with things we’re talking about before, look at 30 and 31. Now, 31 isn’t in your sort of set reading, but they go together. There was this obsession at different times with Egypt. Egypt will solve your problems. Egypt just always aaron is always saying trust in us. And then look at what Isaiah does. Remember. This is in the section where it says the failure of worldly kingdoms and ideologies compared with God and God’s teachings. Woe to the rebellious children. This is chapter three, verse one. Say to the Lord that take counsel, but not of me. That cover with a covering. And this is the verb NASA, which is a very human covering. It’s not inherently bad, but here it is bad. You’re covering yourself over, but not of me. Whereas you get this word of kippur or kafar KapAir that has both atonement blood smearing kinds of contests, but also covering kinds of imagery.
So you’re covering yourself, but the covering doesn’t come from me. That take counsel, but not of me. That cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin. So instead of allowing God’s ways to heal, you are trying to take a covering upon you. And I would just say that you can track this through chapter 30 and then look in chapter 31 where they’re doing the same thing in verse three. Chapter 31, verse three. Now, the Egyptians are men and not God. Their horses are flesh and not spirit, right? And so this thing that we do back to 30 for a second, you’re running after the Egyptians, and the Egyptians are actually embarrassed of you. You’re yipping after them, pick me, love me, help me. And the Egyptians are laughing at you behind their hands, so to speak, is the imagery here. So I think it’s important in these ancient texts, as we think, well, how does this matter to me to think of how everyone in the world is seeking for joy and happiness? We’re seeking to know that we matter, that our lives have value. And we look for all these things to fill up that gap in our souls, that fear that we all have, that we don’t matter at the end of the day, we don’t have value.
And so we can pretend, we can sort of drown it in substances or too much sleep or whatever the case Mary Be, just make it go away, that fear that I have. Or we can look for evidence in our social media pings and our money and our popularity, but that stuff doesn’t work in the end. That’s human, it’s mortal, it’s going to betray you. Doritos will betray whatever it is that you use to make that fear go away. Only God’s covering will last. And the phrase that I think is powerful, I don’t know if I learned it from someone else or where I got it from. There is a hole in our soul and that hole is Christ shaped. God heals those wounds. And these other things can be positive, too, but not if we put them in first place, including, oh, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, my husband, my wife will fix all of my problems. My children will. Children are wonderful. Husband’s. Wonderful, I hope. Wife’s. Wonderful, I hope. But they’re not God. And when we put them in the place of God, we do them a disservice, and we set ourselves up for real sorrow.
And Isaiah’s trying to say, no, be emotionally healthy and emotional health is trusting in the constant one, the one who never changes, the one who will not fail you. That’s chapter 30 and 31 here. Really powerful, I think.
Now as we come to our last chapter for today, chapter 35. This is a restoration chapter that the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints have really resonated with as we liken this to us because we see the journey west of those pioneers under the Lord’s direction and Brigham Young’s Prophetic ministry. And he brings them, of all places, to the valley of the Great Salt Lake. There’s nothing less green and verdant than a Salt Lake valley, right? And so this whole chapter look at starting in verse one. The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom is the rose.
I have some friends who moved from Arizona up to Utah, and they said there’s so many trees here, and compared to places in Arizona, they’re right. Of course. I’m from Minnesota, and there’s a lot of trees in Minnesota, so I set a chuckle. But what’s beautiful here is that God has made this geographical region of Utah to blossom as a rose as he’s brought his people in. But far more important, he makes his church to blossom as a rose. He makes your life to blossom as a rose. All of us have solitary places that just desire to be quenched with God’s liquid of love, and he gives it to us. And Isaiah preaches us. I love jumping down to verse four. Say to them that are a fearful heart, be strong, fear not, behold your God will come. I take so much hope and solace in that. I think about Isaiah’s Day. It was a time of enormous political and social and upheavals massive challenges. You might look around the world today and say, I don’t know how I can stand all the chaos of life. And then we can look back at the people in the ancient world, people like Isaiah, who in similar conditions trusted God.
They were not fearful. They knew they could be strong with God. And I see this chapter reminding us we can take comfort in the Lord, that he is the strength that provides everything we need to have our lives blossom as a rose.
One of the phrases that he uses here in this chapter that many of you have heard prophets use, and it’s just become part of our speech is in verse three. Now, you know that when you hear this, these people are quoting Isaiah. Strengthen ye the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees. And when you put that in a covenantal context, I will be your God, you will be my people. And this idea of the hands that make that covenant and perform those acts, and the knees and the path that we’re walking, that covenant path, sometimes it’s tough, sometimes people get feeble in the knees, spiritually speaking, and they need that reassurance that we get. Just oozing off of Isaiah’s pages of scripture reassuring us, god is going to do all these things. Look, Jesus, the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water and habitation of dragons, where each lay shall be grass with reeds and rushes. It’s this beautiful story if you can get beyond the pools and the sand and the dragon analogies, as Taylor was talking your own parts of your soul and say, wow, this is about me and my connection with Christ and what he is willing to do for different parts of my soul and my discipleship moving forward.
It’s beautifully hope filled. There is a God in heaven. He is your Savior, and he will do all of these things for you.
I was in Spain on my mission and we bumped in this lady and we had our name tags on. Those weren’t always positive interactions. And somebody stopped you on the street. She said, now, who are you? And we told her the name of the church and who we were, and she said, oh, the Mormons. You’re the people who make things grow. And we were like, what? You’re the people who build things. You go into deserts and you plant trees and you make things grow. And all that was a nice moment there on a long day in the mission field for someone to have seen that. I don’t know if we’re very good at that or not, but we aspire to be that in our covenant with the Lord. And I think better said as Taylor was so beautifully expressing, god makes things grow in our lives, may our hopes bring up on us again. And so then let’s conclude with verse ten, right? And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
God has told us the words of Isaiah will all be fulfilled. You and I will triumph as we turn to the Lord and I testify of that.
And we leave this with you. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Know that you’re loved and spread light and goodness.
Come Follow Me Insights
Shon Hopkin, a religion professor at BYU, joins Taylor and Tyler this week in discussing Isaiah. Shon shares how he taught a student the meaning of “line upon line, precept upon precept.”
Daily Come Follow Me Videos
Jasmin Gimenez Rappleye explains how prophecies can have more than one fulfillment.
Casey Griffiths tells us why the adversary is often not mentioned throughout the Old Testament.
John Hilton III expounds upon the name, Eliakim, a type of Christ.
Taylor Halverson discusses the story arc of the Apocalypse of Isaiah.
Marianna Richardson exhorts us to monitor our progress as we strive to return to our Heavenly Parents.
Lynne Hilton Wilson covers Isaiah 29, the destruction of Jerusalem.
Annette Tillemann-Dick shares her conversion story and how the Book of Mormon helped her feel connected to the book of Isaiah and her own culture.