Isaiah 33

Isaiah 33:1 when thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shalt be spoiled

One of the frustrations for the righteous is the sense that the wicked get away with everything.  Jeremiah echoed this idea, “Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? Wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?” (Jer. 12:1)  Isaiah has an answer for Jeremiah, “as soon as their done with their wicked ways, they will be punished.  They will fall in the pit they dug for their neighbor.  At length, they will get what they deserve.”  Jeremiah lived long enough to witness all the treacherous receive their just reward when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem about 587 BC.

Isaiah 33:2 O Lord, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee

We have been waiting a long time.  We have been watching the wicked prosper, and it seems like the righteous continue to suffer.  “How long shall thy hand be stayed… Remember thy suffering saints… Let thine anger be kindled against our enemies” (D&C 121:2-6), cried the Prophet Joseph.  When will God reveal himself and reward his saints?  Isaiah is saying, “we have been righteous; we have waited on thee; we are ready for our reward; we are ready for the Second Coming.”

   For since the beginning of the world have not men heard nor perceived by the ear, neither hath any eye seen, O God, besides thee, how great things thou hast prepared for him that waiteth for thee. (D&C 133:45)

Notice how the very next verse speaks of the Second Coming:  And it shall be said: Who is this that cometh down from God in heaven with dyed garments, yea from the regions which are not known, clothed in his glorious apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength.” (D&C 133:46)

Isaiah 33:3-5 The Lord is exalted… he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness.

The Lord comes in glory scattering the wicked nations who fear his judgment; people are running to hide, but will gathered for the burning.  Then the Messiah will reign in Zion.  Jerusalem will be the resting place of Jehovah.  He will judge in righteousness and send the law from Zion.

Isaiah 33:6-7 their valiant ones shall cry without

At the Lord’s Advent, the great men of the world will immediately become nothing.  Overnight, the peace ambassadors will be out of a job before the Prince of Peace.  He won’t require their services.  They won’t be allowed in the holy city.  They can sob outside the walls.  They can weep because they are out of a job.  The meek and lowly, the humble and righteous will be the Lord’s ambassadors of peace.  The saints will rejoice in the strength of his salvation. 

Isaiah 33:11-12 the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned

Orson Pratt

There will be but one government, not several hundred different forms of government, but one form will prevail upon the new creation, inhabited by immortal beings. All these changes are what the Latter-day Saints are looking for. We do not read these prophecies and then undertake to change them, and tell our hearers that they must be understood to mean something else, in some spiritual sense. We do not tell them that this day of burning is a day in which wickedness is to be cleansed from the earth by the purifying influence of the Spirit of God, and that all the people are to be converted, and therefore, the earth will be inhabited by none except the righteous; and that that portion of the Scriptures referring to the wicked becoming ashes under the feet of the righteous, Mal. 4:3 means something entirely different from the literal reading, and that their sins will all be consumed, and that they will be righteous and will all walk upon the new earth free from sin. No, but when we speak of devouring fire burning as an oven,  we expect it will be fire; we expect it will be intense heat; and when he says it will consume all the proud and all that do wickedly, (Isa. 33:14, Mal. 4:1, 2 Ne. 27:1-2) we do not expect there will be a wicked man or woman left upon the whole earth; and when it says there shall neither be root nor branch left of them, we do not expect there will be found a vestige of wickedness in any corner of the earth however remote; but that all will be consumed and none but the righteous left. (Journal of Discourses, 20:14)

Isaiah 33:14 the sinners in Zion are afraid

George Q. Cannon

O, you adulterers! O, you whoremongers! O, you drunkards! O you Sabbath-breakers! O you dishonest men, and you hypocrites who have a place and a name among the Latter-day Saints! I say, woe! unto you unless you repent of your sins, unless you forsake everything that is evil and humble yourselves before God, and ask forgiveness from Him; for I tell you the Spirit of God will be withdrawn from you, and you will be left to yourselves and become as withered branches only fit for burning, unless you heartily, sincerely, profoundly, from the bottom of your hearts, repent of all your sins and put them far from you. God will not bear with you any longer. The sinner in Zion will tremble. That day will come. Fear will come upon the hypocrite. (Isa. 33:14) Therefore, repent of your sins before it is too late. And if you do you may enter into the holy places which God has provided. (Journal of Discourses, 25:327)

Brigham Young

Shame to those men and women who call themselves Latter-day Saints, and act disgracefully! You ought to be as pure and holy as angels. We are commanded to be pure as Christ is pure, and holy as he is holy. He passed through the trials, became sanctified, and prepared himself to dwell with the Gods; and he dwells in the midst of eternal burnings, (Isa. 33:14) where the principles and all that pertains to the celestial kingdom are a consuming fire  to all that is impure. He has been exalted, crowned, and has received thrones, principalities, and powers; and he commands us to walk in his footsteps, in reference to every principle that pertains to eternal lives. Let us do this, that the whole body, from the crown of the head to the soles of the feet, may be sanctified. Those who come short of this will be judged accordingly. (Journal of Discourses, 8:116)

John Taylor

…woe to the hypocrites in Zion and those that profess to fear God and are wallowing in transgression; God will be after you, for ere long the sinners in Zion will be afraid, and fearfulness will surprise the hypocrite. (Isa. 33:14) Now, let us purge ourselves from unrighteousness, for God is going to roll forth His work, and whether you or I do right or not, it will make no difference, the work will go on: it is onward, onward, onward, and will continue to be onward, until the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever. (Journal of Discourses, 24:235)

Isaiah 33:15 he that walketh righteously and speaketh uprightly

Bruce R. McConkie

First, “He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly.” That is, building on the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must keep the commandments. We must speak the truth and work the works of righteousness. We shall be judged by our thoughts, our words and our deeds.

Second, “… he that despiseth the gain of oppressions.” That is, we must act with equity and justice toward our fellowmen. It is the Lord himself who said that he, at the day of his coming, will be a swift witness against those that oppress the hireling in his wages.

Third, “… he that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes.” That is, we must reject every effort to buy influence, and instead deal fairly and impartially with our fellowmen. God is no respecter of persons. He esteemeth all flesh alike; and those only who keep his commandments find special favor with him. Salvation is free; it cannot be purchased with money; and those only are saved who abide the law upon which its receipt is predicated. Bribery is of the world.

Fourth, he “… that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil.” That is, we must not center our attention on evil and wickedness. We must cease to find fault and look for good in government and in the world. We must take an affirmative, wholesome approach to all things.

There is an eternal law, ordained by God himself before the foundations of the world, that every man shall reap as he sows. If we think evil thoughts, our tongues will utter unclean sayings… On the other hand, if we are pondering in our hearts the things of righteousness, we shall become righteous. If virtue garnishes our thoughts unceasingly, our confidence shall wax strong in the presence of God and he in turn will rain down righteousness upon us. Truly as Jacob said, “… to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal.”  (2 Ne. 9:39) And as Paul said, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”  (Gal. 6:7–8) (Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p. 45)

Isaiah 33:17 Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty

We have adorned our homes with pictures of Christ.  We marvel at great statues of the Master.  We watch videos of actors portraying the Lord.  Someday, all those images will be memories compared to the indelible, unforgettable impression that will be seared into our memories by the privilege of seeing the King in his beauty.  Christ’s first coming was described by Isaiah, “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isa. 53:2).  No beauty? The Second Coming will be completely different.  His form will be majestic, his attire glorious, his face beautiful, and his smile heartwarming.

Those who have sought the face of the Lord will finally be rewarded with the blessing.  Can anyone comprehend what it might be like?  Figuratively, we look to the Lord all our lives.  Isaiah promises us that there will come a day when it is no longer figurative.  We have sought to receive his image in our countenance (Alma 5:14); then the image we have sought will be visible in all its glory and beauty.  We will of course conclude that it was all worth it.  All the time we have looked unto God, sought the Lord in private prayer, turned to Him when all else failed.  All the seeking will be rewarded with the privilege of seeing the King in his beauty.

Then we will feel to sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic one more time:

Mine eyes have seen the glory

of the coming of the Lord;

he is trampling out the vintage

where the grapes of wrath are stored;

he hath loosed the fateful lightning

of his terrible swift sword;

his truth is marching on.


Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Perhaps even more marvelous is that we will be able to comprehend his beauty because we will be like him, “…we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 Jn. 3:2)  We shall see him as he is—a glorified, resurrected, celestial personage, and we will enjoy the same privilege (1 Thes. 4:17).

Isaiah 33:18-19 Thine heart shall meditate terror

Let’s assume these verses contrast the immediate threat of Assyrian conquest with the Messiah’s military might, “Lebanon is ashamed… the people shall be… burned in the fire… The sinners in Zion are afraid… his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks” (v. 9-16).  In Isaiah’s day, the people were scared to death of Assyria domination, “Where are those who conducted the census?  Where are those who levied the tax?  Where are the ones who appraised the towers?” (

In addition to military superiority, the Assyrian language was frighteningly foreign.  They felt insecure—a feeling that would stand in great contrast to the security provided by the millennial King inhabiting Jerusalem in wisdom and righteousness.

Isaiah 33:20 Look upon Zion… not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed

At the time of Brigham Young’s death in 1877, there were 20 stakes of Zion.  At the time of this writing (Oct. 2017), there are 3222.  “In 1846, all of the existing stakes, including the Nauvoo Stake, were discontinued as a result of the exodus of the majority of the Latter Day Saints to the Salt Lake Valley.” When the Lord comes again, it will be a different story; no stakes will be dissolved.  Instead, they will be more firmly planted and their cords strengthened.

Joseph Fielding Smith

Isaiah speaks of Zion as a tent, or tabernacle, having in mind the Tabernacle which was built and carried in the wilderness in the days of Moses, and the cords are the binding cables that extend from the tent, or tabernacle, to the stakes which are fastened in the ground. Now, the Lord revealed that Zion was to be built and surrounding her would be the stakes helping to bind and keep her in place. This figure of speech has almost been lost through the intervening years, but it retains its significance, or beauty. To speak of Zion, the new Jerusalem, or even that section where the city will be built as a stake of Zion is a sad mistake. Zion is the tent, the stakes of Zion are the binding pegs that support her. Zion, therefore, cannot be a stake, it would be as improper to call a tent a stake as to apply this term to Zion. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 2: 88)

Isaiah 33:22 The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king

Think of the Lord’s first coming, the high priest was his judge, Pilate was his lawgiver, and Herod was his king.  That must have been a hard pill to swallow.  Christ must have known that he would eventually be Judge, Lawgiver, and King.  All these men were imposters, performing duties that rightly belonged to Him!  And for them to find fault with Him was surely galling.  That he could endure such indignities is truly remarkable.  They are not forgotten, but fuel the fire of his indignation, “I have trodden the wine-press alone… and none were with me; And I have trampled them in my fury, and I did tread upon them in mine anger, and their blood have I sprinkled upon my garments, and stained all my raiment; for this was the day of vengeance which was in my heart. And now the year of my redeemed is come; and they shall mention the loving kindness of their Lord” (D&C 133:51-52).

John Taylor

Some talk about empires and kingdoms being built up by man. This is the Lord's kingdom and not man's. The Lord is our God, he is our king and our lawgiver, and he shall rule over us; and we will seek for and obtain his help and power. (Journal of Discourses, 19:126)

John Taylor

Do you want to know what is our Constitution, what our laws, and who are our lawgivers? The Scriptures shall answer—“The Lord is our king, the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, and he will rule over us.” (Isa. 33:22) How? Through the Priesthood. Do you want to know what kind of courts, what kind of judge, and what kind of lawyers you ought to have? Go and ask your High Council and Bishops. They will instruct you in relation to your judiciary, and tell you who should judge matters, and regulate them, and put them in order. Do you want to know what kind of morals you ought to be governed by? You ought to be governed by the morals contained in these books. Do you want to learn the duties of husband and wife, of parents and children? The Gospel of Jesus Christ unfolds them, and the Priesthood are the true exponents of that Gospel; in fact, what we have here—the government of God restored again to the earth. We have here a people who are not ashamed to acknowledge God, who are not ashamed to acknowledge his law and his power, who are not ashamed to acknowledge his authority, nor afraid to submit to his laws. (Journal of Discourses, 7:323)

Isaiah 33:23 they could not spread the sail

The safety and glory of the Lord are likened unto broad rivers and streams of living water.  Christ is the source of the living water.  Figuratively speaking, no sailors or ships will be allowed.  The bounties of the living water are not for the rich but for the sick and the lame like Lazarus the beggar who “was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table.”  Recompense came after his death; he “was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom” while the rich man went to hell to be tormented in its flame. (Lu. 16:20-24)  In life, the ship owners benefit from the trade of calm waters.  In the Millennium, the Lord will make sure the spoil, both spiritual and monetary, goes to those least likely to obtain it with their own strength.  Then will the meek finally inherit the riches of the earth as promised. (Matt. 5:3)  The great spoil will be divided among the righteous, not among the pirates.