3 Nephi Chapter 20
3 Nephi 20 The Lord quotes Isaiah 52.
Jesus is preparing to quote Isaiah 54 (see 3 Nephi 22) which tells of the redemption of the latter-day Zion. In 3 Nephi 20 and 21 he tells them some of the things that will transpire before the events recorded in Isaiah 54. Among them are: (1) The gospel will go forth to the Gentiles (3 Nephi 20:27-28; 3 Nephi 21:2). (2) Many will gather to Zion including the Jews (3 Nephi 20:29-31), the Lamanites (3 Nephi 21:4-7), and the dispersed of Israel (3 Nephi 20:13; 3 Nephi 21:1; 3 Nephi 21:26-28). (3) The covenant people of the Lord will be restored to the lands of their inheritance (3 Nephi 20:14; 3 Nephi 20:22; 3 Nephi 20:29; 3 Nephi 20:33; 3 Nephi 20:46; 3 Nephi 21:26-28).
A careful reading of chapters 20 and 21 suggests a consistent distinction between the whole house of Israel as the Father's people and the people of Judah as Christ's people. Also, in these chapters, be careful to ascertain when the Savior is speaking and when he is quoting the Father.
1 And it came to pass that he commanded the multitude that they should cease to pray, and also his disciples. And he commanded them that they should not cease to pray in their hearts.
2 And he commanded them that they should arise and stand up upon their feet. And they arose up and stood upon their feet.
verses 3-9 On this second day of the Savior's ministry among the Nephites there will occur another sacramental meal. It is likely that this meal, like the one on the day prior, was more than simply a sacramental service. It was also a "covenant meal" (see the commentary for 3 Nephi 18:5).
3 And it came to pass that he brake bread again and blessed it, and gave to the disciples to eat.
4 And when they had eaten he commanded them that they should break bread, and give unto the multitude.
verse 4 On this occasion, Jesus commands the disciples that they should administer the sacrament to the multitude. This was a sign that the disciples possessed the authority to officiate in the ordinance of the sacrament. Also it implies that the taking of the sacrament is not a one-time ordinance, but rather should be repeated often.
5 And when they had given unto the multitude he also gave them wine to drink, and commanded them that they should give unto the multitude.
6 Now, there had been no bread, neither wine, brought by the disciples, neither by the multitude;
verse 6 Apparently the Savior miraculously provided the bread and wine. This episode is therefore a New World counterpart of his feeding of the multitude with the loaves and fishes in the Old World (Matthew 14:19-21).
7 But he truly gave unto them bread to eat, and also wine to drink.
8 And he said unto them: He that eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul; and his soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled.
verse 8 The Lord rehearses the symbolism of the sacrament.
9 Now, when the multitude had all eaten and drunk, behold, they were filled with the Spirit; and they did cry out with one voice, and gave glory to Jesus, whom they both saw and heard.
verses 10 through 3 Nephi 23:5 These verses comprise what has been called the "Covenant People Discourse." They also contain the Lord's teachings regarding the covenants of the Lord with the house of Israel. These teachings are contained in no other scripture. Of particular importance is information regarding the fulfilling of the covenant the Lord made with Israel, the Abrahamic covenant. Recall that the law of Moses-the Old Covenant-was fulfilled at Christ's atonement and resurrection. But what of the Abrahamic covenant? When will it be fulfilled? Read on!
10 And it came to pass that when they had all given glory unto Jesus, he said unto them: Behold now I finish the commandment which the Father hath commanded me concerning this people, who are a remnant of the house of Israel.
11 Ye remember that I spake unto you, and said that when the words of Isaiah should be fulfilled-behold they are written, ye have them before you, therefore search them-
verse 11 The "words of Isaiah" spoken of here are found in Isaiah 52:8-10 and in 3 Nephi 16:18-20. They describe the time when most of Israel, including Judah, has been gathered to its promised lands, and Zion has been established. This is at the beginning of the Millennium.
"behold they are written, ye have them before you" These writings of Isaiah are contained on the brass plates of Laban which, of course, are in the possession of the Nephites.
12 And verily, verily, I say unto you, that when they shall be fulfilled then is the fulfilling of the covenant which the Father hath made unto his people, O house of Israel.
verse 12 The time of the fulfillment of the words of Isaiah in 3 Nephi 16:18-20 is mentioned in the commentary for the previous verse. At the time of this fulfillment, the "covenant which the Father hath made unto his people," the so-called Abrahamic covenant will be fulfilled. Let us review these covenants. These covenants were first made between father Abraham and the Lord. Abraham received from the Lord the gospel, baptism, the higher priesthood, and the ordinance of celestial marriage. He agreed to abide by the gospel law and honor his priesthood. The Lord in turn made eternally binding promises to Abraham. They include:
1. Abraham would become the "father of many nations" (Genesis 17:19), and his posterity would be exceedingly numerous-even "as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is upon the seashore (Genesis 17:2; Genesis 22:17-18).
2. The posterity of Abraham will be blessed with certain lands as an eternal inheritance. This will include the land of Canaan (Genesis 17:8) extending from the Nile River to the Euphrates (Genesis 15:18).
3. Abraham's posterity would prove to be a blessing to all families of the earth (Genesis 12:3). They would do this by bearing the priesthood and preaching the gospel to them. Thus will every family have the opportunity, through the posterity of Abraham, to enjoy the blessings of the gospel, which include the "blessings of salvation, even of life eternal" (Abraham 2:9-11).
4. All of these blessings of the gospel and the priesthood would be offered to all of Abraham's mortal posterity.
These covenants were renewed with Isaac (Genesis 26:1-4; Genesis 26:24) and again with Jacob (Genesis 28; 35:9-13; 48:3-4).
13 And then shall the remnants, which shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, be gathered in from the east and from the west, and from the south and from the north; and they shall be brought to the knowledge of the Lord their God, who hath redeemed them.
verse 13 The gathering of all Israel will not be complete at the beginning of the Millennium, but during the Millennium it will greatly accelerate.
14 And the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you this land, for your inheritance.
verse 14 Again, America is given to the tribe of Joseph and the rest of the scattered ten tribes as their promised land.
15 And I say unto you, that if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive, after they have scattered my people-
verse 15 The "Gentiles" receive the blessings of the restored gospel and the blessing of being able to establish themselves in America by displacing those who were already on this land.
16 Then shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
verse 16 The theme sounded in this verse has been previously discussed. See the commentary for 3 Nephi 16:15. As mentioned previously, it has engendered considerable discussion as to its meaning. Some have suggested that it prophesies of a major "Lamanite" uprising against the people of the United States. It seems more likely that this image of Israel's rending its Gentile enemies, like a "young lion among the flocks of sheep" (Micah 5:8-14), is symbolic of Israel's ultimate victory over its foes. This victory will come when the Savior returns and the wicked are destroyed.
17 Thy hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.
verse 17 Israel will ultimately enjoy a great final victory over all non-Israelites. The setting for this is at the beginning of the Millennium.
verses 18-19 In addition to the image of the ferocious young lion (Micah 5:8), the Savior utilizes two additional metaphors from the prophet Micah, that of the reaper gathering his sheaves to the threshing floor and that of the goring bull (Micah 4:12-13).
18 And I will gather my people together as a man gathereth his sheaves into the floor.
19 For I will make my people with whom the Father hath covenanted, yea, I will make thy horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass. And thou shalt beat in pieces many people; and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth. And behold, I am he who doeth it.
verse 19 The Lord is referring to the gathered Israelites-to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"I will make thy horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass" These are expressions of power and strength which will be extended to gathered Israel.
"And thou shalt beat in pieces many people" Israel will subdue the wicked.
"I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth." The Savior dedicates the righteousness and accomplishments of his earthly kingdom to the glory of the Father.
20 And it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles.
verse 20 Israel will win a victory over all the unrepentant wicked, and the wicked will be destroyed. In modern revelation the Lord said, "And until that hour there will be foolish virgins among the wise; and at that hour cometh an entire separation of the righteous and the wicked; and in that day will I send mine angels to pluck out the wicked and cast them into unquenchable fire" (D&C 63:54). Also, "For the time speedily cometh that the Lord God shall cause a great division among the people, and the wicked will he destroy; and he will spare his people, yea, even if it so be that he must destroy the wicked by fire" (2 Nephi 30:10).
21 And it shall come to pass that I will establish my people, O house of Israel.
22 And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you.
verse 22 "this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob" Jacob prophesied that Joseph's branches (Ephraim and Manasseh) would cross the waters to inherit "the utmost bound of the everlasting hills" (Genesis 49:22; Genesis 49:26).
The American Jerusalem or New Jerusalem will be established with its center at Independence, Jackson County, Missouri. As mentioned previously, it is the gathering place for the scattered ten tribes, predominantly the tribe of Joseph.
"And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you" After the Lord's glorious return to earth, the powers of heaven shall indeed come down among those celestial and terrestrial persons who remain after the earth is cleansed. There shall be a new heaven and a new earth. The condition of the earth and all things upon it will be lifted spiritually to a higher plane-to a paradisiacal or terrestrial glory which existed in the days of the Garden of Eden. Jesus will reign personally on the earth and will govern the earth. More specifically, "Christ and the resurrected saints will reign over the earth during the thousand years. They will likely not dwell upon the earth, but will visit it when they please, or when it is necessary to govern it" (TPJS, 268).
23 Behold, I am he of whom Moses spake, saying: 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 who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.
verse 23 In Deuteronomy Moses prophesied of the coming Christ: "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken . . . And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him" (Deuteronomy 18:15; Deuteronomy 18:17-19; cf. Acts 3:22-23).
Why did Jesus not quote the passage among the Nephites precisely as it reads in our present book of Deuteronomy? Perhaps he was citing the passage verbatim from the version preserved on the plates of brass. Or perhaps he was merely citing the passage as he knew it from the Hebrew Bible and adjusting the wording to suit his purposes. An example of this latter technique may be seen if one compares Isaiah 58:6; Isaiah 61:1-2 with Luke 4:18-19.
Another question may be raised. Was a version of Deuteronomy contained on the plates of brass. It seems likely that it was since Jesus quotes a passage as if it were already known to his hearers. Additionally, in Alma 45:18-19 the disappearance of Alma the younger is compared to the disappearance of Moses. The only scriptural account of the death of Moses appears in Deuteronomy 34:5-7.
In what sense is Jesus "like unto" Moses? It seems clear that Moses was a type or symbol of the Savior. Let us mention some parallels between the two.
1. Both Moses and Jesus went up onto a mountain-Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the law-and Jesus "went up into a mountain" (Matthew 5:1) to give the law, the Sermon on the Mount. Thus Moses is the transmitter of the law, and Jesus is the giver or author of the law.
2. Moses was the gatherer of Israel who led the Israelites out of Egypt that they might gather in their own promised land. Jesus is leader the "new exodus" or "second exodus," the gathering of the house of Israel in the last days. Isaiah 52 is known as a chapter dealing with the "second exodus" or Isaiah's prophecies of the gathering of Israel in the latter days. Jesus quoted liberally from this chapter (3 Nephi 16, 20-21).
3, Moses lifted a brass serpent on a pole for all who had been bitten by serpents to see. Those who looked to the raised serpent would live and not die (Numbers 21:4-9). The resurrected Jesus said "Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life" (3 Nephi 15:9; see also John 3:14-15; Alma 33:19-22; Helaman 8:14-15).
4. Both Moses (Exodus 15:22-25; Exodus 16:1-8; Exodus 17:1-7; Numbers 20:2- 11) and Jesus (Matthew 15:33-38) miraculously provided food for their disciples.
24 Verily I say unto you, yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have testified of me.
verse 24 Here is a profound truth which corroborates passages we have previously encountered in the Book of Mormon (Jacob 4:4; Jacob 7:11; Mosiah 13:33). Samuel was the first prophet of the nation of Israel and lived in about 1200 BC.
25 And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.
verse 25 The Savior confirms that the Nephites are pure descendants of Jacob or Israel and are children of the Abrahamic covenant. For a review of the specifics of the Abrahamic covenant, see the commentary for verse 12 of this chapter.
26 The Father having raised me up unto you first, and sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities; and this because ye are the children of the covenant-
verse 26 The Lord urges his hearers to repent and therefore be loyal to their royal heritage.
27 And after that ye were blessed then fulfilleth the Father the covenant which he made with Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed-unto the pouring out of the Holy Ghost through me upon the Gentiles, which blessing upon the Gentiles shall make them mighty above all, unto the scattering of my people, O house of Israel.
verse 27 This verse is initially confusing in that it refers to the Gentiles' being blessed to be able to scatter the Lord's people, the house of Israel.
"And after that ye were blessed" The Lord starts by saying to the Nephites, in effect, "you are entitled to blessings as part of the house of Israel which include a promised land here in America. But then something happened that caused you to be scattered from off your promised land. The Father fulfilled the covenant which he had made with Abraham which included the spread of the gospel to all parts of the world. To accomplish this, the Father raised up a great Gentile nation, and the gospel was restored to the "Gentiles" in this nation. Many of these Gentiles were "Israelite Gentiles," or actual Israelites who were citizens of the great Gentile nation. The missionaries of the Church-mostly "Israelite Gentiles"-will then spread the gospel to all the world to gather in Gentiles and the house of Israel. In providing the necessary blessings to the Gentiles of the great Gentile nation so that they might be able to establish the Church and spread the gospel, the "Gentiles" were allowed to "scatter" the remnants of Israel (Native Americans) who were established in the land area of the great Gentile nation.
28 And they shall be a scourge unto the people of this land. Nevertheless, when they shall have received the fulness of my gospel, then if they shall harden their hearts against me I will return their iniquities upon their own heads, saith the Father.
verse 28 "they shall be a scourge unto the people of this land" The Gentile founders of this great Gentile nation will be a scourge to those Native Americans with Hebrew origins. It is as though the Lord allowed the establishment of the great Gentile nation grudgingly, since its establishment made necessary the "scourging" or scattering of the remnant of the house of Israel from off their promised land. He did allow it, but here he issues a warning. Those Gentiles of the great Gentile nation, both in and out of the Church, had better remain righteous, or their sins will turn back on them and result in their own scourging.
29 And I will remember the covenant which I have made with my people; and I have covenanted with them that I would gather them together in mine own due time, that I would give unto them again the land of their fathers for their inheritance, which is the land of Jerusalem, which is the promised land unto them forever, saith the Father.
verse 29 The Lord now addresses the subject of the Jews-"my people." As with the rest of the house of Israel, the Lord has covenanted with them that they also will be gathered to their promised land-Old Jerusalem-in the latter days.
30 And it shall come to pass that the time cometh, when the fulness of my gospel shall be preached unto them;
31 And they shall believe in me, that I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and shall pray unto the Father in my name.
verses 30-31 Keep in mind that "gathering" is both a temporal and a spiritual phenomenon. Not only will the tribe of Judah be gathered back to Jerusalem, but they will also eventually accept Jesus Christ and his gospel. They will acknowledge him as their Redeemer, their Messiah. We know that this will not happen on a grand scale until after the Lord's second coming (D&C 45:51-53).
verses 32-45 In these verses, the Savior quotes some of the prophecies of Isaiah, specifically most of Isaiah chapter 52 (verses 1-3, 6-15). These prophecies deal with a time period in the last days just prior to the Millennium and foretell the gathering of the house of Israel and the restoration of the gospel. To review the salient features of the scattering and gathering of Israel, see the introductory commentary for 1 Nephi 20.
It is notable that Nephi (1 Nephi 13:37), Jacob (2 Nephi 8:24-25), Abinadi (Mosiah 12:20-24; Mosiah 15:13-18), and Moroni (Moroni 10:31) also quote from Isaiah 52, making it the most quoted chapter of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon.
32 Then shall their watchmen lift up their voice, and with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye.
verse 32 "Then shall their watchmen lift up their voice" It was traditional in Palestine to place watchers or guards on the walls of the cities to observe those who approached. Symbolically, the watchmen are servants of the Lord assigned to teach, warn, and nurture the people (cf. Ezekiel 33:1-16)-priesthood leaders who keep watch over the Church and call out the good news of redemption.
"together shall they sing" This singing, of course, is an act of praising and rejoicing. See the commentary for verse 34.
"for they shall see eye to eye" Unity is one of the key characteristics of Zion. Moses recorded: "The Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind" (Moses 7:18). Joseph Smith said, "What if all the world should embrace this gospel? They would then see eye to eye, and the blessings of God would be poured out upon the people, which is the desire of my whole soul" (HC, 5:259).
33 Then will the Father gather them together again, and give unto them Jerusalem for the land of their inheritance.
verse 33 The Lord is still addressing the subject of the eventual gathering of the Jews to Jerusalem. The implied sequence of their prophesied gathering is that they will first gather spiritually ("Then will the Father gather them together again"), then temporally ("and give unto them Jerusalem for the land of their inheritance").
34 Then shall they break forth into joy-Sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Father hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.
verse 34 "Then shall they break forth into joy-Sing together" The gathering Jews will all sing a new millennial song of joy in honor of their gathering. The Lord has actually revealed the title of this song and its lyrics-see the commentary for 3 Nephi 16:18.
"ye waste places of Jerusalem" This expression refers to the ancient ruins of Jerusalem about to come alive again.
35 The Father hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of the Father; and the Father and I are one.
verse 35 "The Father hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations" This expression has its origin in the Hebrew practice of throwing back the cloak from his right arm so that it does not produce an impediment in combat. At his second coming, Christ will make bare his arm when he shows forth his power for all to see.
"in the eyes of all the nations" All the world will know of his salvation, meaning the victory of our Lord over the forces of evil and corruption.
"and the Father and I are one" In this project of gathering of the Jews, and in all other projects and ways, the Father and the Son are "one." Elohim and Jehovah-though separate personages-are infinitely more one than they are separate. In a way perfectly analogous, the whole plan of salvation centers in our learning to be one with Christ as he is one with the Father.
36 And then shall be brought to pass that which is written: Awake, awake again, and put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city, for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
verse 36 Here is the rallying cry for scattered Israel, particularly to their priesthood leaders and particularly to those of the house of Judah.
"Awake, awake again" While scattered, you have been spiritually sleeping.
"put on thy strength, O Zion" Roust out your leaders and have them put on the strength of their priesthood.
"put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem" Jerusalem (Zion) must throw off its slave garments and increase in beauty and holiness in preparation for the gathering of Israel. Putting on the beautiful garments is a metaphor for the gathering of the righteous. The faithful gatherer is like a bride putting on her wedding garments in preparation for the coming of the bridegroom, or Christ (Isaiah 49:18). In the latter days, the metaphor represents the covenant latter-day Saints as gathering to the stakes of Zion (D&C 82:14-15).
"for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean" No more will be found in Zion the disobedient, the sinners, the disbelieving Gentiles. The phrase "uncircumcised" is a metaphor for those who refuse the Lord's covenants.
37 Shake thyself from the dust; arise, sit down, O Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
verse 37 "Shake thyself from the dust" Rid yourself of the dust which represents sin, humiliation, and servitude.
"arise, sit down" Arise from the dust and sit down in a place or throne of honor in the Lord's presence. Isaiah wrote that Babylon has been cast from a throne into the dust (Isaiah 47:1).
"loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion" The "bands of thy neck" refers to bonds, chains, or fetters used to restrain a captive. You are about to become free from the curses that God has placed upon you, especially the curse of being scattered among the Gentiles, and you will receive revelations from God (D&C 113:9-10).
38 For thus saith the Lord: Ye have sold yourselves for naught, and ye shall be redeemed without money.
verse 38 The Lord is still prophesying of the Jews.
"Ye have sold yourselves for naught" You gave yourself away to sin and received nothing in return.
"ye shall be redeemed without money" You will be redeemed by the atonement of the Savior which cannot be bought with money or other worldly treasures.
39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that my people shall know my name; yea, in that day they shall know that I am he that doth speak.
verse 39 Again, "my people" refers to the Jews. At the Savior's second coming, the Jews "shall know my name," that is, they will begin to acknowledge Christ as Savior and Redeemer.
40 And then shall they say: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings unto them, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings unto them of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion: Thy God reigneth!
verse 40 This verse portrays the Lord and his latter-day messengers, especially his prophets and missionaries, taking the gospel to scattered Israel. The gathered Jews, or others of gathered Israel, shall say of them:
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings" The "mountains" describe where the gospel is preached. The "feet" represent the whole body of those who travel about preaching the gospel (Romans 10:14-15). "Good tidings" or "good tidings of great joy" is the good news of the everlasting gospel, especially the news that Christ has atoned for our sins. We can now have our sins removed and return to our celestial home. See also the commentary for Mosiah 15:15-18.
To "publish" is to announce, proclaim, or promulgate, or make heard.
The missionaries will say unto "Zion"-to gathered Israe-"Thy God reigneth!" You are presided over by your King, even Jesus Christ.
41 And then shall a cry go forth: Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch not that which is unclean; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.
verse 41 "Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence" A warning to go out from spiritual Babylon, the wickedness of the world.
"touch not that which is unclean" We as the Lord's covenant people must not touch or be involved with idols or any other thing of Satan (2 Corinthians 6:15-18).
"be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord" In ancient Israel, certain vessels (bowls, urns, vases, and other containers) and utensils were used in religious feasts and ceremonies. The vessels that were to be used in the temple had special significance and were handled only by those who were worthy and authorized (held the priesthood) and who had properly prepared themselves. The sacred vessels contrast directly with "that which is unclean."
42 For ye shall not go out with haste nor go by flight; for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel shall be your rearward.
verse 42 "For ye shall not go out with haste nor go by flight" When Israel left Egypt, she did so in haste and in flight (Exodus 12:39; Deuteronomy 16:3). When her people now go forth from Babylon, in the gathering to Zion, they will do so in peace, order, and safety, with neither haste nor flight (D&C 133:14-15).
"for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel shall be your rearward" A "rearward" is a rear guard, an individual guarding your back. The Lord will be with you. The verse suggests the participation of both the Father and the Son. Jehovah will lead them and the Father will come behind (D&C 49:27).
verses 43-45 Here the Lord speaks of a latter-day "servant." This could be a latter-day missionary. See the discussion of the possible identity of this servant below.
43 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently; he shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.
verse 43 The servant, possibly Jesus Christ, will have knowledge and insight to understand exactly what to do. Some have also identified this servant with the prophet Joseph Smith, citing 2 Nephi 21:9-11 as evidence that it must also apply to a servant who will come forth after Christ. See the commentary for verses 43-45 below for a more thorough discussion of the question of the identity of the servant.
"he shall be exalted and extolled and be very high" These terms likely represent the eternal destiny of the servant. Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language defines extolled as, "exalted in commendation; praised; magnified."
44 As many were astonished at thee-his visage was so marred, more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men-
verse 44 "As many were astonished at thee" The life and work of the servant will be so unlike that of his fellows that many will be amazed.
"his visage was so marred, more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men" The servant will be greatly disfigured ("marred") by his sufferings, both in face ("visage") and in body. This refers to the suffering of the servant, Jesus Christ, or Joseph Smith.
45 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him, for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
verse 45 "So shall he sprinkle many nations" To "sprinkle" means to purify or make clean. The JST version of Isaiah 52:15 changes the word "sprinkle" to gather. This latter-day servant will gather many nations.
"the kings shall shut their mouths at him" Even the heads of nations will be amazed at the work of this servant.
"for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider" The kings will see a work by this servant that they have never heard of or considered before (Romans 15:20; D&C 101:93- 95).
verses 43-45 These verses foretell a servant of the Lord who is involved prominently in the final gathering of Israel. Although the identification of this servant is unknown, it is interesting to speculate a little as to his identity. Let us summarize his characteristics gleaned from these verses and then try to identify him:
1. "My servant shall deal prudently; he shall be exalted and extolled and be very high." In other words, he will have a vital role which he handles adroitly in the latter-day gathering of the house of Israel.
2. "His visage" and "his form" will be "marred more than any man," so much so as to "astonish" many.
3. He will "sprinkle many nations." Joseph Smith, as he was writing the JST, was given to understand that the original Hebrew text meant that the Spirit of the Lord would "sprinkle" itself upon the scattered children of Israel and cause them to gather together again. He therefore inserted the word "gather" instead of "sprinkle."
4. "The kings shall shut their mouths at him, for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider." Before the servant, kings keep quiet in awe and reverential silence.
Now, who is this mysterious servant? Most people who write Bible commentaries feel it is Jesus Christ himself, especially since the very next verses of the book of Isaiah, chapter 53, continue to speak of a servant who is certainly Jesus Christ (see the commentary for Mosiah 14). The "marred" visage might refer to the marks of his crucifixion, and certainly, more than any man, he would command the respect of kings. However, the Book of Mormon provides strong evidence that this servant is not Jesus Christ. Read carefully 3 Nephi 21:9-11. Here the Savior seems to speak of a servant other than himself, and a latter-day setting is suggested. Some have suggested that Joseph Smith fits the description of this servant. After all, he is the prophet called to preside over the great latter-day restoration of the gospel and the gathering of Israel. Joseph was "marred" when he was assassinated on June 27,1844. The Lord said he would heal his servant, which the resurrection certainly accomplishes.
46 Verily, verily, I say unto you, all these things shall surely come, even as the Father hath commanded me. Then shall this covenant which the Father hath covenanted with his people be fulfilled; and then shall Jerusalem be inhabited again with my people, and it shall be the land of their inheritance.
verse 46 The question is still before us as to when the great covenant between the Lord and Israel, the Abrahamic covenant will be fulfilled.