Blessed Are All They That Wait For Him

Isaiah 30

In verse 1, there are two woes pronounced upon the rebellious children, and thus by extension, two lines of instruction of how we ought to be:

  • We should seek council from the Lord.
  • We should seek for a covering of protection from the Holy Spirit.

“Their strength is to sit still”

In the subsequent verses, Isaiah talks about the rebellious’ tendency to flee to Egypt (the bigger national power) for protection or advantage. Isaiah is quick to point out that Egypt would not regard them with any favor because the children of Israel would be of no profit to them. There is no temporal advantage to help them. Isaiah’s council is simple, yet profound: be still.

The theme of “waiting” or patience is then repeated multiple times throughout the chapter.

For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.

Verse 15 (emphasis added)

By the same principle that the Lord asks his people to be patient, by this same principle does the Lord himself “wait”.

And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.

Verse 18 (emphasis added)

On a new day of study, parts of verse 18 have resonated deeply with me again. The Lord is a God of Judgment. Blessed are they that wait for him. The Spirit of the Lord speaks so strongly to me on this point.

The chapter heading speaks of the Lord returning in a day of apostasy. I pray that another 100 years or more, another season may pass before his coming, but now is a time of increasing apostasy, therefore it could happen sooner than I am ready to admit. Preparation, irregardless of what happens, will always be the answer.

As I come to the end of the chapter, which I have struggled to find meaning in, it seems to talk about the results of an apostate people being destroyed by the word of the Lord. It is interesting to me how the Lord doesn’t change between merciful and gracious being on the one hand and a vengeful God of judgment on the other. He is one and of the same. The same Word that gives life to one can cause another to burn.

I Will Proceed to Do A Marvelous Work

Isaiah 29

On my first day of study of this chapter, which coincidentally is in the same week that we are reading about some of the actual events prophesied from Church history, I sent the following notes to Rachel, who was having some particularly difficult exchanges on social media:

So I’m reading in Isaiah this morning, chapter 29, where it says therefore behold I will proceed to do a marvelous work among those people even a marvelous work in a Wonder.
It goes on to say how the wisdom of their wise men shall perish in the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
And then two versus later it says surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay.
So I read this and I think of all the commotion in the world right now, like always, and feel the same as I always do that even though man has his agenda, God is the one who’s actually accomplishing his work unbeknownst to man.

This is such an important chapter. Not only for the teachings that are found in this chapter, but for the hope that is given despite the awful, cunning plots of man. The poor, the seekers of truth, shall arrive at the end with the advantage. And even they who did error in spirit and they that murmured shall come to understanding. It will ALL work out in the end.

This chapter reminds me that I am part of a group of people who fear God. I am not on the right or the left. I am not seeking for wealth or the riches of this world. God, in His abundance, has provided for a better way.

And what is that better way? It is alluded to throughout this chapter. That better way is in the coming forward (the uncovering and publication) of the Book of Mormon. A voice from the dust. A sealed book that cannot be read. A marvelous work and a wonder.

Re-reading this chapter again on an early Sunday morning, the first thing that impresses me is that the Book of Momron (a voice out of the dust, see Moroni 10:27) is given to redeem Ariel (Jerusalem). We are not there yet, are we?

Isaiah understood the importance and significance of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. If he does not clearly articulate it as such, he is pointing to it nonetheless as the tool of Israel’s redemption. It is the key by which the poor will be brought back to Christ, and the meek are to increase in their joy. (See verse 19)

There are few places in the scriptures where I can point to a prophecy and then link it to a precise historical event. This chapter contains one such instance in verses 11 and 12.

Here is the historical account of Martin Harris taking writings from the “sealed book” to Charles Anton in New York: Joseph Smith History 1:63-65

Re-reading this chapter just one more time before moving one reinforces in my mind the absolute importance of the Book of Mormon in the Lord’s work of the Last Days. This is the key that the Jewish nation needs, and beyond them, to all the scattered house of Israel. The Book of Mormon is the means by which the promises made by the Savior in his Sermon on the Mount are to be fulfilled. This is how the poor and the meek shall inherit the earth and every good thing, and be prepared to meet the Lord at his coming. This chapter is such a strong testimony or witness for the Book of Mormon, God’s special tool prepared to bring us back to Christ, to all who will receive it.

Line Upon Line, Line Upon Line

Isaiah 28

This chapter details well why those who are Ephraim should avoid strong drinks. Given long before the word of wisdom, Isaiah taught that destruction was to come upon the drunkards of Ephraim.

As I conclude my study this morning, I pray that I may be able to find the personal application of such verses, and not attribute these teaching to another.

My initial response to these verses was quite literal, and more of a check-list, dismissive consideration only. But I’ve returned to this again this morning trying to assess personally if I do not fall into the category of being among the “drunkards in Ephraim”.

Isaiah paints a picture of two crowns: One is a crown of pride placed on the head of those who are over beautiful, fruitful valleys, who prematurely consume their fruit even before the main growing season has happened; the other is a crown of glory which is representative of the Savior, given to his people as something of beauty, judgment, and strength.

This very last point has an additional note: the Savior shall be given “and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.” (vs. 6) Those are the words of Isaiah. What is the gate?

For me, the battle at the gate is on the home front.

Verses 7 and 8 are perhaps the strongest pronouncement against the vice of “strong drink” in all of holy writ. Isaiah is justified in observing its devastating effects. He calls out prophets and priests alike that are overcome with strong drink. He points out that they are lacking in vision and removed from judgment because of it.

Isaiah also illustrates here how the Lord teaches. Understanding the Lord’s pattern of instruction is so important: “precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little;”

This is why routine church meetings and conferences, daily study sessions, and constant care must be given to obtaining the word of God. No one goes from a little knowledge to all in a day. It is impossible. Just as a seed doesn’t produce fruit in a day. It is impossible.

Isaiah’s wording is so fascinating to me. Sometimes he explains things in negative statements. Sometimes he articulates principles, commandments, and admonitions with layered meaning. For example, in verse 16 and 17, there is a testimony of Christ. No where does Isaiah say “Christ is the sure foundation.” No, in fact, his statements are dressed in context.

Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

Verse 16

There is a constant theme throughout this chapter of an overwhelming scourge or consummation. So even here in this testimony of Christ, Isaiah is connecting the two. The context give the testimony richer meaning. If we believe in Christ, one of the blessings for our faith is that we will not make haste. What does that mean? Is it not in reference to the decreed consummation. Our faith in Christ will keep us from being taken by surprise. We will be prepared. From Isaiah’s perspective, food storage,72 hour kits, and emergency preparedness are a direct expression of our faith in Christ.

The wicked will attempt to protect themselves from this “overflowing scourge” (vs. 15) by creating a refuge (a shelter or place of protection) of lies. Isaiah warns that even those who think to outsmart the Lord against the foretold destruction will also be taken by flood and hailstorms. (vs. 17)

Verse 22 is where Isaiah states again plainly (this isn’t the first time that we have heard this theme) that there will be “a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth.”

This chapter ends with strong parallels between gardening and how the Lord deals with his children of the House of Israel. It has always seemed strange to me how the Lord focused his covenants on one people. But now as I am considerin g it, learning that a garden must be tended and cultivated to produce desirable fruit, it makes a lot of sense. The gardener must pick a spot of ground to cultivate. He does not cultivate the whole yard.

Gathered One by One

Isaiah 27

I am here at the start of a daily study, halfway through the book of Isaiah, and it occurs to me that I may be missing a key element of Isaiah’s testimony: the Lord Jesus Christ. On days when I struggle to extract meaning out of my scripture study, I have had these default questions as a resource in my study tool belt: “How does this passage of scripture help me draw closer to Jesus Christ?” or “What do these verses teach me about the mission of Jesus Christ?” Up until this point in Isaiah, I have not found myself lacking in my studies, but this morning and I am wondering if I’m missing the primary purpose of Isaiah’s testimony.

This particular chapter is fairly explicit in stating what the Lord will and will not do. Even still, I was actively looking for Christ in these verses.

The Lord has a sword that he uses to punish leviathan (a serpent). The Lord’s sword which he uses to punish the dragon is described as sore, great, and strong! The footnotes and context alone suggests that this is the devil.

The next several verses talk of a vineyard, the Lord’s watchful care over it, and an invitation to those that have assumed wrongfully that Christ is a vengeful Being. This invitation is a reprise from the verses in the last chapter that declared that the Lord was able to keep us in perfect peace.

Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.

Verse 5

What is most compelling about this is the surety of the promise of peace. “Perfect peace” and “he shall make peace with me”.

The remainder of this chapter talks of the falling out of favor of the children of Israel, but then how they shall also be gathered individually, one by one, back into the Lord’s covenant. This reminds me of a dear friend who was brought into the gospel near the end of his mortal life. He was of Jewish descent, a member of the house of Israel. One by one, the Lord gathers his children.

Perfect Peace

Isaiah 26, See also Luke 1:46-55

Verses 1-4

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength:

Verses 3 & 4

These verses feel very similar to the ones found over in Proverbs 3:5-6, but the key of strength, and the promise of perfect peace, is awesome in these verses. It’s such a clear explanation of how to obtain peace: let your mind stay on Christ, because you trust him. Don’t loose your focus, always trust the Lord, and He will be your strength forever. This promise is real!

But as I re-read this on a second morning, there is more. It almost seems to be an exercise or a training of the mind to become centered on Christ. “Perfect peace” belongs to him or her who will train their mind to look to Christ in all things. “Perfect peace” belongs to those who learn to trust Him.

The following verse is an injunction to always trust the Lord, because His strength is everlasting!

I am moving on for today, but there is something very personal about the life path that I have chosen, that I find validated in the words of Isaiah here. (vs. 5 – 11) These words actually serve as a reminder.

There is an important parallel between the words of Isaiah here and Mary’s words recorded to Elizabeth, her cousin. It is the role reversal between the rich and the poor, and how it is the Lord who is able to take from the rich and raise up the poor. Mary is amazed at how someone such as herself in her very low station in life, could be exalted to such a place of preeminence, as had never been known before in the history of the world, by the hand of God.

I am sitting here contemplating these verse in both Isaiah and Luke, and sitting with the fact that God exalts the poor, and scatters the proud in the imaginations of their hearts. Part of me wonders if I wasn’t among the proud being scattered, for I have been a very prideful man over the course of my years.

I do feel like I was taken from Utah, and from a vibrant community of honest and good filmmakers and faithful members because of my pride. I was too blinded to see those in my midst doing great work. But alas, I was also guided to leave. I was proud and so sure of myself, without observing the decay in my children, those little plants sprouting up all around me.

These verses are so pivotal in understanding how God works with his children. The proud, He can do nothing with them. The poor that will acknowledge and follow God, these are his tools.

There is more in this chapter, which culminates in a witness of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. I appreciate the acknowledgement found in verses 12 – 15 that though the people of faith have been subjected to other lords, in the end only the Lord their God will they praise and make mention of. (No one will be extolling the virtues of their land lords.)

Finally, verses 16-18 demonstrates that Isaiah understands well the pattern of discipleship, and relates it to the process of childbirth. What is more compelling to me is that this is again a proof that the Lord is able to do his own work: though we labor and strive to become more as He would have us to be, we look for the deliverance promised us and it are insignificant, and even just not there. Nothing seems to have changed. Yet in our obedience, the Lord is able to do His work, he brings forth his own fruit in due time.

It will be the Lord that destroys the wicked. It will be the Lord who preserves the righteous. Our own efforts, though absolutely required, will appear to have no effect upon the other party.

Lo, This is Our God… and He Will Save Us

Isaiah 25

This week I have had the opportunity to contrast the rich of this world verse the poor (in spirit) who wait upon God. What is this salvation that God only can offer? What is this feast of fat things that only God can provide?

This chapter makes discipleship personal. Phrases like:

  • “Oh Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name;” (vs. 1)
  • “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.”(vs. 9)

In verse 4, I read that God has “been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress…” Then a footnote takes me to Doctrine and Covenants 56:18–19. There are promises extended to the poor that I myself feel that I have realized. I am a poor man, by choice. And yet as more time passes, I am realizing the fatness that I enjoy, and how it is that the Lord has lead me out of one land unto another, and from that land to the one where I now live. My position and station here is one of comfort, even in my humble circumstances. The fatness of the earth is mine. These verses put into words the reality of my life experience.

I read in verses 6 through 8, and I think first that this prophecy is already being fulfilled in abundance. A feast of fat things on the mountain, this thing happens all the time: whether in the temples of God, or messages delivered from General Conference, or a multitude of other church gatherings that are presided over by our inspired leaders.

The destruction or removal of a veil or covering that covered all the nations of the earth, that comes from the mountain too. Do not the words of the prophets and apostles uncover the dark snares of the adversary for those who will hear?

Though the victory over death is still pending in many instances, and for most, is still a matter of faith to believe that it has already begun, yet is it still true. Even this thing of which so much of our world’s resources are calculated to avoid for as long as possible, even death is overcome through Christ.

In these same verses we read of the Lord taking away “the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.” What is this great facade that covers us all? Is it not the belief that this life only is the end of man. So much is spent in the preservation of the mortal body, for it is believed that this and this alone is the end of man. Yet, in the increase of knowledge that causes us to ascend above the temporal, a separation of the mortal body in anticipation of a resurrected, glorified body seems to be a necessary and welcomed transition. Where does death hold any power in the face of such knowledge?

He Will Swallow Up Death in Victory

It’s noteworthy here to reference the Spanish translation on this phrase, which is notably simplier, “Destruirá a la muerte para siempre,” or literally translated “He will destroy death forever.” And who in any other world belief system, anywhere, has laid claim to anything beyond the mortal realm? Christ abolishes death. This reality is sitting squarely, heavily upon me this morning.

And In This Mountain…

One more reading this morning through this chapter has me reflecting upon the temple and the experiences that I have already had there in. The Institute manual that references this chapter point to these same verses as more of Second Coming/millennial experience, but then I see even greater purpose in the temples as a means of pointing us to and preparing us for that eventual day and reality. If we want to experience what it will be like during the Millennium, we may find it in the temples of God.

The Land Shall Be Utterly Emptied

Isaiah 24

This chapter starts with the sober prophecy that “the Lord maketh the earth empty.” This desolation is documented in the subsequent verses and is noted as being all inclusive. In verse 4, the word “languish” is used to document the state of the world and the haughty people who inhabit it. Languish is defined as the loss or lack of vitality; growing weak or feeble.

Verse 5 is a hinge-point in understanding the cause of the destruction that has come upon the earth. Three indictments are listed:

  • They have transgressed the laws.
  • They have changed the ordinance.
  • They have broken the everlasting covenant.

A quote attributed to Wilford Woodruff sums up my feelings about this chapter, speaking of the Second Coming of Christ:

These, I think, are not his exact words, but they convey the spirit of his reported reply: ‘I would live as if it were to be tomorrow—but I am still planting cherry trees!’”

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, Chapter 24

I Travail Not, Nor Bring Forth Children

Isaiah 23

Here is another chapter steep in historical context, a prophecy against Tyre. Tyre is a port city and strategically placed along key trade routes connecting Egypt and all the Mediterranean to the lands of Assyria, Babylon, and also Jerusalem.

The concluding verses are curious. Though Tyre is referred to as a harlot in these verses, yet will her goods and labors be brought to a holy end in the work of the Lord. This leads me to consider parallels in our days, such as developments in technologies, air travel, and many other industries. The work of the Lord could not have gone forward, as it has towards a global conclusion, without the rise in industrialization as we have it today.

Second morning of reading this chapter, and it makes much more sense. It has been revealed to me. Tyre is to be destroyed because is a symbolic harlot. The accusations brought against her have to do with failure to attend to the real duties of life.

Be thou ashamed, O Zidon… I travail not, nor bring forth children, neither do I nourish up young men, nor bring up virgins.

Verse 4

The purposes of family life are pointed to here as chief purpose of our existence, a thing which the lands of Zidon and Tyre did not accommodate well.

The description of Tyre and Zidon as a harlot is a compelling one. The gratification of the senses will soon be past, with no posterity, no legitimate offspring, no family bonds to sustain in old age. As the harlot grows older with less appealing prospects, she will have to sing songs to remind others of her existence.

At the very end of the chapter, again, it talks of the merchandise and hire of Tyre being made into holiness before the Lord. The last sentence is key:

it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing.

Verse 18

This work of the Lord isn’t about filling up the coffers of the king. Rather for those that dwell before the Lord, it will be sufficient to eat and clothing to wear.

As a Nail in a Sure Place

Isaiah 22, Additional Insights

“Thine slain men are not slain with the sword…” What does it mean to have a host of people living dead lives? Not that I would cast a sweeping judgment across the bulk of humanity, but the question begs consideration. What does come of a nation that has utterly discounted their purpose for existence.

This chapter appears to be directed back at Jerusalem. Where most of the other “burden” prophecies were aimed at the other nations of the day that surround Jerusalem, Isaiah is now address his own people again.

The end of this chapter contains a Messianic prophecy, though there was a literal fulfillment in his words as well. Priesthood keys are referenced here. Christ is the possessor of those keys and that right that comes with those keys.

Studying a bit more the prophesy at the end of this chapter about the Savior (see verses 20-25), there is reference to his crucifixion. The effects of the Savior’s action, or his being placed in this position of authority is significant. “They shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue…” (The Spanish translation replaces “offsping” and “issue” with “descendents” and “posterity” respectively.)

This reminds me of Mosiah 15, where Abinadi is explaining to those wicked priests how Christ’s sufferings extends to him the power to be father to those who believe on his name.

Behold, I say unto you, that when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed.

Mosiah 15:10

This is an interesting connection, mostly because Abinadi was referencing Isaiah to begin with. Then here I am reading Isaiah and being brought to consider the words of Abinadi.

Watchman, What of the Night?

Isaiah 20, 21

Prophets are what make this thing real. It is what connects humanity to the heavens.

It should be noted the that nakedness (see vs 2) spoken of in Isaiah 20 is generally assumed to be a debasing of garments, not utter nakedness.

In chapter 21, the destruction of so many countries and civilizations goes to demonstrate the futile efforts of nation kingdoms to acquire and preserve wealth and power. The purposes of life are much to the contrary. Should our time be spent in mundane pursuits?

As I sit with these chapters for one more day, I am asking myself: Why does the Lord care about this? Why did he employ his prophets in these prophecies of theses places that were to be destroyed. What am I to learn from this?

Perhaps one of the lessons that I take away from these otherwise abstract chapters in Isaiah is that God is God of the whole earth and all people who live upon it. This extends to those cultures and peoples who have been built up with no acknowledgement or references to the Divine and to those that are completely devoid of the truth. By extension, a prophet is not a prophet only to the believers, but to all people everywhere.