Introduction to Isaiah
“When the resurrected Savior visited the descendants of Lehi gathered at the temple in Bountiful, He quoted Isaiah 54 to them and then gave a remarkable endorsement to the prophet’s writings: ‘Behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah’ (3 Nephi 23:1).
“Many have wished that the Savior had picked an easier text to command us to study. We would prefer that he had said, ‘Master the writings of Omni!’ or ‘Ponder the words of Ruth!’ But the Savior explained why Isaiah’s writings were deserving of His special endorsement. He declared, ‘For surely he [Isaiah] spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles’ (3 Nephi 23:2). Thus, He taught that Isaiah spoke not only to the house of Israel but also to everyone who would hear or read his words. The Savior then added His own testimony of Isaiah’s words: ‘And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake’ (3 Nephi 23:3).
“Knowing that we have been specifically commanded to study Isaiah does not make the text any easier. Many of us view the writings of Isaiah as the brussels sprouts of the scriptures. When they appear on our scriptural plate, we look at them and know that we should partake of them, but we may not be excited about the prospect. Perhaps we race through them as fast as we can, just to finish them. Then we sigh in relief and congratulate ourselves for having accomplished the task, thinking, ‘I know that was good for me, but I don’t know why.’” (Terry Ball and Nathan Winn, Making Sense of Isaiah, [SLC: Deseret Book, 2009], 1-2)
“Isaiah is hard to understand. There are sixty-six chapters and 1,292 verses. People who have made a careful study of the vocabulary find that the book of Isaiah has the largest vocabulary of any book in the Bible. That's rather interesting because the book of Isaiah is written by one man, who was a prophet for nearly fifty years. The vocabulary used in Isaiah is stated as being 2,186 words. The book of Ezekiel contains a vocabulary of 1,535 words; Jeremiah, 1,653; Psalms, 2,170. Compare the vocabulary in Isaiah to the vocabulary in the book of Psalms. Psalms was written by several persons. Whenever there is more than one author, there will certainly be an increase in the vocabulary. Yet the book of Isaiah has a greater variety of words, a greater vocabulary than even the book of Psalms. The astuteness, the greatness, the literary value, the spiritual value, and other aspects of the book of Isaiah make it quite a remarkable scripture. It is almost a course in religion by itself. It is big, complex, but worth the struggle to read it.” (Robert J. Matthews, Selected Writings of Robert J. Matthews: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 200)
“As people become more familiar with Isaiah’s writings, they gradually begin to recognize and understand Isaiah’s dominant themes, key words, and ideas. They see how Israelites throughout the ages can receive inspiration from his messages. They also see how his prophecies can be expanded from an ancient Israelite setting to a latter-day context. This universality is especially evident in the last half of Isaiah’s book, although many of his early pronouncements also have a double fulfillment, with application to his own time and also to a later age…
“Isaiah’s warnings and prophecies cover almost three thousand years of Israelite history. They also foretell the first and second coming of the Messiah, the restoration of the gospel, the gathering of the house of Israel, the events and leaders before the Millennium, and some characteristics of the Millennium. As Christ said about Isaiah, ‘surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel.’ (3 Ne. 23:2)” (Victor Ludlow, Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet, [SLC: Deseret Book, 1982], 2-3)
“The study of Isaiah is a lifelong project. Nobody is going to master Isaiah in one hour or a month or a year. But if we can get excited about the learning process, we will make a lot of progress on our own.” (Robert J. Matthews, Selected Writings of Robert J. Matthews: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 200)
Wherefore, hearken, O my people, which are of the house of Israel, and give ear unto my words; for because the words of Isaiah are not plain unto you, nevertheless they are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy. But I give unto you a prophecy, according to the spirit which is in me; wherefore I shall prophesy according to the plainness which hath been with me from the time that I came out from Jerusalem with my father; for behold, my soul delighteth in plainness unto my people, that they may learn…
But behold, I proceed with mine own prophecy, according to my plainness; in the which I know that no man can err; nevertheless, in the days that the prophecies of Isaiah shall be fulfilled men shall know of a surety, at the times when they shall come to pass.
Wherefore, they are of worth unto the children of men, and he that supposeth that they are not, unto them will I speak particularly, and confine the words unto mine own people; for I know that they shall be of great worth unto them in the last days; for in that day shall they understand them; wherefore, for their good have I written them. (2 Ne. 25:4, 7-8, emphasis added)
“Isaiah was born about 770 B.C. during the reigns of two strong Israelite kings, Jeroboam II and Uzziah. In the northern kingdom of Israel, Jeroboam II was beautifying Samaria and expanding his country’s borders and influence to their greatest extent since Solomon’s time. Likewise, in the southern kingdom of Judah, Uzziah was serving as Jerusalem’s most powerful king since Solomon. This was a time of peace for both kingdoms, since neither Assyria (to the northeast) nor Egypt (to the southwest) had strong rulers who threatened that part of the Middle East. Both Israelite countries were becoming more cosmopolitan as increased trade and prosperity improved the wealth of the urban upper classes. Meanwhile, the lower classes and rural dwellers experienced increased taxes, land expropriations, and social inequities. Idolatry and wickedness permeated all social levels. Thus, wealth, social injustices, immorality, and growing pagan worship came to characterize both societies, with the greatest decadence being in Samaria.” (Victor Ludlow, Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet, [SLC: Deseret Book, 1982], 23)
“The many years of military victories and territorial expansion resulted in prosperity, pride, and a false sense of security. Prophets appeared to condemn the moral and spiritual failings of the Israelites. The warning voices of Amos, Isaiah, Micah, and Hosea were heard in the lands of Israel and Judah. They pronounced with emphatic clarity that Assyria was the greatest political threat to Israelite existence.” (David B. Galbraith, D. Kelly Ogden, Andrew C. Skinner, Jerusalem: the Eternal City, [SLC: Deseret Book, 1996], 86-87)
Isaiah 1:1 Isaiah the son of Amoz
First of all, the prophet Amos was not Isaiah’s father, even though the spelling is similar. Jewish tradition suggests that Isaiah was related to the royal family, but that can’t be known for certain. An interesting vignette in 2 Chronicles gives us an idea about Isaiah’s background, “Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, first and last, did Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, write.” (2 Chron. 26:22) We don’t have Isaiah’s record of Uzziah’s 52-year reign. Isaiah saw his vision, perhaps the beginning of his call as prophet, in the year Uzziah died (Isa. 6:1). This suggests that Isaiah was a royal scribe, employed by the king to record the history of the Jews, and Uzziah’s reign specifically. This would mean he was familiar with the royal family, the power players in Jerusalem, and the history of both the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah. It’s possible that as Uzziah’s reign came to a close, the Lord called him to a new occupation, that of prophet of God.
Isaiah 1:1 The vision of Isaiah… in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah
“We think Isaiah was born about 770 B.C. and received his call as a prophet around 740 B.C., in the days of king Uzziah. He enjoyed an exceptionally long tenure as a prophet. There were occupational hazards associated with being a prophet to an apostate people, and Old Testament prophets often did not live long. Remarkably, Isaiah served during the reigns of four kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. He likely died around 692 B.C. This means he served as a prophet for almost fifty years—an extraordinary length of time in that era. Tradition holds that he was martyred by being placed in a hollow log and sawn asunder by Hezekiah’s wicked son and successor, Manasseh.” (Terry Ball and Nathan Winn, Making Sense of Isaiah, [SLC: Deseret Book, 2009], 3)
Isaiah 1:2-4 I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me
God laments the wickedness of his children. Don’t we all? He had given them everything they needed, and they were ungrateful. Like a dog that bites the hand that feeds it, or a cat that scratches his owner’s face, the Jews were worse than an ox and more stubborn than an ass, for both know their master. It’s the same lamentation found in Enos’ allegory, “what could I have done more in my vineyard? Have I slackened mine hand, that I have not nourished it? Nay, I have nourished it, and I have digged about it, and I have pruned it, and I have dunged it; and I have stretched forth mine hand almost all the day long… and it grieveth me that I should hew down all the trees of my vineyard.” (Jacob 5:47)
What must be the feelings of our Father in heaven, at the disobedience of his children! And what must be the feelings of our fathers, who are behind the veil, when their children despise the counsels of the Lord, and neglect their duties to themselves, and to the Kingdom of God upon the earth, for such a course will lead to their everlasting separation! The Lord says of Israel of old, "I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider." What love and sorrow is conveyed in this quotation! (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 10: 366 - 367)
Isaiah 1:5 Ah sinful nation
The word, sinful, occurs only 3 times in the Old Testament, and the phrase, sinful nation, occurs only once. Isaiah was responsible for a great many unique and powerful phrases.
Isaiah 1:5 Why should ye be stricken any more?
Sinning just hurts the sinner. The Jews were being punished for their wickedness, and more was to come if they didn’t repent. For the Lord, it is like watching a freight train in slow motion as it heads to a broken bridge. He wants to avert the coming disaster but no one will listen.
George Q. Cannon
There is no power on earth or in hell that can hurt this people; we can only hurt ourselves, and the danger of hurting ourselves lies in our taking a wrong course. Remember this, and let it be a consolation to you. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 2, February 23rd, 1890)
Isaiah 1:6 wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores
The Apostle Paul compared the church to the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27). Isaiah is using the same analogy, but says the body is sick from head to toe and covered with putrifying sores. Doesn’t sound good! Israel and Judah were like Job, “with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown” (Job 2:7).
Isaiah 1:7-9 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire
One of the reasons Isaiah can be tricky is that he doesn’t tell you whether the event is past, present, or future. He speaks of future events in the past tense. These verses are a good example. He speaks of destruction as though it had already happened, but it is yet to come. It makes more sense for the modern reader to insert this preface, “While in the Spirit, I saw a vision in which… Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire, etc.”
The fulfillment of this prophecy is multiple. The kingdom of Israel is going to be destroyed by the Assyrians (720 BC). The kingdom of Judah is going to be destroyed by the Babylonians (587 BC). Then again the kingdom of Judah is going to be destroyed by the Romans in the meridian of time (70 AD).
Isaiah 1:9 Except the Lord of Hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom
Once the Assyrians had taken the 10 tribes, and Nebuchadnezzar had taken the Jews to Babylon, there were only a few poor farmers left in the land. It looked almost as bad as Sodom and Gomorrah after their destruction by fire and brimstone (Gen. 19). “A very small remnant” was left in the land of Judah for 70 years while another “very small remnant” was preserved in Babylon, returning later to rebuild the temple and the city (Ezra 1-7).
Isaiah is saying the destruction will be almost as bad as Sodom. The prophet Jeremiah, who witnessed the destruction firsthand, said it was worse than Sodom and Gomorrah, “the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment… The Lord hath… poured out his fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof.” (Lam. 4:6-11)
Isaiah 1:11-15 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me?
The Jews worshipped God quite differently than we. They didn’t go to church each week like we do (exception: New Testament times in synagogues outside Jerusalem). The more religious would go to the temple regularly and offer sacrifice. The outer court of Solomon’s temple (tel. kingdom) was a meeting place. In Isaiah’s day, the temple was a busy place. The altars were full of animals, and the temple was full of people socializing and networking. The forms of religion had taken on a life to themselves and the spirit of the covenant was lost. The hypocrisy of Isaiah’s day was form without substance, letter of the law without the Spirit, outward righteousness without inner holiness. Hence, the Lord laments, “I am sick of all these burnt offerings, and what are all these people doing, treading the courts of my temple?”
The Lord complains about the incense offered by the priests in the holy place (terr. kingdom). The incense is supposed to symbolize the humble prayers of the righteous rising to the heavens as a sweet smell to the Lord (Rev. 8:3-4). The incense was being offered regularly by the priests but humble prayers by the patrons were not.
If the Jerusalem Jews didn’t go to church or synagogue every Sabbath, then what did they do? Well, they had national celebrations: new moons, feasts, solemn assemblies, which were part of the Law of Moses. They were all designed to put the “holy” in holi-day. These had become cultural events that had lost their religious significance.
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 there wolves among the flock? The following is a rough, latter-day paraphrasing of Isaiah’s denunciation of hypocrisy:
“To what purpose is the multitude of your church meetings unto me? Saith the Lord: I am full of shallow prayers, feigned gratitude, and trite testimonies. When ye come to church, seek ye my face or seek ye to be seen of men? When ye make your offerings, if your heart is still set on riches, what good is thy tithing unto me? Are not the heavens and the earth my footstool? Do I need thy money or require thy heart? What of your Sabbath days? They are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. Your holidays are no longer holy and your feasts my soul hateth. Your lips speak softly, and your hearts think evil. Ye speak evil of mine anointed and reveal the malice of thine heart. I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your heart is full of deceit.”
Isaiah 1:16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil
Gordon B. Hinckley
When I was a boy living here in Salt Lake City, most homes were heated with coal stoves. Black smoke belched forth from almost every chimney. As winter came to a close, black soot and grime were everywhere, both inside and outside of the house. There was a ritual through which we passed each year, not a very pleasant one, as we viewed it. It involved every member of the family. It was known as springcleaning. When the weather warmed after the long winter, a week or so was designated as cleanup time. It was usually when there was a holiday and included two Saturdays.
My mother ran the show. All of the curtains were taken down and laundered. Then they were carefully ironed. The windows were washed inside and out, and oh, what a job that was in that big two-story house. Wallpaper was on all of the walls, and Father would bring home numerous cans of wallpaper cleaner. It was like bread dough, but it was a pretty pink in color when the container was opened. It had an interesting smell, a pleasant, refreshing kind of smell. We all pitched in. We would knead some of the cleaning dough in our hands, climb a ladder, and begin on the high ceiling and then work down the walls. The dough was soon black from the dirt it lifted from the paper. It was a terrible task, very tiring, but the results were like magic. We would stand back and compare the dirty surface with the clean surface. It was amazing to us how much better the clean walls looked.
All of the carpets were taken up and dragged out to the backyard, where they were hung over the clothesline, one by one. Each of us boys would have what we called a carpet beater, a device made of light steel rods with a wooden handle. As we beat the carpet, the dust would fly, and we would have to keep going until there was no dust left. We detested that work. But when all of it was done, and everything was back in place, the result was wonderful. The house was clean, our spirits renewed. The whole world looked better.
This is what some of us need to do with our lives. Isaiah said:
Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
Learn to do well. …
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 (Isa. 1:16–18).
“Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord” (D&C 133:5). Thus has He spoken to us in modern revelation. Be clean in body. Be clean in mind. Be clean in language. Be clean in dress and manner. (“Be Ye Clean,” Ensign, May 1996, 47-48)
Richard G. Scott
If you, through poor judgment, were to cover your shoes with mud, would you leave them that way? Of course not. You would cleanse and restore them. Would you then gather the residue of mud and place it in an envelope to show others the mistake that you made? No. Neither should you continue to relive forgiven sin. Every time such thoughts come into your mind, turn your heart in gratitude to the Savior, who gave His life that we, through faith in Him and obedience to His teachings, can overcome transgression and conquer its depressing influence in our lives. I promise you that if you will read the Book of Mormon with sincerity of purpose, striving to be obedient to its precepts, you will find two beloved friends. They will change your life and give it meaning and purpose as they have mine. (“We Love You—Please Come Back,” Ensign, May 1986, 10)
Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed
Alexander B. Morrison
Old Testament prophets, including Isaiah, Amos, and Micah, proclaimed that God is deeply concerned with how people treat each other. Isaiah wrote, "Cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow" (Isa. 1:16-17). And Amos proclaimed, "Let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream" (Amos 5:24). Micah asked, "What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8). From these teachings flowed the emphasis in Jewish history upon justice and mercy as religious duties. Jesus drew upon that tradition when He said, "Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God" (Luke 11:42). (Zion: A Light in the Darkness [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 58)
Isaiah 1:18 come now, and let us reason together
Gordon B. Hinckley
Believe in prayer and the power of prayer. Pray to the Lord with the expectation of answers. I suppose there is not a man or woman in this entire congregation today who doesn't pray. I hope that is so. The trouble with most of our prayers is that we give them as if we were picking up the telephone and ordering groceries—we place our order and hang up. We need to meditate, contemplate, think of what we are praying about and for and then speak to the Lord as one man speaketh to another. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord" (Isa. 1:18). That is the invitation. Believe in the power of prayer—it is real, it is wonderful, it is tremendous. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 469)
Isaiah 1:18 though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow
Gordon B. Hinckley
I love the mercy of the Lord as I read of mercy and forgiveness, which run as a thread of gold through the fabric of all our scriptures. I begin with the invitation given in Isaiah: “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.” (Isa. 1:18.) I find that same wonderful element in what I regard as the most beautiful and touching of stories ever told—the parable of the prodigal son as given in the fifteenth chapter of Luke. This parable is a marvelous lesson on mercy for every parent, and an even greater lesson on the mercy of our Father toward his wayward sons and daughters.
The same spirit of forgiveness and mercy is found repeatedly throughout the Book of Mormon. For instance, Nephi declared that the Lord “inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” (2 Ne. 26:33.)
The same thread of love and forgiveness runs through modern revelation. In the Doctrine and Covenants, we read: “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” (D&C 58:42.) If only we, when we have forgiven, might forget forever the trespass committed against us!
I love the mercy of the Lord as it is set forth in his declarations and in the declarations of his prophets. (“Feasting upon the Scriptures,” Ensign, Dec. 1985, 44)
Gordon B. Hinckley
I know of no more beautiful story in all literature than that found in the 15th chapter of Luke. It is the story of a repentant son and a forgiving father. It is the story of a son who wasted his inheritance in riotous living, rejecting his father’s counsel, spurning those who loved him. When he had spent all, he was hungry and friendless, and “when he came to himself” (Luke 15:17), he turned back to his father, who, on seeing him afar off, “ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).
I ask you to read that story. It is large enough to encompass every household, and enough larger than that to encompass all mankind, for are we not all prodigal sons and daughters who need to repent and partake of the forgiving mercy of our Heavenly Father and then follow His example?
His Beloved Son, our Redeemer, reaches out to us in forgiveness and mercy, but in so doing He commands repentance. A true and magnanimous spirit of forgiveness will become an expression of that required repentance. (“Words of the Prophet: You Can Be Forgiven,” New Era, Oct 2001, 4)
Spencer W. Kimball
A young woman approached me in a city far from my home and came under some pressure from her husband. She admitted to me that she had committed adultery. She was a bit hard and unyielding, and finally said: “I know what I have done. I have read the scriptures, and I know the consequences. I know that I am damned and can never be forgiven, and therefore why should I try now to repent?”
My reply to her was: “My dear sister, you do not know the scriptures. You do not know the power of God nor his goodness. You can be forgiven for this terrible sin, but it will take much sincere repentance to accomplish it.”
I reminded her of the Lord’s words in our dispensation to the effect that whoever repents and obeys God’s commandments will be forgiven. (See D&C 1:32.) My visitor looked bewildered but seemed to be yearning as though she wanted to believe it. I continued:
“For all but the unpardonable sin forgiveness eventually will come to that transgressor who repents sorely enough, long enough, sincerely enough.”
She remonstrated again, though she was beginning to yield. She wanted so much to believe it. She said she had known all her life that adultery was unforgivable. And I turned again to the scriptures and read to her the oft-repeated statement of Jesus:
All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. (Matt. 12:31–32.)
Realizing that hope is the first requirement, I continued by reading many scriptures to her, to build up the hope that was now awakened within her.
How great the joy to feel and know that God will forgive sinners! Jesus declared in his Sermon on the Mount: “Your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matt. 6:14.) This is on certain conditions, of course.
In modern revelation the Lord has said to his prophet: “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” (D&C 58:42.). Our Lord gave the same word through the prophet Jeremiah: “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:34.) How gracious is the Lord!
On the occasion I am recalling, this woman, who was basically good, straightened up and looked me in the eye, and in her voice was a new power and resoluteness as she said: “Thank you, thank you! I believe you. I shall really repent and wash my filthy garments in the blood of the Lamb and obtain that forgiveness.”
Not long ago, she returned to my office a new person—bright of eye, light of step, full of hope as she declared to me that, since that memorable day when hope had seen a star and had clung to it, she had never reverted to her sin nor any approaches to it.
Richard G. Scott
When repentance is full and one has been cleansed, there comes a new vision of life and its glorious possibilities. How marvelous the promise of the Lord: “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” The Lord is and ever will be faithful to His words.
If you have a troubled conscience from broken laws, I plead, please come back. Come back to the cool, refreshing waters of personal purity. Come back to the warmth and security of Father in Heaven’s love. Come back to the serenity and peace of conscience that come from living the commandments of God. (“Peace of Conscience and Peace of Mind,” Ensign, Nov 2004, 15–18)
Richard G. Scott
Seek out your bishop. He will show you how to repent and will help you do it. As you pray and act, you will be led to others who will support you. Repentance is a process of cleansing. It is difficult, but it has an end, a glorious end with peace and refreshing forgiveness and the miracle of a new beginning. Confession of improper acts is an important step but that is not full repentance. Your bishop will carefully explain what you must do. I will mention two aspects of repentance that bring great healing power. One is found in this declaration of the Master:
That scripture emphasizes that the Lord cannot abide sin but He will forgive the repentant sinner because of His perfect love. It also teaches that not only is it important to keep a commandment you have broken, but by obeying all of the commandments you will obtain additional power and support in the process of repentance.
Another vital aspect of repentance is to recognize the role of the Savior through His Atonement. Indeed, it is that very Atonement that makes repentance even possible. As you pray and ponder the role of Jesus Christ as your Savior and Redeemer, you will acquire great motivation and encouragement to help you repent. (“To Be Free of Heavy Burdens,” Liahona, Nov 2002, 86–88)
Isaiah 1:19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land
This idea is repeated in the D&C, “Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.”
Isaiah 1:21 How is the faithful city become an harlot!
“Whether interpreting Jerusalem’s past, decrying her present, or revealing her future, the most imposing figure during the days of the divided kingdoms was Isaiah the prophet. That prophet-statesman had unquestionably the greatest effect on Jerusalem’s history of all the prophets from David to Christ…
“At his call to the prophetic office, Isaiah saw the Lord. Isaiah was an eyewitness. His vision dispels the sectarian notion of a god without body, parts, and passions; the Lord was sitting on a throne and his train (the skirts of his robe), symbolic of his glory, filled the Temple. The new prophet was instructed to likewise fill the streets of Jerusalem with the voice of warning, to identify the sins of the people and command repentance in the name of the Lord. He lamented the depths of their fallen conditions: ‘How is the faithful city become an harlot! It was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers’ (Isa. 1:21). In the first five chapters of his writings Isaiah itemizes the dark list of sins: rebellion, apostasy, oppression of the poor and innocent, corruption of court and legal processes, thievery, bribery, idolatry, sorcery and wizardry, materialism, pride, haughtiness, collapse of social order, juvenile gangs, delinquency, lawlessness, violence, insolence against elders, immorality, drunkenness, and riotous living. He even compared the city to Sodom.” (David B. Galbraith, D. Kelly Ogden, Andrew C. Skinner, Jerusalem: the Eternal City, [SLC: Deseret Book, 1996], 85-86)
Isaiah 1:26 I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counselors as at the beginning
Jerusalem is the Lord’s city (Matt. 23:37). A common theme is the restoration of Jerusalem to righteousness. God longs for the day! The judges must be righteous, the counselors must be righteous, and the priests must “offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness” (D&C 13:1). It is part of the restitution of all things (Acts 3:21). It is part of the redemption of Zion. Jerusalem must be a holy city. The righteousness of Jerusalem in the last days will be the gem in the crown of the King of Kings—the crowing culmination of the gathering of Israel and the restoration of the 10 tribes.
Isaiah 1:25-27 I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and… Zion shall be redeemed
George Q. Cannon
Redemption of Zion not understood. The Lord acts with us as we act with our children, to some extent. He does not tell us everything. I suppose that if the early Elders of this Church could have seen all that we had to pass through and the length of time that would elapse before the redemption of Zion was achieved, they would have fainted by the wayside and have felt that human nature could not endure such trials.
I know, in my early recollections of the teachings of the Elders, they imagined, judging from their remarks, that it would be only a few years before Zion would be redeemed. When we were coming to these valleys, I happened to be present when some of the Twelve Apostles were talking concerning the future, and the recollection of that conversation is in my mind now; and I know that, though they were inspired men and filled with revelation, they did not conceive, as we now can conceive, of the events that would take place before Zion would be redeemed. It was necessary, seemingly, according to the mind of the Lord, that they should be encouraged with the hope that their efforts would result in complete triumph…
Let us labor continually for the redemption of Zion and for the time when the promises which God has made to Zion will be fulfilled that we may build the center Stake of Zion and rear the house of the Lord there. (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 33)
George Q. Cannon
Joseph said in the beginning that it was the duty of the Elders of this Church to labor constantly to build up Zion and not to build up that which is opposed to Zion. . . . God has not required it of me that I should build up anything that is opposed to Zion but on the contrary that I should always keep in my thoughts and be influenced by it in my actions that which will advance the cause of Zion and that which will not retard it or operate against it in any manner. (Aug. 26, 1883, JD 26:320)
I do not know any better thing that we can engage in than to build up the Zion of God. It is as good and as great a labor as we can be engaged in; in fact, it is the labor which God has assigned unto us as a people and as individuals, and if any of us are engaged in anything else, we are not in the line of our duty, and we should turn aside from that and pursue the path which God has marked out. Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 35)