Great are the words of Isaiah

During Jesus’ visit to America, he taught that we should diligently study the prophecies of Isaiah because they reveal the entire history, both ancient and modern, of the house of Israel.  Jesus explained that the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies “have been and shall be,” or that they would be fulfilled twice; once in the days of ancient Israel, and then again a second time in the latter-days prior to the second coming of Christ.  The modern, or latter-day fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies apply specifically to us, “who are identified with the Gentiles” even though we predominantly descend from the tribe of Joseph, through Ephraim. (see D&C 109:60).  In Jesus’ own words:

“And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things (he had just quoted the 54th chapter of Isaiah verbatim to them). Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.  For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles (i.e. us).  And all things that he spake have been and shall be (these are the two fulfillments), even according to the words which he spake.” (3 Nephi 23:1-3)

What is Isaiah’s message?  It describes a once-righteous nation that drifts into apostasy and wickedness, loses the Lord’s protection, and is destroyed by invading armies except for a small group of survivors identified as “the remnant” who are gathered to Zion.  According to Isaiah, that is what awaits America:

“Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.” (Isaiah 1:7)

“But if ye refuse and rebel (if we as a nation refuse to be governed by God and rebel against him), ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 1:20)

It’s interesting how Isaiah characterized us after seeing 2,700 years into the future.  Two aspects of our culture stood out enough for him to mention them specifically: the prominence of homosexuality and obesity.

“The show of their countenance doth witness against them, and doth declare their sin to be even as Sodom, and they cannot hide it. Wo unto their souls, for they have rewarded evil unto themselves!” (2 Nephi 13:9)

“Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat.” (2 Nephi 15:17)

“Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of Hosts, send among his fat ones, leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire.” (2 Nephi 20:16)

A report issued last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that just over one-third of all adults in the United States are obese.  This is alarming because the least obese state identified in the study was Colorado, which had an obesity rate of 21%.  Just 10 years before all states had been below 21%.  That means in the last 10 years obesity has increased by over 50% nationwide.  We may have become accustomed to this trend, but it was shocking enough to Isaiah that he mentioned it twice.  “Fat ones” indeed.

The wickedness of the promised nation would be pervasive, “From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it.” (Isaiah 1:6).  It is the Lord’s own people that will have fallen into apostasy, “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.” (Isaiah 1:3)  The ox was a clean animal, and the ass unclean under the law of Moses, implying the Lord’s vengeance would be upon both “Jew and Gentile”, or as we like to say, member and non-member.  The Lord is clear that it is those who consider themselves His people that will unwittingly have fallen into apostasy without realizing it: “ Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.”

It appears that a part of the Lord’s disgust with His fallen people is their abundance of empty, vain religious meetings:

“Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.” (Isaiah 1:13)

When the day of foreign invasion and devastation begins, member of His church will “make may prayers,” which He will ignore.  Why? Because our hands are full of blood.

“And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” (Isaiah 1:15)

Utah is a predominantly Republican state (the average margin of victory in the last five presidential elections between 1992 and 2008 favored Republican candidates by over 20%), and the Republican party has consistently supported the American wars being waged around the world.  We seem to selectively ignore the estimated 6 million deaths inflicted by the American killing machine since the end of World War II.  A recent opinion article by John Tirman, Executive Director of MIT’s Center for International Studies, entitled “Why do we ignore the civilians killed in American wars?” poses a question every American and Latter-day Saint must confront.  Is that what Isaiah was referring to when he prophesied our hands would be full of blood?

Isaiah specifically censures the women of the Church for their worldliness:  “Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes (in Hebrew “painted eyes”), walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet.” (Isaiah 3:16)  In 2007 Forbes Magazine identified Salt Lake City as the Vainest City in the United States.  The article contrasted Salt Lake with Oklahoma City; even though OKC has a slightly larger population, the daughters of Zion outspend their midwest counterparts more than 10 to 1 on beauty supplies.  The reward for this vanity will be stink instead of sweet smell, baldness, sackcloth, and burning as men fall by the sword in war. (see Isaiah 3)

Two more Isaiah verses deserve a special explanation.

Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.” (Isiaiah 1:22-23)

Silver, which in Hebrew connotes money , would be adulterated or debased in becoming dross (which is the scum that forms on the surface of molten metal).  This may be an allusion to the fractional reserve banking system adopted in the United States in 1913 and, ultimately, the abandonment by the United States of the gold-standard in 1971.  Since then, inflation through the creation of debt by the banking sector became practically unrestrained, leading to a massive devaluation or debasement of our currency.  According to the Wall Street Journal, $4,002 in 1975 had the same purchasing power as $16,730 in 2011.  (WSJ, June 15, 2011)  Wine mixed with water seems a relevant metaphor.  According to the book Elder Ezra Taft Benson recommended to all members of the Church in General Conference in 1972, the same secret combination that instituted the Federal Reserve Bank and that controls the monetary system that produced this massive devaluation of the dollar is the same group responsible for both the first and second World Wars.  The most significant research in that area comes from Dr. Carroll Quigley, who who earned a PhD from Harvard, and taught at Harvard, Princeton, and Georgetown.  He was invited to study the private records of the secret combination.  His revealed that a tool they have commonly used  to extend their illicit influence has been bribes–particularly the promise of lucrative business positions after periods of public service for cooperative politicians.  Hence the description by Isaiah that the princes, or rulers, would be “companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards” seems an appropriate description.  From Dr. Quigley’s book Tragedy and Hope, we glean the following about the secret combination:

“These purposes (i.e. the efforts of the founder of the secret combination) centered on his desire to federate the English-speaking peoples and to bring all the habitable portions of the world under their control.” (p. 130)

“The powers of financial capitalism (a term he uses to describe those involved in the secret combination) had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole.  This system was to be controlled in feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences.”   (p. 324)
Each central bank…sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world.”  (p. 324)
“It must not be felt that these heads of the world’s chief central banks were substantive powers in world finance.  They were not.  Rather, they were technicians and agents of the dominant investment bankers of their own countries, who had raised them up and were perfectly capable of throwing them down.”    (pp. 326-327)
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For his groundbreaking book Legacy of Ashes, Pulitzer-prize winning author Tim Weiner examined over 40,000 declassified (some only recently) documents to assemble a definitive history of the CIA.  He explains how the CIA has deceived Presidents and Congresses, manufactured evidence to induce Americans to support unjust and immoral wars, and implemented massive disinformation campaigns by placing operatives in high-level editorial positions in most major news publications in the U.S. to shape and control public opinion, particularly to garner support necessary for war.  Of particular note is that Allen Dulles, one of the early Directors of the CIA (1953-1961), was a member of the secret combination.
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Why does the existence and influence of the secret combination matter to us?  Because the Lord has promised that if we allow the combination to “get above us” He will destroy our nation.
“And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not.

Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.” (Ether 8:22-23)

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Isaiah saw our day.  He has seen our future.  If we are curious to know what the future holds for us specifically, his words are a good place to start.  Moroni also saw our day and recommended the words of Isaiah, “Search the prophecies of Isaiah.” (Mormon 8:23)  Nephi saw our day but was commanded not to reveal the things he would see regarding latter-day events.  Is that why he hand copied all the Isaiah chapters for us (even though we’d already have them in the Bible)?  Was that his way of revealing to us what he had seen but could not share?  Right after the Isaiah chapters, Nephi provides a fascinating summary.  For those that would understand the meaning of the Isaiah chapters, Nephi could see how some might think themselves more righteous than us (i.e. the Gentiles).  He also understands how those that read and understood the Isaiah chapters might come to the conclusion that the Gentiles would be utterly destroyed.  We won’t be utterly destroyed.  But almost.
“And now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you; for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be. For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed.” (2 Nephi 30:1)
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