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 )