Apart from discussing the sanctification process that both America and the world will endure in those days, Isaiah discusses several leaders that will play critical roles; all of which I believe will be affiliated with the Remnant of Jacob. These leaders will have roles in the American and Jewish chapters of this great and dreadful day of the Lord. Each of these leaders’ unique missions was foreseen thousands of years before the events would actually occur. As with most prophecy, the main points are highlighted, but the details are fuzzy. It was for this reason that Nephi provided the following prophecy:
Now I, Nephi, do speak somewhat concerning the words which I have written, which have been spoken by the mouth of Isaiah. For behold, Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand… But behold, I proceed with mine own prophecy, according to my plainness; in the which I know that no man can err; nevertheless, in the days that the prophecies of Isaiah shall be fulfilled men shall know of a surety, at the times when they shall come to pass.[i]
Therefore, when these men fulfill their foreordained missions, it will be crystal clear; the world will know with certainty that these leaders are the ones of whom Isaiah prophesied. Lets consider these men and their latter-day missions. Isaiah prophesied the following:
And there shall come forth a Rod out of the Stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his Roots.[ii]
This verse, and indeed the entire chapter from which it comes, discusses several different leaders that will descend from the lineage of Jesse – the father of King David. They are as follows: a Stem, a Rod, a Branch, and a Root. The first thing to note here is that the Stem of Jesse is the source from which will spring each of these players. the Rod came forth from the Stem, and the Roots and Branch are both associated with the Rod. To my mind this verse creates the imagery of the cutting of a plant. This cutting is taken from the Stem of the original plant and is then transplanted where Roots and an additional Branch then grow. It is my opinion that the cutting and transplanting represent the removal of this plant from the body of the House of Israel. I believe the cutting represents the Lost Ten Tribes. I will explain in more detail why I believe this to be the case as we continue.
As each of the last three leaders originate from the first, let us begin our study with a focus on the Stem of Jesse.
As all others received their strength from the Stem, one might guess that the Stem represents the God of Israel. In a question and answer section of the Doctrine and Covenants, we are provided with a clear interpretation of the meaning of the Stem, as well as additional information regarding the roles of some of these other men. Consider the following:
Question: Who is the Stem of Jesse spoken of in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th verses of the 11th chapter of Isaiah?
Answer: Verily thus saith the Lord: It is Christ[iii]
The identity of the Stem of Jesse is therefore as one might have supposed, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ once provided a description of His role as the Stem as follows:
I am the vine, ye are the Branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.[iv]
Without Christ, we can do nothing. Isaiah noted that these other leaders did abide in Christ in the same manner as the Branches abide in the vine. They draw their power and their authority from Christ. As the roles described by Isaiah will take place in the latter-days, let us briefly discuss the latter-day mission of Jesus Christ. We know from John the Revelator, that Jesus Christ himself will liberate Jerusalem in the final hour. He will lead a mighty host, and together they will lay waste to those distressing Judah. Consider the following from Revelations:
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a Rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.[v]
This description of the Lord is totally awe-inspiring. At His second coming, the Stem of Jesse cannot be mistaken for a gentle Lamb, but will be known as the Millennial Messiah, – The King of Kings, and Lord of Lords! I noted earlier that I thought all four of these leaders were affiliated with the Remnant of Jacob. I have noted earlier how Isaiah described the Remnant of Jacob as the weapon of the Lord’s indignation. Therefore it is interesting to note that John the Revelator describes Christ as being accompanied by “the armies which were in heaven”. This is a curious reference as it is another way of saying the armies that used to be in heaven. Heaven is also the location from whence Isaiah saw the armies of the Remnant of Jacob coming from.[vi] I do not believe this description is coincidental.
The above verse also reference Christ as having a Rod of iron. This Rod represents Christ’s power and authority, and is spoken of in conjunction with the destruction of the wicked and the ultimate subjection of all nations to Jesus Christ. Thus the symbol of a Rod is the symbol of power. A Rod of iron, therefore would be absolute power. The imagery of Christ’s Rod reminds us of the reference to the Rod of Jesse, in the verse from Isaiah above – which we will now review.
In the same Doctrine and Covenants section where we learned the identity of the Stem of Jesse we also learn more about the identity of the Rod. The Lord provides the following answer when asked regarding the Rod:
Behold, thus saith the Lord: It is a servant in the hands of Christ, who is partly a descendant of Jesse as well as of Ephraim, or of the House of Joseph, on whom there is laid much power.[vii]
This description does not give enough information to definitively identify this individual with the degree of certainty that Nephi said would accompany the fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah, therefore I would suggest this portion is yet to be fulfilled. There are some who have hypothesized that the Rod is Joseph Smith. It is my personal opinion that this is not the case. Joseph Smith was certainly given great authority. The keys of prior dispensations were given to Joseph Smith directly from the heads of those dispensations. But authority is not the same thing as power. Many men have received the priesthood, but far fewer have received power in the priesthood.
The Jews largely rejected the Messiah when He came, not because He did not have authority, His works plainly demonstrated that He did. They rejected him because He did not come in the strength and power the prophets had testified would accompany the latter-day Messiah. I am certainly not stating that Christ did not have inexhaustible priesthood power during His ministry, He surely did. However, the exercising of that great power was not the hallmark of His ministry- redemption was. Unfortunately, the Jews expected the Messiah to manifest great political power rather than redemptive power.
In a similar manner, power was not the hallmark of Joseph Smith’s life. While he was physically strong, he was not perceived by the world as powerful. His ministry was one of restoration, of unseen priesthood power. It is my opinion that the hallmark of the Rod of Jesse will be a man that displays an indisputable outward display of great power.
Unfortunately there was no inquiry regarding the person with the title “the Branch” in the question and answer section of the Doctrine and Covenants. However, the Old Testament prophet Zechariah provides a wonderful description of who this mighty leader will be. Consider the following verses:
Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is the Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.[viii]
It is interesting to note that the chapter heading from whence this scripture is taken identifies “the Branch” as Jesus Christ. While the Branch certainly has many Messianic qualities, I would suggest a potential alternate interpretation for various reasons. First, a primary mission of the Branch will be to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. This is one of the signs that will precede the Lord’s second coming. [ix] Therefore, it needs to happen before He comes. It would be difficult for the Lord to literally fulfill this prophecy without it constituting His Second Coming. Secondly, does it make sense that Jesus Christ would be a Branch of Himself? To me this is similar to thinking that Christ prayed to Himself, or acknowledged and honored Himself at His baptism. There are other interpretations that make more sense. But if the Branch is not Jesus Christ, then who is it?
The above verses themselves provide some assistance in identifying the Branch. The first identifier we receive from Zechariah regarding the Branch is not a mission that he will perform, but rather a reference to his origins. Zechariah specifically states, “he shall grow up out of his place”. The obvious reason behind highlighting a person’s origins is to assist in identifying the individual, such as when Chirst’s birth in Bethlehem was foretold. How then, does a reference as general as “his place” assist in identifying this individual?
It only serves as an identifier if “his place” is all together unique and different from “our place.” There are few places that could meet such a qualification, however, the “end of Heaven”,[x] would certainly qualify. In such a case, “his place” is quite meaningful. the Branch of Jesse, along with the Rod of Jesse, and Root of Jesse, seems to me, will return to earth with the Remnant of Jacob.
As we have noted, one of the prominent associations of the Branch is “the temple of the Lord” in Jerusalem. Presently there is a major obstacle in the way of the fulfillment of this prophecy as the Dome of the Rock – a holy Muslim site, currently sits where this temple will one day reside. The presence of a temple in Jerusalem prior to the Second Coming is a well-documented sign of the times, but how it will happen has been a mystery given the presence of this Muslim shrine.[xi] Another structure to precede the second coming is the New Jerusalem. Christ definitively associated the building of the New Jerusalem with the return of the Remnant of Jacob (see 3 Nephi 21:23). Consider therefore Ether’s curious observation regarding the New Jerusalem and the sanctuary of the Lord (Ether 13:3).
…it was the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, AND the holy sanctuary of the Lord.
Here we learn that at least a portion of the New Jerusalem will be coming to America from Heaven! As this city is associated with the Remnant of Jacob, we might assume that large portions of the New Jerusalem already exists and may even be the historic holy city of this righteous body in much the same way that Jerusalem was the holy center for the House of Israel of old. The balance of the verse is likewise curious in its potential meaning. Might not this verse be stating that two things will miraculously come to earth from the heavens in the latter-days, the New Jerusalem AND the holy sanctuary of the Lord. One in Zion – the New Jerusalem, and the other in Jerusalem – the holy sanctuary of the Lord. If this is the case, this temple could already be constructed and be residing in “his place” until the the command to return is given.
This interpretation finds further support in the visions of Ezekiel the prophet, who saw the latter-day temple in vision in curious detail. This account is found in chapters 40 – 48. I find the heading of chapter 40 to be insightful regarding this topic. It states the following:
A heavenly messenger shows Ezekiel in vision a city where the temple is located—Ezekiel is shown the form and size of the temple and its courts.
To me this heading might imply that this temple currently exists in a location other than Jerusalem, just as previous verses imply that portions of the New Jerusalem presently exists elsewhere. The description given of this temple likewise suggests it is a temple of ancient origin, as the structure was built with the law of Moses in mind – places of animal sacrifice are noted throughout the temple. As the atonement of Christ did away with the need for animal sacrifice, one would not expect a new temple to be fashioned in this manner. The temple Ezekiel saw in vision presently therefore must be of ancient date, possibly built among the Remnant of Jacob many hundred years before the birth of Christ in the land where they presently dwell. This prospect is exciting for a host of reasons, one of which is that it suggests the timeline for the fulfillment of this prophecy could be far shorter than anyone might have supposed. When The Branch comes from “his place”, he may very well bring this temple with him. I know that it is a new concept for many, but it seems to fit- time will tell.
Another unique qualifier to the Branch’s mission is that he will rule in Jerusalem. Joseph Smith provides some additional information on just such a leader who will rule in latter-day Jerusalem.
Although David was a king, he never did obtain the spirit and power of Elijah and the fullness of the Priesthood; and the Priesthood that he received, and the throne and kingdom of David is to be taken from him and given to another by the name of David in the last days, raised up out of his lineage.[xii]
The first David to which Joseph referred to was king David, as in David and Goliath. David was the most powerful king Israel had ever known. In fact, one of Christ’s titles is, the Son of David. Sadly, David committed a horrific sin in the shedding of innocent blood, and lost much – nevertheless the Lord loves David and will be as merciful with him as he is able. This latter-day David will assume the role that king David once held. It should be remembered that it was king David who first thought to build a temple to the Lord. However, being a man of blood, he was not allowed to. It appears this modern David will be able to do what his forefather was not. Further evidence that David and the Branch are one and the same comes from Ezekiel. Ezekiel lived over four hundred years after king David, so it stands to reason that he would not be prophesying about the past king of Israel. Consider the following verses:
Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle [think separating the sheep from the goats]. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it.[xiii]
From Ezekiel’s words, David is described as Christ’s servant, so again we see that the Branch cannot be Jesus Christ. In addition, we learn that David will, with great power, exercise a crucial role in the preservation of the Jews in the last days. the Branch will literally be a Godsend for Israel. Consider the following description of Judah under the leadership of the Branch in the last days:
In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them.[xiv]
I’ll conclude this section with an excerpt from Orson Hyde’s dedicatory prayer over the land of Israel for the commencement of their Latter-day gathering, consider the following:
Thou, O Lord, did once move upon the heart of Cyrus to show favor unto Jerusalem and her children. Do Thou now also be pleased to inspire the hearts of kings and the powers of the earth to look with a friendly eye towards this place, and with a desire to see Thy righteous purposes executed in relation thereto. Let them know that it is Thy good pleasure to restore the kingdom unto Israel — raise up Jerusalem as its capital, and constitute her people a distinct nation and government, with David Thy servant, even a descendant from the loins of ancient David to be their king.
As all other things in Orson Hyde’s blessing regarding Jerusalem have come to pass, we can therefore confidently look forward to the day when the Branch, or David, will reign in Jerusalem. We now turn to the Root.
The Doctrine and Covenants section previously cited also makes mention of the root, this is what it teaches:
Behold, thus saith the Lord, it is a descendant of Jesse, as well as of Joseph, unto whom rightly belongs the priesthood, and the keys of the kingdom, for an ensign, and for the gathering of my people in the last days.[xv]
The popular interpretation for the Root of Jesse is Joseph Smith. We know that Joseph Smith was a descendant of Joseph of Egypt, although I do not know about Jesse. Furthermore Joseph Smith received the Melchizedek Priesthood from Peter, James, and John, and so could arguably lay claim to those keys. After all, it is through Peter, James, and John that all Melchizedek priesthood holders can trace their authority back to Jesus Christ. Furthermore, we know that Joseph Smith received the keys to gather Israel from Moses. We also know that Joseph Smith raised an ensign to the nations by way of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. However, as well as Joseph Smith seems to fit this description; I believe there is another that is better suited – John the Revelator.
John is the only other person I know of that is better suited that Joseph Smith to be the Root of Jesse. I do not know what John’s tribal affiliation was, but given that he was an Israelite, having a joint lineage would not be unusual. Furthermore, John the Revelator restored the Melchizedek priesthood, conferring it upon Joseph Smith, having received the priesthood directly from the hand of the God of Israel Himself.
Furthermore, we understand that John was also given the keys to gather Israel in the Last Days and to restore all things. Consider the following verse from another question and answer section of the Doctrine and Covenants:
Question – What are we to understand by the little book which was eaten by John, as mentioned in the 10th chapter of Revelation?
Answer – We are to understand that it was a mission, and an ordinance, for him to gather the tribes of Israel; behold, this is Elias, who, as it is written, must come and restore all things.[xvi]
From this verse we learn that John was given a similar role to Joseph Smith, the difference being that John is still alive, while Joseph Smith is not. We have learned from the tenth article of faith that one of the things that still needs to be restored, but was not restored through Joseph Smith, is the “restoration of the Ten Tribes”. This restoration will be accomplished through John. Furthermore, from John’s last writings in the Book of Revelations, he is told by an angel of the Lord the following: “Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.”[xvii] We will be hearing from John again.
Isaiah provides additional insight into the mission of the Root:
And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek; and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.[xviii]
There are many interesting points in these verses. While some of the points listed in these verses could apply to Joseph Smith, all of them apply to John. Note that here Isaiah does make a reference to the gathering of Israel and refers to the lost tribes of Jacob, again with the Assyrian reference. Isaiah also makes two separate references to the tribes of Israel; those that will be gathered from the nations of the earth, and those that were “outcasts”. To me the term “outcasts” elicits a different meaning than dispersed. It implies a group that was cast out of a larger group, whereas a group that was dispersed is no longer a group at all, and therefore needs to be gathered. It also brings to mind once again the Lord’s covenant to Israel, “If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee.”[xix]
While we do not know where John is, we do know that he is ministering to the lost Ten Tribes and preparing them for their return. In a church conference held on June 3rd 1831, Joseph Smith taught the Saints that John the Revelator was then among the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel, to prepare them for their return from their long dispersion.[xx]
In this section we learned about four incredible latter-day leaders. I have provided evidence that suggests all four of these leaders will be affiliated with the Remnant of Jacob. the Stem of Jesse is Christ. the Rod of Jesse, will be a leader among the Remnant of Jacob in Zion who will demonstrate a tremendous display of power in America. the Branch of Jesse, who will be the latter-day ruler in Israel that will establish the temple in Jerusalem, and assist in preserving the Jews from total destruction. Lastly, the Root of Jesse will be the restorer of all things, including the restoration of the Lost Ten Tribes – John the Beloved.
[i] 2 Nephi 25:1,7
[ii] 2 Nephi 21:1
[iii] D&C 113:1-2
[iv] John 15:5
[v] Revelations 19:11-16
[vi] 2 Nephi 23:5
[vii] D&C 113:4
[viii] Zechariah 6:12-13
[ix] Ezekiel 47; Revelations 11:1-2
[x] Isaiah 13:5
[xi] Ezekiel 47; Revelations 11:1-2
[xii] HC 6:253 – Joseph Smith
[xiii] Ezekiel 34:22-24
[xiv] Zachariah 12:8
[xv] D&C 113:6
[xvi] D&C 77:14
[xvii] Revelations 10:11
[xviii] 2 Nephi 21:10-12
[xix] Deuteronomy 30:4
[xx] HC 1:176