Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Isaiah on Consequences

18 And none to guide her
among all the sons she hath brought forth;
neither that taketh her by the hand,
of all the sons she hath brought up.
19 These two sons are come unto thee,
who shall be sorry for thee—
thy desolation and destruction,
and the famine and the sword—
and by whom shall I comfort thee?
20 Thy sons have fainted, save these two;
they lie at the head of all the streets; as a wild bull in a net,
they are full of the fury of the Lord, the rebuke of thy God.
(2 Nephi 8:18-20)
I know lots of people believe these verses prophesy of the two prophets that will testify in Jerusalem before the Second Coming of Christ, and I agree with it, but I also see something additional in these verses.

In verse 19, “who shall be sorry for thee” seems like it should be a separate question which is repeated later in the verse in the form of “by whom shall I comfort thee?”

The two sons seem to be “desolation/famine” and “destruction/the sword”. In the sense that our acts give birth to consequences, Israel’s acts have given birth to two sons—“desolation and destruction”, also known as “famine and the sword”. And no one is sorry about it (except for the Lord and the righteous).

“Thy sons have fainted, save these two” seems to mean that all other consequences have ended or been used up except for those two, and the Lord is just barely keeping the consequences in control, like a wild bull is barely kept from running amok by netting it.

“They are full of the fury of the Lord, the rebuke of thy God” seems to be saying that the purpose of the desolation and destruction is to rebuke Israel for its wickedness.

In verse 18, “none to guide her among all the sons she hath brought forth” seems to mean that none of the consequences born of Israel’s actions are good, and so she can’t use those to guide her to what to do. (If the consequences were good, Israel would know she had done something right and that would guide her.)

The verses that follow the very depressing ones above are a call to repentance.
21 Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted,
and drunken, and not with wine:
22 Thus saith thy Lord,
the Lord and thy God pleadeth the cause of his people;
behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling,
the dregs of the cup of my fury;
thou shalt no more drink it again.
23 But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee;
who have said to thy soul: Bow down, that we may go over—
and thou hast laid thy body as the ground
and as the street to them that went over.
24 Awake, awake, 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.
25 Shake thyself from the dust;
arise, sit down, O Jerusalem;
loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
(2 Nephi 8:21-25)
“drunken, and not with wine” – I think this is like saying someone is drunk on sin. Certainly sin makes us do really stupid stuff.

“the Lord and thy God pleadeth the cause of his people” This tells us how Christ is our advocate with the Father.

In my Book of Mormon class at BYU with Byron Merrill, he explained “the cup of trembling” as a cup full of sweat wiped off the face of a person who is so mad that they are trembling. Another idea I have is that it could be a cup full of blood that was sweat by Christ during his trembling and suffering for our sins. Until we repent of our sins, we can expect that kind of suffering.

“I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again” – Once we have repented of our sins, we don’t have to experience that suffering any more.

Then we are told to shake ourselves from the dust, which we can take to mean brushing the filth and sin out of our lives, and we are told to awake and put on our strength and beautiful garments, which we can take to mean we must put on the power of God, put on God’s grace to do good works, and put on the beautiful garments of charity so that we can sit down in the kingdom of God.