Isaiah 54 and 3 Nephi 22

Join Me in a Study of the Lord's Promise and Devotion to Zion in the Last Days.

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This chapter shows the Lord’s promise and devotion to Zion in the last days. As such, it is a natural continuation of the prophetic, covenantal promises Christ was giving the Nephites, promises that would be fulfilled as a result of the restoration of the gospel and the gathering of Israel that would flow from that.—Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ and The New Covenant

Don Parry summarized the chapter this way: “In the last days, or the time in which we now live, the Lord will bring many people to Zion. They will be so many that they cannot all fit in one place. Rather than there being only one land of Zion, she will be established in many stakes.

“The Lord tells us not to fear. He remembers all his promises to establish Zion in the latter days. The Saints may at times have cause to feel forsaken, but the Lord has not forgotten us, and he will have mercy on us. Even if the mountains were to flee, he would not forget his covenant, and his mercy would continue. He will establish the righteous in the beautiful city of New Jerusalem. All our enemies will be put down.

“These promises give comfort to us as a people and as individuals. The Lord will not forget us in our trouble. He always reaches out to comfort and to bless. He will bring us, individually, to his precious promises, if we are worthy.“

The resurrected Lord felt so keenly about Isaiah 54 that He quoted it in its entirety to the ancient inhabitants of the Americas—knowing it would be published as part of the Book of Mormon in the latter days. It is apparent that this is one of the most significant chapters in all scriptural literature. Certainly, it warrants our fervent desire to understand it and to carefully consider its message.”2

“The fulfillment of this beautiful poem—Isaiah 54 is all poetry—is to be found in this dispensation. Part of it has probably already been fulfilled since the restoration of the gospel; the remainder will be in a time yet future.”3 

The Book of the Prophet ISAIAH

CHAPTER 54

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In the last days, Zion and her stakes will be established, and Israel will be gathered in mercy and tenderness—Israel will triumph—Compare 3 Nephi 22. (Corrections in the Book of Mormon are in RED; links back to LDS scripture links with footnotes are in BLUE; commentary and notes are GREEN)

The Lord’s Church Shall Grow and Nothing Will Stop It*

Jesus quotes Isaiah 54 in 3 Ne 22
Isaiah 54 (KJV)
3 Nephi 22
Commentary and Notes
1 Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the adesolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. And then shall that which is written come to pass:
Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child; for more are the children of the adesolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.
adesolate: Isa. 49:21 Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?
The phrase in red “is, of course, an indication given by our Lord that the prophet Isaiah saw the things of which He had been speaking (ch. 21) and wrote concerning them, or at least concerning what would happen when they were fulfilled.
“The fulfillment of this beautiful poem—Isaiah 54 is all poetry—is to be found in this dispensation. Part of it has probably already been fulfilled since the restoration of the gospel; the remainder will be in a time yet future.”4

Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of [thine] habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

2 Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thy habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes; In this chapter of hope and encouragement, Isaiah speaks of the growth and gathering of Israel or Zion in the latter days. She is likened to a woman who has long been barren because of her separation from her husband, a separation brought about by her unfaithfulness. But now she has repented and returned to her forgiving husband (the Lord). As a result, the multitudes of her children have become so large in number that the stakes that hold her covering must constantly be spread out farther. Because of her faithfulness, her husband will never again forsake her. The chapter closes with the promise that “no weapon that is formed against thee [covenant Israel or the Lord’s people, Zion] shall prosper.”5

For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

3 For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left, and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

Once again the figure of a marriage is employed. Israel is called a barren wife because of her inability or unwillingness to produce spiritual offspring for the Lord. But in the end, when she is gathered once again, there will be more children from the “desolate,” or temporarily forsaken, wife than when she enjoyed her wedded status in ancient times (Isaiah 54:1). This being true, space must be found so that the latter-day “tent” of Zion can be expanded to accommodate them all. When one wishes to make a small tent larger, one must pull up the stakes and move to a further distance from the center pole. This is what is meant by lengthening the cords and strengthening the stakes (v. 2; see also Notes and Commentary on Isaiah 33:20–24). Israel’s latter-day growth through conversion and gathering is represented as breaking “forth on the right hand and on the left” (Isaiah 54:3).6

Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. 4 Fear not, for thou shalt not be ashamed; neither be thou confounded, for thou shalt not be put to shame; for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. “Thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth” is an injunction for ancient Israel but also for us individually. There were two great Josephs whose lives teach us a valuable principle: the foolish, shameful, or simply immature mistakes we make in our youth can be forgiven and forgotten; we can rise above and beyond our past. Joseph, son of Jacob, who was later sold into Egypt, was, while a teenager, rather unwise in broadcasting the dreams of his future greatness to his family members who would someday bow down to him (Genesis 37). And a Joseph in our day said of himself: “I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature; which, I am sorry to say, led me into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God. In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature. But I was guilty of levity [light-mindedness], and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been” (Joseph Smith–History 1:28). The Lord will help us “forget the shame of [our] youth” as we repent and show penitence through many good works during our mature years on earth.7

For thy [M]aker is [thine] husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

5 For thy maker, thy husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel—the God of the whole earth shall he be called.

There is no mistaking who the Husband is. He is plainly identified as the Lord of Hosts, the Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth. Zion, the New Jerusalem, is the bride (Isaiah 61:10; Revelation 21:2).8 

The Lord Will Again Gather and Protect His Children in the Last Days

For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. 6 For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. These passages are, “filled with references to Israel as a wife, clearly calling the Lord her “husband” (54:5). The Lord notes that she is a widow who will no longer remember her reproach (54:4), a woman who had been forsaken (54:6), a wife of youth who was refused (54:6). Though Israel has suffered much, the Lord will restore to her all blessings and will bring her unto himself.
“Marriage represents the most intimate, most joyful, most fulfilling relationship on earth. That is the kind of relationship the Lord is inviting us to join with him. The union of the Saints in a Zion society (in which they are of one heart and one mind; Moses 7:18; John 17:11, 22) and the turning of the Saints’ hearts to the Lord make such a 
relationship with the Lord possible. These blessings come through the Atonement (at-one-ment) of Christ, which was performed so that we might repent and return to God, becoming one with him as Christ is one with him (John 17:21, 23; 3 Ne. 19:23, 29).” 9

For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.

7 For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee. In verses 7 and 8, Isaiah stresses that Israel’s period of suffering is brief when compared to her time of redemption. Likewise, our small moment of separation from God is brief when compared to the vast eternity we can live in his presence. Though Israel and we may merit divine rejection because of wickedness, we both can be welcomed back into God’s company because of his “deep compassion” and “everlasting kindness.” 10
In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. 8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. When Israel, the covenant people, forsook her Maker—her Husband—she suffered the consequences of her abandonment and incurred his “little wrath” for a moment, but his kindly, merciful promise to gather Israel is as sure as his promise to send no more flood. Verse 9 confirms the historicity of the flood at the time of Noah. Besides the biblical account, we have an additional three witnesses of the Flood in Alma 10:22; 3 Nephi 22:9; and Ether 6:7.11 
For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. 9 For this, the waters of Noah unto me, for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee. After God cleansed the earth with a flood, he promised Noah that he would never again destroy the earth in that manner. (Gen. 9:13-17.) Here Isaiah impresses upon Israel that the promise God made to gather and redeem her is as valid as his promise to Noah.
As part of his promise, the Lord says that he will never again rebuke Israel (v. 9). The Lord cannot lie, and since he has sworn not to be angry with Israel nor to rebuke her, and since he has also promised that he will “chasten” or rebuke those whom he loves if they are wicked (D&C 95:1), Isaiah’s prophecy means that a time will come when Israel will become righteous enough that she will need no chastisement from the Lord.12 
10 For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. 10 For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. The Joseph Smith Translation changes the peace in this phrase to people, underscoring that the Lord’s covenant is indeed with his children. The expression my people suggests a relationship and a bond between God and us.
At the same time, 3 Nephi 22:10 retains the wording found in the King James Version: “covenant of my peace.” With that reading, the phrase refers to the Lord’s everlasting promise to give us peace (of heart, of soul) when we come unto him. The covenant of peace, and the covenant of “my people,” is the covenant of the gospel (Lev. 26:3–6; Ps. 29:11; 85:8–10; Ezek. 37:26).
13 
11 ¶ O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. 11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted! Behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. Compare this description of future Zion, the New Jerusalem, with the even more detailed description in Revelation 21:19–21; compare also the words of our hymn “Beautiful Zion, Built Above” (Hymns, no. 44).14 
12 And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. 12 And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.  “For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments” (D&C 82:14). Israel will be restored, and Zion will be built upon foundation stones of beautiful colors and sapphires, with windows of agates, gates of carbuncles, with borders of precious stones. 15

13 And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

13 And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

Isaiah’s promise in verse 13 that Israel’s children will be taught by the Lord implies an intimate relationship between the people and Christ during the Millennium. If parents will properly teach their children here and now, then these children can enjoy the great legacy of having Christ himself as their teacher and leader. (D&C 45:58; see D&C 68:25-28.) As President Kimball said about this promise of Isaiah, “Surely every good parent would like this peace for his offspring. It comes from the simple life of the true Latter-day Saint as he makes his home and family supreme.” (Ensign, July 1973, p. 16.)16
14 In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. 14 In righteousness shalt thou be established; thou shalt be far from oppression for thou shalt not fear, and from terror for it shall not come near thee. The Lord continues his promises to latter-day Israel: He will establish her in righteousness and protect her from oppression… Millennial Zion will not be troubled by unjust rulers who will oppress, neither by invasion of enemies (26:1–3; 32:17–18; 33:20–22).17
15 Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake. 15 Behold, they shall surely gather together against thee, not by me; whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake. Those who gather together to oppress latter-day Israel “shall fall for thy sake” (v. 15), for “no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper” (v. 17; see also Doctrine and Covenants 71:9–10, where a similar promise is made to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon). 18

16 Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.

16 Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.
Joseph was surely the smith who forged the instrument by which the Lord’s people continue to prepare individually and collectively for the Savior’s return—and that instrument is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.19
17 ¶ No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.  17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall revile against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord  “There is no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and if any man lift his voice against you he shall be confounded” (D&C 71:9–10). Joseph Smith prophesied:“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” 

21“In short, Isaiah 54 is a promise to Zion and her righteous members. It embodies various poetic forms to depict the relationship between the Lord and covenant Israel. The metaphor of the husband and wife is used throughout the chapter:”

Husband provides wife:

Jehovah provides Israel:

Verses

Children

Great numbers

1-3

Love

Reconciliation

4-8

Commitment

Covenant relationship

9-10

Material comfort

Prosperity

11-12

Protection

Peace

13-17

“As you read these chapters of Isaiah, did you notice how Latter-day Saints are the only ones who can fully understand what Isaiah foresaw? The scholars of the world made a significant contribution to your understanding of the history and language of Isaiah. But only modern prophets can provide the key to understanding what the prophet saw when he wrote of future realms. More than any other people, the Latter-day Saints can understand why the Savior said, ‘Great are the words of Isaiah.’” (3 Nephi 23:1).Old Testament Student Manual Kings-Malachi,“The Gathering of Israel and the Coming of the Messiah (Isaiah 48–54)”(1982), 191–200


Footnotes
(* Headings are taken from The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, by Thomas R. Valletta, Deseret Book)
Donald Parry,  Understanding Isaiah, Deseret Book Company. Kindle Edition
2 Hoyt Brewster, Isaiah Plain & Simple, Deseret Book, p 139
3 Monte Nyman, Book of Mormon Commentary, Deseret Book Company, p 412
4 Sidney Sperry, Book of Mormon Compendium, Bookcraft, p 412
5  Brewster, ibid.
6 Old Testament Student Manual Kings-Malachi,“The Gathering of Israel and the Coming of the Messiah (Isaiah 48–54)”(1982), 191–200
7Ogden, D. Kelly, Verse by Verse, Old Testament: Volume Two, Deseret Book Company. Kindle Edition.
8 Ogden, ibid.
Parry, ibid
10 Victor Ludlow,  Isaiah Prophet, Seer and Poet, Deseret Book Company, p 460
11 Ogden, ibid.
12 Ludlow, ibid.
13 Parry, ibid.
14 Ogden, ibid.
1
15 
David Seeley in Studies in Scripture
16 Ludlow, ibid.
17 
Parry, ibid
18 Old Testament Student Manual Kings-Malachi, ibid.
19 Elder Gerald N. Lund, A Prophet for the Fulness of Times, Ensign, Jan 1997, p 54
20 History of the Church, 4:540
21 Ludlow, ibid.
22 Old Testament Student Manual Kings-Malachi, ibid.

About Darryl Alder

I am a retiree from Scouting. There I blogged for VoiceOfScouting.org, a site with more than 250,000 readers. During 42 years in the workplace, I've had many years senior level management with the BSA, professional associations, and high tech user groups. My background includes capital fundraising; outdoor adventure program development; property and construction management; event/conference planning; risk management and safety; lobbying federal, state and local government agencies; public relations; strategic planning; member advocacy and staff/volunteer training. Along the way, I have also taught Gospel Doctrine Classes and been both the ward and stake Sunday School President. In these settings, I have seen teachers and class members minimize Isaiah, a book Christ has commanded us to "search diligently." (3 Ne 23:1) With that in mind, I will do my best to explore and post my discoveries about the book of Isaiah. I am not a Bible scholar; like you, I read Isaiah in the Old Testament cycle of study in LDS Gospel Doctrine Classes and again in the Book of Mormon Cycle, so this is a whole new scripture adventure for me.

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I am a retiree from Scouting. There I blogged for VoiceOfScouting.org, a site with more than 250,000 readers. During 42 years in the workplace, I've had many years senior level management with the BSA, professional associations, and high tech user groups. My background includes capital fundraising; outdoor adventure program development; property and construction management; event/conference planning; risk management and safety; lobbying federal, state and local government agencies; public relations; strategic planning; member advocacy and staff/volunteer training. Along the way, I have also taught Gospel Doctrine Classes and been both the ward and stake Sunday School President. In these settings, I have seen teachers and class members minimize Isaiah, a book Christ has commanded us to "search diligently." (3 Ne 23:1) With that in mind, I will do my best to explore and post my discoveries about the book of Isaiah. I am not a Bible scholar; like you, I read Isaiah in the Old Testament cycle of study in LDS Gospel Doctrine Classes and again in the Book of Mormon Cycle, so this is a whole new scripture adventure for me.

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