Isaiah 29:17—24

500
Isaiah 29 testifies of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon
This is the fourth and final installment on Isaiah 29, the coming
forth of the Book of Mormon, comprising of verses 17–24.(Read 
Part I: Isaiah 29; Part II: Isaiah 29:1-8; and Part III:
Isaiah 29:9-16). 

Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field. The Book of Mormon will be searched by the deaf and by the blind. The poor and the humble will embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who oppose the restored Gospel will make the Brethren and the Church an offender by a word—especially because they will twist these words. At the end, however, the house of Israel will no longer feel humiliated and ashamed. Those who had been blinded by the false traditions of the fathers will find understanding through the Book of Mormon and the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. The words of Jewish and Christian exegetes not of our faith are also included, as they have much of interest to us as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“17 But behold, saith the Lord of Hosts: I will show unto the children of men that [Is] it is not* yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field; and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest? .”

* JST: restores “not” deleted in Book of Mormon.

But behold, saith the Lord of Hosts: I will show unto the children of men that it is not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field; and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest.

Alexander explains regarding הֲלוֹא־עוֹד (not yet?): “The negative interrogation is one of the strongest forms of affirmation.” Barnes suggests that the uncultivated Lebanon would turn fruitful: “This is evidently a proverbial expression, denoting any great revolution of things. It is probable that in the times of Isaiah the whole chain of Lebanon was uncultivated, as the word is evidently used here in opposition to a fruitful field. The word which is rendered ‘fruitful field’ (כרמל) properly denotes ‘a fruitful field,’ or a finely cultivated country.”

Literal meaning. Cheyne says, “Most commentators prefer to take Isaiah 29:17 figuratively. But a comparison of the parallel passage favors a combined literal and symbolical interpretation.” Most LDS speak of the literal fulfillment of these promises associated with a period close to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.

Elder Orson Pratt explains: “As another evidence that the book of which Isaiah speaks was to come forth in latter times, he says in the seventeenth verse, is it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as the forest?’ 18th verse: And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.’ This book could not mean the New Testament, for when that was written it was about the time that Lebanon was to be forsaken by the Jews and become a desolation, a forest, or wilderness for many generations. ‘Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers.’ (Isaiah 32:13.) Hence the land of Palestine, which includes Lebanon, was, when the New Testament was written, about to be cursed. But immediately after the unlearned should read the book, ‘Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as the forest.’ The book, therefore, that Isaiah prophesies of’ is to come forth just before the great day of the restoration of Israel to their own lands; at which time Lebanon and all the land of Canaan is again to be blessed, while the fruitful field occupied by the nations of the Gentiles, ‘will be esteemed as a forest;’ the multitude of the nations of the Gentiles are to perish, and their lands which are now like a fruitful field, are to be left desolate of inhabitants and become as Lebanon has been for many generations past; while Lebanon shall again be occupied by Israel, and be turned into a fruitful field. These great events could not take place until the Lord should first bring forth a book out of the ground.”[1]

In Conference, Elder Mark E. Peterson testified: “A sacred book was to come forth… Where is that book? It is one of the signs of the times. Not only did the prophets predict its appearance, but Isaiah set a limit on the time of its publication. That time limit was related to the period when fertility would return to Palestine. Isaiah said that the book would come forth first, and then added that in ‘a very little while . . . Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest’ (Isaiah 29:17). The time limit has expired. This new volume of scripture must have come forth before now or Isaiah was not a true prophet, for Palestine is fruitful again.”[2]

Simeon asks, “What is that book to which the attention of all men shall be called—” and we as LDS answer: the attention of men shall be called to the Book of Mormon together with the Bible as shown in Ezekiel 37.

“18 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness.”

And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book. Rawlinson says: “The spiritually deaf shall have their ears opened, many of them, and shall not only hear, but understand, the words of Scripture addressed to them by God’s messengers.” Delitzsch also has: “The people that are now blind and deaf, so far as the word of Jehovah is concerned, are changed into a people with open ears and seeing eyes.”

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “The gathering of Israel in the last days shall consist in bringing together ‘the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears,’ that is, the spiritually blind and deaf shall come to a knowledge of the things of God and they shall see and hear (Isaiah 43). In large part the opening of the eyes of the blind and the unstopping of the ears of the deaf shall take place by means of the Book of Mormon. ‘And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness’ (Isaiah 29:18).”[3] I am one who was blind to the things of God until I read the Book of Mormon. In our Come Unto Christ Sunday School lesson last Sunday, the teacher asked, who was the person who brought you the testimony of the Book of Mormon? The thought came to me that it was Alma, and Moroni, and Mormon, and Nephi and all of the prophets of the Book of Mormon who did that for me. After reading the Book of Mormon over a four-day period I had to call the missionaries and ask for baptism. They explained that I had to hear the lessons, first.

There is also a more literal fulfillment. Elder Orson Pratt explained, “‘In that day shalt the deaf hear the words of the book, the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness.’ A great many people, perhaps, would want this spiritualized; but, whether it is spiritualized or not, I can bear testimony to one thing which I have seen with my own eyes, and that is that those who were deaf, so deaf that they could not hear the loudest sound, have been instantaneously restored by the administrations of the Elders of this Church and thus the deaf, the literally deaf, have been enabled to hear the words of the book. The eyes of the blind, not those alone who are spiritually blind, but of those who are blind physically, should see out of obscurity and out of darkness, when that book was revealed. Now I know that this, too, has been the case, and many in this congregation know it and have seen it; some have seen those who were born blind restored to their sight by the power of God since this book came forth. Thus have been fulfilled, literally, the words of our text.”[4] My daughter Andrea has retinitis pigmentosa and my wife got her a copy of the Book of Mormon in Braille. So it is yet another way that this prophecy is fulfilled, as not all the blind or all of the deaf will be healed in this lifetime.

And the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. Nägelsbach wrote: “Is not the purport of these two verses, 18 and 19, reproduced in the saying of Christ, ‘The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:5; Luke 7:22)?” Bruce R. McConkie explained: “Jesus, as he ‘targumed’[5] Isaiah’s meaning from Hebrew to Aramaic, did what only inspired interpreters can do: he expanded the words and interpreted the meaning of the original utterance. ‘I am sent by the Father—not only to proclaim how deliverance from sin may be found, but to preach the recovering of spiritual sight to those who are blind spiritually.[6] Through me they shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.’ If a parallel passage for these added words is needed, it may be found in Isaiah’s prophecy about the latter-day coming forth of the Book of Mormon, for the promise is that through ‘the words of the book . . . the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness’ (Isaiah 29:8).”[7] 

“19 And the meek also shall increase, and [their] joy shall be in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.”

And the meek also shall increase, and their joy shall be in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. The meek (עֲנָוִים) are the “poor afflicted, humble” (DBD). Rawlinson says, “The ‘evangelical prophet’ anticipates the gospel in this, among other points that he promises his choicest blessings, not to the rich and mighty, but to the poor and meek (compare Isaiah 57:15; 61:1).” 

Elder Orson Pratt writes, “Now during the long night of darkness there have been some humble, meek persons who have had a degree of light; but as the Church of Christ had fled from the earth there was no one that had authority to baptize or administer the ordinances of the gospel to those meek persons; therefore their joy was imperfect: but Isaiah says, when the book is revealed, ‘the meek shall increase their joy in the Lord.’ This is what the book is calculated to produce; for by its contents the meek learn that the time is at hand for them to inherit the earth, according to the blessings of our Savior on the Mount: ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’ This will be fulfilled after all the wicked nations are destroyed. ‘And the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.’ This also is promised as a result of the revelation of the book, and the means by which it is to be effected is by a general overthrow of the wicked; as, says Isaiah: ‘For the terrible one is brought to naught, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off; that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of naught.’ O how plainly it is declared that judgment was soon to fall upon all the wicked after the appearance of this book, this marvelous work and a wonder! And O how plainly it is also declared that the deaf, the blind, the meek and the poor among men were to be greatly benefited by the book.”[8]

“20 For assuredly as the Lord liveth they shall see that the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off;”

For assuredly as the Lord liveth they shall see that the terrible one is brought to nought. The Targum (𝔗) has, “For the oppressor is come to an end, and the plunderer is made to cease.” Those who watch for iniquity, says Faussett, are those who “watch for opportunities of committing it.” Gill agrees and adds: “[These are those who] cannot sleep unless they commit it, and seek for and take all opportunities of doing it; or watch for iniquity in others, in Christ, and the professors of his religion [i.e., the Saints or followers of Christ]; or for anything they could call so, that they might have something to accuse them of.” Or, as we see in the next verse, those who make a man an offender for a word.

Elder Orson Pratt wrote: “However much you may have erred, because you have been taught by the precepts of men; however much you may have walked in darkness and blindness, with the Prophets, seers, and revelations of God covered, and no voice of inspiration in your midst; however much you may have groped in outer darkness, yet if you have been meek before the lord, you will come to understanding when [the Book of Mormon] makes its appearance… when a certain book should come forth it should bless the meek and lowly in heart, for their joy should increase in the Lord. And the poor among men be gathered out from the nations.”[9]

“21 And they that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.”

And they that make a man an offender for a word. In New Testament times the Savior was constantly made an offender for a word. After the coming forth of the Book of Mormon the Prophet Joseph Smith was likewise made an offender for a word: so also today the Brethren are often accused. Ibn Ezra explains that to make a man an offender for a word means one who will “watch the words of man, and accuse him, in order to see him punished.”

Alexander writes: “Ewald… takes בְּדָבָר in the same sense with the English and many other early versions, which explain the clause to mean accusing or condemning men for a mere error of the tongue or lips.” Or better, for what the wicked believe is an error. The Geneva Bible notes correctly have: “They who went about to find fault with the prophets words, and would not abide admonitions, but would entangle them and bring them into danger.”

The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote: “…our souls were vexed from day to day. We refer you to Isaiah, who considers those who make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate. We believe that the old Prophet told the truth: and we have no retraction to make. We have reproved in the gate, and men have laid snares for us. We have spoken words, and men have made us offenders. And notwithstanding all this, our minds are not yet darkened, but feel strong in the Lord.”[10]

Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained: “The Lord acts through his servants. That is the pattern he has established to safeguard our agency in mortality. His servants are not perfect, which is another consequence of mortality. But if we act against them, we are working against the Lord and his cause and will soon find ourselves without the companionship of his Spirit. There are other such teachings in ancient and modern scriptures. The prophet Isaiah denounced those who ‘make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate’ (Isaiah 29:21; see also 2 Ne. 27:32). This modern revelation from the Doctrine and Covenants is to the same effect: ‘Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them. But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves” (see D&C 121:16–22.)”[11]

Elder Neal A. Maxwell warned us against fault finding, “In a church established, among other reasons, for the perfecting of the Saints—an ongoing process—it is naive to expect, and certainly unfair to demand, perfection in our peers. A brief self-inventory is wise before we ‘cast the first stone.’ Possessing a few rocks in our own heads, it is especially dangerous to have rocks too ready in our hands. (‘Not My Will, But Thine’, p. 74.)”[12]

And lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought. Rawlinson explains: “‘The gate’ was the place where judgment was given and public assemblies held.” Cheyne writes regarding the gate: “In the chief place of concourse, where, too, the judges sat. So Amos, ‘They hate him that reproveth in the gate’ (Amos 5:10).” Regarding the second half of this clause Delitzsch writes: “And thrust away the righteous, i.e., forced him away from his just rights (Isaiah 10:2), בַתֹּהוּ, [for thing of naught—also see Genesis 1:2, without form], i.e., accusations and pretences of the utmost worthlessness; for these would all have been swept away… for with Isaiah תֹּהוּ is the synonym for all such words as signify nothingness, groundlessness, and fraud.”

“22 Therefore, thus saith the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale.

Therefore, thus saith the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: Ironside says of Isaiah 29:22–24, “Never, in times past, have these words had their fulfillment, but we may be assured that nothing that God has spoken will ever come to naught.” Barnes says, “The connection … would seem to imply that there was a reference to the promise which was made to Abraham that he should have a numerous posterity (see Isaiah 29:23).”

Elder Orson Pratt makes this scripture clear: “After Isaiah had foretold the great change that was to happen to Lebanon, to the deaf, etc., when the book should be revealed, he then describes more particularly the great benefit the book should be to the house of Jacob. He says, ‘Therefore, thus saith the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face wax pale. But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel.’ The house of Jacob has been made ashamed, and his face has waxed pale, ever since he was driven away from Lebanon or Canaan, but the Lord has now brought forth out of the ground book which shall, accompanied by His power, restore the tribes of Jacob from the four quarters of the globe, and establish them in the land of Palestine and Lebanon forever; and His holy name they shall no more profane, but shall be a righteous people throughout all their generations, while the earth shall stand, and they shall possess their promised land again in eternity, nevermore to pass away; therefore, they shall never again be made ashamed. It is in vain for the Gentiles to seek the conversion of Jacob, and to bring about their great redemption, only in the way that the Lord God of Israel hath predicted and appointed: they may call meetings and conventions to convert the Jews, but let them know assuredly that the book spoken of by Isaiah is to accomplish the salvation of the house of Jacob, and bring about the restoration of all Israel, while the Gentiles who will not receive it and be numbered and identified with the house of Jacob, must surely perish, yeah and they shall be utterly wasted with storm and tempest, with earthquakes and famine, with the flame of devouring fire, and their fruitful lands shall be esteemed as a forest, while Jacob shall dwell in safety for ever.”[13]

Philip Reynolds explains, “Commentators note that there is no reference in the Old Testament to any incident in the life of the Patriarch [Abraham] to which this redemption can refer specially, but that there is a tradition that he, at some time, was threatened with the fire of a burning furnace. In the Book of Abraham, Pearl of Great Price, I think, we find the story of the redemption of Abraham to which Isaiah (29:22) and Nephi here refer … a time came, when the priests of Pharaoh seized Abraham, intending to take his life on the altar. But when he lifted up his voice to God, the ‘Angel of his (God’s) Presence’ appeared, unloosened the bands of the intended victim, promised him the Priesthood, and declared that: ‘Through thy ministry my name shall be known in the earth forever, for I am thy God’ … It was thus that God redeemed Abraham by almighty power …”[14]

Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. Alexander correctly explains לֹא־עַתָּה:[15] “The Hebrew phrase not now does not imply that it shall be so hereafter, but on the contrary, that it shall be so no more. Redak has, “Since all Jews are descendants of Jacob, if there are wicked among them, it is as though Jacob is ashamed, as he would be were he alive, for a father is embarrassed if his son abandons the faith” (in Rabbi Rosenberg). Not just the Jews, but all of the house of Israel.

Elder Orson Pratt explained, “Now how is this book to affect the house of Israel? Is it for their benefit particularly? They have been a long time scattered, a long time abroad among the nations; are they to be affected by this book that is spoken of by Isaiah? Yes. Read the 22nd verse, which I have already once read before you—‘Therefore, thus saith the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob, shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale.’ Why? Because this book [has] come forth to bring the house of Jacob from all the nations and kingdoms of the earth; and this will commence just as soon as the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled; not until then. We must be warned first; we Gentiles must hear the word first; and when we count ourselves unworthy of eternal life, and fight against the book, and against the Zion and people of God, behold the Lord will then remember the house of Jacob, and they will no longer be ashamed.”[16] Why will Jacob not be ashamed? We find the answer in Isaiah 29:23, because the children of Israel will turn to the Lord God.

“23 But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel.”

But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him. Redak has “When Jacob sees his children, who are truly his children by following the ways of God” (in Rabbi Rosenberg). Elder Orson Pratt continues: “The lord says, in the 23rd verse, that Jacob, when he shall see his children, the work of his hands, in the midst of him, that is, gathered out from among the nations, they shall sanctify my name, and shall sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. Where will this work commence among the house of Israel? Among the remnant that we call the American Indians, who are the literal descendants of Israel.”[17]

They shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob,[18] and shall fear the God of Israel. Delitzsch well says, “The end of Israel will correspond to the holy root of its origin. Just as Abraham was separated from the human race that was sunk in heathenism, to become the ancestor of a nation of Jehovah, so would a remnant be separated from the great mass of Israel that was sunk in apostasy from Jehovah; and this remnant would be the foundation of a holy community well pleasing to God.” Elder Dallin H. Oaks said: “When Isaiah condemned the critics of his day, he concluded with a prophecy. He said that in time the children of God would ‘fear the God of Israel’ and ‘sanctify [his] name.’”[19]

“24 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.”

Who are those who murmured? The clear answer: the descendants of Israel. Barnes says, “All that the prophet teaches is, that at some future period in the history of the Jews, there would be such a reform that they should be regarded as the worthy descendants of the pious patriarch Jacob.” Gill explains, “The doctrine of the Messiah… which Christ ‘received’ from his Father, as the word (לקח) used signifies, and his disciples received from him, and the church has received from them, and has been transmitted to [the] Gentiles, and will be to the Jews in the latter day, who  will learn the true knowledge of it.” And indeed, the Book of Mormon is given “… to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.”

Elder Orson Pratt’s testimony feels me with joy: “Oh, How precious must be the contents of a book which shall deliver us from all the errors taught by the precepts of uninspired men! Oh, how gratifying to poor, ignorant, erring mortals who have murmured because of the multiplicity of contradictory doctrines that have perplexed and distracted their minds, to read the plain, pure and most precious word of God, revealed in the Book of Mormon! It is like bread to the hungry, like the cool refreshing fountain to him that is ready to perish with thirst.”[20]


[1] Pratt, Orson. Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, number 6, Prophetic evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon, Latter-day tracts, p. 90.

[2] Elder Mark E. Petersen, Conference Report, October 1965, Second Day-Morning Meeting, p.61.

[3] Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., p.184.

[4] Pratt, Orson. July 18, 1875; Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, p. 165.

[5] That is, paraphrased from Hebrew to Aramaic.

[6] See Luke 4:18 ff.

[7] Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, pp.22–23.

[8] Pratt, Orson. Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, number 6, Prophetic evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon, Latter-day tracts, p. 90.

[9] Elder Orson Pratt, July 18, 1875; Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, p. 166.

[10] TPJS, p. 124.

[11] Dallin H. Oaks, The Lord’s Way, p.197–198.

[12] Maxwell, Cory H., ed. The Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1997.

[13] Pratt, Orson. Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, number 6, Prophetic evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon, Latter-day tracts, p. 90–91.

[14] Reynolds, Philip C., ed. Commentary on the Book of Mormon. 6 vols. Salt Lake City, Utah, vol. I, pp. 400–401.

[15] עַתָּה, from the Hebrew meaning “at the present moment,” (2017). The Lexham Analytical Lexicon of the Hebrew Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[16] Elder Orson Pratt, July 18, 1875; Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, p. 166–168.

[17] Elder Orson Pratt, July 18, 1875; Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, p. 166–168.

[18] Delitzsch, in defending the unity of Isaiah says, “There is the same interchange of Jacob and Israel here which we so frequently met with in chapters 40ff. And, in fact, throughout this undisputedly genuine prophecy of Isaiah, we can detect the language of chapters 40–66. Through the whole of the first part, indeed, we may trace the gradual development of the thoughts and forms which predominate there.”

[19] Dallin H. Oaks, The Lord’s Way, p.207.

[20] Pratt, Orson. Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, number 6, Prophetic evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon, Latter-day tracts, p. 91.

Don't Miss a Post!

Stay up to date with the latest news, fulfilled prophecies, and study tips

You have Successfully Subscribed!

SHARE
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.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I am SO excited about this study aide!
    Now if my kids will let me have 5 minutes to my myself, I can dive in.
    Maybe we can read it together. Heck yeah! 🙂

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here