Chapter 25 contains further description of the destruction of the world at the Lord’s Second Coming and of the commencement of His glorious reign. The Lord will prepare in Mount Zion a feast of blessings for the righteous and will swallow up death in victory. The righteous will acknowledge the Lord as their God, proclaiming “we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

Verses 1 through 5 are a prophetic song of salvation in which Isaiah acknowledges the Lord in destruction of the wicked, strength to the poor, and protection of the righteous. In it the prophet addresses the Lord, as in a prayer.

Verse 1 exults: “O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.” The Hebrew word translated as “wonderful” means “extraordinary; hard to understand.”1

In the New Testament, the Lord is credited with doing wonderful things:

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased (emphasis added).2

Verse 2 continues: “For thou hast made of a city an heap; of a defenced city a ruin: a palace of strangers to be no city; it shall never be built.” “It shall never be built” means “It shall never be rebuilt.”3 The Lord will bring down the wicked and their cities. This prophecy foretells the destruction of spiritual Babylon in the latter days, meaning the worldliness, pride, sin and idolatry that are rampant in the world today.4

Verse 3 states: “Therefore shall the strong people glorify thee, the city of the terrible nations shall fear thee.” The Lord’s people, strengthened by Him, give Him praise and glory. “Terrible nations”—those provoking fear and terror—would acknowledge the capability of the Lord to bless them or destroy them.

In verse 4, Isaiah acknowledges the Lord’s care and protection of the weak: “For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.” “Refuge” is chiastically equivalent to “wall,” providing Isaiah’s meaning.

Similar words are given in Doctrine and Covenants:

And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth.5

Being poor is not sufficient by itself to obtain the Lord’s pity. In modern revelation, the Lord condemns the poor who are wicked:

Wo unto you poor men, whose hearts are not broken, whose spirits are not contrite, and whose bellies are not satisfied, and whose hands are not stayed from laying hold upon other men’s goods, whose eyes are full of greediness, and who will not labor with your own hands!
But blessed are the poor who are pure in heart, whose hearts are broken, and whose spirits are contrite, for they shall see the kingdom of God coming in power and great glory unto their deliverance; for the fatness of the earth shall be theirs.
For behold, the Lord shall come, and his recompense shall be with him, and he shall reward every man, and the poor shall rejoice.6

Verse 4 contains a chiasm:

A: (4) For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge
B: from the storm,
C: a shadow from the heat,
C: when the blast of the terrible ones
B: is as a storm
A: against the wall.

“Refuge” is equivalent to “wall,” indicating Isaiah’s intended meaning. Key words in this chiasm give hints as to the nature of the destructive power foretold.

Verse 5 summarizes the Lord’s destruction of the wicked: “Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers, as the heat in a dry place; even the heat with the shadow of a cloud: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.” Compare Isaiah’s meaning earlier, in Chapter 18: “For so the LORD said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”7 In both cases, the meaning is that the heat of the Lord’s mounting anger increases against those who fail to heed His warnings. “The branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low” means the terrible ones will be pruned as a branch from a tree and allowed to fall to the ground to wilt in the heat.8 This metaphor describes weakness that will befall the hosts of the wicked.

Verses 4 and 5 contain two overlapping chiasms:

(4) For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress,
A: a refuge from the storm,
B: a shadow
C: from the heat,
D: when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.
D: (5) Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers,
C: as the heat in a dry place;
B: even the heat with the shadow
A: of a cloud: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.
(4) For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat,
A: when the blast of the terrible ones
B: is as a storm against the wall.
C: (5) Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers, as the heat in a dry place;
C: even the heat
B: with the shadow of a cloud:
A: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.

Comparison of the three chiasms in verses 4 and 5 provides additional insight. “Heat” and “blast,” the central focus in the chiasm of verse 4, are expanded in the first chiasm of verses 4 and 5 to “heat,” “blast,” “noise,” and “heat,” which have comparable meaning. The second chiasm of verses 4 and 5 emphasizes two occurrences of “heat” as its central focus, underscoring its importance in the destruction to come. “Refuge” and “wall” are the introductory statements of the chiasm of verse 4, whereas “cloud” is substituted as the introductory statement on the descending side in the first chiasm of verses 4 and 5. Rather than being a component of the heat, the cloud serves as a refuge from the storm.

Beginning in verse 6 and throughout the rest of this chapter, Isaiah refers to the Lord in the third person, in contrast to addressing Him in the second person in the first five verses. In verses 6 through 8, Isaiah describes developments in Zion associated with the Lord’s Second Coming. These include a “feast of fat things,” meaning an outpouring of spiritual and temporal blessings upon the righteous that will have no equal, and the removal of the veil from the minds of the people of all nations. Isaiah then explains that Christ’s victory over death and sorrow will be recognized and appreciated by all the people of the earth, in contrast to the very small numbers that understood and appreciated His Atonement at the time of His earthly ministry.

Verse 6 describes the feast to be offered in Mount Zion: “And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.” “Lees” comes from a Middle English word meaning “sediment.”9 “Wines on the lees” means that the juice pressed from the fruit has been allowed to rest undisturbed in vessels for sufficient time to allow the sediment to settle to the bottom, clarifying the wine. The “feast” will consist of the very best the Lord has to offer of spiritual gifts and blessings, extended to all people. “In this mountain” means “in this nation,” or the land of Zion. A rhetorical connection in which “mountain” is equivalent to “nation” exists throughout the Book of Isaiah, as described earlier.10

These events are described in Doctrine and Covenants, paraphrasing Isaiah:

And also that you might be honored in laying the foundation, and in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand;
And also that a feast of fat things might be prepared for the poor; yea, a feast of fat things, of wine on the lees well refined, that the earth may know that the mouths of the prophets shall not fail.
Yea, a supper of the house of the Lord, well prepared, unto which all nations shall be invited.11

Verse 7 provides insight into the nature of the spiritual gifts to be offered to all people from Mount Zion: “And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.” This means that the knowledge of heaven and spiritual things will be opened up to all people, as though a veil had been removed from their minds. Revelation will be available to all, beginning in Mount Zion. Again, note “mountain” meaning “nation.”12

Verses 6 and 7 contain a chiasm:

A: (6) And in this mountain
B: shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things,
C: a feast of wines on the lees,
C: of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.
B: (7) And he will destroy
A: in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.

The chiasm describes metaphorically the great feast of spiritual gifts to be offered in Mount Zion.

Verse 8 provides still more detail, describing the effects of the Atonement achieved by the Lord: “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.” The Lord swallowing up death in victory means that the Atonement defeats the finality of death forever. Every person who has ever lived or will ever live on the earth,  whether righteous or wicked, whether or not he or she even knew about the Savior, will rise again in resurrection. To “wipe away tears from off all faces” indicates that the influence of the Atonement extends beyond the Lord’s victory in overcoming death and paying the price for sin.  Any kind of human suffering can be addressed by the Atonement if we will only apply it in our lives. The Lord taking away the rebuke of His people means that He has provided the way for them to be cleansed of their guilt. The final phrase, “for the LORD hath spoken it,” is Isaiah’s personal testimony of the divine source for this knowledge.

Verses 7 and 8 contain a chiasm:

A: (7) And he
B: will destroy in this mountain
C: the face of the covering cast over all people,
C: and the vail that is spread over all nations.
B: (8) He will swallow up death in victory;
A: and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.

The Lord God will destroy the veil covering the earth and will swallow up death in victory.

Verse 8 also contains two overlapping chiasms. In the first:

A: (8) He will swallow up death
B: in victory;
C: and the Lord GOD
B: will wipe away
A: tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.

In the second chiasm of verse 8:

A: (8) He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD
B: will wipe away
C: tears from off all faces;
C: and the rebuke of his people
B: shall he take away from off all the earth:
A: for the LORD hath spoken it.

In the first overlapping chiasm “the Lord GOD” forms the central focus. This identifies Jehovah (“GOD” in all caps in the King James Version) as the Lord who would swallow up death in victory and would wipe away all tears from all faces—He whose suffering in Gethsemane and sacrifice on Golgotha provide these incomparable blessings to the human family. In the second overlapping chiasm,  the first statement on the ascending side is “the Lord GOD,” the same as the central statement in the first overlapping chiasm. It is matched with “the LORD hath spoken it,” asserting that it was Jehovah who had revealed it to Isaiah—He who would make the infinite sacrifice for all mankind. The Lord’s sacrifice effectively takes away the sorrow, shame and guilt of the penitent.

The Lord gaining the victory over death through His sacrifice, together with His wiping away of tears, is a recurrent theme in the scriptures. Isaiah, here in Chapter 25, was the first to use these words. Paul, Abinadi, Aaron, Mormon, and John the Beloved, all of whom were familiar with Isaiah’s writings, expounded upon these words.

Paul said: “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”13 The “saying that is written” is verse 8, written by Isaiah.

Abinadi, a Nephite prophet, stood captive before the wicked king Noah. First he quoted all of Isaiah Chapter 53 and then explained it in detail. Abinadi said:

Yea, even so he [Christ] shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father. And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men.14

Aaron, the brother of Ammon, expounded these words of Isaiah before the king of the Lamanites:

And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance…and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory….15

Mormon invited the Lamanites of the latter days to believe in Christ, accept His gospel, and be saved:

Know ye that ye must come to the knowledge of your fathers, and repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, and that he was slain by the Jews, and by the power of the Father he hath risen again, whereby he hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up. And he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead, whereby man must be raised to stand before his judgment-seat.16

John, the Beloved Apostle, stated: “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”17 This again refers to the power of the Atonement over all human suffering of every kind, in addition to removing the pain of guilt for our sins. John reiterated: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”18

This is a profoundly important aspect of the Atonement. Great comfort is available to us for every form of human suffering, through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 9 summarizes: “And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”19 LORD, in all caps in the King James Version, represents the Hebrew word Yahovah, or Jehovah. This verse emphasizes once again for us that it is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament, the creator of heaven and earth, who should come, who should die upon the cross and be raised again the third day to provide the victory over death, and who should wipe away all tears. The identity of the Lord Jesus Christ was well understood by His prophets and apostles of old.

Verses 10 through 12 describe the Lord’s conquest of Moab. Verse 10 states: “For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest, and Moab shall be trodden down under him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill.” “Mountain” here refers to the nation of Moab, in contrast to earlier occurrences in verses 6 and 7 which refer to the latter-day Zion. “Moab” as used here is a type for the destruction of modern equivalents of this ancient adversary of Israel.20

The content of verses 5 through 10 forms a chiasm:

A: (5) Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers, as the heat in a dry place; even the heat with the shadow of a cloud: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.
B: (6) And in this mountain
C: shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.
D: (7) And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.
D: (8) He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.
C: (9) And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
B: (10) For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest,
A: and Moab shall be trodden down under him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill.

“Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers” complements “Moab shall be trodden down under him,” suggesting that the destruction of Moab’s latter-day counterpart could be the beginning point for destruction of the wicked before the Second Coming. “And in this mountain” contrasts with “for in this mountain;” the first “mountain” is Zion, where great spiritual blessings will be poured out that will ultimately go to the whole earth, whereas the second “mountain” is Moab or her modern equivalent. “Shall the Lord make a feast of fat things unto all people” is complemented by “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us,” describing the Lord’s blessings of salvation upon His righteous followers. “And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people” complements “he will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces,” which form the central focus. The chiasm describes how the Lord will destroy the veil of wickedness and spiritual blindness beginning “in this mountain,” or in Mount Zion; how His Atonement and sacrifice take away the guilt of His people and swallow up death in victory; and how the wicked will be destroyed beginning with the destruction of the modern-day equivalent of Moab.

Verse 11 describes Isaiah’s vision of the Lord as He destroys wicked nations: “And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands.” The Lord will destroy their pride, as well as their riches and possessions.

Verses 10 and 11 contain two overlapping chiasms. In the first:

A: (10) For in this mountain
B: shall the hand of
C: the LORD rest,
D: and Moab
E: shall be trodden down under him,
E: even as straw is trodden down
D: for the dunghill.
C: (11) And he shall spread forth
B: his hands
A: in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands.

In the overlapping chiasm of verses 10 and 11:

A: (10) For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest,
B: and Moab shall be trodden down under him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill.
C: (11) And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them,
C: as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim:
B: and he shall bring down their pride
A: together with the spoils of their hands.

In the first chiasm,  “in this mountain” is compared with “in the midst of them.” “The hand” is equivalent to “his hands,” in both cases referring to the Lord’s hands, and “Moab” is equated with “dunghill.”

In the overlapping chiasm “Moab shall be trodden down” is compared with “bring down their pride.” By comparing these overlapping chiasms we learn that Moab’s pride is the reason for its being compared to a dunghill.

Verse 12 describes the Lord’s destruction of the armaments of the wicked: “And the fortress of the high fort of thy walls shall he bring down, lay low, and bring to the ground, even to the dust.”

Nephi applied the words of this passage to the fall and destruction of his own people: “[A]nd after they shall have been brought down low in the dust, even that they are not, yet the words of the righteous shall be written.…” (emphasis added).21

Nephi used similar words to describe latter-day events: “[A]ll that fight against Zion shall be destroyed, and that great whore, who hath perverted the right ways of the Lord, yea, that great and abominable church, shall tumble to the dust and great shall be the fall of it” (emphasis added).22

The abominable church of which Nephi spoke is “the combination of all the evil influences and political powers, including but not limited to apostate churches, that stand in opposition to the Lord, His true church, and His covenant people in the latter days.” 23

 


Notes:

1. F. Brown, S. Driver, and C. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon: Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA, 01961-3473, 1996, Strong’s No. 6382, p. 810.
2. Matthew 21:14-15.
3. Brown et al., 1996, Strong’s No. 1129, p. 124-125.
4. See Isaiah 14:4-11 and pertinent commentary.
5. Doctrine and Covenants 115:6.
6. Doctrine and Covenants 56:17-19.
7. Isaiah 18:4.
8. Brown et al., 1996, Strong’s No. 2159, p. 274.
9. Ernest Klein, A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language: Elsevier Publishing Company, New York, 1971, p. 416.
10. See Isaiah 2:2, 14 and 2 Nephi 12:2, 14; Isaiah 11:9; 13:2, 4; 30:25 and pertinent commentary.
11. Doctrine and Covenants 58:7-9.
12. See verse 6 and pertinent commentary.
13. 1 Corinthians 15:54-55.
14. Mosiah 15:7-8.
15. Alma 22:14.
16. Mormon 7:5-6.
17. Revelation 7:17.
18. Revelation 21:4.
19. Verse 9 contains a chiasm: This is our God/we/have waited/him/he/will save/us/this is the LORD.
20. See Isaiah 59:16-19; 63:1-3 and pertinent commentary. See also Doctrine and Covenants 133:46-51.
21. 2 Nephi 26:15.
22. 1 Nephi 22:14.
23. Bruce R. McConkie, 1966, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd Ed., p. 137-138.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s