Thursday, September 30, 2010

OT lesson 37 - Thou Hast Done Wonderful Things - Isaiah 22-30

OT lesson 37 - Thou Hast Done Wonderful Things
Isaiah 22, 24-26, 28-30

Last week, we discussed the first 6 chapters of Isaiah, how the Lord condemned both Judah and Israel for their sins, but would ransom them. We also discussed Isaiah’s theophany, his vision of God on his throne and how it symbolized the premortal calling of Christ to be the Savior of mankind. This lesson will discuss many of the roles the Messiah played (or in Isaiah’s view, would play).

Tell Me When the Party is Over
Isaiah 22

The chapter begins with the Lord again chastising Jerusalem for its sins, crimes and debauchery. Yet, though the Lord has warned them many times through prophets, they will ignore him.
“ 12 And in that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth:
13 And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.
14 And it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God of hosts.”

God expected them to humble themselves, and repent. Instead, the would choose to party and indulge. So wicked would they become that their view would be “eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die.” They did not fear God, nor what would become of them after death, if they could just sin now. And the Lord sadly realized that the only way to end the sinning would be to slay the whole lot of them. Just as with Sodom and Gomorrah, where the people thought themselves brave enough to force their sexual sins and other excesses upon visitors, Jerusalem would now fare no better.

This also applies in our day. God loves his children, and so he sends them warnings to repent and follow him. Yet, we seem to quickly forget him and return to lavish indulgences. Think back to the mood of the American nation on September 12, 2001 - a day after terrorists toppled the World Trade Center towers and damaged the Pentagon. People were offering up prayers for the dead, and repentance for the living. People of all religions gathered together, embracing one another in unity with God and each other. Yet, less than a decade later, we see how many have forgotten the sack cloth days of 2001, and returned to great debauchery. People speculated on money, housing, and took huge risks that clearly were stupid on the face of it all. Yet no one thought about a huge crash in the economy. All were convinced they could “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Even now in the middle of the Great Recession, we find big bankers and other groups sidling up to the government trough, seeking to be bailed out for their excesses without showing any remorse or intent on making the real changes necessary to heal America.

Messianic Prophesies

Most of the lesson focuses on the prophesies concerning the coming Messiah. Symbolism is one of Isaiah’s strong points, and so many things represent events in his day, but also are a shadow of things to come.

So, in chapter 22, we see him prophesy of a man that lived in his day, but would represent the coming Messiah:

“20 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah:
21 And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.
22 And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.
23 And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house.
24 And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.
25 In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the Lord hath spoken it. “

The name Eliakim means: “Whom God shall raise up.” Here we see someone called of God to perform a great work. That the “key of the house of David” would rest upon him is a clear sign that we are really speaking of the Messiah to come. The government of not only Israel, but all the world, would be upon the Son of God. What he chooses to seal up would be sealed, and those things loosed by him would be loosed. He is the Judge and Mediator of Israel. Isaiah details the First Coming of Christ to the world.

Foreshadowing his death, we see that Isaiah predicts the crucifixion. Anciently, many people who were crucified by the Romans were nailed through the wrists or the carpal bones in the heel of the hand. It is noted by many medical professionals today that the struggling of those crucified in the palms of the hands would have torn through the palms. It is likely that Isaiah foresees the nails being hammered into the location of the hand/arm where they would not tear out.

It is also possible Christ was crucified with nails in both hands and wrists. Richard Lloyd Anderson notes concerning a recent find of the ossuary (bone box) of a crucified man named Jehohanon:

“This recent find has two other major dimensions, the first bearing on the question of where the nails were placed in the hands. The New Testament speaks of marks in Jesus' hands. Although hand is an inexact term in earlier Greek literature, it generally is as precise as the English hand in the New Testament period. Particularly in the New Testament itself, hand never refers to the lower arm or wrist in specific uses. Could there be additional nails? Dr. Haas observed that Jehohanan's right radius (the upper arm bone as the arms outstretch) had both a surface cut and a distinct wearing, which he reasoned was the initial slice of the nail and the later wearing action from the victim's writhing on the cross. This "scratch" on the bone was positioned between the two lower arm bones at a structurally more solid location to fix a nail. This evidence, coupled with a strict reading of the New Testament, indicates that both hand and wrist could have been pierced.”

The Earth is Utterly Emptied
Isaiah 24

The wicked have become so evil in his day that Isaiah foresaw the destruction of most of the nations and city/states in the Middle East. The world he knows is about to be destroyed, first by the Assyrians and then the Babylonians. Yet, he foretells the eventual destruction of the earth, and the Second Coming of Christ in glory.

“1 Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.
2 And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him.
3 The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word.”

The Book of Revelation expands upon the things Isaiah foresees. John the Revelator foresaw the destruction of 1/3 the oceans, 1/3 of the forests, plagues, disease and war. In the battle of Armageddon, he saw an army of 200 million attack Israel, only to be destroyed by God’s hand. For any people on earth that become so desolate that they no longer fear God nor death, but insist on “eating and drinking” because death will eventually find them, the Lord will allow them to self destruct.

“21 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.
22 And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.
23 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.”

When the Lord returns to Zion and Jerusalem, the righteous will be blessed. However, the wicked will be destroyed. Alma foresaw them wishing the rocks would fall upon them on that day, to hide them from the Lord’s glory (Alma 12). The spiritual prison they shall be shut in will be the Spirit Prison where all the wicked await the final resurrection and judgment. They will be visited in that prison to see if they will repent and receive even a portion of Christ’s atonement and salvation (D&C 76, 128). In that day, the great lights in the skies will pale against the glory of Christ.

Among the righteous, there will be great hope, as we see in Isaiah chapter 25:8

“He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.”

And in chapter 26, Isaiah again foresees the victory of Christ’s resurrection:

“19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. “

Isaiah 27

Isaiah foresees the Millennial day, when all the righteous have peace, joy and hope. However, he begins his prophesy with a strange concept:

“1 In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea. “

I have written more extensively on this on my blog (see below in bibliography). Leviathan was a sea serpent or dragon that the Lord had to overcome in creating the world out of chaos, and that he would finally defeat in the end of the world. This is Satan, the dragon that John the Revelator saw cause war in heaven and would be bound for a thousand years during the Millennium. Chaos would be bound with Lucifer so that peace, love and order would reign supreme.

Restoration and the Book of Mormon
Isaiah 29

Before discussing this I would note that in the Book of Mormon, Nephi quotes extensively from Isaiah. Some call it plagiarism. However, plagiarism happens when someone copies another’s work without giving proper attribution. It is a modern concept. Still, Nephi clearly gives attribution to Isaiah as he quotes him. Why quote so extensively? First, because Nephi understood the law of witnesses, where one had to have 2-3 witnesses to establish the word. For Nephi, witnessing of Christ to his people meant he needed more than his own testimony, so he used the words of his brother Jacob, and that of Isaiah, both of whom were eye witnesses of the Messiah.

Secondly, a common ancient practice is that of the Midrash or pesher. In these Hebrew practices, a writing (often from the books of the Old Testament) would be extensively quoted, and then explained in a way that applied the prophesy to the writer’s day. In the Dead Sea Scrolls, we get many examples of this, such as the Habakkuk Commentary or Pesher. Nephi was only doing what was common for Israelite prophets and scribes to do.

Nephi’s version of Isaiah 29 (2 Nephi 27, is very different, probably because he intermixed his commentary in the midst of Isaiah’s writing, or perhaps he gave us only the commentary on it.

Isaiah begins by telling us about the destruction of Ariel, a name for Jerusalem, meaning “Lion of God.” David was the Lion of God in his day, and now we see the final ruin of his great nation in Isaiah’s prophesy. Yet, Isaiah is possibly speaking also of another, similar group, as he mentions that the destructions and events to occur are even “asAriel.” gives these two (of several) definitions for the word “as”:

1. Adverb. To the same degree, amount, or extent; similarly; equally: I don't think it's as hot and humid today as it was yesterday.

So, we can say that the destruction of some place will be “similar” or “to the same extent or degree” as with Ariel. Nephi tells us his pesher or commentary on Isaiah 29, explaining that for him it is all about his people in the last days. There will be an apostasy, where revelation ceases and light from heaven dims:

“3 And all the nations that fight against Zion, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision; yea, it shall be unto them, even as unto a hungry man which dreameth, and behold he eateth but he awaketh and his soul is empty; or like unto a thirsty man which dreameth, and behold he drinketh but he awaketh and behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite; yea, even so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion.
4 For behold, all ye that doeth iniquity, stay yourselves and wonder, for ye shall cry out, and cry; yea, ye shall be drunken but not with wine, ye shall stagger but not with strong drink.
5 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, and the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity” (2 Nephi 27).

Nephi foresaw in Isaiah’s words what modern LDS call the Great Apostasy. After the death of the Lord and his apostles, Christians and others rejected continuing revelation and authority of God, and replaced the fullness of the gospel with a man-made version that had some truths apparent in the Bible, but lacking much that could only come through living prophets.

The two witnesses, Isaiah and Nephi, also see in the last days a “marvelous work and a wonder” come forth in the restoration”

“6 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” (2 Nephi 27).

They both predict the coming forth of the “words of a book” to the world. This is not the book itself necessarily, but the words within it. This is a book that is sealed. Isaiah tells us that the book is brought to the learned man, who insists he cannot read a sealed book. Then it is brought to another, and he claims he is not learned. While Isaiah does not speak more about this second person, Nephi adds that the Lord will perform his work through such:

“15 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 the learned shall say: Bring hither the book, and I will read them.
16 And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God.
17 And the man shall say: I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed.
18 Then shall the learned say: I cannot read it.
19 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned shall say: I am not learned.
20 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” (2 Nephi 27).

This event is described in the History of the Church and in Joseph Smith’s History. Joseph Smith wrote down some of the characters on the plates with their English translation, and gave them to Martin Harris. Harris took the words of the book to some scholars to have them verified. One scholar was Professor Charles Anthon, who at first agreed the characters and translation were authentic, but then insisted on translating it himself. When Harris explained to him that some of the writings were sealed and could not be brought to him, Anthon replied, “I cannot read a sealed book.” Anthon later denied saying such things during his meeting with Harris, but Harris never recanted on his version of the story, even after leaving the Church. In Martin Harris’ view, Anthon had fulfilled Isaiah and Nephi’s prophesies.

Nephi then quotes closely the words from Isaiah:

“23 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.
24 And again it shall come to pass that the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him:
25 Forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men—
26 Therefore, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, yea, a marvelous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid.
27 And wo 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 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?” (2 Nephi 27, Isaiah 29:13-16).

In a time when miracles were considered past; when God was thought to have finished his work with mankind; when men were to use reason and not faith; God would bring forth his “marvelous work and a wonder.” The Book of Mormon came forth, against all odds. Joseph Smith wrote the majority of it in a 60 day period of time, while being constantly attacked on many sides, going into hiding on several occasions, and having to keep people from forcibly stealing the gold plates from him. At the time, Joseph had had 3 years of formal education. His wife, Emma, noted to her son:

“Joseph Smith could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter, let alone dictate a book like the Book of Mormon. And, though I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired, and was present during the translation of the plates, and had cognizance of things as they transpired, it is marvelous to me, "a marvel and a wonder," as much so as to anyone else.“

On another occasion she explained:
“When my husband was translating the Book of Mormon, I wrote a part of it, as he dictated each sentence, word for word, and when he came to proper names he could not pronounce, or long words, he spelled them out, and while I was writing them, if I made a mistake in spelling, he would stop me and correct my spelling, although it was impossible for him to see how I was writing them down at the time. When he stopped for any purpose at any time he would, when he commenced again, begin where he left off without any hesitation, and one time while he was translating he stopped suddenly, pale as a sheet, and said, "Emma, did Jerusalem have walls around it?" When I answered, "Yes," he replied, "Oh! I was afraid I had been deceived." He had such a limited knowledge of history at the time that he did not even know that Jerusalem was surrounded by walls.”

Isaiah and Nephi punctuate events in the time when the book would come forth, including Lebanon being a greener place than it had been in their time. History has shown that the area of Palestine has become greener and more productive than ever before, with periodic times of war as an exception.

“29 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” (2 Ne 27, Isaiah 29:18).

Here we find both literal and spiritual fulfillment, which could only occur in our day. This is a day when many deaf can now hear, thanks to medical technology, such as Cochlear ears. And many blind and near-blind can see with glasses, surgery or other technologies that are now being developed.

But the Book of Mormon also brings forth a testimony of Christ that is as powerful and perhaps more clarifying than in the Bible. Many who thought that God of the Bible was dead or non-existing now have a second witness to deal with. Just as Nephi required Isaiah as another witness of Christ and the prophesies of the last days, so the Book of Mormon becomes another testament of Jesus Christ, with the Bible. In speaking of his appreciation of Isaiah’s words and testimony, Nephi tells us:

“26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Ne 25).

The focus of Nephi’s writings and of those who followed him in authoring the Book of Mormon is that Christ is our Redeemer, the Son of God, the one who atoned for all of mankind’s sins, who is our personal Savior. This is the witness that Nephi also saw in Isaiah’s writings, which is why Isaiah and the Book of Mormon are both so very important for our daily worship of the Lord. We see in their testimonies the greatest of all works, the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. And it is this which brings about the importance of the restoration in the last days of such a book, as a second witness with the Bible that Christ lives today and that miracles and God’s power are still accessible to us as we prepare for the Second Coming of Christ in power and glory.


The Ancient Practice of Crucifixion by Richard Lloyd Anderson:

Crucifixion by Dr C. Truman Davis:

(on Leviathan) Order out of Chaos, by Gerald Smith:

Habakkuk Pesher:

Definition of “as”:

Emma Smith on Joseph Smith’s education:

Emma on Jerusalem’s walls:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

OT Gospel Doctrine lesson 36 - The Glory of Zion will be a Defense- Isaiah 1-6

OT Gospel Doctrine lesson 36 - The Glory of Zion will be a Defense
Isaiah 1-6

Of all the writings in the Old Testament we’ve covered so far, these 6 chapters are perhaps packed with more doctrine and insight than most. As we cover Isaiah over the next few weeks, we’ll see just why Nephi and Christ considered Isaiah as such a great prophet.

Isaiah Foresees the Birth of Christ

The name Isaiah means “Yahweh/Jehovah is Salvation.” Isaiah was born in Judah’s royal family. He was given a special mission to prophesy to both Judah and Israel. As a prophet, his ministry probably began at the end of King Uzziah’s reign (around 740 BC) when he was about 20 years old. He lived through Hezekiah’s reign as king, and probably knew Manasseh (who may have been co-regent with his father). Isaiah’s prophetic mission lasted about 44 years. Tradition has it that the wicked King Manasseh sought after Isaiah, who hid in the trunk of a tree. Still, Isaiah is found, and by the king. Manasseh ordered the tree, and therefore, Isaiah, sawed in half. He would have died around 680 BC.

Repent or be Destroyed
Isaiah 1

A common theme in Isaiah is how open and acceptable sin has become, and that the only recourse to stay destruction is repentance. The prophet explained that oxen recognize their masters, but Judah did not recognize God. They were sick with putrid sores and malignancies, yet refused to recognize they were in need of a doctor.

“5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.”

Judah and Israel had become impure, spiritual lepers. They were unclean, and refused to be cleansed of their sickness. For decades, their enemies had chipped away at their lands. Assyria would soon carry off Israel, and by the time of Hezekiah would leave the land of Judah barely larger than the city of Jerusalem. Yet, for most of Isaiah’s ministry, they would reject God and pretend they were healthy and happy. The only thing that differentiated them from Sodom and Gomorrah is that the Lord would save a remnant of Judah and Israel (vs 9).

And so the Lord calls the lands of Israel and Judah, Sodom and Gomorrah, and insisted that the rulers were no better than the rulers of those long-ago destroyed cities on the plain. God is tired of burnt offerings that mean nothing. The people provide lip service to God, going to the festivals and offering up animals for the burnt sacrifices. Yet, they would then return to their homes and worship Baal and other gods, rely upon the arm of flesh for their protection and deliverance, and ignore the commandments of God. Instead, the Lord gives them the key to proper worship under the Mosaic Law:

“16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

The washing referred to the basin of the temple, where the priests and people would wash themselves in a ritual bath to cleanse themselves prior to offering sacrifice in the temple. Here, God is calling on them to spiritually make themselves clean, not just bathe the body.

Isaiah instructs them to focus on the important things: doing good to others, especially the downtrodden. One of his major complaints will be the rulers are involved in trampling the poor and the widows. The terms “scarlet” and “crimson” are reminiscent of the sacrificial blood spilt upon the altar of the temple. Here, Isaiah is showing Judah that they will become spiritually pure through repentance, and not just outwardly seem clean because they sacrificed a lamb.
“21 How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
22 Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:
23 Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.”

Isaiah compares Jerusalem to a harlot. In a previous lesson, Hosea’s prostitute wife was compared to the people. They were called to repent and return. Yet, Isaiah sees that they have left behind their true love for filthy lucre. Jerusalem was an attachment to the temple, and righteousness (or God’s holiness) dwelt there in the temple. Yet now murderers lodged within the city and its temple. Christ himself would condemn those who corrupted Jerusalem and its holy center, the temple, by stating they had turned his Father’s house into a “den of thieves.”

So corrupt were the people that one could not trust the purity of their silver or the quality of the wine. Everyone sought to get gain, including those who should have watched out for the orphans and widows: the princes and elders of the people. Isaiah saw nothing but destruction for them.

Isaiah 2

“1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
5 O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.”

Latter-day Saints view this as a prophesy that is now being fulfilled. The mountain of the Lord’s house, the temple, was literally established in the top of the Rocky Mountains of Utah. People from many nations have moved there in order to receive the blessings of the modern temples, and where the God of Jacob can teach them through living prophets and apostles.

Yet this will also be fulfilled by the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple in the last days. Both of these events are in anticipation of the Millennium, a time when the Lord will judge all nations, and when there will no longer be wars or rumors of wars.

But before that day, the Lord condemns Jacob for their apostasy. They have adopted the ways of the world: seeking soothsayers instead of prophets, collecting treasure and wealth beyond measure without caring for the poor and needy, “Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made” (vs 8). Even today, we see how faith and materialism do not easily go hand in hand. In a world of excess, many are willing to allow others to suffer, or to give them crumbs in an effort to appease their guilt. Governments often dribble funds to the poor, while handing great wealth over to the rich. When corrupt banks too big to fail are bailed out with taxpayer money, while the poor watch their homes being foreclosed upon, we can easily see how Isaiah’s warning applies today during the current Great Recession.

Isaiah then shares a chiasmus, or inverted prose, to explain what will occur to the wicked on the day of the Lord’s Coming:

(a) 10 Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty.
(b) 11 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.
(c) 12 For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:
(c’) 13 And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan,
(d) 14 And upon all the high mountains, (d’) and upon all the hills that are lifted up,
(e) 15 And upon every high tower, and (e’) upon every fenced wall,
(f) 16 And upon all the ships of Tarshish, (f’) and upon all pleasant pictures.
(b’) 17 And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.
18 And the idols he shall utterly abolish.
(a’) 19 And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
20 In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;
21 To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.

Alma also explained that when the wicked stand before the Lord, they will wish the rocks could fall upon them, so they would not have to stand in his presence (Alma 12), and Mormon explained:

“1 And now, I speak also concerning those who do not believe in Christ.
2 Behold, will ye believe in the day of your visitation—behold, when the Lord shall come, yea, even that great day when the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, yea, in that great day when ye shall be brought to stand before the Lamb of God—then will ye say that there is no God?
3 Then will ye longer deny the Christ, or can ye behold the Lamb of God? Do ye suppose that ye shall dwell with him under a consciousness of your guilt? Do ye suppose that ye could be happy to dwell with that holy Being, when your souls are racked with a consciousness of guilt that ye have ever abused his laws?
4 Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell.
5 For behold, when ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God, and also the glory of God, and the holiness of Jesus Christ, it will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you” (Mormon 9:1-5).

No one will deny that Jesus is the Christ on the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. Alma the elder explained:
“Yea, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess before him. Yea, even at the last day, when all men shall stand to be judged of him, then shall they confess that he is God; then shall they confess, who live without God in the world, that the judgment of an everlasting punishment is just upon them; and they shall quake, and tremble, and shrink beneath the glance of his all-searching eye” (Mosiah 27:31).

Daughters of Zion in Ruins
Isaiah 3

“1 For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water“

Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6) and the Living Waters (John 4). Without God, Judah is both physically and spiritually starving and thirsting to death. They have gone without true nourishment for such a long time that they are starving and do not realize it. And when the final destructions come, suddenly no one among the wicked wishes to take responsibility for the desolation that remained:

“4 And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.
5 And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.
6 When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand:
7 In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people.
8 For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory.”

Amazingly, in good times, all wicked people wish to rule. They impose themselves upon their families, neighborhoods, cities and nations. As long as they can get gain and get away with their ill gotten gains, the wicked wish to oppress. Only when absolute destruction occurs do the wicked refuse to lead. As before, they seek to hide out in the caves and under rocks, rather than take responsibility for the ruin. When governments and people use coercion and bribery to get gain, and then kick the financial can down the road for future generations to deal with, eventually it catches up to everyone. And while the wicked may not wish to be accused of the destruction, they will find that when you pick up one end of the stick, you pick up both ends. They will still have to stand before God in that day of ruination and confess before Him.

“14 The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses.
15 What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts.”

The Lord will first judge the rulers. The ancients (elders) of the people and the powerful will be judged. They have caused the desolation by squandering the good of the land. They have taken from the poor and given it to themselves, thinking they do a good work by parsing out a little bread to the poor on occasion. Yet, in truth, they trample on the poor.

In Isaiah 5, the prophet adds this condemnation to Judah’s sister, Israel:
“8 Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!“

Previously, we read where Israel’s King Ahab had desired a piece of land next to his palace in Jezreel, belonging to the man Naboth. Since Naboth would not sell his inheritance, Jezebel killed him and told her husband to seize the land for a garden. Isaiah seems to suggest that such wicked activities were becoming more and more common, as the wealthy sought greater power and wealth by owning large parcels of land.

“16 Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:
17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts.”

Isaiah compared the daughters of Zion (not the daughters of the heathens) to the type of women who went around dressed in fine attire and looked down upon the little people. Often, women dressed like this were harlots. Others were the high fashioned wealthy women, who sought to stand apart from the common and poor people. We could say that while not all women are harlots, those who dress as Isaiah describes, are acting as harlots. The Book of Mormon notes frequently that one of the first signs of apostasy is the wearing of costly clothing. In fact, Nephi contributes their dress as a key reason why they persecuted others: “They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up” (2 Nephi 28:13).

Rich and costly clothing represents pride. In the case of Jerusalem and the daughters of Zion, they are flirting with other gods, other material things, and worshiping at another altar. While they look spectacular on the outside with their tinkling ornaments, headbands, earrings, vails and multiple changes of clothing, they are putrid and rotting on the inside. In Hebrew belief, the feet represent the lowest part of the body, and therefore is considered the basest body part. Here, the daughters of Zion are making their feet tinkle and glitter so as to not seem debased. Yet while they are prettying up their feet, the Lord puts leprous scabs on their heads.

“24 And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.
25 Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.
26 And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.”

The Lord will replace their pride and outer appearance for what is truly inside. They shall spiritually stink. Instead of true beauty that comes from within, there shall be burnt flesh. She will be desolate and have nothing left. The ground involved the dust, which was below one’s feet. It was filled with fleas and filth. Only one who had nothing, the truly humbled, would sit directly upon the ground.

The Millennial Day
Isaiah 4

“1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach. “

While some suggest this means polygamy will one day be restored, it really is a metaphor. The daughters of Zion have been left desolate and sitting on the ground alone. Zion will do anything it possibly can in order to redeem itself. In ancient days, it was better for a woman to be married than single. Even if only marrying for the name alone, a woman would be better off and viewed by others as acceptable.

So with Israel and all people today. If they wish to have their reproach taken from them, they must take hold of one man, even Jesus Christ, and take upon them his name. Today we do this through developing faith in Christ, repenting of our sins, receiving the ordinance of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and then receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost as an internal sign that we are Christ’s people.

Israel’s Demise
Isaiah 5

In chapter 5, Isaiah focuses on the northern nation of Israel. He begins with an allegory of the tame and wild grape vines. This compares well with Zenos’ Allegory of the Tame and Wild Olive Trees that Jacob expounded upon (Jacob 5). Here we see that the Lord has created a vineyard with the hopes of a good harvest. However, instead of providing rich and luscious grapes, the vines brought forth shriveled wild grapes. In both allegories, the Lord sadly asks, “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? (Is 5:4)”

All that God can do is gather in the few good fruit, and destroy the rest. God will take away the hedge and wall, which protect the vineyard from intruders and weeds from the outside. He will allow the place to become desolate. Crops will not grow. They will have their feasts, but because they do them in order to become drunk, rather than worship God, they are ruined.

“13 Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.“

Isaiah describes their sins in a poetic way:
“18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope....
20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:
23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!”

They drag their sins along with them as a thing of vanity. Just as wicked people today think it cool to display their evil methods on television shows, Facebook or Twitter, the people of Israel displayed their evils in public. Today as then, many call “evil good and good evil” in order to justify their lifestyles.In his epic book, “1984”, George Orwell called it “Newspeak.” Today we can see politicians and regular people all using special terminology to make their ideas and lifestyles seem not only acceptable, but laudable. People do not commit fornication or adultery today, instead they live together. It is okay to cheat, steal or plunder as long as it helps you to get ahead.

In explaining Isaiah’s condemnations of Israel, Nephi commented: “And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God” (2 Nephi 28:8).

But in the last days there would be a trumpet sound to call people back to the true God:
“26 And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly:
27 None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken:
28 Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind:
29 Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it.
30 And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.”

The ensign is the latter day Restored Gospel and its standards of righteousness. Its message will “hiss” or move throughout the earth, and the humble and elect shall hear the call and gather to Zion. They shall travel eagerly, almost as if without ever sleeping, in order to arrive. Verse 28 seems to describe modern transportation, as cars and trains both seem to have hoofs of “flint, and wheels like the whirlwind.” This standard will shine in a world of darkness and sorrow, inviting all to repent and come unto God.

Isaiah and the Divine Council
Isaiah 6

Isaiah’s lips are cleansed

“1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”

Isaiah had a theophany, or a vision of God on his throne. This is a common event among the ancient prophets, as discussed in previous lessons. In his theophany, Isaiah sees God and his divine council of seraphim, high ordered angels. It is possible these were the archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Metatron and others. While Isaiah describes their wings, the term for wing can also mean “covering” or “veil.” So here we have angels covered in veils, which represented their power and authority.

Why would the seraph state that the “whole world is full with his (the Lord’s) glory, when Isaiah could see that his world was on the verge of destruction for its evils? Because Isaiah is viewing himself as part of the premortal divine council. The seraph has seen the world, which was just created, is holy and beautiful, indeed.
“5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.
6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:
7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.”

Isaiah realized that he dwelt among a sinful people. The fact that he stood in the holiest place in the universe caused him to realize he was not worthy to stand on such holy ground, or to see God, the Lord of the hosts, or armies/councils of heaven. It is possible that the seraph that brought the coal from the altar, taking away Isaiah’s sins, was Jesus Christ. Anciently, Jehovah was known as the chief son of God Almighty (El Elyon/Elohim) and was given Israel as his kingdom. It is Christ’s responsibility as Savior and Mediator to purge mankind of their sins. It is Christ who has the power to take away iniquity, because of his great sacrifice upon the heavenly altar.

“8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”

This event directly ties into the story of the premortal council found in Abraham 3:

“22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.
27 And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.
28 And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.”

In both Isaiah and Abraham’s accounts, God Almighty oversaw the development of the world by the divine council. In both, God must decide who to send as his authorized representative. In Abraham’s story, Christ was chosen to be the Savior of the world. In Isaiah’s version, he was called to be a Christ-like being to go among the people and call them to repentance and faith in God.

Today, the key purpose of the LDS temples is to prepare mankind to enter into the presence of God, to have their own theophany. Temple ordinances prepare people and are a sign of them becoming holy, even as Isaiah was made holy in God’s heavenly temple. The temple endowment’s main purpose is to prepare us to enter into God’s kingdom and be in his presence. It is a practice of the actual upcoming event in each of our lives. In fact, it has been the goal of prophets since early on. Moses sought to take the children of Israel upon Mt Sinai in order to see God (D&C 84:19-26). Paul explained that Abraham continually sought after the heavenly city, so he could also see God’s face once more (Hebrews 11:8-16). This should be the standard for every Christian: to seek the face of God, even while dwelling in a strange land.

Ascension of Isaiah

The ancient text, “Ascension of Isaiah” has two key parts to it. The first part (chapters 1-5) discusses his martyrdom at the hands of Manasseh (as discussed above). The second part (chapters 6-11) includes a remarkable vision of the heavens. Most scholars believe it was originally a Jewish work, but was updated later by Christians.

In studying Isaiah’s ascension into heaven (chapters 6-11), I’ve noted some key parallels to the theophany that Lehi received in 1 Nephi 1 and in the Vision of the Tree of Life that Lehi and Nephi both received (1 Ne 8-11). It also has direct ties to LDS temple themes, such as ascending through the heavens to the throne of God, being clothed in a garment of holiness, and the importance of tokens or passwords to enter the heavens.

Isaiah is in the presence of King Hezekiah and other righteous men, when he has a vision. An angel from the seventh heaven comes to him. Ancient Jews believed there were anywhere from three to forty levels of heaven, with ten being very common. Many Christians claim that the early Jews and Christians were only focusing on heavenly bodies (planets, constellations, etc) however we will see from Isaiah that they are literally levels of heaven.

Isaiah asked the angel who he was, as he had never seen such a glorious being before. “And he said unto me: "When I have raised thee on high [through the (various) degrees] and made thee see the vision, on account of which I have been sent, then thou wilt understand who I am: but my name thou dost not know” (ch 7:4).

An angelic being’s name was often secret, because the name held the powers of the being. Here we see that the angel was to take Isaiah up through the various levels or degrees of heaven. The angel first showed him the earth, where he saw Sammael (Satan) and his beings causing war upon the earth. Then they ascended up to the first heaven (vs 13), showing that earth was not considered a part of the heavens. While in the first, or lowest heaven, Isaiah tells us:

“14 And there I saw a throne in the midst, and on his right and on his left were angels.
15. And (the angels on the left were) not like unto the angels who stood on the right, but those who stood on the right had the greater glory, and they all praised with one voice, and there was a throne in the midst, and those who were out he left gave praise after them; but their voice was not such as the voice of those on the right, nor their praise like the praise of those.
16. And I asked the angel who conducted me, and I said unto him: "To whom is this praise sent?"
17. And he said unto me: "(it is sent) to the praise of (Him who sitteth in) the seventh heaven: to Him who rests in the holy world, and to His Beloved, whence I have been sent to thee. [Thither is it sent.]."

Even in the lowest heaven there is a throne for its ruler. Yet those who praise extend their grattitude to God in the seventh heaven. Yet, even in this heaven, there is a division between those who barely squeaked into the heaven and those with greater glory.

The angel that conducts Isaiah is a very common theme in theophanies. Lehi and Nephi have angels (or the Holy Spirit) guide them in their Vision of the Tree of Life, which includes a theophany. John the Revelator had angelic guidance through his great Apocalypse. And in the Apocalypse of Paul, the Holy Spirit as a small child, guided him through the ten levels of heaven. Having a guide clearly is an important thing in such a theophany, as we also learn from modern temples.

“27. And I wished to learn how it is know, and he answered me saying: "When I have raised thee to the seventh heaven whence I was sent, to that which is above these, then thou shalt know that there is nothing hidden from the thrones and from those who dwell in the heavens and from the angels. And the praise wherewith they praised and glory of him who sat on the throne was great, and the glory of the angels on the right hand and on the left was beyond that of the heaven which was below them.”

As Isaiah and his guide ascend through the layers of heaven, he sees that the glory of the people is greater. In most of the lower levels, they are divided on the right and left hands of the one sitting in the throne for that level of heaven. However, we find in chapter 8, upon arriving to the sixth level, he sees they are now of the same glory and righteousness, and are guided by the throne in the seventh heaven.

Isaiah sees that the angels are but fellow servants of his. As he rises through the heavens, he is given power and glory to be equal with them, and is able to give praise and glory as they can.

In chapter 9, Isaiah ascends in the air of the seventh heaven, where his garment awaits him. The garment is a special white clothing that symbolizes the person’s purity, glory and power.

“1 AND he took me into the air of the seventh heaven, and moreover I heard a voice saying: "How far will he ascend that dwelleth in the flesh?" And I feared and trembled.
2. And when I trembled, behold, I heard from hence another voice being sent forth, and saying: "It is permitted to the holy Isaiah to ascend hither; for here is his garment."
3. And I asked the angel who was with me and said: "Who is he who forbade me and who is he who permitted me to ascend?"
4. And he said unto me: "He who forbade thee, is he who is over the praise-giving of the sixth heaven.
5. And He who permitted thee, this is thy Lord God, the Lord Christ, who will be called "Jesus" in the world, but His name thou canst not hear till thou hast ascended out of thy body."
6. And he raised me up into the seventh heaven, and I saw there a wonderful light and angels innumerable.”

Isaiah learns that the person on the throne of a heaven is a sentinel (see the Apocalypse of Paul), who guards the way to the higher levels of heaven. Only those permitted can bypass the sentinel and ascend further. On the seventh heaven, Isaiah sees Abel, Enoch and many others of the righteous.

“9. And there I saw Enoch and all who were with him, stript of the garments of the flesh, and I saw them in their garments of the upper world, and they were like angels, standing there in great glory.
10. But they sat not on their thrones, nor were their crowns of glory on them.
11. And I asked the angel who was with me: "How is it that they have received the garments, but have not the thrones and the crowns?"
12. And he said unto me: "Crowns and thrones of glory they do not receive, till the Beloved will descent in the form in which you will see Him descent [will descent, I say] into the world in the last days the Lord, who will be called Christ.”

The holy prophets and righteous people have been stripped of their mortal flesh and clothed in holy garments. They have yet to obtain their thrones and crowns, as Christ has yet to fulfill his mission. As John the Revelator would note, Christ will make us “kings and priests unto God and his Father” (Revelation 1:5-6). The angel explained the earthly mission of Christ to defeat Satan, and when Christ returned to the heavens, they would receive their thrones.

Isaiah wished to know where this information was kept, and was shown a book. This is similar to the book that Lehi received and read (1 Ne 1). Upon reading the book, both Lehi and Isaiah speak marvelous things and praise God for the prophesy within the book.

Isaiah then sees both God the Father, Christ, and the Holy Ghost. And with the righteous, praise them both. Isaiah was then given the opportunity to see Christ descend to the earth for his mortal ministry. He descended through each of the levels of heaven. As he arrived in a level of heaven, he emptied himself of glory, so that the angels on that level could stand in his presence. Because he did not show forth his glory, he seemed like another angel to them, and so did not praise or worship him.
“27. And again I saw when He descended into the first heaven, and there also He gave the password to those who kept the gate, and He made Himself like unto the form of the angels who were on the left of that throne, and they neither praised nor lauded Him; for His form was like unto their form.
28. But as for me no one asked me on account of the angel who conducted me.
29. And again He descended into the firmament where dwelleth the ruler of this world, and He gave the password to those on the left, and His form was like theirs, and they did not praise Him there; but they were envying one another and fighting; for here there is a power of evil and envying about trifles.
30. And I saw when He descended and made Himself like unto the angels of the air, and He was like one of them.
31. And He gave no password; for one was plundering and doing violence to another.”

Here we see that passwords were required to go between the heavens, and even to enter earth. The sentinel of the heaven no doubt would receive the password, as we learn in the Apocalypse of Paul. Now on earth, the angel showed Isaiah the birth of Christ, and told him that he would be born of a virgin Mary. Nephi had a similar explanation given to him as he saw Mary with child in his vision (1 Nephi 11).

Isaiah then saw the life of Christ, his crucifixion and ascending back into the heavens, until he reached the seventh heaven. Nephi also saw the life of Christ, the crucifixion, and the resurrection of the Son of God. No wonder Nephi loved the words of Isaiah so much, as it seemed they both received very similar visions and experiences.


Isaiah - wikipedia:

Isaiah - Catholic New Advent:

Isaiah - Jewish Virtual Library:

Newspeak - wikipedia:

Head Coverings - Dr Alan Ingalls:

Ascension of Isaiah:

Apocalypse of Paul:

Ascension in Ancient Documents by David Larsen:

Ascension of Isaiah by David Larsen:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

OT Gospel Doctrine Lesson 35 - God Reveals His Secrets to His Prophets

OT Gospel Doctrine Lesson 35 - God Reveals His Secrets to His Prophets
Amos 3; 7-9, Joel 2-3

Prophet Amos

The Book of Joel

Joel is a combination of the names Jehovah and Elohim, and means “Jehovah is God.” In the Masoretic text (the King James Bible is based on this), the book of Joel is divided into 3 chapters, while in the Septuagint and Vulgate (Catholic Bible) it is divided in 4 chapters with chapters 2-3 equaling chapter 2 of the Masoretic text.

The book of Joel is broken into two main portions. First, the prophesies of destruction that are soon to come upon the people of Judah and Israel. Second, the forthcoming restoration and blessings to be brought again to a repentant and righteous nation. Chapter one discusses in depth the scourges to fall upon Israel. We are told they will have a series of insect infestations that will destroy the crops.

“That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.” (Joel 1:4)

The pestilences will be so severe and consuming of all vegetation that there will be nothing left for an appropriate sacrificial offering in the temple. Instead, the priests can do nothing but mourn and proclaim a fast. We then find that the rivers are completely dried up, and wild fires have destroyed the forests and grass lands needed for the animals to graze. They are in abject poverty and starving to death. And yet, in chapter 2, we find that things get even worse.

The Greatest Army in the World Invades
Joel 2

Even after all the plagues, famine and pestilence, Israel did not repent. The Lord then sends forth his great army, in this sense it is the Assyrian army, ready to lay waste to anything that moves:

“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand;
2 A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.
3 A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
4 The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.
5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.
6 Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.
7 They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:
8 Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.
9 They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.
10 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (Joel 2:1-10).

Here we see that this army is not just any old army. They are bullet proof. They fall on their swords and are not injured. They leap across the mountains, as if they were running across a meadow in the Garden of Eden. Yet, their destructive ways would leave even the Garden of Eden desolate. Nothing can stand in their way. Nothing can move them, as they do not break ranks. Israel’s puny army is less than mosquitoes against this army of destruction.

So terrifying are they that the very heavenly lights do fear them. Given that many in the ancient world worshiped the Sun, moon and stars, we can surmise that the gods of the nations feared the Assryians.

The only salvation is to turn to God, repent with “fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.”

Israel is commanded to
“rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God?” (Joel 2:12-14).

Israel has been wicked for so long that there is no guarantee that God will save them from this great army of the north. But it is their only hope. And if God does return to save them, he can also bring back rains and prosperity, so that Israel can once again offer a sacrifice to God again.

These prophesies suddenly hold a futurific vision, as Joel describes things that have not happened yet. He will foresee the literal darkening of the sun, moon and stars prior to the great and dreadful day of the Lord (the Second Coming). When modern Jews and Christians forget God and turn to the worship of other gods (materialism and narcissism usually are what we worship today), they lose his protective grace. Wickedness brings about consequences, some natural, which can devastate a nation or group of nations. Because of greed and lust on Wall Street, Main Street, and Capitol Hill, we have felt the effects of a prolonged economic downturn caused by that greed and lust. Only repenting and turning back to righteous and sound principles can protect us from another huge crash like this, but it seems that few have truly learned the lesson, and so the Great Recession of 2008 seems likely to continue on.

History has shown even global leaders have collapsed over internal affairs, becoming third world nations and often never recovering. The once mighty Soviet Union destroyed its economy and in the early 1990s broke up into many smaller nations. Many of those smaller nations still struggle economically, due to corruption and inept policies. It is not so far off to think that such a thing couldn’t happen to even the United States, if it does not get its economic house in order.

Yet, something like the Great Recession does not compare to the abject poverty brought upon the people. We do not have the majority of the people struggling to find a blade of grass to eat. Nor do we currently have the great and devastating army at our doorstep. But that army is eventually coming. Ezekiel describes it as Gog and Magog (Ezek 38-39), and the apostle John saw that the desolating army at Armageddon would be 200 million strong and would slay 1/3 of the men on earth (Rev 9:16-21).

The Valley of Jehoshaphat
Joel 3

In chapter 3, Joel foresaw that all nations would be at war. When Assyria thrashed the nations around it, it must have seemed like a world war. Yet he foresaw that this would again happen in the last days. It will be during this period that God will plead for Israel, which is still scattered among the nations.

God is angry with the cities of Tyre and Sidon, which belonged to the Philistines and Phoenicians, Sea People that were originally from the Greek Isles (This area is now in Lebanon and Syria). The Lord demands recompense, for they have previously desecrated the temple, and ransacked it for its gold and silver. If they do not repent and turn to him, he shall ransack them with the desolating armies of Gog and Magog.

The heathen nations of the Gentiles are called forth to a great war, centered on the valley of Jehoshaphat, or the “valley of decision.” The valley, now known as the Kidron Valley, runs through the right side of the city of Jerusalem, near the Mount of Olives. It is here that King Jehoshaphat massacred the armies of Moab, Ammon and Edom/Esau. The name Jehoshaphat or Josaphat means, “Yahweh/Jehovah Judges.” It will be in this valley where the great King of Israel, Jehovah/Jesus Christ will return in power and glory, then judge the armies of the Gentiles and find them wanting, during the last battle of Armageddon. Christ will come at the time when the Gentile armies will have taken half of the city. He will step down upon the Mount of Olives, rending a new valley from it, or perhaps enlarging the Kidron Valley. The Jews will flee into this valley for safety. It will be here that they will see the wounds in his hands and feet, and understand they have slain the Lamb of God (D&C 45:47-54, Zech 12:9-10).

So, in our own time, we need to give heed to the warnings of Joel, as they definitely apply to us.

My Spirit Shall Be Poured Out
Joel 2:28-32

During the period of great duress and trials, the Lord will not only judge the wicked, but he will pour out his spirit upon all the righteous.

28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.
32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.

Many Christians and others no longer believe in miracles, inspiration, or revelation. Many believe that all such things ended with the apostles. Yet, we see that during the times when the world and heavens will be in commotion, as even the sun will be darkened, the children of God will prophesy and see visions. This is partially fulfilled by the spiritual movements in many churches that seek to restore such ancient gifts of the Spirit. As they seek the Lord’s inspiration, he will give it to them at the capacity they are ready to receive (Alma 29:8). This prophesy was partially fulfilled on the original day of Pentecost, when Peter quotes Joel to explain why the spirit had been poured out on so many that could understand him in their own languages. Yet, it was not fulfilled at that time, as the wonders in the heavens had not happened yet. This is completely fulfilled in the restoration of of the ancient Church in these latter-days, as we prepare for the Second Coming of Christ. Joel foresaw Armageddon and the great destructions of our day, and saw that in the times of trials, the Lord would not abandon the righteous and faithful believers of Christ. Instead, he has sent angels and the Holy Spirit to restore ancient gifts, powers and blessings, so that men in these last days may turn to God, and be blessed so as to avoid much of the disasters and destructions awaiting the world.

Living prophets and apostles give guidance and warnings to help us, if we will but listen. In the October Conference of 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley gave a very power economic lesson to the priesthood brethren:

“Now, brethren, I should like to talk to the older men, hoping that there will be some lesson for the younger men as well.
I wish to speak to you about temporal matters.
As a backdrop for what I wish to say, I read to you a few verses from the 41st chapter of Genesis.
(he quotes concerning Pharaoh’s dreams of the good and bad years)....Now, brethren, I want to make it very clear that I am not prophesying, that I am not predicting years of famine in the future. But I am suggesting that the time has come to get our houses in order.
So many of our people are living on the very edge of their incomes. In fact, some are living on borrowings....I repeat, I hope we will never again see such a (Great) depression. But I am troubled by the huge consumer installment debt which hangs over the people of the nation, including our own people.....Consumer debt as a percentage of disposable income rose from 16.3 percent in 1993 to 19.3 percent in 1996.
Everyone knows that every dollar borrowed carries with it the penalty of paying interest. When money cannot be repaid, then bankruptcy follows. There were 1,350,118 bankruptcies in the United States last year. This represented a 50 percent increase from 1992. In the second quarter of this year, nearly 362,000 persons filed for bankruptcy, a record number for a three-month period.
We are beguiled by seductive advertising. Television carries the enticing invitation to borrow up to 125 percent of the value of one's home. But no mention is made of interest....I recognize that it may be necessary to borrow to get a home, of course. But let us buy a home that we can afford and thus ease the payments which will constantly hang over our heads without mercy or respite for as long as 30 years....We are carrying a message of self-reliance throughout the Church. Self-reliance cannot obtain when there is serious debt hanging over a household. One has neither independence nor freedom from bondage when he is obligated to others.
In managing the affairs of the Church, we have tried to set an example. We have, as a matter of policy, stringently followed the practice of setting aside each year a percentage of the income of the Church against a possible day of need.
I am grateful to be able to say that the Church in all its operations, in all its undertakings, in all of its departments, is able to function without borrowed money. If we cannot get along, we will curtail our programs. We will shrink expenditures to fit the income. We will not borrow....I urge you, brethren, to look to the condition of your finances. I urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt to the extent possible. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from bondage. “

Those that paid heed to his warnings had a decade to prepare for the current Great Recession. I know of several Latter-day Saints that because they listened to a living prophet’s voice, had paid down their debts, had money tucked away, and had their food storage in place. When the housing and banking bubbles burst, some of them lost their jobs. Yet they knew they were in decent shape, because they were not like most Americans with tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt, nor had they purchased an expensive home. They will likely manage through this difficult time.

For those who did not give heed, many are seeing their homes being foreclosed, and declaring bankruptcy. Things they had worked hard for for years, are now being carted off by creditors. Some are having to move in with parents or children, just to get by. As with the Israelites in Joel’s vision, it seems as if the palmerworms and caterpillars have eaten up all they’ve possessed. And as in Pharaoh’s dreams, the years of plenty have quickly been swallowed up by the economic famine.

Study the scriptures. Listen to the living prophets. Be prepared for the days of good and evil.

The Book of Amos

Amos was born in Judah and prophesied in Israel approximately 765-750 BC. Unlike Isaiah and other prophets that were actually wealthy and a part of the royal family, Amos was a plain shepherd. Before his call as prophet to Israel, we have no evidence of his ever going forth to preach. As a shepherd, he probably would not have been literate nor had any status of any sort.

Amos was called of God in a way similar to many of the other prophets:

I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered” (Amos 9:1).

Seeing God on his throne, or upon the altar, which often represented his throne, was a common way in which prophets received their call (see Isaiah 6, Gen 28:10-18). His challenge for the Israelites was to listen to and obey the prophets of Jehovah, even if they were but shepherds.

“Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying....Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy? Publish in the palaces at Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say, Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of Samaria, and behold the great tumults in the midst thereof, and the oppressed in the midst thereof. For they know not to do right, saith the Lord, who store up violence and robbery in their palaces” (Amos 3:6-10).

Amos first begins by letting them know that it is the Lord that gives the warning against all Israelites. He states in various ways that the Lord has given them many warnings to follow him, but they have still chosen another path. He then explains the pattern that God has always used to warn and protect Israel: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). This is a pattern that continued after Amos, and is found again in the restored Church of Jesus Christ. It is so very easy for us to be like the ancient Israelites, taking the living prophets for granted, because we have the dead ones to fall back on, who do not specifically attack us for our current lifestyles. David Larsen explains on his Heavenly Ascents blog that the “secret” that Amos refers to is the “sod”, a secret kept by the divine council in heaven. This would be the decisions they make regarding to how they would manage the actions of men on earth. The only way that mankind could know or understand the mind of God, and the decisions made in the holy and divine council, was through the living prophet.

In Amos’ warning, we see a very big danger that is common among nations ready to be destroyed: the rich and powerful take unrighteous advantage of the poor. When the rich use violence to take away from the poor, the nation is ready for destruction. When King David stole Bathsheba from her husband, the prophet told him he would suffer for his actions, and his nation was temporarily overtaken. The Zoramites were chastised for how they mistreated the poor, and it led to their destruction in the book of Alma. Amos, Isaiah and many other prophets will condemn the Israelites and Jews for such actions. Even Jesus maintained that the powerful Jews of his day would forcibly keep others from entering heaven.

Amos 8-9

Joel insisted that the famines and pestilence of Israel were due to their rejecting the Lord God. Amos also foresaw another, just as insidious, type of famine that came upon the wicked.

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:
“And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11-12).

Amos saw the famine coming in his day, as it would in any period where people rejected the prophets. Eventually, God pulls his Spirit and prophets away from the people, and allows them to get what they deserve. When drought and pestilence destroys the crops, people starve. They wander from place to place hoping to find enough sustenance to stay alive. When the knowledge of the wisest people is not enough, people will search for answers. Today, people seek happiness in drugs, sex, overeating, video games, and expensive stuff. While it may work for a short time, it cannot make them truly happy. And they again seek for happiness where they think they can find it. Yet they never look to God for the happiness and joy that he offers. It seems to simple an answer, or is a stupid idea that God can act in our lives. Many do not believe in the gifts of the Spirit, or that God can reach them if they but reach to him. They seek happiness in temporary things, which never is enough. They become desensitized to drugs, and need more. They get bored with their partner or video game, and seek a quick thrill somewhere else. They fill a rush in buying new things and filling their stomachs. But eventually their stomachs will be empty again, and they will again seek.

Christ taught the Samaritan woman that he offered living waters:

“Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this (well) water shall thirst again:
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 11:13-14). Again, Christ is the Bread of Life: “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:33-51).”

It is in following Christ and his living prophets that we receive the secrets of heaven, the water and bread of life.


Joel, wikipedia:

Valley of Jehoshaphat - wikipedia:

Joel - New Advent (Catholic Encyclopedia):

Gordon B. Hinckley, “To the Boys and the Men”:,5232,23-1-22-20,00.html,5232,23-1-22-20,00.html

David Larsen’s Heavenly Ascents Blog on Lesson 35:

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Gospel Doctrine OT lesson 34: I Will Betroth Thee Unto Me in Righteousness

Gospel Doctrine OT lesson 34: I Will Betroth Thee Unto Me in Righteousness
Hosea 1–3;11;13–14

Background: Hosea is one of the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament. This does not mean he is unimportant as a prophet, but the Minor Prophets did not write much as compared with the Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc). Hosea’s name means “Salvation is/of Yahweh.” He lived in the Northern Kingdom of Israel/Samaria from about 780-725 BC, where he predicted the destruction of Israel and Samaria. It is likely he was present at least for the destruction by Assyria of most of the nation of Israel.

Hosea and Gomer

God’s Strange Command to Hosea
Hosea 1

Imagine what you would do if you were a prophet of God, living in evil times, and God told you to go marry a prostitute! What would your friends, neighbors, and fellow Church goers think? Yet this is what happened to Hosea:

“And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.
“So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son” (Hosea 1:2-3).

Many scholars today think that God would not literally command Hosea to have taken such a woman as his wife, and so consider this a figurative command. However we find that in Old Testament times, the Lord often used harsh forms to get his point across, and so such a union may very well have taken place.

Gomer and Hosea have three children, which we imagine are Hosea’s actual children. Regardless, Hosea accepts them as his own. Through Hosea, God tells Israel that they are his wife, but like Gomer, have gone whoring after other gods and passions. We find that Gomer runs off at least once to her former ways, and is left for a time to her own devices without Hosea’s support.

In this same way, Yahweh states he is abandoning Israel as his consort. Israel has worshiped Jeroboam’s calves and Jezebel’s god Baal. So pathetic has Israel become that they have influenced Judah to also follow after Baal, placing idols within the temple at Jerusalem!

The three children are given special names by God. The first child, a son, is named Jezreel. Jezreel was the military capitol of Israel. It is where Ahab and Jezebel had a major palace. Next to the palace was the ancestral field of Naboth, whom Jezebel killed so Ahab could have a garden next to the palace. This is where Jezebel maintained the majority of her 450 prophets of Baal, whom Elijah slew in the great competition of sacrifices between Yahweh and Baal. And it is where Jezebel put out the order to slay the prophets of Yahweh. Israel would cease because of the sins in Jezreel.

No Mercy, No Pity

Gomer bore a daughter, and God called her Lo-Ruhamah, No Mercy or No Pity. Here the Lord states that he will have no mercy on Israel. They will be totally taken away from the land. However, God does say he will show mercy (ruhamah) to Judah, which was the better of the two wicked sisters. For Judah, she would only be carried off for a time, and then returned to the land.

Gomer then bore another son, named Lo-ammi, Not My People. God totally rejected Israel, because Israel totally rejected him. It is at this point that Gomer leaves Hosea to care for the children, while she searches for her former lovers and friends.

Israel and Judah Restored

Hosea Scroll

However, the Lord does not plan to leave Israel and Judah stranded forever.

“Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.
“hen shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel” (Hosea 1:10-11).

God promised to remember them and restore them. Israel would again be numerous and powerful. They would be reclaimed, gathered together into one nation under God, and receive their inheritance: “Ye are the sons of the living God.” In previous lessons I’ve discussed the sons of El and the sons of Yahweh. The sons of El being divine sons that are given their own nations to rule, with Yahweh receiving Israel as his inheritance. Yahweh will reclaim his inheritance in the last days and make Israel his divine sons.

Hosea 2-3

God takes the imagery of Hosea’s children to also describe Israel’s restoration:

“Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah.
“Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts;
“Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.
“And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms.
“For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink” (Hosea 2:1-5).

God quickly insists he is ready to forgive and retrieve his wife and children from their wanderlust. He calls to Israel: “Ammi” (my people), and “Ruhamah” (mercy, pity). He does not wish to cast them off forever, but Israel must come back willingly to him. So it is with Hosea’s wife, Gomer. With three children born, and an uncertain fatherhood of each child, she ran off to her other suitors. Both God and Hosea are willing to accept wife and children, regardless of their actual lineage or past actions, if they will repent and return.

What Gomer did not understand was it was not her lovers who fed and kept her, for they were only in it for what they could get. Gomer is not the young, beautiful girl she once was. After bearing three children and aging, she just does not get noticed and pampered as she once did. Yet for a time she continued to seek after a lover who would give her what she once had in her impetuous youth. You might say she had a serious midlife crisis. As with the Prodigal Son, Gomer finally came to her senses: “I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. “

Hosea and God will take her in, but only after ensuring she is done with the past life. Once she’s proven to be loyal to her spouse, God states,

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt....I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God. ” (Hos 2:14-23).

Hosea 3 shows us that Israel will be ransacked, but restored to its full glory in the “latter days.” As with Gomer, so will it be with Israel and Judah, and any on earth who choose to espouse God’s ways and turn from the world. We can become his people, if we will only let him be our God.

Corrupted Priests, Prophets and Kings
Hosea 4

(The following I recently wrote as a response to an evangelical friend who asked opinions on Hosea 4, as relating to both the LDS Melchizedek Priesthood, and the evangelical Priesthood of Believers. The response is left mostly unchanged).

The Lord warned those priesthood holders (which I believe means in both LDS and evangelical senses) of the abuse of power:

34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? 35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—
36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only (except) upon the principles of righteousness.
37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.(D&C 121)

In the Book of Mormon, Nephi quotes Isaiah regarding the evils of men and priestcraft, then expounds upon the sin that destroyed Israel and Judah:

19 And it shall come to pass, that those who have dwindled in unbelief shall be smitten by the hand of the Gentiles.
20 And the Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling block, that they have built up many churches; nevertheless, they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor.
21 And there are many churches built up which cause envyings, and strifes, and malice.
22 And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.
23 For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness.
24 He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.
25 Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.
26 Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.
27 Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.
28 Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.
29 He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, 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.
30 Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish.
31 But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish. (2 Nephi 26)

I find that those who condemn Mormons or Pentecostals for being different in the religion (or Buddhists, Muslims, etc), and are denied Christ's atoning salvation by such religionists, is condemned by Nephi. And this is Nephi's interpretation of Isaiah's writings.

In the last area of my mission in Bolivia, we had several pastors ask us missionaries to visit a certain pastor and take him to task for enriching himself on the tithes of his followers. We did just that, as the man had several businesses and a nice house, all paid for by tithes, while his followers were pretty poor. He tried to accuse us of getting rich off the moneys of poor Bolivians, until we told him we were there on our own earned funds; while he was buying up auto mechanic shops and other businesses (we actually talked to him at one of his businesses). We didn't sway him, but several others saw and heard the discussion, as we explained to him that a true servant of Christ does not enrich himself on the backs of Christ's children.

Hosea's message is one of Isaiah's major messages. The spouse and children of God (Israel and it inhabitants) must be holy and serve God. Instead, they sought to enrich themselves. Instead of just judgments, lands were taken from the poor and given to the rich. A perfect example of this is when King Ahab killed Naboth in order to take Naboth's ancestral field to make a vegetable garden.

The Book of Mormon gives us a good idea of what was happening in Jerusalem in 600 BC. The elders of the Church were obviously accustomed to sneaking around at night, as Zoram thought nothing of Nephi (disguised as the official Laban) going out at night with sacred writings to take to the brethren. Meanwhile, the powerful official Laban (he commanded 50 soldiers or more) saw no harm in taking the riches of Lehi for himself and trying to slay Nephi and his brethren in order to accomplish it.

So we have Isaiah himself warn us (and this is a key part Nephi comments on):

8 Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! 9 In mine ears said the Lord of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.
10 Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah.
11 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!
12 And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands.
13 Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
14 Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
15 And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled:
16 But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.
17 Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat.
18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:
19 That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it!
20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:
23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!
24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, sotheir root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
25 Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. (Isaiah 5)

Here is where priestcraft comes in, whether in the Melchizedek Priesthood, the Priesthood of All Believers, or those called to serve the people politically (kings, presidents, etc). And this is Hosea's key point in chapter 4.

Continued Calls to Repentance
Hosea 5-12

In these chapters, repeatedly warns Israel of the outcomes for their sins: they will be destroyed as a people, will wander the nations, and will be hated by those among whom they dwell. It will only be in the last days when they repent that they shall be restored, even as Gomer was eventually restored by Hosea.

Hosea does remind the people in chapter 12 the importance of true prophets for Israel to seek and follow:
“I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets....And by a prophet the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved” (Hos 12:10-13).

There is no Other Savior
Hosea 13-14

“Yet I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me” (Hosea 13:4).

God reminds Israel in this chapter that the nation began with Yahweh, and no other god. Baal was not in Egypt to deliver them through Moses, and Baal was not going to rescue Israel from Assyria, either. Just as Gomer impulsively sought another lifestyle and salvation through turning to other lovers, Israel’s clinging to Baal and other idols would end up leaving both wives desolate and homeless.

Only in the last days when Ephraim/Israel truly repented would the people of Israel be restored by Jehovah, just as Gomer was restored by Hosea.

“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.
“I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.
“His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.
“They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.
“Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found.
“Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein” (Hos 14:4-9).

This restoration has partially been fulfilled. The Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ has begun bringing about the spiritual restoration of Israel. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19). Paul explained to the Roman Christians that we are adopted into the house of Israel spiritually: “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises” (Romans 9:4). In special inspired and personal patriarchal blessings given to faithful LDS members, they are told what tribe of Israel they belong to in this spiritual adoption. Many are in the tribe of Ephraim, spiritually fulfilling Hosea’s prophesy.

There is also a physical gathering of Israel to occur. We see this partially fulfilled in the Jews returning to the land of Israel. Still, that is just one small portion of the tribes of Israel. Hosea speaks of Ephraim’s return. We have yet to see such a return of the physical tribe of Joseph (father of Ephraim), or of the other tribes. However, a modern revelation tells us concerning their return:

“26 And they who are in the north countries (the Lost Tribes of Israel) shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence.
27 And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep.
28 Their enemies shall become a prey unto them,
29 And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land.
30 And they shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the (spiritual) children of Ephraim, my servants.
31 And the boundaries of the everlasting hills shall tremble at their presence.
32 And there shall they fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the (spiritual) children of Ephraim.
33 And they shall be filled with songs of everlasting joy.
34 Behold, this is the blessing of the everlasting God upon the tribes of Israel, and the richer blessing upon the head of Ephraim and his fellows” (D&C 133).

The spiritual gathering continues until the coming of Christ in glory. Somewhere along the way, the long sought after restoration of physical Israel will occur, and the saints will be there to welcome them back.


Wikipedia on Hosea:

Sons of El and Yahweh:

Discussion on Hosea 4 at LDS.Net: