Isaiah 29:9-16

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This is the third, and longest, of four installments on Isaiah 29, comprising of verses 9–16 (and including aids from latter-day revealed Scripture). A sense of complete spiritual darkness will prevail before the Book of Mormon comes to light. This apostasy was born of the rejection of the prophets that the Lord had sent through the ages until they were finally removed from the earth. The Book of Mormon would be translated by a humble unlearned boy rather than by the self-proclaimed wise and prudent. It would come at a time when the precepts of men are given more weight than those of God. The coming forth of this book and the subsequent establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would constitute a marvelous work and a wonder. It is a delight to note how many Christian authors of yesteryear agree with the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

9 “For behold, all ye that doeth iniquity, stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye for ye shall cry out, and cry; they are ye shall be drunken, but not with wine; they ye shall stagger, but not with strong drink.”

For behold, all ye that doeth iniquity, stay yourselves, and wonder; for ye shall cry out, and cry; ye shall be drunken, but not with wine; ye shall stagger, but not with strong drink. The JST and the Book of Mormon give it the future—shall be—rather than present tense.

Regarding this drunkenness, Barnes says: “It is a moral and spiritual intoxication and reeling. They err in their doctrines and practice; and it is with them as it is with a drunken man that sees nothing clearly or correctly, and cannot walk steadily. They have perverted all doctrines; they err in their views of God and his truth, and they are irregular and corrupt in their conduct.”

Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained: “In a spiritual sense drunkenness means apostasy” (Isaiah 29:9–10; Revelation 17:2; 18:3).”[1] Also from Elder McConkie we have: “How shall the night of awful darkness that covers the earth come to an end? What light will pierce the enshrouding gloom? How shall those who are drunken but not with wine and who stagger but not with strong drink, be reclaimed? What will bring spiritual sobriety into their souls? Again the answer is a book—a book that contains the mind and will and voice of the Lord, a book that whispers from the dust. And so Isaiah speaks of the glorious restoration of the everlasting gospel, which is to take place in the last days, and he introduces that restoration by speaking of the book so long sealed and even now only partially opened.”[2]

10 “For behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have , and hath closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers,athe seers hath he covered because of your iniquity.”

(See also Isaiah 6:10; and Romans 11:8.) For behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers, the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity.

Barnes explains: “The word rendered ‘hath poured out’ (נסך) is usually referred to the act of pouring out a libation, or drink-offering in worship Exodus 30:9; Hosea 9:4; Isaiah 30:1. Here it means that Yahweh had, as it were, ‘drenched them’ (Septuagint, πεπότικε) with a spirit of stupefaction.” A spirit of deep sleep has a perfect translation into Spanish, un espíritu de aturdimiento, something to the effect of being in a daze, confused and disoriented. When people reject the prophets or the Book of Mormon it is as if they have shut their eyes to the truth and thus walk in this espíritu de aturdimiento.  

In John we read: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). The Savior said: “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:46–47). Likewise, those who truly believe the Bible will believe in the Book of Mormon, for the Bible speaks of the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 33:10). Anyone who reads the Book of Mormon with a sincere heart will know that this book is full of light and truth and will feel of the influence of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of its truthfulness.

Nägelsbach notes: “Where a capacity to receive the divine word is wanting, there it works an effect the very opposite of what it should properly produce; it hardens, blinds, stupefies. It is as if the spirit of understanding had become in those who do not desire the knowledge of the truth, a spirit of stupefaction, of stupidityתרדמה[3], which is found only here in Isaiah, has this … sense.”

In speaking about Isaiah 29:9–10, Elder Orson Pratt says, “Here we perceive the dark and benighted condition of the multitude of all the nations … they were to be drunken and stagger, but not with wine nor with strong drink; the prophets and seers were to be covered from them; and ‘the vision of all,’ that is, the revelations of all the holy prophets and seers, contained either in the Bible or any other place were to become as the words of the sealed Book of Mormon … they are covered; they are not understood any more than the words of the sealed book were understood by the learned. When the events of the scripture prophecy are so clearly fulfilled before their eyes, they will not even then perceive it … because they are drunken with every species of wickedness and abominations, and because they, draw near to the Lord with their mouths, and with their lips, while their hearts are removed far from Him, and because they are taught by the precepts of men they will reject it, and in so doing, they will reject the Lord’s great and last warning message to man, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”[4]

For behold, ye have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers [i.e., your heads, רָאשֵׁיכֶם], the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity. Many exegetes believe that the prophets and seers are a latter gloss or addition, but the Book of Mormon greatly clarifies this passage to make it clear that the Lord would cover or remove the prophets and seers from the presence of the people as they would no longer heed their words but had rejected them. Nyman well says, “The KJV reads as though the Lord were responsible for these problems, but the Book of Mormon shows that that it was the people’s choices which had brought upon them their conditions.”

We turn again to materials found in the Book of Mormon and Inspired Version not contained in today’s other ancient texts. But first, this from Church history: “Sometime in this month of February [1828], the aforementioned Mr. Martin Harris came to our place, got the characters which I had drawn off the plates, and started with them to the city of New York. For what took place relative to him and the characters, I refer to his own account of the circumstances, as he related them to me after his return, which was as follows: ‘I went to the city of New York, and presented the characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthon stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic; and he said they were true characters. He gave me a certificate, certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters, and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct. I took the certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr. Anthon called me back, and asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him. He then said to me, “Let me see that certificate.” I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it to him, when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying that there was no such thing now as ministering of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, “I cannot read a sealed book.” I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation’”[5] Note that Anthon was so convinced that these characters were authentic that he desired to see the plates even though he did not believe the angel narrative.  

“And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you the words of a book, and they shall be the words of them which have slumbered.”

The words that the Lord God would bring forth are those of the Book of Mormon. These will be the words of ancient prophets who lived in the American continent more than a millennia ago. We read that they have slumbered as a poetical way of saying that they have long since passed from their mortal existence into the world of spirits.

“And behold, the book shall be sealed; and in the book shall be a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof.”

Besides the Book of Mormon there would be additional plates—plates that were sealed and that are to come forth at a future date. We understand that these words were seen by the brother of Jared and were also known to John the revelator (see Ether 4:4–7).

“Wherefore, because of the things which are sealed up, the things which are sealed shall not be delivered in the day of the wickedness and abominations of the people. Wherefore, the book shall be kept from them.”

Only the Book of Mormon would be delivered to the Prophet Joseph Smith for translation but not the sealed portion of the plates. The sealed portion of the plates would be kept from this undeserving generation.  

“But the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who have slumbered in the dust, and he shall deliver these words unto another;”

The Book of Mormon would be delivered to Joseph Smith, the Prophet. The Prophet would, in turn, write some of the words found in the plates and hand them to another man, that is, to Martin Harris. Note that the Prophet would not hand the book or plates to Martin Harris, but rather, words from the plates. The words of the Book of Mormon represent the words of the ancient prophets of the American continent who are no longer living, but slumber.

“But the words which [JST: uses “that” instead of “which”] are sealed he shall not deliver, neither shall he deliver the book. For the book shall be sealed by the power of God, and the revelation which was sealed shall be kept in the book until the own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for behold, they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof.”

Elder Orson Pratt explains: “Mark this prediction; the book itself was not to be delivered to the learned, but only ‘the words of a book’; this was literally fulfilled in the event which has already been described [Martin Harris and Professor Anthon incident], as clearly testified of, not only by the ‘plain-looking countryman,’ namely Martin Harris, but by the learned professor Anthon himself. But Isaiah informs us in the next verse [Isaiah 29:12] that the book itself should be delivered to the unlearned; he says, ‘and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, read this, I pray thee: and he said, I am not learned.’ This was fulfilled when the angel of the Lord delivered the book into the hands of Mr. Smith; though unlearned in every language, but his own mother tongue, yet he was commanded to read or translate the book. Feeling his own incapability to read such a book, he said to the Lord in the words of Isaiah, ‘I am not learned.’”[6] The sealed portion of the book, on the other hand, shall come forth at a time that the Lord has set and contains “all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof.”

“And the day cometh, that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be, even unto the end of the earth.”

At this future date the words from the sealed plates “shall be read from the house tops… through the power of Christ.” At that time these things shall be revealed to all humankind—past, present and future. Recall that housetops described the houses with a terrace on top of the houses (Isaiah 22:1). This is to be fulfilled either literally or symbolically, the meaning being that all shall have these words.

“Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein.”

So—returning to the time when the Book of Mormon would be delivered to the Prophet Joseph Smith—these plates would not be shown to many others.

“And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men; for the Lord God hath said that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead.”

Only a few individuals, besides the Prophet Joseph Smith and these three witnesses and eight witnesses would have the privilege of viewing the plates and bear testimony to the children of men based on this witness. Mary Whitmer (at times she is called the 4th witness and at others the 12th witness) was among them. The remainder of the children of men could obtain a witness of its authenticity through the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost has poured out upon me a sure witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

“Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth him good will he establish his word; and woe be unto him that rejecteth the word of God!”

The Lord God, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, would bring forth the words of these ancient prophets. He would establish the truthfulness of the words of the book through “as many witnesses as seemeth him good.” This includes not only those who were to see the plates but of each one of us who has received a witness of the Holy Ghost of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon—among whom I rejoice to be counted. I have received countless manifestations of the Spirit, most of them through the sweet comfort of the Spirit. Only a few times in my life has that manifestation been so very strong—I describe it as almost falling of my horse! One such occasion took place when I opened the Book of Mormon and read Moroni’s promise in my home in Asturias 400, Santiago, Chile, before I turned 16. I found Christ through reading the Book of Mormon.     

11 “And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which [men] deliver to one that is But behold, it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book: Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee. And he the learned saith, shall say: Bring hither the book, and I will read them. And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God. And the man shall say: I cannot bring the book, for it [is] sealed. Then shall the learned say, I cannot read it.”

Regarding the learned man, Whitehouse says, “Cheyne appropriately translates by ‘a man who is a scholar’”[7]

And says, I cannot for it is sealed &c. Philip Reynolds well says, “Isaiah makes the meaning of this vision so clear that it need not be misunderstood. He speaks of a book, or rather the book, for the Hebrew text has the definite article, to which the translators have not given the full force”[8] And so it is, as we have the book[9]  הַסֵּפֶרin the Masoretic text (𝔐) and a book   סִפְרָא in the Targum (𝔗). Various exegetes (Rawlinson, Gill, Delitzsch) explain that learned (אֶל־יוֹדֵעַ, to know, or one knowing) has to do with being literate or knowing how to read. This fits in very well with the idea of being able to know the ancient characters. Isaiah 29:11 was among the scriptures that Angel Moroni quoted to Joseph Smith according to the Oliver Cowdery narrative. “Yet,” said he, “the scripture must be fulfilled before it is translated, which says that the words of a book, which were sealed, were presented to the learned; for thus has God determined to leave men without excuse, and show to the meek that his arm is not shortened that it cannot save.”[10]

Once again, the Lord God would say to Joseph Smith, the person to whom the plates had been delivered to, and ask him to take some of the words from the plates—from the section that was not sealed—that these words might be shown to the learned. Charles Anthon was that learned professor to whom these words or characters would be shared with. Anthon asked that the plates be brought to him so he could read them—but he did this not because he believed in God or cared about the Book of Mormon, but because he cared about his scholarly status or the glory and riches of the world. Martin Harris told Anthon that he could not bring him the book because it was sealed. Professor Anthon responded that he could not read a sealed book.

12 “Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God And the book is delivered will deliver again the book and the words thereof to him and the man that is not learned; saying, shall say: Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.”

Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof and the man that is not learned; shall say: I am not learned. At the end, it would not be the learned who would translate the ancient plates but the unlearned young man through the power of God. The Prophet Joseph Smith did not remain unlearned long.

Gill, in part says this of the unlearned: “He does not excuse himself on account of its being sealed, but on account of his want of learning.”

“Then shall the Lord God say unto him: The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.”

In summary, then, the Lord God does not lean on the learned—the professors of religion and the scholars[11]—to read and translate the plates. Instead He would make use of the weak things of the earth to accomplish His purposes.

“Touch not the things which are sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work.”

The Lord instructed the Prophet Joseph Smith not to touch the sealed portion of the plates. These would be brought forth in the Lord’s due time.

“Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee, and obtained the witnesses which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me, that I may preserve the words which thou hast not read, until I shall see fit in mine own wisdom to reveal all things unto the children of men.”

When the Prophet Joseph Smith would be done translating, and after the witnesses would be invited to view the plates, the time would come when the Prophet would be instructed to return the plates to the angel for safekeeping, and this is what is meant here by “seal up the book again.” The sealed portion of the plates that the Prophet Joseph Smith was not permitted to read would be revealed in the Lord’s due time.

“For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.”

The Lord God makes it clear that He is a God of miracles and unchangeable—and that humankind can only have intercourse with God according to their faith.

13 “And again it shall come to pass Wherefore the Lord said, that the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him: Forasmuch as this people draw near unto [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precept of men—”

The Lord would speak to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Gill has, “Kimhi observes, there is a double reading of the word נגש, rendered ‘draw near’: in one reading of it, it signifies to be ‘afflicted’; and then the sense is, ‘when this people are afflicted, with their mouth, and with their lips, they honour me’; that is, when they are in distress, they pray unto him, and profess a great regard for him, speak honourably of him, and reverently to him, hoping he will help and relieve them; see Isaiah 26:16 but the other reading of the word, in which it has the signification of ‘drawing near,’ is confirmed, not only by the Masora on the text, but by the citation of it in Mathew 15:7 and designs the approach of these people to God, in acts of religion and devotion, in praying to him, and praising of him, and expressing great love and affection for him, and zeal for his cause and interest; but were all outwardly, with their lips and mouths only… their worship of God was not according to the prescription of God, and his revealed will; but according to the traditions of the elders, which they preferred to the word of God, and, by observing them, transgressed it, and made it of no effect; see Matthew 15:3.”

Regarding precepts of men, Barnes has: “That is, their views, instead of having been derived from the Scriptures, were drawn from the doctrines of mankind. Our Saviour referred to this passage, and applied it to the hypocrites of his own time Matthew 15:8–9. The latter part of it is, however, not quoted literally from the Hebrew, nor from the Septuagint, but retains the sense: ‘But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.’” Skinner writes: “Religion, being personal fellowship with God, cannot be ‘learned’ from men, but only by revelation (Matthew 16:17).” Regarding these verses, Jennings says, “And the most serious charge is that people set aside the revelation that God has given, and substitute for the revealed will of God their own precepts.”

Oliver Cowdery, recounting what Moroni shared with the Prophet Joseph Smith included these words: “Wherever the sound shall go it shall cause the ears of men to tingle, and wherever it shall be proclaimed, the pure in heart shall rejoice, while those who draw near to God with their mouths, and honor him with their lips, while their hearts are far from him, will seek its overthrow, and the destruction of those by whose hands it is carried. Therefore, marvel not if your name is made a derision, and had as a by-word among such, if you are the instrument in bringing it, by the gift of God, to the knowledge of the people.”[12]

The Prophet Joseph Smith shared this about angel Moroni’s visit: “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘they draw near to me with their lips,[13] 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.’”[14]

14 “Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, [even] yea, a marvellous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise [men] and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent [men] shall be hid.”

Regarding the wonderful wonder among these people see Psalm 72:18, and our notes under Isaiah 29:17 (which we shall see in the next or final article in this series). Faussett well notes that the marvelous work and a wonder was associated with the strange work mentioned in Isaiah 28:21. Govett quotes John 9:39: “And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” While Jennings goes on to speak of “God giving His own Son” his words also certainly fit perfectly to the Book of Mormon that was sent forth for the very purpose of testifying of Christ, the Son of God, and the confounding of false teachings, and together with the Bible the Lord’s tool for the gathering of Israel in the last days: “[God] will add to all His marvelous works by another still more marvelous. So wonderful is this—so superhumanly wonderful—that when it comes, it shall destroy all man’s boasted wisdom, and so eclipse his prudence as to render it invisible, as the noon-day sun extinguishes the light of a taper.”

Therefore, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, yea, a marvellous work and a wonder. It is interesting that in the Talmud tradition (Seder Mo’ed, Shabbath 138b) these words are applied to the Torah, its neglect and future study: “For Rab said: The Torah is destined to be forgotten in Israel, because it is said, Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful: now, I do not know what this wonder is, but when it is said, Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a wonderful work among this people, even a wonderful work and a wonder [and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish], it follows that this wonder refers to Torah” (Talmud, Soncino).

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we certainly understand this verse to be associated with Scripture, and more specifically, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, which was written for the “convincing of both Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ.”

Elder LeGrand Richards had much to say about this glorious verse, including: “Could you imagine living upon the earth when the God of Heaven fulfills that promise made by the Prophet Isaiah and not wanting to know what that ‘marvellous work and a wonder’ is all about? No boy or girl or man or woman in this world, if they understood fully what God has done in restoring His truth to the earth in our day, could call it anything but ‘a marvellous work and a wonder.’ When the God of Heaven says that it will be a ‘marvellous work and a wonder’ in His eyes, then what ought it to be to those of us who are privileged to be partakers of it?”[15]

For the wisdom of their wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid. Elder Marion G. Romney explained: “Until we come to a knowledge of God, we will continue in our distraction, regardless of how much other knowledge we acquire. The Lord, knowing all things, foresaw our present state of confusion; and long ago, speaking about us through His prophets, Isaiah and Nephi, declared, ‘The wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid’ (Isaiah 29:14; 2 Nephi 27:26). Confirming the fact, He has said in our day that the wisdom of men has perished and their understanding has come to naught. And He has specified as the reason for their loss of wisdom their forsaking of Him. His words are, ‘They have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant; They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own God, whose image is in the likeness of the world’ (D&C 1:15–16).”[16]

Elder LeGrand Richards spoke at General Conference, “I am going to tell you one more experience. A few years ago two of the major churches on the west coast, including California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada, were holding a convention here in Salt Lake. Their leader wrote a letter to President McKay and asked if he would send one of the General Authorities to attend their convention and talk for two hours in the morning session and tell them the story of Mormonism… I explained the restoration of the gospel, the difference between a restoration and a reformation… Then I held up the Bible. I said, ‘Here is the Lord’s blueprint. Isaiah said the Lord had declared the end from the beginning. It is all here. Now,’ I said, ‘you could take this, the Lord’s blueprint, and try to fit it to every church in this world, but there is only one church that it will fit, and that is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now,’ I said, ‘I will proceed to illustrate to you what I mean.’ I said that in Canon Frederick William Farrar’s work Life of Christ (Cassell, 1902), he said there were two passages in the New Testament for which he could find no excuse. The first is John 10:16, where Jesus said, ‘And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.’ … The other passage they couldn’t understand was the one where Paul said, ‘Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?’ (1 Corinthians 15:29). [After explaining the meaning of these two scriptures Elder LeGrand Richards said] … you can’t look for the coming of the Savior as was promised by Peter and the prophets until there has been a restitution, and not a reformation.’ When I concluded, the man in charge said, ‘Mr. Richards, this has been one of the most interesting experiences of my entire life.’ That is what Isaiah meant when he said, ‘the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.’ (Isaiah 29:14).”[17]

15 “And woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! And their works are in the dark; and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?”

And woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! Nyman writes: “The Book of Mormon retains the word ‘and’ in introducing the verse, which indicates that it refers back to what has been said. The warning is to those who refuse the message of the ‘marvelous work and a wonder’—the Book of Mormon—which would come forth to correct the precepts of men…”

Spencer W. Kimball taught: “Isaiah warned: ‘Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?’ (Isaiah 29:15). Likewise our Lord suggested that men ‘loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light’ (John 3:19–20).”[18]

16 “And they also say: Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay. But behold, I will show unto them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that I know all their works. For shall the work say of him that made it, he made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, he had no understanding?”

(Also see Isaiah 45:9) And they also say: Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay. Barnes explains: “The sense of the passage seems to be this: ‘Your “changing of things” is just as absurd as it would be for the thing formed to say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus? It is as absurd for you to find fault with the government of God as it would be for the clay to complain of want of skill in the potter. You complain of God’s laws, and worship Him according to the commandments of people. You complain of his requirements, and offer to him the service of the mouth and the lip, and withhold the heart. You suppose that God does not see you, and do your deeds in darkness. All this supposes that God is destitute of wisdom, and cannot see what is done, and it is just as absurd as it would be in the clay to complain that the potter who fashions it has no understanding.’”


[1] Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., p.209.

[2] Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p. 442.

[3] Deep sleep.

[4] Pratt, Orson. Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, number 6, Prophetic evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon, Latter-day tracts, pp. 89–90.

[5] JS–History 1:63–65.

[6] Pratt, Orson. Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, number 6, Prophetic evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon, Latter-day tracts, p. 88.

[7] But not in my version of Cheyne.

[8] Reynolds, Philip C., ed. Commentary on the Book of Mormon. 6 vols. Salt Lake City, Utah. Vol. IV, pp. 289–290.

[9] It is interesting to note that the Ketib has הַסֵּפֶר; the Qere סֵפֶר, but compare to verse 12, were we have הַסֵּפֶר.

[10] Cowdery, Oliver, et al., eds. Messenger and Advocate: The Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, Ohio: Letter to W. W. Phelps from Oliver Cowdery. February 1835 and continued April 1835. Electronic text prepared by the Department of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University (pp. 78–80, 108–112), 1991, p.80.

[11] Elder McConkie taught: “When there were no longer apostles and inspired men to give the Lord’s message and word to living men, the world turned to interpreters—to scholars, to doctors of divinity, to theologians, to professors of religion—to set forth what they thought or imagined the divine word of former days meant.” Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, pp.251–252.

[12] Cowdery, Oliver, et al., eds. Messenger and Advocate, 1835, p. 80. See note on Isaiah 1:7.

[13] Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught: “The Book of Mormon applies this principle [of priestcraft] to those who seem to be serving the Lord but do so with a hidden motive to gain personal advantage rather than to further the work of the Lord: ‘Priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion’ (2 Nephi 26:29; see also Alma 1:16). Priestcraft is the sin committed by the combination of a good act—such as preaching or teaching the gospel—and a bad motive. The act may be good and visible, but the sin is in the motive. On earth, the wrong motive may be known only to the actor, but in heaven it is always known to God … The sin of priestcraft is a grievous one. Time after time the Lord has condemned those who appear to men to be his servants, but who, though they draw near to him with their lips, have removed their hearts far from him. This description of those who have no true motive to serve the Lord appears in Isaiah (29:13), in Matthew (15:8), in 2 Nephi (27:25), and in Joseph Smith’s History (JSH 1:19). In modern as in ancient times, those who appear to be servants of the Lord and present themselves to labor in his vineyard are subject to the prophetic principle: ‘The laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish’ (2 Nephi 26:31) … The commandment to avoid priestcraft is a vital challenge to religious persons in every age of time. It is easier to have clean hands than to have a pure heart. It is easier to control our acts than to control our thoughts.” Oaks, Dallin H. Pure in Heart. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1988, pp. 16–18.

[14] JS–H 1:19.

[15] Elder LeGrand Richards in 1960, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1960–1966, pp. 6–7

[16] Romney, Marion G. Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, February 11, 1964, p. 8.

[17] Elder LeGrand Richards, He Has Sent His Messenger to Prepare the Way, Ensign (CR), July 1973, p.76.

[18] Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p.213.

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Gregorio Billikopf belongs to the Llanquihue Branch, Puerto Montt Stake, in the south of Chile. He is the author of Isaiah Testifies of Christ and an emeritus academic of the University of California and professor of the University of Chile; author of Party-Directed Mediation: Facilitating Dialogue between Individuals and other books. Gregorio’s paternal grandparents are Lithuanian Jews and German Jews and on his mother’s side of the family he is Chilean. He found Christ through reading the Book of Mormon. You may contact him through bielikov2@yahoo.cl.

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