Isaiah 44:6 I am the first, and I am the last
Many have had difficulty understanding that Jesus Christ of the New Testament is the same individual as Jehovah of the Old Testament. Even if we look at the overall tone of the New Testament, at times, Jesus is treated more like a man that became God than a God that became man (Phil 2:5-9). The Book of Mormon perspective, however, is different. Nephi understood that Jehovah, the God of Israel, would have to be born in the humblest of circumstances in the meridian of time (1 Ne. 11:26-28). Nephi understood "the condescension of God" and was horrified that He would have to be judged of the world (1 Ne. 11:32). Indeed, how can anyone truly understand "the condescension of God" without knowing what high and exalted position Jesus held prior to his birth. He was the Holy One of Israel, the Lord the King of Israel, the Lord of Hosts.
This scripture proves it. Jehovah is "the first, and... the last." This is the same terminology used in John's revelation of Jesus Christ, "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last" (Rev. 1:11). To the Nephites, the resurrected Lord would declare, "Behold, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel" (3 Ne. 15:5). Can you imagine the uproar such a statement would have caused during Christ's mortal ministry? The detractors asked, "Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?" (John 8:53) Jesus could have replied, "I am the Holy One of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Jehovah that gave the Law to Moses on Sinai. I am the first and the last." How would that answer have been received by the scribes and Pharisees?
This scripture answers the question, "Was Christ a man that became God or a God that became man?"
Isaiah 44:9-20 They that make a graven image are all of them vanity
"Isaiah 44 and 45 make it clear that it is both foolish and wrong for Israel to "set up the wood of [a] graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save." (Isa. 45:20.) Such a god could neither protect them physically nor bless and redeem them spiritually. Only Jehovah could and can do that. The only God for Israel is Jehovah. Israel is his peculiar people; they belong to him by covenant and have a special mission. To fulfill that mission, the children of Israel, then and now, need to worship the God of Israel with all their hearts, minds, and strength. (See Matt. 22:37; D&C 59:5.)...
"It is vital, then, that Israel have no other gods before, after, or in place of Jehovah. It is he who atoned for the sins of all who have or ever will reside upon the earth. In this context, to worship or revere any other god would be to commit idolatry and to denigrate his supreme act of love for the children of our Heavenly Father.
"Perhaps we should ask ourselves: If we know that Jehovah, or Jesus, is the Christ, and if we have taken upon ourselves his holy name through baptism, with what devotion should we worship him? With what watchfulness and rigor should we learn of him and keep his commandments? With what purity of heart should we remember him? With what introspection and caution should we avoid worshipping the 'gods' of this world?
"As we answer these questions, we gain a greater understanding of the Lord's declarations to Isaiah that there is no other object than He that is worthy of our devotion and worship." (Keith L. Sellers and Victor G. Forsnes, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Dec. 1989, 53)
Isaiah 44:13-18 He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part therof he...roasteth roast... And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image
This example is a great one for mocking the idolaters. A man takes a tree, whether a cedar, cypress, or oak; he divides it into three parts: one goes into the fire to keep himself warm, one goes into the oven to cook his food, and the other is made into an idol. The man was master over the portion that was thrown into the fire. He was god over the portion placed in his oven. But the third portion somehow is greater than he. How is a man to know which third of a tree is divine and which part is to be used for heating and cooking? Were there botanical diviners who could designate the holy portion of any tree? Really, Isaiah asks, how stupid is it to make your own idol and then bow down to it?
How ridiculous is it to impute intelligence to an inanimate object? How absurd is it to make an idol with your own hands and then give it your heart? How preposterous is it to change the order of things so that man makes god instead of God makes man?
Abraham's father was an idolater, so for him the issue was a big one. The following story demonstrates Abraham's technique for mocking idolatry.
"Terah said to his son, 'My son Abraham, come with me to the assembly of King Nimrod, our god.' Abraham said, 'I cannot go out thither.' Terah said to him, 'Then sit with the idols until we come from thence,' and he did so. So Terah went, and Abraham sat with the idols, even the idols of the king, who were there. And when Abraham saw that the king went to his meetinghouse, he took in his hand an ax. And when he saw the statues of the king sitting, he said, 'the Lord is God, the Lord is God,' and he threw them from off their throne to the earth and struck them a great blow. With the biggest he began and with the smallest he finished. Of one he cut off his feet, of another he chopped off his head, of another he broke his eyes, and of another he smashed his feet. When all of them were broken, Abraham left.
"When the days of the feasting were completed, the king came to his house. Now before this, when he [Abraham] smashed them, he placed the ax in the hand of the biggest of the idols. So when the king saw the idols broken, he said, 'Who was here and who is the one who thought to do this?' then answered all the people, weeping and saying, 'Our lord the king, you know that Abraham was sitting beside them and we have heard that he broke them.' And the king commanded to bring Abraham before him and they brought him, and the king and the princes said to him, 'Why did you break our gods?' He said, 'It was not I. I did not break them, but the big one broke them. Don't you see the ax in his hand? And if you don't believe me, ask him and he will tell [you].' And when he [Nimrod] heard his words, he was angry with him unto death, and he said to take him to the prison, and he commanded the warden of the prison not to give him bread to eat or water to drink." (Tvedtnes, Hauglid, & Gee, Traditions About the Early Life of Abraham [Provo: FARMS, 2001], 171)
Abraham, inspired by the Lord, went on a certain occasion into the temple of these gods and smote them right and left, upsetting and breaking them in pieces. His father came in and asked what he had been doing, what great sin this was that he had committed, why he was so sacrilegious in his feelings and so wicked as to seek to destroy these gods? Said he, "Father, I did not do anything to them, they quarreled among themselves and went to work fighting and knocked one another down, broke one another's heads and knocked off one another's arms and legs." "Oh," said his father, "my sons do not tell me anything of that kind, for they are made of wood and they could not move or stir from their place nor knock one another down; it has been some other agency that has done it." "Why, father," said he, "would you worship a being that could not stir or move, that had hands and could not handle, that had legs and could not walk, a mouth that could not speak, and a head and it was of no use? Would you worship a being like that?" (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 14: 359 - 361)
Isaiah 44:28 Cyrus... shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built
George Albert Smith
One hundred and forty years before Cyrus the Great was born, the prophet Isaiah predicted his birth and announced his name and said that he should overthrow Babylon; also that he would rebuild Jerusalem, notwithstanding the fact that he was alien to all the interests of the Jews (Isa. 44:28; Isa. 45:1)...
The Old Testament is replete with remarkable and almost unbelievable prophecies that were fulfilled to the letter. Only by the revelations of the Lord could the prophets have known what was to occur and only God could fulfill their predictions. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joseph, and others were human beings like their fellows, but they were chosen to represent the Lord and the inspiration of the Almighty directed their utterances and the power of the Lord fulfilled their promises. (Conference Report, April 1945, pp. 135-139)