2 Ne 24:1 For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob
Congratulations! You made it to the last Isaiah chapter in 2 Nephi. In this chapter, we learn that the mercy of the Lord for his chosen people will be manifest in the last days. This great mercy is in contrast to the destructions on the wicked which have been prophesied in the preceding chapter.
2 Ne 24:1 strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob
In the Old Testament, the term strangers means Gentiles. In the Book of Mormon, the Gentiles often refers to the Americas (1 Ne. 13:14-15). Therefore, it is not unreasonable to conclude that Isaiah's prophecy refers to the political alliance of the United States and Israel prior to the Millenium. After the Millenium, the Gentiles will continue to look to Jerusalem and Zion for spiritual guidance. In that day, '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
' (Isa 2:3). In that day shall the Gentiles 'cleave to the house of Jacob.'
Bruce R. McConkie
"Such spiritual blessings as come to the Gentiles shall be theirs because they cleave unto Israel. 'And the people'-the Gentiles-'shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them'-the Gentiles-'in the land of the Lord for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.' (Isa. 14:1-7.) Israel shall rule; the Gentiles shall serve; the kingdom is the Lord's. His people are the governing ones-such is the meaning of Isaiah's imagery. " (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 316.)
2 Ne 24:2 they shall return to their lands of promise
One of the most repeated themes of 1 and 2 Nephi is the return of Israel in the last days. This great gathering takes on many forms-the return of the Jews to Jerusalem, the gathering of the descendants of Joseph to Zion, the preaching of the gospel to the descendants of the Lamanites and Nephites, the great missionary effort to spiritually gather scattered Israel into the fold of God. Isaiah often concentrates on how the Lord will bless the house of Israel in the last days. This is in contrast to the wicked ways of the people during Isaiah's time. He knew that shortly the northern kingdom would be captured by the Assyrians and the southern kingdom would be eventually captured by the Babylonians. How beautiful the thought of an Israel that was once again favored of the Lord? The promises truly are great to the house of Israel in the last days. Their history has been a history of pain, persecution, and prejudice. But in the last days, all those who afflicted them with impunity will be oppressed, 'they shall take them captives unto whom they were captives; and they shall rule over their oppressors.'
2 Ne 24:4 proverb against the king of Babylon
The next section describes the downfall of the king of Babylon. Again, Isaiah uses prophetic dualism-a prophetic form which should be familiar to the student by now. In this instance, the king of Babylon symbolizes the king of spiritual Babylon-Satan. Isaiah explains that both the king of literal Babylon and the king of spiritual Babylon will be humbled by the Lord. The next few verses apply primarily to the king of literal Babylon.
2 Ne 24:8 the cedars of Lebanon, saying: since thou art laid down no feller is come up against us
In the last chapter, the glory and majesty of Babylon was discussed. Nebuchadnezzar was building palaces, temples, city walls, etc. at a very rapid pace. He was using vast wealth amassed from military conquests to increase the glory of Babylon. The best timber for building in the ancient world was the cedars of Lebanon. Therefore, once the Babylonian kings were destroyed by the Lord, the extravagant building practices ceased and there was no one employed as a "feller" to cut down the great trees.
2 Ne 24:9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming
The Lord has promised that 'the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low' (2 Ne 12:17). Isaiah is going to describe how the great king of Babylon will be humbled in death. He is also describing how Satan will be humbled when he is cast out at the beginning of the Millenium. In a rare glimpse into the world of spirit prison (hell), we see that the once mighty but wicked men of the earth (now in spirit prison) are interested to see the new arrival of the king of Babylon. They chide him, 'Art thou also become weak as we?' (v. 10) His spirit has been cast into hell with the wicked, his body (of king of literal Babylon) lies decomposing in the earth, 'the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee' (v. 10).
"This section of the poem predicts Satan's being restricted to the spirit world of hell during the millennial years of peace on earth, and describes the reaction of hell's inhabitants when it is announced that he is assigned there. That he will have influence there is shown by the Prophet Joseph Smith's statement that 'when we have power to put all enemies under our feet in this world, and a knowledge to triumph over all evil spirits in the world to come, then we are saved' (TPJS, p. 297). Alma 34:34-35 also shows that the spirit of the devil will have power to possess the unrepentant in the spirit world. When he is bound in the spirit world, 'the chief ones of the earth'-those leaders who were influential in the devil's kingdom while they lived upon the earth-will assemble to greet him. When they see him, they will be amazed at his having lost his power. " (Monte S. Nyman, Great are the Words of Isaiah [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980], 85 as taken from Commentaries on Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, ed. by K. Douglas Bassett, [American Fork, UT: Covenant Publishing Co., 2003], 211)
2 Ne 24:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!
Elder Bruce R. McConkie explains the title 'son of the morning':
"...this name-title of Satan indicates he was one of the early born spirit children of the Father. Always used in association with the name Lucifer, son of the morning also apparently signifies son of light or son of prominence, meaning that Satan held a position of power and authority in [the] pre-existence." (Mormon Doctrine, p. 744)
Lucifer fell from heaven for rebelling against God the Father and His plan of salvation. 'He was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him' (Rev 12:9). 'And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven' (Rev 12:4).
In the very next phrase, 'Art thou cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations', we understand that Isaiah is now referring to the time when Satan is cast out at the beginning of the Millennium. When Satan is finally stripped of all power, the people will look upon him and 'say: Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?' (v. 16) His power over the wicked of the world and the glory and majesty of the great whore will be destroyed just as the glory of the king of Babylon came to naught:
'How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.' (Rev 18:7-8)
2 Ne 24:13-15 For thou hast said...I will ascend into heaven...I will be like the Most High
"Isaiah delighted in the future binding of Satan for one thousand years and the eventual banishment of Satan to outer darkness following the Millennium.
"In teaching this concept Isaiah employed a satirical song. He portrayed the ancient king of Babylon as a type for Lucifer. Similar to the king of Babylon, Lucifer has ruled over an empire built upon tyranny and oppression. As Isaiah expressed concerning Lucifer, 'For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: . . . I will be like the most High' (Isa. 14:13-14). Isaiah prophesied that the day will come when Lucifer will 'be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit' (Isa. 14:15). John the Revelator was shown an angel who had the key of a bottomless pit. 'He laid hold on . . . that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled' (Rev. 20:2-3). Satan will be held in such low regard that people will mock him, saying, 'Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; . . . that opened not the house of his prisoners?' (Isa. 14:16-17).
"(Voices of Old Testament Prophets: The 26th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 75 - 76 as taken from Commentaries on Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, ed. by K. Douglas Bassett, [American Fork, UT: Covenant Publishing Co., 2003], 212)
2 Ne 24:16-17 Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?
"What a record could be written of Satan's activities to accomplish the very things Isaiah foretold! Lucifer is fallen from heaven; he has weakened the nations; he has decreed to exalt his throne above the stars of God and to be like the Most High; he has made the world as a wilderness and destroyed the cities thereof.
"John the Revelator declared that Satan's reign upon this earth should be practically universal:
'it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.' (Revelation 13:7.)
"In order to be able to hold dominion over the kingdoms of the world, Satan's plan has been to destroy all who in any way can detract from his power. Hence, he has put it into the hearts of men to destroy the prophets and servants of the Lord, whose commands he must obey." (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1950], 395.)
2 Ne 24:17 opened not the house of his prisoners
Spirit prison is just that-a prison. The doors of this prison were not opened prior to the atonement. Before then, Satan had power to keep the prison doors closed. The doors were "closed" in two different ways. First, before Christ was resurrected, none of the spirits, righteous or wicked, could be resurrected. Second, there was no interaction between those in spirit prison and those in spirit paradise. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus explains this principle. Certainly Satan would have rejoiced in the 'great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence' (Lu 16:26). This gulf was bridged by the ministry of Jesus Christ in the spirit world for he opened the doors to spirit prison so that the righteous missionaries could go forth among the wicked.
2 Ne 24:18-20 thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch
To paraphrase Isaiah, "The kings of the earth at least have majestic graves, their bodies laid down in regal splendor and glorious pageantry. But Lucifer has no glory when he is cast into prison. He has no grave, no tombstone, no monument for his followers to visit. He is not worthy of the same stately burial as even the wicked kings of the earth. He has no body for a gravesite and is cast out as an abominable branch. He will be as those wicked who are destroyed at the Second Coming-those whose bodies were never buried but rather left strewn upon the land as carcasses to be devoured by the birds and tread under foot of men. His wickedness excels all; his seed, or followers, are all evil-doers-wicked spirits that shall never be renowned."
2 Ne 24:21 his children...do not rise, nor possess the land
Satan's children, the third of the hosts of heaven, will be slaughtered in a spiritual sense. Those which followed him will be the only souls who will not rise in the resurrection. They will not possess the land. They will never fill the face of the world with cities. They will never be renowned. They will never be redeemed. Their fate is sealed with that of their wicked father.
2 Ne 24:22-23 I will rise up against them...I will also make it a possession for the bittern
This prophecy is similar to those described in the preceding chapter. When the Lord finally destroyed Babylon, it was no longer inhabited. It became a wasteland for wild animals. This came about because the Lord had swept 'it with the besom (a stiff broom made of twigs) of destruction'. See commentary for 2 Ne 23:20.
2 Ne 24:25 I will bring the Assyrian in my land, and...tread him under foot
Verse 25 marks a breaking point. The subject changes again. This time, Isaiah returns to the prophecies about the Assyrian influence on the Jews and Philistines. Most commentaries interpret this verse as having reference to the time when the Assyrian armies came against Jerusalem and king Hezekiah. At that time the Lord destroyed the host of the Assyrians by a great miracle (2 Kings 19:35). With this interpretation, the yoke which departs from off them is the yoke of the Assyrians coming off the neck of the Jews.
2 Ne 24:29 Rejoice not thou...because the rod of him that smote thee is broken
The Philistines should not rejoice prematurely in the destruction of the Assyrians because things are only going to get worse. The phrase, 'for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent' may be interpreted as follows. After the Assyrian empire (serpent's root) shall come another despot, Nabopolassar of Babylon (a cockatrice or poisonous snake), and his fruit (his son) shall be another poisonous snake (Nebuchadnezzar) which will also rule the nations. As he came against the Jews, Nebuchadnezzar also came against the Philistines as prophesied in verse 31, 'Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou whole Palestina, art dissolved; for there shall come from the north a smoke.'