“Isaiah's words (Isaiah 66: 8-9, 13)… are more than a simple vision. They tell us what it is to be a prophet.
“No one was more severe in his criticisms of Israel than Isaiah. The first chapter of the book that bears his name is one of the greatest acts of social criticism in the religious history of mankind. To this day we read it on the [Sabbath] before Tisha b'Av.
“Yet when Israel was in crisis, Isaiah didn't say, 'I told you so.' He didn't say, 'You are to blame.' He brought his people comfort. He gave them strength. More than strength, he gave them hope.
“False prophets are with their people when times are good, and desert their people when things are bad. True prophets are the exact opposite. When times are good, they argue against complacency in the name of high ideals. But when things are bad, they lift the spirits of their people, by being with them in their distress, and giving them the courage to fight on.
“Isaiah foresaw that the return to Zion would be difficult. Israel would face enemies from without and divisions from within. And at that moment Isaiah turns to his people and gives them comfort.
“'Can a country be born in a day? Or a nation be brought forth in a moment?' The return to Zion, he says, will be like no other event in history. It will seem as if almost overnight a nation was reborn: something that never happened before or since. A people would return from exile; from slavery they would rediscover freedom and come back to their ancient home.” (http://www.aish.com/h/iid/48906257.html)
Isaiah 66:2 to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit
In the darkness came a voice, “I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings. And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost.” (3 Ne. 9:18-20)
The Lord commanded animal sacrifice to stop when he became the final and ultimate sacrifice. A new sacrifice was required, but the Lord wanted a broken heart and contrite spirit among his children in Old Testament times as well. Animal sacrifice was never enough. The Psalms and Isaiah both taught the truth, “The Lord is night unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit… the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart” (Ps. 34:18; 51:17; Isa 57:15)
Isaiah 66:3-4 He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man
Mormon understood the principle that Isaiah is teaching, “For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good… For Behold , it is not counted unto him for righteousness. For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift… it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.” (Moro. 7:6-8)A wicked man who offers an oxen in the temple is counted the same before God as the man guilty of manslaughter. The evil man who offers a little lamb might as well have slain his own dog—it doesn’t count for righteousness. The theme of Isaiah’s first chapter is repeated in his last, “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… Bring no more vain oblations.” (Isa 1:11-13) Are we ever guilty of bringing vain oblations? Do we ever get wrapped up in the forms of our religion? Do we lose focus and let programs and culture take on a life of their own? Are we sufficiently humble? Have we been stripped of pride? (Alma 5:28) Are our hearts sufficiently broken? Are our spirits truly contrite?
Ezra Taft Benson
The antidote for pride is humility—meekness, submissiveness. (See Alma 7:23 It is the broken heart and contrite spirit. (See 3 Ne. 9:20 3 Ne. 12:19 D&C 20:37 D&C 59:8 Ps. 34:18 Isa. 57:15 Isa. 66:2 As Rudyard Kipling put it so well:
The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart.
Still stands thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget.
(Hymns, 1985, no. 80.)
God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble. Alma said, “Blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble.” Alma 32:16
Let us choose to be humble. (Conference Report, April 1989, 6)
Isaiah 66:6 a voice from the temple, a voice of the Lord
“Whether by mine own voice, or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” So we have been told (D&C 1:38). But won’t it be nice to hear His voice? Won’t it be nice to know that He is in charge, that He is there in the temple, that He will make things right, that He will comfort his people, plead their cause, and wipe away their tears? Those who go to the temple will go there to hear his voice, feel his strength, to receive revelation, to be with God, literally.
Isaiah 66:8 shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children
Before the voice of the Messiah can be heard from the temple, there must be the reestablishment of the nation of Israel—a gathering place for the scattered of Judah.
There are two very significant days for Israel that come right after each other – a day of mourning followed by a day of rejoicing. First there is the annual Memorial Day for all those who have died in Israel’s struggle to exist, either in the armed forces or as a result of terrorism. It is a day of solemn recognition that there have been many casualties in the birth and continued existence of the State of Israel. As it often seems to be in the Jewish way of life, the bitter and the sweet are juxtaposed – almost without time to catch a breath. The following day is Israel’s Independence Day, when the nation breaks out into a huge party to celebrate its reestablishment after a 2000 year exile.
The Sound of Sirens
The Jewish day starts the evening of the day before… so Memorial Day officially begins in the evening at 20:00, with a siren that lasts for one minute, and a ceremony at the Western Wall. The next morning at 11:00, a siren will wail throughout the land for two minutes, and everybody will stop what they are doing and stand in silence. Even people driving on highways will get pull over and get out of their car in memory of all those who have perished. 23,447 soldiers have been killed in the line of duty, leaving many thousands of families bereaved, and well over 3500 have died as a result of terror attacks since 1948. There are services to commemorate those who have fallen and to honour their memory. Then later that very evening, the mood shifts 180 degrees, and celebration erupts on the streets for Independence day.
The British began to remove their troops towards the end of April 1948. On May 14 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, announced the formation of the new state of Israel. He said, “The Nazi Holocaust, which engulfed millions of Jews in Europe, proved anew the urgency of the reestablishment of the Jewish State, which would solve the problem of Jewish homelessness by opening the gates to all Jews and lifting the Jewish people to equality in the family of nations.”
Ben Gurion saw the horrors of the Holocaust as paving the way to the birth of a Jewish State, and he was not alone in making such a suggestion. Would the miracle of the recreation of Israel ever have happened without such an atrocity on a scale that we can still barely comprehend? These questions are impossible for earth-bound humanity to answer, but again, we see the closely bound bitter and sweet, almost too close for comfort.
And what was a day of astonishing joy for the Jewish people was also a day of sorrow and anguish for the Arabs who suddenly no longer owned the land they had been living in for generations. Again, joy and pain uncomfortably closely together. Whilst we can rejoice in God’s fulfilled promises and a new start for Israel, we also know that this day is not an easy one for all of her inhabitants. God still cares deeply for the Palestinians and seeks to give them their blessing, hope and salvation. Whilst many Arab Christians will struggle with celebrating this day, there are numbers of Arab believers who truly rejoice in God’s physical restoration of Israel, and seek her spiritual restoration promised in the scripture. This too, is a miracle, and the handiwork of an awesome God.
For God had determined that he would regather his people and plant them back in the land he had chosen for them. And he promised that it would happen in one day flat:
“Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day, or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the LORD. “Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God. “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her.” Isaiah 66:8-10
The Amplified Bible notes about this verse give this comment: “Never in the history of the world had such a thing happened before–but God keeps His word. As definitely foretold here and in Ezekiel 37:21, 22, Israel became a recognized nation, actually “born in one day.” After being away from their homeland for almost 2,000 years, the Jews were given a national homeland in Palestine by the Balfour Declaration in November, 1917. In 1922, the League of Nations gave Great Britain the mandate over Palestine. On May 14, 1948, Great Britain withdrew her mandate, and immediately Israel was declared a sovereign state, and her growth and importance among nations became astonishing.” (www.oneforisrael.org/bible-based-teaching-from-israel/can-a-nation-be-born-in-a-day/)
Isaiah 66:10 Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her
Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel, has attracted millions of pilgrims over thousands of years, owing to its eternal history tied to the religious roots of Jews, Christians and Muslims. It holds the privilege of being the world’s holiest city, and has a wondrous story to tell every visitor who comes on a Holy Land Tour. The very walls and stones of the city and the whispering winds of the lanes relate its eventful history. It holds a central spot on ancient maps of the world and has been praised and adored with seventy names. (https://www.veredgo.com/jerusalem-pilgrimage)
Jerusalem is the most-visited city (in Israel) with 3.5 million tourist arrivals annually. One of the oldest cities in the world, it is the proclaimed capital[i] and largest city of Israel, if the area and population of East Jerusalem are included. It is a holy city to the three major Abrahamic religions-Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and hosts a myriad of historical, archaeological, religious and sundry other attractions.
West Jerusalem was built mainly after the creation of Israel in 1948… East Jerusalem was captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-day War and considered by the international community as being under Israeli occupation, although it was annexed in 1980 under the Jerusalem Law. It is the location of:
The Old City of Jerusalem, traditionally divided into four quarters: Armenian Quarter, Christian Quarter, Muslim Quarter and Jewish Quarter. Most importantly, the Temple Mount (known in Arabic as Haram ash-sharīf, the Noble Sanctuary), site of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem with only the Western Wall at its foot remaining, and now with the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_Israel)
A delegation of Latter-day Saint leaders and Jewish dignitaries from the United States gathered at a historic site in Jerusalem to mark the 175th anniversary of an early Mormon apostle’s journey to Jerusalem. On October 24, 1841, Elder Orson Hyde climbed the Mount of Olives under the direction of Joseph Smith, the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to offer a prayer to dedicate the land as a gathering place for the Jewish people.
While in Jerusalem, the delegation met with top government leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. (https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormon-jewish-delegation-jerusalem)
Isaiah 66:15 the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind
Forget all the paintings you have seen of the Second Coming. None of them show the Lord coming in red apparel with fire and surrounded by chariots like a whirlwind. Paint the painting in your own mind. It looks like this:
I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Rev. 19:11-16)
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;
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.
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.
The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.
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.
Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness. (Joel 2:1-6)
Bruce R. McConkie
Before the Lord comes, the wicked and ungodly shall be slain by plague and by pestilence and by the sword; and when he descends with his chariots of fire, the remainder of those who are living a telestial law shall be consumed by the glory of his presence.
Isaiah describes it this way: "For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many." (Isa. 66:15-16.) And Malachi, having more particular reference to the actual hour of his return, asks: "Who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth?" (Mal. 3:2), and then answers: "The day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." (Mal. 4:1.) See 2 Pet. 3:10-18. (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 490)
Bruce R. McConkie
When the Lord comes in his glory, in flaming fire, that fire will both cleanse the vineyard and burn the earth. In that day, so intense shall be the heat and so universal the burning, the very elements of which this earth is composed shall melt. The mountains, high and glorious and made of solid rock, shall melt like wax. (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 526)
Isaiah 66:19 I will set a sign among them
“I will set a sign among them.” And after setting this sign he will send missionaries to Tubal, to Javan, to the isles that are afar off, “to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, and to them that draw the bow.” Isa. 66:19 And it is said concerning the missionaries who are thus sent forth, that “they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.” Isa. 66:19 Then, when the sign is set, the missionaries are sent forth and the glory of God begins to be declared among the Gentiles, the Lord will bring about the gathering of his people Israel, bringing them upon horses, in chariots, in litters, upon swift beasts, and upon mules to his holy mountain in Jerusalem; Isa. 66:20 and he will gather all nations and tongues Isa. 66:18 when that dispensation shall come. (Journal of Discourses, 18:16-17)
Forty-five years have passed away since God brought forth this sign, the Book of Mormon, and sent missionaries to the nations—to Tarshish, Pul, Lud, Tubal, Javan, and to the islands afar off, that have not heard his name neither have seen his glory and these missionaries have declared his glory among the Gentiles. Isa. 66:19 Forty-five years of proclamation to the nations of the Gentiles! (Journal of Discourses, 18:19)
Isaiah 66:20 they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations
Isaiah describes the gathering, this time the gathered souls themselves are the offering unto the Lord. They are the bride coming to meet the Bridegroom. From all nations will they come to be with the Bridegroom and consummate the marriage. They will worship him in the temple but they will need the ordinances of the temple, to be dressed in white before they are ready to enter the bridechamber.
What was the object of gathering the Jews, or the people of God in any age of the world? …The main object was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house. (History of the Church, 5:423)
Isaiah 66:21-22 I will also take of them for priests and for Levites
The Levites have to offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness (D&C 13:1). God will make priests of the Jews. He will find Levites among them. They won’t need to be ordained to the priesthood by a Melchizedek priesthood holder for the priesthood is in their blood according to the covenant. They will perform ordinances in the temple in Jerusalem, “the Levites… shall be ministers in my sanctuary” (Ezek 43:10-11). But there will be one part of the temple where they cannot go, “they shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a [Melchizedek] priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy place: but they shall bear their shame, and their abominations which they have committed. But I will make them keepers of the charge of the house, for all the service thereof.” (Ezek. 43:13-14) The most holy place of the Jerusalem temple will be staffed by priests of the Melchizedek Priesthood (see Ezek. 43:15-23)
When we refer to the last chapter of Isaiah we find a prophecy that has not yet been fulfilled only in part, where the Lord says, “I will set a sign among the people, and I will gather the children of Israel from all nations upon horses, upon mules, in litters, upon swift beasts, back to my holy mountain Jerusalem, and I will take of them for priests and Levites, saith the Lord.” (Isa. 66:19-21) Indeed! Is the Lord going to have priests and Levites after gathering Israel from all nations? Yes. “I will take of them for priests and Levites, saith the Lord.”
Here, then, is a restitution or restoration predicted in the last chapter of Isaiah that the Lord will gather the House of Israel from all lands to His holy mountain Jerusalem, and that He will then take of them for priests and Levites. Furthermore let us see what the following passage says concerning the continuation of this lesser Priesthood of Levi: “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I shall make, shall remain before me, so shall your seed and your name remain;” or in other words your priesthood, the priesthood which I have conferred upon the seed of Levi, shall remain just as eternal as the new heavens and the new earth. If one comes to an end so shall the other; and if one is to be eternal and never to pass away so will the other. If then, such a priesthood is to be restored to the children of men in the last days when God raises up a people to prepare for the ingathering of the House of Israel, where will it come from? I have already proven to you that according to the testimony of all Christendom neither the Jews nor the Christians possess it. Then how will it be restored? It will be restored by the Lord God, who first established that authority on the earth. I have told you how He has restored it. I have told you that an angel, whose name was John the Baptist, on whom rested that priesthood and authority, came down from Heaven and restored it. (Journal of Discourses, 12:360-361)
We can’t finish Isaiah without some summary statement. His greatness must be appreciated. He is trying to teach us with repetition; certain themes are presented over and over again. With Isaiah, recurring themes are a recurring theme. While it seems that many prophets see to the Millennium; Isaiah sees through the Millennium. The following is a list of Millennial themes from all 66 chapters of Isaiah; the frequency of their repetition and representative scriptures are provided.
Isaiah’s Millennial Themes
- The Lord will destroy the wicked by fire and sword, fight Israel’s battles, and lay waste her enemies: “I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity… for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood.” (Isa. 13:11; 49:25-26) This theme is repeated 39 times.
- Jerusalem will be redeemed; there will be peace, joy, comfort, rejoicing, and singing: “I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her nor the voice of crying… the Lord…[is] to comfort all that mourn… to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for morning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness… the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces.” (Isa 65:18-19; 61:3; 25:8) This theme is repeated 28 times.
- Scattered Israel will be gathered from the four corners of the earth to receive inheritance in Jerusalem and Zion: “Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth… For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land.” (Isa 43:5-6; 14:1) This theme is repeated 19 times.
- Great changes to the earth and heavens: “The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage.” (Isa 24:19-20) Similar themes are repeated 19 times.
- Israel is to receive great honor and wealth from kings and the Gentiles: “I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee… for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me… And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side… the forces of the Gentiles shall come to thee.” (Isa. 49:22; 60:3-5) This theme is repeated 18 times.
- The Lord shall dwell in and rule from Zion and Jerusalem: “The Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously… For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.” (Isa. 24:23; 33:22) This theme is repeated 18 times.
- All flesh shall see God with their own eyes: “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it… O Zion… O Jerusalem… be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!” (Isa. 40:5, 9) This theme is repeated 11 times.
- Great changes for man and animal: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them… and the lion shall eat straw like the ox…There shall be nor more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.” (Isa. 11:6-7; 65:20) Similar themes are repeated 9 times.
- The proud will be humbled and the haughty ones laid low: “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. 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.” (Isa 2:11-12) This theme is repeated 8 times.
- Temple worship to be a focus for all people: “Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people… 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.” (Isa 56:7; 2:3) Temple themes are repeated 8 times.