Chapter 23 – Moroni and Isaiah

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According to Joseph Smith, Moroni also quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah in its entirety, stating that it was about to be fulfilled. This chapter is short, only sixteen verses. We have now seen that Isaiah’s words have been a focal point for latter-day discussions by Nephi, Moroni, and the Savior himself . Portions of this chapter have already been discussed at length in the Isaiah section, and will not be discussed to the same degree here as they were in the chapter titled “Powerful Latter-Day Leadership.” The context of the whole chapter is however very insightful. The chapter begins as follows:
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And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:[i]

Isaiah is using the metaphor of a plant to describe four latter-day leaders. The Rod, The Branch, and the Root are all affiliated with a cutting from the original stem. I believe that all three of these have missions related to the return of the Remnant of Jacob. Previously we learned that The Stem of Jesse is the Lord Jesus Christ. The three affiliated leaders that are grouped together in a transplanted cutting are The Rod of Jesse – whom I believe will be the powerful military leader of the returning Remnant of Jacob. A Branch of Jesse – whom I believe will be a powerful leader by the name of David who will rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and help to preserve the Jews in their time of greatest need. He will sit as their king. The Root of Jesse – I believe that this is the Apostle John – who is presently serving among the Lost Ten Tribes, and was given the express mission to restore all things.

There are many plants that can be grown from a cutting of the original. From these “rods” will grow roots and branches. This is the symbolism of Isaiah. Christ himself used similar symbolism, in which he likened himself again to the stem. Consider the following verses:

I am the true vine [stem], and my Father is the husbandman. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 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. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.[ii]

In these verses, Christ admonishes his Apostles to abide in Him, to draw upon His strength, and to become one with Him and his Father. From the symbolism of Isaiah, we can rest assured that this is exactly what these three latter-day leaders will do. Their strength will “stem” from Christ. They will do His will, as He did the will of His Father. Isaiah continues:

And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:

But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.[iii]

The traits noted above are characteristics of Christ, but they are also characteristics that are shared by anyone who truly abides in Him. Thus these leaders shall be enabled through the grace of Christ to have characteristics similar to those of the Savior himself. Therefore, we can infer from these verses, that all of these leaders will be humble, righteous, submissive to the will of the Father, and extremely powerful. Isaiah continues:

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.[iv]

If Isaiah is using a metaphor of a vine with the aforementioned leaders, of whom Christ is the original source, the fruit of this vine will be that peace and harmony described in the preceding verses. However, as Christ mentioned above, the branches that do not abide in Him, are good for nothing but the flame. Therefore, before this fruit can be realized the husbandmen of the vineyard must purge it, burning all branches that do not pull their strength from the “true vine”. Isaiah continues:

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.[v]

As noted previously, I believe that the Root of Jesse is John. John is the Elias who was sent to restore all things.[vi] He participated in restoring the priesthood keys to Joseph Smith.  He, like Joseph Smith, received keys from Moses and Elijah. [vii] And He will restore the Lost Ten Tribes, and raise a new ensign at their coming to which all the nations of the earth will flow – even Zion, the New Jerusalem. Isaiah continues:

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 [i.e. the Remnant of Jacob], 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 [these others are the scattered individual children of Israel who will need to be fished and hunted from the four quarters of the earth].

And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel [those that have been cast out to the uttermost parts of Heaven], and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Note, while Joseph Smith did some of the things mentioned here, he did not gather those that left from Assysria – the Lost Ten Tribes. This is John’s explicit task.

The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim [Before the diaspora, Ephraim tried to lead the Northern Kingdom and Syria in a war against Judah- the past days of contention and malice will be gone, and they will be brothers in Christ].

But they [Ephraim] shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them.[viii]

This reference to Ephraim riding upon the shoulders of the Philistines is a metaphor, and the potential source of the common phrase, “standing on the shoulders of giants”. Among the Philistines lived extremely large men. According to the bible, there were at least three groups of giants among the Philistines: the Anakims, the Emims, and the Zamzummims.[ix] These giants struck fear in the hearts of their enemies. Goliath of Gath was one such giant. A man, who by his sheer size, was able to taunt and defy the armies of Israel. The metaphor is that among the children of Ephraim will come a similar force that will likewise defy the armies of men. This is a reference to the Remnant of Jacob coming to the children of Ephraim. Again, Isaiah speaks of them first in the West, and then moving to the East, ultimately to liberate their brothers, the Jews.  First, however, they will purge the Lord’s vineyard as has been spoken of repeatedly throughout the scriptures. Isaiah continues:

And the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod. And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.[x]

Isaiah concludes this chapter with an explicit reference to the remarkable manner in which the Remnant of Jacob will return. The reference to destroying the Egyptian sea and the crossing of men dryshod over bodies of water is a dual reference. First, it signifies that the return of the Remnant of Jacob will make men forget the comparative greatness of the mighty miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord in delivering the children of Israel from the Egyptians by parting the Red Sea – making a path for His people to escape. The enemies of the Lord were destroyed as a part of this miraculous event. The prophet Jeremiah confirms this interpretation in the following verse:

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the North…[xi]

Secondly, it attests to similar miracles being wrought at the coming of the Remnant of Jacob as in the day that the Lord saved the House of Israel from their oppressors the first time. These miracles include the appearance of a highway out of the great deep upon which the Remnant will return, as well miracles involving control of the elements similar to what was seen at the time the Red Sea was divided. The coming of the Remnant of Jacob is, therefore, symbolic of the redemptions of the House of Israel.

This concludes the chapter of Isaiah. In Joseph’s own words: “[Moroni] quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled”.[xii] Since Moroni’s message, much of what Isaiah saw has also been fulfilled. Since the prophecy was given much has happened. The gospel has been restored – an ensign to the nations raised. The Jews have been gathered, as has the House of Joseph. The portions of this prophecy that yet remain unfulfilled revolve around the Remnant of Jacob, whose coming is now imminent.

Moroni continued by quoting the following verses from the third chapter of Acts, “precisely as they stand in the New Testament,”[xiii] which read as follows:

For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.[xiv]

According to Joseph, Moroni followed these verses with this commentary: “He said that that prophet was Christ; but the day had not yet come when they who would not hear his voice should be cut off from among the people, but soon would come.”[xv] This is the same timing Moroni provided for the returning Remnant spoken of in the chapter quoted from Isaiah. From what we have learned from other prophets, these people who will not hear Christ’s voice will be cut off during the great and dreadful day of the Lord. It is wholly consistent with all previous teachings we have reviewed regarding this subject.

According to Joseph Smith, Moroni “quoted many other passages of scripture, and offered many explanations which cannot be mentioned here”.[xvi] Joseph Smith did not elaborate as to why he could not mention the additional scriptures, nor the explanations offered by Moroni. But it is clear that Nephi, John, and Moroni were also prohibited from disclosing too much. However, from the information that was provided, we do certainly get a feel that there is a “marvelous work and a wonder” about to play out, and that the world at large will not only be unprepared, but completely shocked by it.

These are not isolated voices in the dark. As Christ commanded: “search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things”.[xvii] As we have seen, Nephi, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zachariah, Joel, Malachi, Micah, Moses, Mormon, Moroni, John, Zenos, Jacob, Daniel, and numerous others have attested to these things. Heed the words of Christ, search the prophets, and listen to the guidance of the Holy Ghost. The thief in the night is at our door.

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[i] Isaiah 11:1

[ii] John 15: 1;4-6

[iii] Isaiah 11:2-5

[iv] Isaiah 11:6-9

[v] Isaiah 11:10

[vi] D&C 77:9 & 14

[vii] HC 3:387

[viii] Isaiah 11:11-14

[ix] Bible Dictionary – Giants

[x] Isaiah 11:15-16

[xi] Jeremiah 16:14-15

[xii] JSH 1:40

[xiii] JSH 1:40

[xiv] Act 3:22&23

[xv] JSH 1:40

[xvi] JSH 1:41

[xvii] 3 Nephi 23:5