|Isaiah's Prophecies of the Latter-day Church|
Predictive prophecies are in red. Other prophecies (teachings) are in black.
|Introduction: Isaiah and the modern world|
If you look through almost any Bible that contains interpretative footnotes, you will find that most of the prophecies are interpreted in terms of the prophet's own day. This is only reasonable - what else is a scholar supposed to assume. So, for example, when Isaiah talks about judgements on Babylon, on Egypt, and so on, the typical commentary will say "this refers to the fall of Babylon to the Persians in ancient times", or "this refers to the time when Egypt was conquered by the Assyrians" or whatever.
Unfortunately, this theory does not stand up. The prophecies against the nations, though partly fulfilled in Old Testament times, were clearly not completely fulfilled. Some of them were barely fulfilled at all. For example, Isaiah 13:19-20 states that Babylon would be destroyed so completely that shepherds won't even take their sheep there, and it will "never be inhabited". That prophecy has simply never been fulfilled - yet. More important, many of the prophecies refer to a final golden age when the Messiah will reign personally in Jerusalem, Israel will all be righteous, the lion will lie down with the lamb, and so on. Isaiah is not talking about Bible times. He is talking about the last days. He is talking about now, and the times that are coming soon.
This is important.
If Isaiah (and the other prophets) are mainly talking about their own time, with only occasional references to the "last days", then any reference to (for example) America is totally out of place.
But if Isaiah (and the other prophets) are mainly talking about "the last days", then any reference to (for example) America is to be expected.
Isaiah focused on the Latter Days
Many people have a very crude and small- minded view of Isaiah. They seem to think it is all about revenge. The land of Israel did not like its neighbours, so Isaiah prophesied that they would all be destroyed very soon by war, famine, etc. According to this theory, chapters 13 to 23 of Isaiah forms a catalogue of how all Israel's neighbours would soon be punished - for example, by being over-run by neighboring super-powers within a few years of Isaiah's prophecy. That is a distorted view of God's love indeed! If you read the first few chapters of Isaiah, you find that his role was not to curse Israel's enemies. It was to call Judah and Jerusalem to repentance! He did this, in part, by reminding people of God's love and power. And he did this by drawing their attention to the eventual triumph in the last days and the millennium of peace when Christ would reign personally on the earth.
It is true that Isaiah often referred to the Lord, and to events that happened in New Testament time. But he usually moved on to talk about the eventual triumph of Israel in the last days. A brief review of Isaiah will show that although he wrote about Old Testament times and New Testament times, his main time period was the last days.
Isaiah, chapter by chapter
So it should come as no surprise that so many chapters - 2, 5, 11, 18 and 29 for example - focus on the church in the last days.
Some prophecies are partly fulfilled at Christ's First Coming, and completely fulfilled at is Second Coming
See discussion by Malachi 3, with one of Isaiah's prophecies of Joseph Smith.
The church in the last days, as spoken of by Isaiah and the other ancient prophets, has a name. Daniel called it the kingdom of God on earth. Isaiah called it the Ensign to the nations. Jeremiah called it the new covenant. The world today calls it the "The Mormon Church"
For a general discussion of the book of Isaiah, see the Frequently Asked Questions
33. The temple in Utah - foretold and named!
|Isaiah 2:2-5: the
temple in the "tops of the mountains" in the
last days. The temple in Utah fulfils this prophecy. (Utah
is a Ute Indian word, meaning the "tops of the
mountains". Utah was not the name the Mormon church
chose for the state, but was given by the US government).
As Isaiah foretold, millions from all nations visit it
each year, and the prophet speaks from within or near to
it. This must be a particularly important prophecy, since
the prophet Micah repeated it almost word for word.
See also: Temples
34. The Mormons are gathering Israel ready for the Second Coming
Isaiah 5:26: the gathering of Israel. Note that the ensign, the call to Zion, the message, is to come "from far." Not from the land of Israel, but from the other side of the world. The Bible frequently talks about the gathering of Israel as a very important event. The language indicates it is the last days - a day when there is war and darkness, and all nations come to Zion. It almost sounds like a description of modern travel (people travelling "with speed, swiftly" from the ends of the earth). Galatians 3:26-29 indicates that believers are adopted into these promises, but which church can tell us precisely how the gathering prophecies are being fulfilled right now? The Mormon Church can. See also point 38, below.
35. The Mormon Church is an ensign to the nations
Isaiah 11: the ensign to the nations. This is the great chapter on the last days and the millenium of peace (the lion lying down with the lamb and so on). Verse 11 refers to Israel being gathered the second time, this time on a global scale (verse 12) so we know we are reading about the last days and not the return of a small remnant from Persia in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.
We are told that in these last days, Christ will both be and set up (verses 10 and 12) an ensign (a flag or banner) to gather his people to. How can Christ be an Ensign, before he physically returns, and how can he set up such a prominent Ensign? The simplest answer is through his church, by means of missionary work. The ensign is the church. So Isaiah 11 is saying that, in the last days, a great missionary thrust will gather Israel from the corners of the earth.
This prophecy applies to the Mormon Church and not to any other church:
- First, the Mormon Church, unlike the established churches, only began missionary work within the last two hundred years, in the last days. So Mormon missionary work is a strictly "last days" phenomenon.
- Second, Mormon missionaries are the largest such force in the world - currently fifty thousand full time missionaries and rising, flying to the corners of the globe.
- Third, Mormons clearly see themselves as adopted into the house of Israel - not only that, but adopted into specific tribes within the house of Israel. The "gathering of Israel" is not just an analogy or pretty symbolism to the Mormons - it is being literally fulfilled!
36. Another prophecy concerning America!
Before discussing this chapter, it may be helpful to take a wider view of Isaiah and interpretation in general - see the "Frequently Asked Questions" section. Other prophecies regarding America were noted earlier - regarding the descendants of Joktan and the descendants of Joseph .
Problems with the traditional interpretation
According to those who have compared the different interpretations, Isaiah 18 is an "extremely difficult prophecy". (Wm Smith 2:540)
Most most modern translations of the Bible (the NIV, Jerusalem Bible, etc.) assume that Isaiah 18 is a condemnation of the people of Cush, south of Egypt). But that is not what the Bible says.
- Cush is dealt with in chapter 20, along with Egypt. Why discuss it twice? It is rather remote and has no direct bearing on Israel.
- If this was a prophecy regarding Cush in Isaiah's day, it was never fulfilled. True, many of the other prophecies were not completely fulfilled (waiting instead for the last days), but at least they saw partial fulfillments in Isaiah's time. But a prophecy about Cush bringing gifts to Israel? Did Isaiah really get it so wrong? Or have the modern translators missed the whole point?
- Why should we assume that "Cush" meant just that one land anyway? Cush is just Hebrew for "black", and is a name for the descendants of Cush, son of Ham. So it can refer to much of Africa.
- The Bible does not deal with Cush, but somewhere beyond Cush.
- The Hebrew does not begin with "woe" at all. The more literal Jerusalem Bible begins Isaiah 18 as follows:
|"Country of whirring
beyond the rivers of Cush"
So let us look more closely at this chapter. It is not just another condemnation. Isaiah 18 is an interlude, an announcement to the nations:
Isaiah 18, verse by verse
Verse 1: the first word "woe" in the King James Version is a mistranslation - it does not appear in all versions of the Bible. So Isaiah 18 is not a condemnation, but an announcement! Similarly, the reference to the land beyond Ethiopia is misleading - the Hebrew only refers to the "beyond the rivers of Cush" (see for example the Jerusalem Bible). "Cush" simply refers to those descendants of Noah who settled in more southern parts of Africa.
Verse 2: It is "a country criss- crossed with rivers" (Isaiah 18:2 and 7, Jerusalem Bible). So what part of the world is Isaiah 18 talking about? Somewhere beyond, or the other side of Africa, apparently. A land that is criss-crossed with rivers. This land is plainly important to the church in the last days (or why mention it?). The last time we saw a reference to such a far-away land (see commentary on Genesis 49) the description could only be fulfilled by America.
Let's look back at verse 1 again: The reference to "wings" is interesting. Think of Isaiah, seing a vision of a land far to the west that he is not familiar with. How would he describe it? By what it looks like, perhaps? Can you think of any other land beyond Africa that looks like a bird with two vast wings outstretched? Find a globe of the world, look at the Americas, and imagine that Central America is the bird's head (perhaps the Yucatan Peninsula - the lands of the Book of Mormon).
Verse 2 again: "that sendeth messengers" - is Isaiah suggesting that America regularly sends reed boats across the Atlantic ocean? Of course not. The Hebrew for "that sendeth" (Strong 7971) is elsewhere in Isaiah used as a command. And the word for "ambassadors" is usually translated "messengers". So the verse should perhaps read "send messengers..." in other words, it is a command - an announcement! It is another reference to the "ensign to the nations". The Lord is saying "come and see!"
Verse 3: this repeats the message of verse 2
Verses 4-6: once again, we have the scattering of Israel - only a few are left in their homeland.
Verse 7: but the Lord has preserved one of the scattered remnants of Israel in a far off land. "rivers have spoiled" is "criss-crossed with rivers" (Jerusalem Bible). The word for "scattered" is elsewhere translated "drawn out" as in pulled, or drawing a bow. The word for "peeled" is elsewhere translated as polished or smooth. "Tall and smooth skinned" is a good description for modern Americans as compared with the ancient inhabitants of the middle east. Mount Zion is a literal hill in Jerusalem, but it is more usually used as symbolizing true Israel.
Isaiah 18 is a powerful description of the church of Jesus Christ in the Americas. In Isaiah's day, Israel was being shaken, and only a few remained. The rest were scattered, and a few (as described in the Book of Mormon) arrived in a land of many rivers, far beyond Africa, that was shaped as the wings of a bird. In the last days, other descendants of Ephraim (Joseph Smith and early "Mormons") were another faithful branch of Israel in the Americas.
Joseph Smith, who helped found the Mormon Church in 1830, was probably unaware of the significance of this prophecy - it is not so clear in the King James Version that he used. But he inadvertently used its language. He once described himself as a rough stone, polished smooth by God. He and others lifted up a standard for the whole world to see. It is the restoration of Israel in all its glory. It is the Mormon Church.
37. The Mormon Church is the "marvelous work and a wonder" foretold by Isaiah!
Isaiah 29: it would take too long to examine this chapter verse by verse, along with its context and the various interpretations that have been suggested. This has been done in other web sites. It is enough to say that the prophecies of the destruction and salvation of Israel are fulfilled in a very precise way by the restoration of the gospel and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.
N.B. To reject living prophets is "an abomination"!
Isaiah 41:23-24. What makes someone an abomination? The Mormon Church was attacked from the start because the Lord told his prophet that the creeds of the churches of 1820 were "an abomination". This is strong language, and offends many people. But they should read Isaiah 41. God is speaking against those who trust in idols. What does he say is so abominable about trusting in idols? They cannot prophecy and they cannot act. Why? Because they are not alive. Anyone who chooses such a dead item is an abomination.
This was the condition of the churches in 1820 - they had rejected living prophets and had chosen dead prophets to lead them. Any creed that prefers the dead over the living can, according to the logic of Isaiah 41:23-34, be called an abomination. If the Mormon Church was/is offensive to other churches, it is simply because the Mormon Church carries the message of the Bible.
38. The Mormon Church - the "strangers who love Jehovah"
Isaiah 55:5 and 56:6-8. (The following is a direct quotation from "Joseph Smith - Was He a Prophet of God? An Investigation and Testimony" (pamphlet) by J. M. Sjodahl, 1891, p.397-398)
"Speaking of this last event, the final gathering of the Jewsan event which is about to be fulfilled in our own timethe prophet (Isaiah chapter 55:5) says that there should be a people or a nation, previously unknown to the Jews, who should be willing to join the Jews in their worship of God Almighty. 'Behold, thou shalt call a people which thou didst not know; and a people which did not know thee shall run to thee for the sake of Jehovah, thy God, and for the sake of the Holy One in Israel, for he hath glorified thee.'
"Could language more clearly convey that at the time of the final restoration of the Jews there should exist another people, too, who would share with the Jews the glory in store for them? In the next chapter (56, 6-8) this other people is more clearly described: 'And the sons of the stranger who follow Jehovah in order to serve Him, and to love Jehovah's name * * * those I will bring to My holy mountain, and they shall rejoice in My house.' These predictions are very clear, and it is a literal fulfillment thereof that the Saints are called out of all nations of the earth so that they may form that one nation here spoken of, and the latter part of Isaiah's predictions are as literally verified as that part which relates to former events."
Confirmation from Jeremiah [Sjodahl, p. 399]
"Jeremiah 3: 15-18. Here the prophet in words that cannot be mistaken says that the house of Judah shall go to the house of Israel, and 'they shall come together from the land of the north to the land which I have given your fathers.' That this prediction does not relate to the deliverance from Babylon is evident from the fact that the prophet says: 'the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel.' The house of Israel must then already be gathered, or else the house of Judah could not go with them. At the return from Babylon Judah took the lead, and the Israelites who returned had to come to Judah. Judah took the lead. Here is a deliverance and return predicted in which Israel takes the lead. Israel must consequently be gathered as well as Judah and previous to Judah. Compare this with the message delivered through Joseph the Prophet, and the evidence is both strong and conclusive."
For where to find the name of Joseph Smith in these prophecies, see the page on the twelve tribes and Joseph Smith.
101 Bible prophecies: 1-11 | 12-19 | 20-32 | 33-38 | 39 | 40-55 | 56-70 | 71-79 | 80-86 | 87-101