Richard: Welcome to another of our roundtable discussions on the book of Isaiah. I’m Richard Draper associate dean of religious education. And with me today are three of my colleagues from the Department of ancient scripture. Brother Paul Hoskisson.
Paul: Good to be here.
Richard: Glad to have you here. Michael Rhodes. Good to have you here Mike, and Ray Huntington. Good to team up with you today. Our topic is going to come from chapters 24 through 26. Scholars call chapters 24 through 27 the apocalyptic Isaiah. Prophecy is that kind of prescience that God shares with his children, which shows history as it flows from the present into the future without interruption. Apocalyptic on the other hand looks at a specific point in time that is the point at which God moves into history forcefully and powerfully, brings one history to an end, that of the telestial world and begins a brand-new history, that of the terrestrial or millennial world. Here we see Isaiah concentrating on that particular period and therefore bringing to us insights and understanding that are very relevant to those of us who live today. In Chapter 24, verse 1, we read, “Behold the Lord make the earth empty and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.” Mike put this chapter, this section, into its setting for us. Would you please.
Michael: Okay well basically the previous eleven chapters Isaiah 13 through 23, Isaiah has been prophesying about various nations that surround Israel, Babylon, Moab, Syria, Egypt, Duma, (…), Arabia, Kimon, Kedar, Tyre, Sidon. So, he has geographically looked at all of the countries around the area and basically predicted destruction for each of those and now beginning with chapter 24, we turn back to Judah in Israel, specifically in the context of the events of the last days. Let me just add also that each of these things, prophecies about these nations surrounding Israel and Judah also have, as Isaiah often goes double meaning and it could refer to events in the last days of various four nations being destroyed in the last days as well as contemporary with the time of Isaiah or shortly thereafter.
Richard: And therefore, we see conditions existing in Isaiah’s day that then allows the prophet through Assyrian power to look to the last days and therefore begins to really concentrate on what’s happening in the world in these last days. All right so what we have here. Let’s take a look at verses 2 through 6, maybe 2 through 13. What do we see here? Paul, what do you see is kind of the message. What’s going on?
Paul: One of the first things that strikes you in verse 2 is as with the people, so with the priest, as with the masters, so with the maid and so on. In other words, it’s going to happen to everyone. All of the people are going to be involved and it’s not going to be the low people or the high people. Everyone will be there. In verse 3, “the land is going to be utterly emptied and spoiled for The Lord has spoken his Word.” Down through a verse 12. This is a time of general mourning about the destruction which is going to happen during this time period that we’re talking about here.
Richard: Very good. Notice verse 5, or actually verse 4 it tells us why these destructions are coming upon the earth. “The earth mourneth and faideth away, the world languishesh and faideth away. The haughty people do languish.” Again, this word haughty, is not just simply pride but a pride that expresses itself by looking down at others. “A pride that exists to be self-promoting and does that at the expense of all other people and therefore the earth also has defiled under the inhabitants thereof because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, broken the everlasting covenant.” What do you see in there Ray. What is that dynamic. What’s the problem?
Ray: You know the word that jumps out to me in those verses, at least in verse 4, is that word languish, which has this sense of losing energy or drooping, and the idea that the earth fades away, the world languishes in fate of the way, the haughty languish. In other words, prior to the second coming and also taking it back to Isaiah’s time period there is this sense that the wicked have slowly burned themselves, their less intensive with their sin. I think they’ve partied so much that they’ve just done themselves in. But not only that, the earth becomes defiled because of that. And what have they done? Isaiah says they’ve done three things. They’ve transgressed the laws, they’ve changed the ordnances, they’ve broken the everlasting covenant, which is the gospel covenant. They’re in serious apostasy.
Paul: Does the covenant here have something to do with the Abrahamic covenant which they certainly have not been staying with.
Ray: I think it has to, definitely, yes.
Michael: This is reminiscent of the proclamation on the family at the end of that proclamation where they state if inhabitants of the earth do not, I’m paraphrasing, do not change their stance on the family and start building up a family, which is the essence of the everlasting covenant that makes eternal families, that the destructions prophesied anciently and modern, you’re going to come upon them. So, our prophets today are repeating the message that Isaiah is giving us right now.
Richard: And probably, we need to hear the message and the world needs to hear the messages as they did because we’re doing the same thing they did. We are changing the laws, breaking the covenants and so on. And it’s interesting in verse 16 it shows us the result. Verse 6, “therefore say, therefore half the cursed devoured the earth because they have done these things and they that dwell therein, are desolate, therefore the inhabitants of the Earth are burned, and few men left.” That certainly feels last days, doesn’t it?
Ray: Yes, the second coming.
Michael: Let me give you a quote here from Elder McConkie regarding this, “In the coming day, when the vineyard of the Lord is burned, some few will abide the day, but the masses of men will be destroyed. Only those who are quickened, are quick as were Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, in the furnace of Nebuchadnezzar shall be abide the day of burning.” The few that are left, they are going to be in that burning but they’re going to be protected, just as Shadrack, Meshach and Abed-Nego.
Richard: Because of their righteousness, right.
Paul: That’s brought out here in Isaiah’s, verse 13, after we get the end of the destruction or the destruction talked about down through verse 12, in verse 13, “when thus is shall be in the midst of the land'” when we have all of that destruction going on among the people, “there shall be as the shaking of an olive tree and as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done,” that is in those days you would you would hit the tree with a stick, the olive tree to knock the olives out, and you would go through and you would cut off the grape clusters but there always some leftover in the olive tree and some left on the vines and in other words, there’s going to be a remnant left as Elder McConkie has said. And that remnant that’s left after the destruction in verse 14,”will lift up their voice and sing for the majesty of the Lord.”
Richard: Let me just make a note before we move on to that one and that is what we see through in verses 9 through 11 is the fleeting moment of pleasure. These guys have their moment of rejoicing. They’re down at the pool hall, they have their cabarets and so on. But what happens, it all ceases, it all comes to an end and it comes to a very sharp end. Then, there is great mourning. Ok, so picking up now with a verse 16. Ray, what do you see in this next section, or did you have something, Paul?
Paul: I just wanted to say that 16 is no what this remnant is going to do. They are going to sing these songs that are mentioned at the beginning of 16.
Richard: But I said, “my leanness, my leanness, woe unto me.” What’s going on there?
Michael: This may be Isaiah speaking. In seeing this destruction, what’s going on? It’s painful to him as a prophet. Others have suggested that maybe the Lord and it may be both, a prophet and the Lord and righteous people do not rejoice when they see the wicked destroyed.
Richard: And therefore, it is causing anguish.
Michael: An anguish to have to see this.
Richard: And we have to remember that it doesn’t make the Lord happy, when, as it says in verse 19, “the earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean as all of the earth is moved exceedingly.” This is not a place of rejoicing or rather of deep and abiding sorrow, but also do we see here now movement into the very last time. We are moving now to that period that we talked about that Isaiah is looking at apocalyptically where things are really radically changed and we’re going to have a new heaven and a new earth.
Michael: Verse 18 is nice in showing that there is no escape for the wicked. “He that free from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit.” He’s running from one thing, and he falls into a pit. You can’t escape this destruction that’s coming upon you.
Ray: Verse 17, too has that same thought, “fear and the pit and the sneer are upon thee, “in other words, the wicked are going to be hunted, they’re going to be ensnared and trapped and quite frankly they’re not going to get away.
Paul: And through all of this, that remnant that is left who have not indulged in such things, in verse 16, are going to be singing songs, but they’re going on down towards verse 22. There comes a point though where they shall be gathered together as prisoners are gathered in the pit when all of this is brought to a winding-up position in the prison. And after many days shall they be visited, the Lord will visit them after many, many days.
Michael: And I think this is clearly talking about spirit prison, the spirit world. After they’ve been destroyed, they’re eventually going to get a chance to hear the gospel and at least in some make ways make up for what they did and enter into their glory, while they’re in telestial or terrestrial. It’ll be the telestial ones that are going to be burned up at this time.
Richard: And then we move right into verse 23, because we’re dealing with last day things, so here comes the Lord and what happens when the Lord comes, “then the moon shall be confounded and the sun ashamed when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before his ancients gloriously.” Can you imagine a present so bright that the moon shall be confounded, and I love the word, the sun shall be ashamed? Normally the sun dominates the heavens and then here comes the one who made the sun and all of a sudden, the power of the sun seems so weak.
Ray: We are reminded in many ways of the first vision when the prophets said that he saw the color of light above the brightness of the noonday sun.
Richard: Yeah, and in another account, he says it had the power to eclipse the brightness of the noonday sun. And I think Isaiah is looking at and just exalting and so on which then leads us to chapter 25, which is really a psalm of praise. “Oh lord. Thou art my God, I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name for thou hast done wonderful things like counsels of old, are faithfulness and true.” The individual here seeing the Lord now moving against the oppressors. Results are just exalting in this moment and it would appear as we take a look at it, there is two reasons for this exaltation. One is in verse 2, “for thou hast made a city and heap,” in other words the Lord is coming against the oppressors and therefore the righteous have been vindicated, but also verse 4 is important, “for thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy, in his distress, are refuge from the storm and shadow from the heat, when the blasts of the terrible ones is as the storm against the walls,” in other words the righteous don’t have to wait just until the end time where the Lord will vindicate them. But even during the period of oppression, the Lord is there to strengthen them and to help them through these things.
Paul: Yes and that leads of course to verse 6, the next little section, verses 6 through 8, where, “in those days,” in the latter days, “in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto his people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees and a fat things full of marrow of wines on the lees, well refined,” and this, of course, reminds you of section 58 in the doctrine Covenant’s where the Lord in the last days is going to prepare that feast and in the context of section 58 it really is talking about the restoration of the gospel in the latter days, in verse 8, “and also that a feast of fat things might be prepared for the poor, a feast of fat things,” the same things Isaiah is talking about, because as verse 7 says, “the laying of the foundation of Zion in the latter days has begun,” and this in verse 9, “a supper of the Lord of the House of the Lord well-prepared unto which all nations shall be divided.” Everyone’s going to be invited but, in the end, the Lord is the one who is going to perform the miracle and through the poor, the lame, the blind and the deaf, during the restoration period and bring about his holy purposes.
Ray: Let me ask you a question here. Beginning in verse 6, he gets to talk about, in this mountain, and he uses that term several times as he goes on in the verses. And is it also possible that this is temple imagery as well?
Richard: I don’t think we can get away from that idea.
Ray: The concept that you come to the mountain and I have a feast of fat things, come to the supper of the Lord, well where do we get that? Where do we get it from, the ordinances and the temple, from the teaching and instructions in the temple?
Paul: From their whole restoration. I think it even includes the temple, certainly, but I think it includes all of the instructions.
Ray: And I agree with that.
Richard: Yes, and what are fat things and particularly wines on the lees? What are we looking at you, guys that have the Hebrew down?
Paul: I’m not certain this is something that latter-day saints want to get into. It probably means, although the Hebrew is a little bit troublesome. A feast of wine on the lees, the lees, that’s the sediment that you get after the wine has settled for a while. So, what it’s talking about is well aged wine here. It’s supposed to be good wine that’s going to be offered by the Lord.
Richard: And that’s the point.
Ray: In our modern society, fat is terrible. We try to avoid it, but back then, fat was the ideal thing.
Michael: It was a delicacy.
Ray: This was a fat-phobic society because fatness meant prosperity and blessings and somebody caring for you, and the good things given to you.
Richard: And therefore, to afford wine on the lees, meant that you were able to afford the best of the best. And then of course there is this beautiful praise in verse 8, “speaking that he will swallow up death in victory and the Lord will wipe away tears from off their faces, and the rebuke of his people shall He take away from off all the earth for the Lord has spoken,” and that last bit, it’s the oath of the Lord, He has promised the faithful. And what I like about this particular verse is the intimacy of the Lord. We pick up the same thing in the Book of Revelation where after the conflict and the trials are over, and the Saints are with the Lord, He takes care of each one of them to attend to their wounds, to their heart.
Michael: I envision a mother with her child. As she comes up and she kisses the wounds and wipes away the tears. That’s what Christ, He has that personal intimate interest in us. And it’s a beautiful picture you get from that.
Ray: He also says here too, that He’ll take away the rebuke of his people, that those who have waited patiently upon the Lord will be an object of scorn for the worldly people, and they’ll be made a mockery and that will be taken from them. It reminds me a bit of the Book of Mormon prior to the birth of Christ, you remember Nephi, and his people were condemned for their belief and even scheduled for execution until the signs were fulfilled and people were rethinking what they had planned. I think it’s going to be very similar in this case here.
Michael: Verse 9, changes the focus again here. And this I really like. “This is our God, we have waited for Him and He will save us. This is the Lord. We have waited for Him. We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” There’s a wonderful play on words here because in Hebrew, salvation is Yeshua, and Jesus is Yeshua, which means Jehovah is our savior and so this is a clear reference to Jesus Christ. At the announcement of his earth Gabriel says, you will call his name Jesus because He will save His people. And so, this is another one of those clear prophecies of Christ here by Isaiah. We’re going to look and say, here’s our Savior. He’s the one who did it.
Paul: And we waited a long time for him to come. And it’s been well worth the wait. Because in verse 10 ten, you have, “for in this mountain shall the hand of the Lord rest, “that is with this latter-day work with temples and priesthood and all of that, the Lord is there with his hand resting on it, protecting it, guiding it and leading it along. And the opposite of that which is symbolized here by Moab. “The world shall be trodden down under him even as straws is trodden down for the dunghill.”
Richard: Yeah, and then that leads us into the song in chapter 26. “In that day shall the song be sung in the land of Judah.” So, in 26, we have this. “And in that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah. We have a strong city, salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates and the righteous nations which keep the truth may enter in.” What a glorious time when Judah or Jerusalem, at last, is the holy city and people are drawn to it. And we’ve already read it here already in chapter 2, that at that day the nation shall flow unto it, meaning the temples of God, but also the holy city. And we cannot ever overlook Jerusalem and Judah, as part of that blessing.
Michael: This thing here where it says, in verse 3, thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” If your mind is rested upon the Lord, if you’re focused on the Lord, perfect peace comes, the perfect peace in Hebrew, is simply the repetition of Shalom. Shalom, shalom.
Ray: Peace upon peace.
Michael: Peace upon peace. And again, in Hebrew, shalom means much more than just peace, it means wellbeing, all of that that’s combined together here. If your mind is focused on the Lord, then you have that peace that passeth understanding.
Richard: Therefore, the admonition is “trust ye in the Lord forever, for the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” Paul you were going to say something.
Paul: I wanted to say something about that verses that might puzzle some of our readers there why the Lord there is in all capital letters and Jehovah also is in all capital letters. The Hebrew there has four in, it says, (inaudible 00:22:22) That is the first word, Lord, which has the small capital letters is a shortened form of the name Jehovah, or the second one which is in all large capital letters is the (inaudible 00:22:38) the name Jehovah. So, the repetition here of the Jehovah is everlasting. The King James translation got a nice feeling for that there, but the Hebrew really says the rock of eternities.
Michael: The rock of ages.
Paul: For the Lord Jehovah is the rock of ages. He is the rock, He’s the cornerstone that the builders rejected and so on that we’ll talk about in a minute.
Richard: Alright, yeah very good. Therefore, we come to verse 5 which is the background to the praise and that is, “for God hath brought down them that dwell on high, the lofty city, He layeth it low, even to the ground, and He bringeth it even to the dust.” The Lord has now again moved against those, the haughty city, the lofty city here, but haughty people in other places.
Michael: And of course, it brings to mind the vision of Lehi and Nephi, that are high, that are building their up in the air, people looking down and mocking them.
Richard: Yeah, very good, and then we find in verse 10, the understanding of why the lofty city is brought down, “let favor be showed to wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness, in the Lord of uprightness, he will deal unjustly,” you know even in the face of the Lord’s power he will deal unjustly, “and will not behold the majesty of the Lord. “That’s the problem. It’s a willful blindness.
Michael: Yeah, verse 11 underscores that as well. “Lord, when they see thy hand is lifted up, they will not see it.” They just refused to see the Lord working on things, when it’s so manifestly evident to those who…
Richard: Signs of the times, they are there, they’re everywhere and yet people can’t see it. It reminds us of the Lord’s admonition in Joseph Smith or excuse me, in Matthew chapter 24, also in Joseph Smith, Matthew, where he castigates those in the last days for they shall be likened to the people of Noah, who in spite of the prophets, in spite of the preaching of the gospel and in spite of the signs of the times, can continue to marry and give into marriage to try to perpetuate their society. Again, we see it repeated in these last days.
Michael: I would like to know, skip verse 9. Verses 9 is one that really resonates within me, “with my soul I have desired then in the night, yea with my spirit within me, I will seek thee early.” The yearning that the righteous feel for God is described so beautifully here by Isaiah. He was just a quintessential literary genius.
Richard: Yeah, and so here in the juxtaposition of those who hunger after the Lord, who want the spirit of the Lord and then those who can’t see the spirit of the Lord, because they refuse to see this spirit of the Lord and so on.
Paul: Let’s get down to near the end of chapter to kind of tie it all together. In verse 20, after he’s talked about it in verses 16 through 19, the people who have not been going about it the right way and therefore have brought forth in verse 18 wind and so on, and not deliverance and so on. In verse 20, “come my people,” that is the House of Israel. ” Enter thou into thy chambers and shut thy doors about thee, hide thyself as it were for a little moment until the indignation be over passed,” that is hide yourself from the world until the Lord has brought forth His work and has made it possible for us to come out of hiding, “for behold the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity. The earth also shall disclose her blood and shall no more cover her slain.” Everything’s going to be brought right in the end.
Michael: There’s clear paths over symbology here as well because what happened in the Passover they put the blood on the doors when they went in and the destroyer came and destroyed everyone else.
Ray: And they were told not to come out.
Michael: Don’t you come out of the doors. That’s the imagery here, so stay within the folds of the protection of the Gospel.
Richard: Yeah, that’s it, “I’m going to come against the world. Therefore, you my people, stay within the folds of the gospel and all will be well.” Well thank you very much. It’s good to have been with you this day.