The Burden of Moab

Isaiah 15, 16

This is my first time considering this chapter. (In Spanish, the word “burden” is replaced with “prophecy”.) This is a prophecy against the people of Moab, herein referred to simply as Moab. There is not much here except for a detailed analysis of their destruction.

The people of Moab are descendants of Lot. When the Children of Israel were brought back into the land of promise, they are told to leave the land of Moab alone (Deuteronomy 2:9). These chapters seem to again corroborate this loving and merciful reality, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7)

Trying to make sense as to why this appears in the book of Isaiah. And why do we see warnings of destruction as negative. If I am heading towards a cliff unawares, do I not want someone to warn me of the direction I am headed?

The warnings against Moab are different than the warnings against Babylon and Assyria. Moab doesn’t appear to be a superpower state. Rather the Moabites (and the Ammonites of the Old Testament) are the descendants of Lot, a righteous man. They don’t have the promises of covenants made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yet it seems to me here that the Lord is acting in mercy to reveal to Isaiah the eventual demise of Moab. Gardeners prune gardens.

I am impressed just one more time before concluding a study of these chapters, of how merciful the Lord is in warning. Whom the Lord loves, he chastens. That Moab was warned suggests to my mind that it held a place of interest or regard before the Lord.

The Lord… Will Yet Choose Israel

Isaiah 14

The great difference between the two sides is this: Christ acts for the benefit of others, and as such is made a king to rule over the nations. This is just. Satan acts only for the benefit of himself, and consequently will be consigned at the end of time to the sides of the pit, slightly below those great rulers who subscribed to his self-absorbed doctrines.

There is such a contrast between the two and it is worthy of questioning my own motives by simply asking myself: Am I doing this for myself or for the benefit of others? If I can confidently express that my motives are to the benefit of those around me, then there is power and great strength to accomplish the objectives that stand before me, however impossible they may seem.

This chapter starts with the declaration that “the Lord… will yet choose Israel.”(vs.1) This fore-ordination completely negates the need to be competitive because the Lord’s will is already made known.

Verse 24 builds on this idea: “The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:” If we want to be part of something eternal, a work that will never end or be in vain, then it is to align ourselves with God and to participate in His work.

I am reading again these passages this morning, and am brought to consider the peaceful plot of land that the Lord has blessed me with here where I live. I’ve been too much caught up in national events as of late, which are far from me. I have not contemplated enough the peaceful prosperity with which I have been blessed. I have not used it to the benefit of teaching the gospel, establishing Gospel truth here in our home.

Babylon… Shall Never Be Inhabited

Isaiah 13

The introduction of this chapter (verses 2-5) to me has much to do with temple worship and work. Though this talks of the Lord’s preparations against the world at the last and final battle, the wording in verses 2 and 3 draws a parallel to temple rites and ordinances.

This is one of those passages that is layered in meaning, and this morning I am seeing two layers: a layer that references the gathering of Israel from the ends of the earth, and a layer that sets the stage for the destruction of the wicked. If there was not the higher, nobler cause of preparation for the saints and the Lord’s Second Coming, there would be no reason for destruction.

In the remainder of the chapter, Isaiah spares no expense in articulating how the destruction of Babylon will be unfolded. The end of Babylon is a sad story indeed. I think of the world in our day, and how its fate for the wicked is the same. These institutions of man and their structures that seem to us so permanent, they too can be destroyed and will be destroyed.

There is a personal note here as well, I have in my direct family tree proof of these prophecies. My grandparents left to their families both significant tangible inheritances, but what is left of those that never made covenants with God? There is nothing there. It is all spent and lost. Of those that did make covenants, there remains a significant land inheritance, and other spiritual blessings, that continue in our family line.

I am wanting to move on, but the Lord’s prophet has taken time to spell out this destruction that will come upon the world. I am to understand it.

TG – Punishment

Alma 42 addresses the idea of punishment from a godly perspective. Sinners are punished because of their sins. Sin often causes cruel, unfair advantage to be taken of others. So punishment is the just redistribution of consequence to its proper recipient.

There is a very violent description of families being destroyed in this chapter of Isaiah.

But the crux of the matter of pride. God is punishing the pride that exists among men. If we will allow it to be rooted out of us, then well. If we attach our identities to our pride, then we are at a loss. “…I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” (vs. 11)

Great is the Holy One of Israel

Isaiah 12

I read these verses about the Millennial Day, and the Spirit of the Lord pours over me in abundance this morning. This is a great reminder of things to come: a time when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord; of the things that He accomplished and His doings throughout the earth.

I am sure that the time in which we live will be referenced: how the world thought we were spinning out of control, how the Lord was able to push forward peacefully the Gathering of Israel in the midst of the confusion. Greater things are to be accomplished in our day than in the time of the Exodus from Egypt and 40 years in the wilderness. At the end of our time, we will have those that come forth in garments made white through the blood of the Lamb, and others seeing it, will ask were did these come from? (See Revelation 7:15)

This chapter also emphasizes how Christ, the Lord, the Holy One, is at the center of all in the Millennium.

In the Fear of the Lord

Isaiah 11

The opening of this chapter gives us a glimpse into the millennial reign of Christ. We find such paradoxical descriptions as a lamb and a lion lying down together being lead by a small child. (see vs. 6)

There is also a brief description of how we will arrive at this state of peace. The wicked will be slain with the word of His mouth. (see vs. 4) The whole of the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, just as the waters cover the seas.

The Gathering of Israel is foretold in the latter part of this chapter. I find it notable that this is what it took (a separation of thousands of years) for Ephraim and Judah to not be envious of one another any longer.

Returning to verses 2 to 5, there is a definition for what the Spirit of the Lord is.

First in verse 2, we have a list:

  • the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
  • the spirit of counsel and might,
  • the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;

Then in verse 3, what it is not:

  • he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes,
  • neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:

I have already treated this comprehensively here. But what I have personally failed to do is link these to Christ. It is the Spirit of the Lord, or the Spirit which is in Christ that these things describe. This is Christ.

I have sat with these verses for several mornings now. I find in these prophecies of the Second Coming also a type for our day. There are descriptions of judgment and justice, and for me it is a pattern of how I out to be. One who doesn’t judge after the sight of his eyes or the hearing of his ears, but after righteousness, as the Savior will do when he comes again. So to say it again, I find in this instruction on how things will be when the Savior returns, a pattern of how things may already be for me on an individual basis.

The Spirit of Council and Might

The power to do things is within us. There is much work to be done.

TI – Might, TG – Might

I have been all over the scripture this morning trying to find references to the word “might”. I’ve revisited the end of the Book of Mormon, and received another witness of the truthfulness of that book by reviewing Moroni’s parting remarks: covenants to gather the House of Israel, saved through the grace of Christ, sanctified through the blood and grace of Christ. (These are not arbitrary, nor random topics copied from elsewhere in the scriptures. Rather these are the words of Moroni, penned in only the way that Moroni could state it.)

Then I also made my way over to the account of Gideon found in the Book of Judges and read about how the Lord called Gideon from humble circumstances to redeem Israel in his day out of the hands of the Midianites. It was not counted as evil for Gideon to ask a sign of God as proof that he was being called of God to do the work that was before him. And so God sent him signs in the due that fell on the ground.

There is one more theme that I need to study, but the account of Gideon makes reference to it: the fear of the Lord.

The Fear of the Lord

To fear God is to feel reverence and awe for Him and to obey His commandments;

Fear – Guide to the Scriptures

If I fear God, I will “serve Him” and “dilligently keep the commandments”. (See Deuteronomy 6:13,17) The start of this chapter (Deut. 6), actually begins with this premise: “That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments.” There are promises attached and also instructions to teach these things to our children.

Reading in Psalm 2, I am learning that there is this healthy dichotomy between two seemingly contrary principles: fear and service. We are told repeatedly that we should serve the Lord in fear, or fear the Lord and follow Him only. There is this idea of fear that in modern times I think we’ve shied away from as we come to see our Lord as a more kind and loving, omniscient being. I feel that “fear” in this context however is not the same as this overwhelming sense of horror or terror, but is rather a deep sense of reverence for God, a supreme form of respect and veneration. It is also used in connection to the action of service. Is service the result of this healthy fear of the Lord?

Psalms 111 also connects fear of the Lord with wisdom, and points to it as the starting point to obtaining wisdom. The action that is the result of this fear is obedience to the commandments. Thus he that is obedient, he it is that is also possessed of knowledge. Why? Because knowledge is granted to from obedience to commandments, or in other words, experience in following the proven path of God is granted to those that are obedient.

In Ecclesiastes 8, there is a decoupling of blessings and righteousness. I really like to be able to point to blessings as a direct result of obedience. These are the fruits of righteousness. They are real and sometimes immediate. Yet righteousness for blessings’ sake is not the point. In fact, obedience for the sake of blessings is not righteousness at all. This is rather compelled compliance, baited compulsion, or in other words: wickedness. So though the days of a man be prolonged who has done wickedly a 100 times, it will still be well with him that fears the Lord. No blessing is withheld from the righteous when the wicked appears to prosper in their wickedness. Appearances are not the same as blessings.

Ended on Phillipians 2 and Mormon 9, both are injunctions to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling before God.

The Remnant of Israel… Shall Stay Upon the Lord

Isaiah 10

Thoughts from reading the chapter preface: Now Isaiah is speaking to Assyria (who was the much larger, real threat to Judah all along. Destruction of Assyria is foretold as a type for the Second Coming.)

The end comes when the work of the Lord is completed (See vs. 12). Then the end of the Earth will come. This begs to ask the question: What are the preparations or the work that need to happen for the Lord to return to Earth? It’s not a random, arbitrary vengeance upon the wicked that will bring on the Lord’s return to earth. It is when His work is completed upon Mount Zion and Jerusalem that the Father will then be able to pull the plug on the rest of His prideful creations, clear away the bad, so that the full work of righteousness can continue uninterrupted for the necessary time span of a 1000 years. (see also 1 Nephi 22:26)

Temples are critical step in that preparation.

The start of this chapter brings out an accusation against those in power who are responsible for the oppression of the poor. What is most troubling is that they use their power to enact law that holds the poor in states of oppression. In the Lord’s view, that power is given to the rulers so that they may execute judgment or justice in behalf of the poor. (See vs. 1-2)

In this chapter there are accusations against “a hypocritical nation” and Assyria. Isaiah explains how the Lord uses Assyria to afflict Israel and Jerusalem, but then that Assyria is no better off for their prideful assumptions that they had power within themselves to do the things which they had done. Isaiah show here that the powerful nation’s power was granted unto them of the Lord, and then in due time, it would be removed from Assyria when it is no longer needful for them to have it.

Devour[ed]… in One Day

Verses 16 -19 describe the the complete end of Assyria, this tool that was used to afflict and torment Israel, becomes of itself nothing in what seems to be the very short span of one day.

I find in here business instruction on how to work. “Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness;” (At least, this is how one gains the advantage in Babylon.) There is the need to operate on minimal resources.

The assumption of Assyria (Babylon) is that there is no God, and that they are free to take at will anything that they find in the earth.

Assyria, Babylon, you are fighting against God, your Maker! In the last evening, I have been blessed to start into a process of repentance to cultivate the character of Christ within myself more fully. In doing so, I find these scriptures to have greater depth. It is the light of the knowledge of God that one sees rightly. An awareness of His grace and goodness, His matchless power and infinite compassion towards us, the depth of his efforts and preparations for our success, there is so much that we do not yet understand about what He has done for us, but we must try in our finite state to begin to expand our understanding of it.

See also Study of 2 Nephi 20

For Unto Us

Isaiah 9

This chapter starts off where Chapter 8 ended: a land in darkness. But there are comforting words found herein. This is not as bad as seasons past.

Matthew 4:14-16 points to the start of Christ’s mortal ministry as fulfillment of this prophecy. Yet the wording here seems to suggest a time yet to come beyond Christ’s mortal ministry. Joseph Smith–History details a lot of scriptures that talk about a day of burning before the Lord’s return.

I have reviewed the four entries that I made 11 years ago about this set of scriptures. “The Lord does not forget the execution of his covenants.” There is both personal and global significance to this thought that I penned back then. Yet, as I read afresh the words of Isaiah. There are key insights that I didn’t catch 11 years ago, like the references to Israel in these verses have reference to the kingdom of the north, the kingdom of Israel or ten tribes that had separated itself from Judah and Jerusalem.

The fruit of the gospel as described in these early verses is joy. The nature of this joy is such as is given at the time of harvest, after an extended period of time laboring in the fields. This joy is also described as being like the spoils of battle, which thing is obtained after an extended period of conflict. The recurring motif is this: joy is the result of patience, diligent striving.

It is Conference morning (October 3, 2020), last evening at the end of my work day, I had a moment of profound peace. The thought that came to mind was that I, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, was being blessed by the prayers of our leaders as they were gathered to prepare for General Conference. I could see in my mind’s eye, Heavenly Father pouring out an extra measure of his peace upon his children, those who have hearts to feel it, at a time in a world that is swirling in confusion.

Verse 3 of Isaiah 9 states in past tense, “Thou hast multiplied the nation.” What nation? Does this not have reference to Abraham’s covenant promise that he received from the Lord? “And I will make of thee a great nation.” (Abraham 2:9). And do we not gather today, around the globe, as a people large enough to constitute a nation?

The apex of this chapter and perhaps the greatest messianic prophecy ever utter, and still pending fulfillment:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Verses 6 & 7

I have been struggling with some personal doubts and acute feelings of dispair in the last 12 hours or so, but I am now realizing that when I look to Christ, those feelings do not persist, nor can they stand. This is real!

In this reading, I am also impressed by the personal nature of the description of the Savior, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given!” You and I are given the blessing of this Child. To me and my family is given a the gift of a Son. He is our Redeemer.

And the burden of government shall be his! I don’t imagine a government that is ordered after the order of Christ, or His priesthood, being complicated or unruly. In fact, I see it as something simple, because Christ is simple. It is man unrighteous who causes the government to be complicated.

I Will Wait Upon the Lord

Isaiah 8

A dominant theme throughout this chapter is Israel’s tendency to form alliances and partnerships with anything other than God. Isaiah rebukes such tendencies and calls them out for their failures to depend upon God.

In this chapter, I have already completed four other studies from the 2 Nephi version of these scriptures. I reference them here because of their depth and spiritual insight. ( I am also very grateful for the years of experience that past faithfulness now gives me as a support. See Alma 37:35 . )

Here are some key points from a fresh reading:

  • Judah, as a people, have rejected the slow flowing waters of Shiloah. Consequentially, the waters of the river, strong and many, are to take over the land as a flood.
  • Avoid alliances and planned allegiance with anything other than the kingdom of God, because God is with his people. Nothing else shall stand.

This second point is being reinforced in my mind this morning.

In verse 11, Isaiah gives a little personal insight into how the Lord speaks to him. “For the Lord spake thus unto me with a strong hand…” This reminds me of the times and season in my life, where the spirit of the Lord has rested strongly upon, this usually happens in my scripture studies and sometimes in prayer. We frequently talk about the voice of the Spirit being a still small voice. I need to improve my own ability to listen in this regard. Yet to hear Isaiah say that sometime the Lord needs to add an exclamation point to his council and that he sometimes does that with what feels to be a strong hand, this helps me to understand that the Lord employs multiple channels with his children in communicating with them.

Verse 16 seems to come out of nowhere, but it is a reminder that those that are faithful, even in difficult times, can be sealed up and preserved. In the Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer, there was a similar reference to the binding of those with testimony and a sealing up of the law among the disciples or servants of Christ. (See Doctrine and Covenants 109:46)

Binding of the Testimony, Sealing of the Law. Isaiah reiterates the point then near the end of the chapter, by stating: To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (see vs. 20)

What does this mean though? The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10) The law of God is the standard by which we are to live to dwell in God’s presence.

The final thoughts from this chapter of Isaiah guide me towards patience in the Lord’s timing. While most are without light, God is still with his faithful disciples.

The Lord Himself Shall Give You a Sign

Isaiah 7

First thing to note is that I’ve already studied the 2 Nephi version of this broken up into three separate posts. I am grateful for these seasons past, because they are still available to me in my current struggles.

Efforts to understand the historical context of this chapter sheds much light on the state of affairs and the significance of the counsel given. King Ahaz and the house of Judah (Jerusalem) had as their concern the kingdoms of Syria and Ephraim, which had joined forces together to come up against Judah. The real threat however for Judah was not these “smoking firebrands” (or fires that are without flames and just consist of smoldering embers). The real danger lie beyond in Assyria.

Surely the Lord God will do nothing save he first reveal his secrets to his servants the prophets. Listening to how Isaish words the impending danger of Assyria, the Lord is given credit for allowing the bondage that is about to come to Judah. 2 Chronicles 28:19-27 details what was happening with king Ahaz of Judah, and why the Lord saw it fit to bring him into bondage.

New day, I’ve sat here for a few minutes now wrestling with the context of this amazing prophecy that seems to be utterly out of place. Here is the king of Judah worried about two minor adversaries that seem to be the whole of his concern. Isaiah invites him to request a sign of God, but Ahaz, not out of righteous respect, refuses to ask a sign of the Lord.

(There is an experience from my mission that always comes to mind when I reflect upon these things. Those that are afraid to “prove the Lord” often lack the confidence of their own conscience in the presence of God. This because they are hiding in sin. This was Ahaz.)

So Isaiah gives the king a sign, the sign of the coming Messiah, born of a virgin into poverty. Isaiah’s commentary is even more condemning of the king. He says that in poverty, the Messiah will be able to “know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.” (vs. 15) Isaiah is not mincing words here, for he repeats that phrase again in the next verse, and ties it together with the king’s initial concern:

For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

Verse 16, emphasis added

There is the sign and the reason why Judah is about to fall captive to a much bigger oppression: you are devoid of knowledge to refuse the evil and without the capacity to choose good.

An interesting side note: does poverty enable one to see clearer in terms of choosing good, and knowing to reject the evil? Isaiah is suggesting as much.

Know to Refuse the Evil, and Choose the Good

In his precise choice of words, Isaiah is teaching us also the lopsided reality of the plan. It’s not an equal choice between good and evil, lifestyle preferences, and the such. Wisdom is to know to refuse evil. The power of agency and our freedom is to choose the good. There is no strength, victory, or freedom if we choose evil. Freedom comes in knowing what evil is and being empowered to reject it when the temptation comes calling.

Because I Am a Man of Unclean Lips

Isaiah 6

Isaiah sees the throne of God, whether literally or symbolically, the effect is the same. Isaiah becomes aware of his uncleanness and the uncleanness of his people. He consequently laments his state having been brought into the presence of God. Subsequently, Isaiah is symbolically cleansed with a live coal from the alter of the temple.

Here is found in verses 9 and 10, a significant passage quoted by the Savior in his ministry:

And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.

Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

Then at the end of the chapter is a prophetic contemplation on the fallen state of man. He asks the Lord how long will man remain in this state. The Lord’s answer is until the cities are desolate. In other words, until man is no more.

There is a hopeful reference to a tenth that will remain.