Interpretation and Commentary on Isaiah 48 & 1st Nephi 20

Interpretation and Commentary on Isaiah 48 & 1st Nephi 20

[Editorial Note: For many years I wondered why Joseph and Oliver kept the visitation of Christ, Moses, Elias and Elijah a secret from the membership of the church. Additionally, I could not figure out why the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham was restored at the time when the saints were expecting the dispensation of the fulness of times to be ushered in. I now believe that Isaiah provides the answers to these pressing questions]

1 Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism, who swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, yet they swear not in truth nor in righteousness.

First of all, we are informed from the text that this prophecy has to do with Gods apostate people who do not partake of the ordinances of salvation righteously, even though they have entered into covenant with the Lord through the ordinance of baptism.

Instead of being called after they name of Christ, as a result of baptism, they are identified as Israel possibly identified according to patriarchal blessings (see verse 1)

The phrase “OUT OF THE WATERS OF BAPTISM in what is now 1 Nephi 20:1, is a phrase which Joseph Smith evidently added to the 1840 edition, intended only as an explanation in parentheses. It does not appear in the 1849 edition.

The same portion reads in modern LDS editions thus:

. . . and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism, who swear by the name of the Lord, . . . (1 Nephi 20:1, emphasis added)

It was supposed to be added (if at all) in Joseph Smith’s parentheses. Dr. Royal Skousen explains:

The LDS text . . . did not adopt this extra phrase until the 1920 edition, but in that edition the parentheses were replaced by commas. . . . This change can mislead the reader into thinking that this parenthetical comment was actually part of the original text, even perhaps concluding not only that this extra phrase is the original biblical text, but also that some scribe deliberately edited it out of the Hebrew text because of its reference to baptism, assumed to be a strictly Christian practice. Joseph Smith’s probable intention was to provide an interpretative reading. There is no evidence to suggest in any way that he was restoring the original text of the Book of Mormon, especially since the original manuscript is here extant and it agrees with the reading of the King James Bible (which follows the traditional Hebrew text) and is also in agreement with all other ancient versions of the text insofar as they all lack this extra phrase mentioning baptism. [Royal Skousen. Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon. . . . Part One (Provo, Utah: The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, Brigham Young University, 2004), p. 427]

It is interesting that Joseph Smith did make note that the phrase waters of Judah was synonymous with the phrase waters of baptism, almost as if he wanted to alert people to the fact that the text is referring to the latter day saints.

As previously blogged about, the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of Judah began coming into the church when the gospel of Abraham was restored to the earth as documented in section 110 and Joseph Smith began establishing foreign missions.

The latter day restoration movement brought the waters of baptism to the remnants  of Judah. Another possible inference may have to do with the fact that the carnal commandments of the preparatory gospel, including that of water baptism, is often administered by those of Levi from the kingdom of Judah.

The people being spoken of are living in the last days, just prior to and leading up to the time when they are called out of Babylon. (see verse 20 and also possibly confirmed by Josephs observation about baptism)

On with the commentary and interpretation-

2 Nevertheless, they call themselves of the holy city, but they do not stay themselves upon the God of Israel, who is the Lord of Hosts; yea, the Lord of Hosts is his name.

3 Behold, I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them. I did show them suddenly.

The Lord informs us that he gave  latter day Israel a gospel of former things and he did it SUDDENLY after they swear falsely with the baptismal covenant. (See verse 3)

Websters dictionary: SUD’DENLY, adv. In an unexpected manner; unexpectedly; hastily; without preparation.

the prophetic use of the term suddenly when referring to the Lord virtually always has to do with actions he takes when his people are in apostasy and they need some kind of intervention or chastisement.

If you will do a key word search on the word suddenly in the four standard works, you will see an amazing pattern to support this supposition-

Such as when the lord spoke suddenly to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, to chastise Aaron and Miriam.

Another example is the Lord appeared suddenly to Paul on the way to Demscus, to chastise him for persecuting the Saints.

A third example is given in Deuteronomy when the Lords warns those that intermarry with the heathen that he will destroy them suddenly.

Jeremiah tells us that at the time of the Lords vengeance, Babylon will fall suddenly.

In Modern revelation it was prophesied that the Lord would come suddenly to his temple with a curse to judgment upon all the nations that forget God, and upon all the ungodly among you (speaking to the Saints).

All of the above passages support a reoccurring theme, the Lord acts SUDDENLY when an intervention, a chastisement, and something NEW to intervene needs to take place as a result of apostasy.

Virtually all prophecies have a dual fulfillment. The first fulfillment of the latter day prophecy that the Lord would come suddenly to his temple took place in the Kirtland Temple on April 3rd 1836. As previously blogged about, Joseph, Oliver and Warren kept the events contained in section 110 a secret.

These event were never publicly disclosed to the Kirtland Saints living at that time.

It was a secret event that involved the restoration of former things.

4 And I did it because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass;

The Lord confirms that he acted suddenly because his people were obstinate, hence, some type of intervention was needed (see verse 4)

5 And I have even from the beginning declared to thee; before it came to pass I showed them thee; and I showed them for fear lest thou shouldst say—Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image hath commanded them.

The Lord declares that he had shown his people anciently what would happen to their descendants in the latter days. Moses prophesied that Israel would go whoring after false Gods in the latter days. Everything that happened in Kirtland had been foretold anciently.

6 Thou hast seen and heard all this; and will ye not declare them? And that I have showed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.

The Lord declares that this sudden intervention with the dispensing of a gospel from an older time represents NEW THINGS. He further reveals that it was a hidden thing at the time that the intervention was transacted and that the people didst not know that the intervention had been done. (see verse 6)

Regarding the restoration of the Gospel of Abraham in 1836 and the subsequent setting up of foreign missions, Joseph Smith declared: “the Lord has revealed to me that SOMETHING NEW must be done for the Salvation of the Church”

7 They are created now, and not from the beginning, even before the day when thou heardest them not they were declared unto thee, lest thou shouldst say—Behold I knew them.

8 Yea, and thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time thine ear was not opened; for I knew that thou wouldst deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.

The reason the Lord kept the dispensing of this previous gospel hidden from latter day Israel is because their ears would not hear and they were in transgression. (see verse 8)

9 Nevertheless, for my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain from thee, that I cut thee not off.

10 For, behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
11 For mine own sake, yea, for mine own sake will I do this, for I will not suffer my name to be polluted, and I will not give my glory unto another.

Despite the anger of the Lord and the transgression of his people, he declares that he will defer his anger and not cut them off at that time. He does this for his own names sake. This is typological of when Moses interceded for the forefathers of latter day Israel and the Lord preserved their days on the land instead of cutting them off (see verse 9 & 11)

12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob, and Israel my called, for I am he; I am the first, and I am also the last.

13 Mine hand hath also laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens. I call unto them and they stand up together.

14 All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; who among them hath declared these things unto them? The Lord hath loved him; yea, and he will fulfil his word which he hath declared by them; and he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall come upon the Chaldeans.

Finally, just before the fall of Babylon the call goes forth to hearken, assemble and hear the Lord. (see verses 12 &14)

God proclaims that he will fulfill his word. All of the prophesies that his people assumed were not fulfilled will yet be fulfill. God will now do his pleasure upon Babylon. (see verse 14)

15 Also, saith the Lord; I the Lord, yea, I have spoken; yea, I have called him to declare, I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous.

Referring to the previous promises that are now to be fulfilled, the Lord makes mention of his Servant, I have called HIM to DECLARE, I have brought him forth. (see verse 15)

16 Come ye near unto me; I have not spoken in secret; from the beginning, from the time that it was declared have I spoken; and the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me.

17 And thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I have sent him, the Lord thy God who teacheth thee to profit, who leadeth thee by the way thou shouldst go, hath done it.

18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments—then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.

19 Thy seed also had been as the sand; the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me.

The Lord laments, O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments. If you had obeyed my commandments, Thy seed also had been as the sand and my Servant that made the intercessory atonement for you should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me. (see 18-19)

20 Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter to the end of the earth; say ye: The Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob.

The call goes forth Go ye forth from Babylon (see verse 20)

21 And they thirsted not; he led them through the deserts; he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them; he clave the rock also and the waters gushed out.

22 And notwithstanding he hath done all this, and greater also, there is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.

(For additional commentary and resource information pertaining to verses 3-8, see section 110.

The above chapter was prophesying that after the gentiles rejected the fulness of the gospel, the Lord would come suddenly to his temple in secret and give the Saints a gospel of “former things”, even the preparatory gospel of Abraham.

This would fulfill the prophecy of Christ in 3rd Nephi wherein he said that after the gentiles reject the fulness of the gospel, he would remember his covenant with Abraham and Israel. Latter day Saints are now given the name of Israel in their patriarchal blessings. They are called by the name of Israel rather than by the name of Christ until the 3rd watch opens up and they have the opportunity once again to accept the fulness of the gospel and truly be called by the name of Christ again )

17 Responses to Interpretation and Commentary on Isaiah 48 & 1st Nephi 20

  1. NEPT says:

    So many would (and do) interpret these verses as being literal to Christ, that He is the servant. But your fantastic finds, Watcher, clearly show (IMO) that the servant is none other than one whose name was “cut off” and “destroyed” (v.19) but was “redeemed” (v.20). Was Christ in need of redemption? Obviously not. But the servant Jacob who was cut off because of the sins of the house of Jacob was in need of redemption.

    As a side note, it appears to me that in verse 16, the servant himself is actually speaking. In verse 15, the Lord says he has “called him (the servant) to declare,” and it looks like the servant then tells us that he has not “spoken in secret” and that we should come “near unto [him].”

  2. Agreed…

    There are other places in Isaiah and in the Davidic lamantation scriptures where the Servant speaks out in first person.

    great observation.

  3. NEPT says:

    Watcher, I recall a quote attributed to JS regarding how he told the saints that he would have been or was their “father”. I’m pretty sure I read that in something you have written :). And as I read past 1 Nephi 20 into chapter 21, the following verses, spoken by the “servant”, popped out at me:

    20 The children whom thou shalt have, AFTER THOU HAST LOST THE FIRST, shall again in thine ears say: The place is too strait for me; give place to me that I may dwell.
    21 Then shalt thou say in thine heart: Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? And who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where have they been?

    I really appreciate you bringing 1 Nephi 20 to the table, Watcher. Mrs. NEPT and I had a particularly good discussion over chapters 21 and 22, I and owe it all to you.

  4. I seem to recall Joseph saying he was their father several times… or something like that but i can’t remember where all the ref are.

    One time, according to William Pace, before Joseph left for Carthage he said to the militia,

    “Are you willing to lay down your lives for me?” (pause) When the answer was with a unanimous voice, “Yes.” he said,


    When all with one exclamation said, “Yes”,

    I also am also reminded of the recollection of Mary Elizabeth Rollin Lightner who told about a meeting JS had with several early members of the church when Christ was present in the room and Joseph asked the group,

    “Do you know who has been in your midst this night?”

    Martin Harris replied,

    “I, know, it was our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ”

    Joseph then said,

    “Martin, God revealed that to you….”

    Joseph then said,


    I am glad you and Mrs NEPT had a good discussion.

    I look forward to meeting her in Zion… if not before.

  5. Fusion says:

    Wonderful commentary, Watcher. NEPT, that the servant is speaking was a great interpretation. I too agree on that.

    I have a bit of an issue about patriarchal blessings as I have never, since I received mine, felt any spiritual power contained therein, as I do from the scriptures. Mine speaks much about the temporal, even Babylonian things which are not and have never been part of my nature, that I supposedly ought to do in this life. Yet, I recall the Lord has said in D&C 29:34 ‘Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal;…’ I struggled for years to find ways to reconcile that it was truly of the Lord, through the Spirit, and pertaining uniquely to me…but 15 years later, my inner self just cannot feel this.

    The question is, in this day where priesthood POWER is virtually nil, and where that priesthood office/calling which Joseph and even Brigham said was THE most important of them all, Presiding Patriarch to the Church- no longer exists since it was quietly discontinued, without revelation, in 1979 following then-patriarch J. Fielding Smith’s homosexual affair years earlier- is it possible that local patriarchs still have this power even though the one who ought to preside over this no longer exists? And where we all teach and accept false doctrine and promote masonic temple rites etc? Interesting dilemma.

    Would love any thoughts.

    Once again, thanks for sharing.

  6. I have really been curious to know the truth about patriarchal blessings myself.

    My personal blessing has blatant some false doctrine in it and yet it has some really profound predictions that came true… truth mixed with error I guess is how I would describe mine.

    I do think that some patriarchs are more spiritually minded than others and that it makes a huge difference as to who you get as well as one’s own preparation for the blessing.

    On the one hand, the priesthood issue makes it seem like the proper authority to give patriarchal blessings has long been lost.

    Particularly in light of the fact that God appears to have rejected the church with its dead and God has delivered the saints over to Satan… over to delusion…. nevertheless, God seems to be able to work through anyone regardless of what their situation is.

    For that reason, I don’t categorically discount the possibility that some parts of blessings can be revelatory.

    It seems like poetic justice to me that the Lord sent a homosexual spirit down in the lineage that was to hold the office of patriarch.

    It reminds me of when the RLDS church ran out of male candidates in the Smith Family to continue the line of priesthood succession.

    God seems to have a sense of humor when wanting to humiliate the churches that continue to make so many claims.

  7. Fusion says:

    Hi Watcher,

    Yes, the patriarchal blessing issue is intriguing for a couple of experiences I have had,amongst many other obvious things. One of them is that I have always wondered- what if a patriarch is one of the corporate type guys who believes he is following the true gospel (translated: following the true prophet in the true church’) and gives a blessing while not having any interest in the real Gospel of Jesus Christ? What if the one he gives it to is not spiritually there, or just does it out of other’s (perhaps the bishop’s) insistence? Perhaps, I was this spanner in the wrench when, as a fresh convert, I got my PB. I KNOW I was not even close to being ready…

    The other thing is an experience I had not too long ago. A new patriarch was called in our stake, a go-to guy that is supposed to be the final authority for all doctrinal and history questions. He fits the mold of the modern man stated above. Unfortunately, in the last gospel doctrine classes I taught, I realised he is dead wrong on a lot of things…and teaches false doctrine with supposed power, by virtue of his priesthood, of course. This patriarch was literally saying that the poor were poor because they were unworthy…and their poverty was proof positive of this. Similarly, others like him (ie his buddy the Temple Pres. and other corporate leaders) also believe pretty much that folks were born into this world purely based on how good they were in the last life (ie dark-skinned). A twisted Hindu/Buddhist doctrine if I ever heard one. There was no way I could not stand up and speak the truth.

    Question is, how does a blessing, a true one, come through hands that are powered by a spirit like this? I happen to like the man, nothing personal at all, but truth comes before anything else, and I cannot be involved in perpetuating falsehoods simply because it is from an ‘approved’ source.

    Finally, I have heard of some folks who compared their blessings and found out they were almost generically the same. Perhaps this is why we are constantly told to not share with anyone?! This seems to be in contrast to PB in the early church.


  8. Fusion says:

    I meant ‘spanner in the works’


  9. Whitney says:

    Hey I want to know the meaning of only this in the lds Book of Mormon 1Nephi 20:15 only this if you could that would be Fantastic!!!!! Thank you

    • “Also, saith the Lord; I the Lord, yea, I have spoken; yea, I have called him [Joseph Smith] to declare, I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous.”

      (See also the next chapter, Isaiah 49, which talks about Joseph Smith, the servant of the last days who fails to gather Israel at first attempt and laments about it, but then is promised that he will ultimately be successful in his calling, in the last watch and final dispensation)

  10. Fusion says:

    Thanks so much Watcher…you have expounded much of what you always have said before in your seventy-two million blogposts, but my thick skull needs a hammer drill to get anything through lol…especially at 3am here in Oz

    Like you, I am waiting for the Marvellous work to begin. I am searching for the Two Witnesses. At this point I am not sure if I’m gonna ‘be in that number…O when the saints go marching in’…but, my desire is there, and when my pride and weaknesses have an off day, my fear and trembling is there too.

    According to the passages of scriptures above, we have only BEGUN to believe and understood the scriptures but we are still confounded, confused and deceived. We cannot fully believe until the Lord begins the Marvelous Work and a Wonder and ushers in the fulness of times through his appointed servants.’

    I couldn’t have said this any better- why? Because one thing is for sure, we ARE totally confounded, confused and deceived. I mean, myself for an example, my paradigms change so quick because of the knowledge (or rather facts, interpretations and speculations) that seems to be pouring in…however, the confusion, confounding and deceiving is at an all time high. I tell you, I am hoping it is soon because the anxiety makes one freeze like a massive adrenalin dump- a whole lot of energy that just isn’t actually being going anywhere.

    Just one last q (and thanks for such a comprehensive answer):
    As I guess that you are concurrently persuing Daymon Smith’s Cultural book at the moment like I am, what do you make of his interpretation that there is another book to come before the sealed portion (if I read it right)? the traditional view is that the Bible is the ‘word that has gone before’ and the Book of Mormon goes forth ‘to the convincing of my word which has already gone forth…’ However, Dyno-mite Daymon interprets that as the Book of Mormon as being the former book that has already gone forth, and a yet-to-come book from the Nephites (I think- its 330am, my brain is pure potato mash) is the one that will go forth to convincing all of the Book of Mormon. His reasoning is decent, but only on account if you, like him, take the Bible to be the book that the Gentiles bring with them that is totally corrupt and a stumbling block to the Gentiles.

    O, if only I could just ask an angel, or receive the voice of the Lord! Right now I’m only receiving the voice of my wife telling me to get the heck to bed…

    God bless, Watcher,

    • Fusion

      I have tried to read the works of Daymon Smith a few times and lost interest. Because of you and another friend that has emailed me several times about it I am making another effort. I am not very far into it yet.

      I will admit I have a huge bias because I accept modern revelation and it does not appear to me that Daymon does.

      He seems to demonize Sidney Rigdon and Parley Pratt as villains that adversely and erroneously changed the doctrinal trajectory of the Book of Mormon interpretation, by the saints, and yet God praises both Sidney and Parley for their doctrinal knowledge and has them teaching the two different school of the prophets. ( and of course Sidney is the major contributor to the LoF with was sustained as scripture) For that reason, I did not find his observations to be faith promoting.

      Notwithstanding my bias, I look forward to reading his works as long as I can stay engaged under those circumstances.

      Regarding the three records that come forth, could you please send me the page number that his narrative on that topic begins. I find that topic of huge interest.

      It could have reference to several things.

      I once wrote a post on why I believe there are actually THREE different portions of the record of the Book of Mormon based on my interpretation of 2nd Nephi 27 (and Isaiah 29)

      Sadly, I cannot find that post right now but I did find the following graphic used on that post. You might find it interesting.

      Fusion, I really appreciate your passion for learning and for overturning every possible stone to get at the truth

  11. Wanderer says:

    Not qualified to speculate on what “book” will be the next to come forth, however, LDS Anarchy wrote up why he(?) believes the Plates of Brass will be what we receive next. Have not studied the subject but it was interesting

    • Yes that thought came to my mind as well. Thank you for reminding us of that article.

      Of course the Inspired Version of the Bible also still has to be published also ( I vaguely recall that his article may conclude that the Bible comes forth via the brass plates if my memory serves me correctly… and you are as qualified as anyone else to speculate on these things. 🙂

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