Pattern of Isaiah's prophecies
Chapter 30 is not the easiest of chapters to understand. Sometimes, when the interpretation is less clear, a good philosophy is to step back and look at the big picture. With Isaiah 30, we see a pattern which occurs over and over in his prophecies. The same topics are repeated consistently in many chapters. Typically, Isaiah first discusses the wickedness of the Israelites; he mentions their imminent destruction by the Assyrians or Babylonians; he then revels in the beauties of righteous Israel and the glory of Zion in the Millennium; lastly he mentions the violent destruction of the wicked at the Second Coming. The order may change slightly from chapter to chapter, but the themes are repeated very consistently.
Therefore, if the student cannot understand the exact reference, the precise metaphor, or a particular message, an examination of the subject matter of the surrounding verses can be very helpful. A look at the pattern and structure of Isaiah 30 is very typical:
Wickedness of the Israelites (Isaiah 30:1-11)
Imminent destruction as the consequence (Isaiah 30:12-17)
Glories of the millennial day are reviewed (Isaiah 30:18-26)
Wicked destroyed by fire at the Second Coming (Isaiah 30:27-33)
Isaiah 30:1 the rebellious children... cover with a covering, but not of my spirit
What are the rebellious children giving up? They are giving up being covered with a covering of the Spirit. They don't want the feeling of the Spirit like a warm blanket around their soul. They don't want that warm feeling, nor do they seek the higher ordinances.
To "cover with my spirit" is a good figure for the endowment. One of the meanings of the word endue is to clothe, "To put on; to invest; clothe... To provide with some quality or power; to supply; as endued with heavenly grace." (Webster's New English Dictionary, Unabridged, 2nd ed., [Springfield, Mass: G. & C. Merriam Co., 1945], 846)
"Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language (published in 1828) noted that the English word endue (or indue) 'coincides nearly in signification with endow, that is, to put on, to furnish, ... to put on something; to invest; to clothe.' The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary notes that endue means 'to put on as a garment; to clothe or cover.' Indeed, Joseph Smith's diary uses the spellings endument and endowment interchangeably, as when he prayed in December 1835 that all the elders might 'receive an endument, in thy house.'
"The Greek word enduo has two main meanings. The first is 'to dress, to clothe someone,' or 'to clothe oneself in, to put on.' Second, the word can also be used figuratively, meaning to take on 'characteristics, virtues, intentions.'
Thus, the endowment is a dressing not in ordinary clothes, but 'with power from on high' (Luke 24:49) and in the virtues and intentions of God. It involves the opportunity to 'put on [enedusasthe] Christ' (Gal. 3:27), so that 'this mortal [can] put on [endusasthai] immortality.' (1 Cor. 15:53.) It is possible to see both literal and figurative significance in the word enduo in connection with the desire of the pure in heart to be encircled in the robes of God's righteousness. (John W. Welch, "New Testament Word Studies," Ensign, Apr. 1993, 29)
Isaiah 30:10 speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits
Another branch of Israel had the same problem-they only liked prophets who flattered them. The cry still goes on, "Tell us what we want to hear!"
Yea, wo unto this people, because of this time which has arrived, that ye do cast out the prophets, and do mock them, and cast stones at them, and do slay them, and do all manner of iniquity unto them, even as they did of old time.
And now when ye talk, ye say: If our days had been in the days of our fathers of old, we would not have slain the prophets; we would not have stoned them, and cast them out.
Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.
But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth-and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.
Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.
O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?
Yea, behold, the anger of the Lord is already kindled against you; behold, he hath cursed the land because of your iniquity. (Helaman 13:24-30)
Harold B. Lee
You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory." (DC 21:6) (Conference Report, Oct. 1970, p. 152)
Isaiah 30:18 therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you
Marion D. Hanks
The people of Israel were listening all right, but to the voices of pagan, materialistic Egypt. They had forsaken God for the siren sound of the great secular strength which Egypt could offer. They thought to defend themselves with the strength of Pharoah. They trusted in chariots because there were many, and in horsemen because they were strong.
They would not listen to the law of the Lord nor look to the Holy One of Israel. They admonished the seers to see not and the prophets to prophesy not unto them "right things," but to speak that which would tickle their ears and satisfy their unrighteous hearts. Their confidence was in temporal power, and in their idols of gold and silver.
They would learn, said the Lord, that there is no warmth or protection in a covering which is not of his spirit. They must pay the price of their evil. There is, after all, no ideal solution to sin. The strength of Pharoah, He said, would be their shame, and their trust in the shadow of Egypt their confusion. The Egyptians were men and not God. There are no horses strong or fast enough to outrun justice.
But God is not pleased to have his children fail or have them be frustrated in rebellion and the sorrow that comes with sin. He has no joy in our failure. His joy comes when we turn unto him and live. This He repeatedly told us, and perhaps most impressively in that great eighteenth chapter of Ezekiel, where He dealt with a current problem, and it is current now, as to personal responsibility and parental responsibility. He said to them on many occasions through the mouth of that great prophet that He had no joy in the sufferings of His children through sin. His joy was when His children learned and repented.
. . In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you .... that he may have mercy upon you: . . . (Isa. 30:15, Isa. 30:18)
(May 28, 1964, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1964, p. 5)
Marion D. Hanks
I am one who believes that God loves and will never cease to love all of his children, and that he will not cease to hope for us or reach for us or wait for us. In Isaiah it is written:
"And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you" (Isa. 30:18).
And yet over the earth, across the years, I have met some of God's choicest children who find it very difficult to believe in their hearts that he really means them. They know that he is the source of comfort and pardon and peace and that they must seek him and open the door for him and accept his love, and yet even in their extremity they find it difficult to believe that his promised blessings are for them. Some have offended God and their own consciences and are earnestly repentant but they find the way back blocked by their unwillingness to forgive themselves or to believe that God will forgive them, or sometimes by a strange reluctance in some of us to really forgive, to really forget, and to really rejoice. ("He Means Me," Ensign, May 1979, 74-75)
Isaiah 30:21 This is the way, walk ye in it
Marion D. Hanks
And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
That was their promise. We have the same promise, that if we will listen to the law of the Lord, if we will see through the eyes of the seer, if we will hear the words of the prophets when they testify to us right things, if we will listen to the oracles-past and present-to wise teachers, humble parents, honest friends; if we will listen to the voice of the Spirit, to the still, small voice, then we will learn the right way and to walk in it. (May 28, 1964, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1964, p. 5)
Thomas S. Monson
At length [a] weary young man stood one Sunday morning before a church of a typical town. He listened carefully as the bell began to peal. The sound was familiar. It was unlike any other he had heard, save that bell which pealed in the memory of his childhood days. Yes, it was the same bell. Its ring was true. His eyes filled with tears. His heart rejoiced in gladness. His soul overflowed with gratitude. The young man dropped to his knees, looked upward beyond the bell tower-even toward heaven-and in a prayer of gratitude whispered, "Thanks be to God. I'm home."
Like the peal of a remembered bell will be the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the soul of him who earnestly seeks. Many of you have traveled long in a personal quest for that which rings true. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends forth to you an earnest appeal. Open your doors to the missionaries. Open your minds to the word of God. Open your hearts, even your very souls, to the sound of that still, small voice which testifies of truth. As the prophet Isaiah promised: "Thine ears shall hear a word ... saying, This is the way, walk ye in it." (Isa. 30:21.) Then, like the boy of whom I've spoken, you too will, on bended knee, say to your God and mine: "I'm home!" ("The Way Home," Ensign, May 1975, 17)
Isaiah 30:26 the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold
At the Second Coming, the cosmic changes that will occur to the earth are hard to comprehend. What will happen to the earth's orbit? Will the earth be moved closer to the sun? Will the sun increase its light and energy? Will the earth be moved into another solar system altogether? This is not the time of a "new heaven and a new earth" (Rev. 21:1) for that occurs after the Millennium and the little season. Certainly, the greatest changes will occur then, but the light of the sun increasing sevenfold is quite a dramatic change. The earth as we know it could not survive such a climate change.
Is [God] not able to cause the great centre of our system, the sun, to give forth more heat, sufficient to consume the wicked and melt the earth by its intensity? Yes, I recollect reading in one of the prophecies of Isaiah in relation to this matter. I recollect reading too in the revelations of St. John that men should be scorched with great heat. Revelation 16:8. It was to be one of the great judgments of the latter-days, as seen by that inspired man. And Isaiah in speaking on this subject, says, "Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold," etc. Suppose the heat should be increased in the same proportion that the light is increased; or, in other words, supposing that our thermometers, when standing at a hundred degrees Fahrenheit, should be increased to 700 degrees Fahrenheit, what would be the effect? A general conflagration over the whole face of the globe would be produced, thereby fulfilling the ancient as well as the modern prophecy.
But we will pass on. It is not for us, unless we have some definite instructions by the word of God, to tell how He is going to accomplish His great purposes. It is sufficient for us to know that he will do it. We are told this burning is to be universal, so far as all the proud, and all that do wickedly are concerned. It seems, then, it is to be one of the last destructions of the wicked. Prior to this there will be numerous destructions, by way of earthquakes, plagues, hailstorms, wars, etc., that will prevail and that will sweep away millions from the face of our globe. But the great judgment that is to cleanse the earth from all sin, is to be by the element of fire. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 20: 14 - 16.)
Isaiah 30:29 Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept
At the Second Coming, the Lord's lips will be "full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire." As the fire destroys the wicked, where will the righteous be? Hopefully they will be standing in holy places, praying, singing, and waiting for their Lord. The Passover is a type for the destruction of the wicked at the Second Coming. While the Egyptians were destroyed, the Israelites were safe in their homes. So will the wicked be at the end of the world. Isaiah points out that the righteous at the Second Coming will be like the Jewish Passover celebrations, with songs sung commemorating the Lord's deliverance from oppression.
"Passover songs are those songs that have been traditionally connected with the end of the seder (or ceremonial dinner), the festive meal associated with this Jewish festival. Playing these songs forms an essential part of the celebration. While most songs are played in the second half after dinner, "Ma Nishtanah" and "Dayenu" are sung during the main part of the seder, before the meal called the "Maggid" of the seder. It is a part of the custom of the seder, devoted to telling the story of the Exodus." (http://www.happypassover.net/songs/traditional-songs.html)