Last Sunday we had a lesson on Isaiah. The lesson was about how the first few chapters of Isaiah applied to the ancient Israelites and also to our modern times. The think I noticed is that almost all the comments in our class were about how Isaiah was talking about our modern world. But when I read the assigned chapters the night before I didn’t see it as applying to our modern world. Rather, I saw it applying to our modern Church. After all when God was speaking to the Ancient Israelites he wasn’t speaking to the ancient world but to te covenant people. Why would that change a few thousand years later. Isaiah’s words must be about the modern covenant people not the world around them.
So in this entry I will be dissecting the words of Isaiah and showing my understanding of how they apply to us. Again this entry isn’t about how my interpretation is right. It is simply my understanding, you are free to accept or reject it in whole or in part.
1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord hath spoken; I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
Here Isaiah says that the Lord is speaking of the rebellion of His people. The ancient Israelites fell away from the simple commandments they were given. They sought to stretch the law and also make it more complicated. In doing so they forgot the Lord.
Today is it really any different? Are we more concerned with deacons wearing white shirts and ties than we are with making the sacrament covenants? Do we fret over vanilla extract having alcohol in it but don’t bother to limit our meat consumption? Do we worry about making our temple ordinances more “acceptable” by modern culture rather than maintain the purity of those ordinances? To we swallow everything the leaders of the church, or skillful authors, or knowledgeable scholars say, but we reject the words that the Spirit whispers in our hearts? Do we seek to become impoverished to gain our education in Babylon, rather then give all that we have to the poor as the Saviour taught? There are so many more things. But suffice it to say that today we are more concerned with doing the gospel than we are with living the gospel.
4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters; they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.
5 Why should ye be stricken anymore? 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.
7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.
8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.
These verses really struck me. Could these words be speaking anymore clearly to us? Look what has happened to our holy cities, Kirtland, Zion, Nauvoo, Far West, Voree, even Salt Lake City. They have been burned and many are desolate. Our holy cities have been over run by Babylon, the Saints no longer control or gather to these cites. We have forgotten to gather to these holy places and now outsiders, strangers, even Babylon controls them. We let them use our lands and pervert these sacred places of our inheritance.
9 Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.
10 Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
Here the Lord compares ancient Israel to Sodom and Gomorrah. Except for a few righteous people in ancient Israel they would have been destroyed. Can this same comparison be made against the Lord’s modern covenant people?
11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord; I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear; your hand are full of blood.
These accusation can also apply to us. Do we tread the court of the temple working to get as many names through as we can? Do we go to all our meetings to make sure we are making it to all our meeting? Do you think the Lord really cares how many meetings we go to? Do you think that it makes you better in his eyes if you go to more meetings? What Heavenly Father cares about is that our hearts have been changed. He wants us to make Christ the center of our lives. If we make our ordinance and meetings the center of our lives then we have lost focus.
16 Wash ye, 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.
19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land;
The Lord gave the Israelites the chance to repent and so He gives it to us. If we will follow the example of Christ then we can be forgive of our sins.
20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
If we rebel against the Lord then we will be destroyed. How will the Lord destroy us today? Do you think great armies will rise up against us? Do you think the war machines and soldiers will destroy the Saint? No, it will be the mighty men. It will be the wise and cunning men of Babylon. The righteous Saints will be taught to live in Babylon. Those who delight in Babylon will persecute those righteous who teach against Babylon. The Saints will cast out and excommunicate those who preach repentance. And even the prophets who lead this Church will be deceived, even as was spoken by Ezekiel and Moses. And because we refuse to be obedient to the Laws of God we will be lead down the path of Apostasy. And because we have perverted the ways of the Lord when He comes He will say that he does not know us.
21 How is the faithful city become a harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
What is a harlot? A woman who sells herself for gain. What is the Church doing? Is the church “selling” the most precious parts of the gospel in exchange for public acceptance. What do we want, to be accepted and acclaimed by the world, or be accepted and acclaimed by the Lord? WE CANNOT HAVE BOTH! Either we sell ourselves to the world, the Whore of Babylon, to gain more converts from their midst, or we return to the righteous principles and practices of the Gospel and be persecuted by the world.
22 Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water;
This verse is almost scary in its application to today. I understand that it doesn’t really matter what we use for the sacrament. But even though the Word of Wisdom(D&C 89) allows wine to be used for the Sacrament, how many times do we see wine used in our Sacrament meetings today? The answer is none. We have not just mixed our wine with water, we have replaced our wine with water.
I’m sure that this verse in reference to wine and water is far more symbolic, but are not wine and water in our Sacrament symbolic too?
23 Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; everyone loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards; they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.
The leaders of ancient Israel were associating with wicked men.
What of our leaders today? Aren’t most, if not all, of our modern leaders successful in business? Don’t they hang out and have meetings with big business leaders and those that run their companies? The Babylonian system of economy seeks to pit every man against his neighbor in, “friendly business competition.”Capitalism, communism, socialism, etc are all counterfeits of Zion. When we seek to steal money and property from our neighbor for personal gain(Babylon), rather than give freely so that no one possesses any more than another(Zion), the we are thieves. If our church leaders continue in their business efforts and using church funds for business then they too are the companions of thieves.
Do we love gifts? Do we follow after the reward? When was the last time you heard, “Be sure to come to (insert meeting or activity here), there will be refreshments.”
When was the last time you visited a widow? I know I’m really guilty of that one.
24 Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies.
25 And I will turn my hand upon thee; and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin;
26 And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counselors as at the beginning; afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness the faithful city.
27 Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.
28 And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed.
The Lord promised the He would cleanse Israel. Likewise the Lord has promised that He will cleanse the Church! When the that time comes whose side will you be on? Will you be on the side of the publically acceptable, correlated, prophet-will-never-lead-you-astray, institutional, big business church? Or will you be on the side of Christ and his pure gospel of love and Charity?
These verses tell us that we must be restored to how things were at the beginning. Are you going to be on the side that moves us back to the simple gospel as restored through Joseph Smith? Or will you be on the side that boils down, regurgitates, white washes, and “programifies” the gospel?
There are only two churches. If we are not living in harmony with the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ as written in the revelations of the prophets then we are not living in Christ’s church. If we are adding to the law of God by; creating a “uniform of the Priesthood;” twisting the Word of Wisdom to include Coke, and vanilla extract; forbidding shouts of Hallelujah in our congregations; taking the sacrament with our left hand because it symbolizes righteousness; make the Aaronic Priesthood into a Young men program; then we are guilty of what the Jews were guilty of:
14 But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.
We like the Jews have despised the simple Gospel as contained in the revelations of the Prophets. Instead we seek to make programs and rules for every little thing in the Church. In doing so we look beyond the mark lose sight of those thins that are important. We start doing the Gospel rather than living it.
29 For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.
30 For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.
31 And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.
Who is the Living Water? Isn’t it Christ? If we focus on all these other unimportant things then we loose sight of Christ. If we loose our Living Water we will also dry up like a garden that has no water.
I pray that we will heed the warnings in Isaiah and return to the ways of the Lord. We need to all refocus on Christ. You don’t need me to tell you how to do it. You don’t need the Leaders of the Church to tell you how to do it. All you need is the Revelations from God and the Holy Spirit. The Testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy(Revelation 19:10). If you have a testimony of Christ you are your own prophet. And as such you have the right to receive revelation for yourself. Others can claim revelation on your behalf but you have the right to confirm that revelation for yourself.