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Israel and Zion Part III - Jesse (Judah) and Joseph In Isaiah


          In the previous parts of Israel and Zion, the prophecies of Ezekiel and account of Mosiah, Benjamin and Mosiah were addressed. In a later part those accounts will be referred to in a summary.

          Part III demonstrates how the roles of Joseph and Judah are present in Isaiah’s prophecies of the last days. Isaiah’s prophecies were noted by Jesus Christ while ministering to survivors in Third Nephi.

And now behold, I say unto you that ye had ought to search these things. 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. And all things that he spake hath been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake. Therefore, give heed to my words. Write the things which I have told you, and, according to the time and the will of the Father, they shall go forth unto the gentiles. And whosoever will hearken unto my words, and repenteth and is baptized, the same shall be saved. Search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things” (RE 3 Nephi 10:4, emphasis added).

          The Savior instructs the Nephites to search the writings of Isaiah because Isaiah addressed all things relating to the house of Israel. Interestingly, and cryptically adds that if Isaiah spoke of all things regarding Israel, it means Isaiah must speak also of the gentiles. Adding to the curiosity of the Savior’s words is His statement, “all that he [Isaiah] spake hath been and shall be.

          In this passage, the Savior provides insights on how to understand the writings of Isaiah. When He says Isaiah wrote “all things” regarding Israel and the gentiles, it raises the question, “How might that be?” The answers could be many, with great difficulty proving any single conclusion definitive.

          The way to proceed is to fall back on the concept stated in the prophecy of Joseph of Egypt. Allow the scriptures to “grow together” and see if a picture emerges as we assemble the puzzle pieces.

          In the previous parts we have seen two parties represented in each example. Those parties are Judah and Joseph. With Judah in Isaiah, we see a slight variance in that Judah is represented by Jesse, the father of David. And Joseph is represented by Ephraim, the son of Joseph of Egypt. The significance of the two people points to their unique standing before the Lord and Israel. From the lineage of Jesse we see the lineage of kings, most notably Jesus and David. With Ephraim we see the right of firstborn passed from Joseph of Egypt to his second born son, Ephraim. This is the pattern followed in Ezekiel where both David, Joseph and Ephraim appear.

          As mentioned earlier, following the death of David’s son, Solomon, friction arose between Ephraim and Judah. Judah was given the right to the throne of Israel and Ephraim received the right of the firstborn. Ephraim resisted being subservient to Judah to the extent Ephraim and the other tribes separated into a Northern kingdom and Judah became the Southern kingdom.

          The prophecies we’ve examined point to a latter-day reunion between the parties Isaiah points to as well. However, to understand the context of what has happened and what will happen, as the Savior said of Isaiah’s writings, one must step back and examine the bigger picture of what God is doing.

          There is a Divine balancing act being delicately, justly and mercifully going on. One that is difficult to see unless close attention is paid to the past and foretold about the future.


Balance In God’s Offer of Covenants


          There is an overarching prophecy covering both Israel and the gentile past and future. It is a testament to God’s love and commitment to all mankind. The prophecy referred to is, “The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” This means both Israel and the gentiles receive equal treatment by the Lord. Israel is the first to receive the Lord’s offer of covenant. When Israel rejects the Lord’s offer, the offer is extended to the gentiles. The gentiles accepted the offer for a time, and then withdraw. Israel was allowed to go first originally, so to be equally to both parties, the gentiles receive the first offer of covenant in the beginning of the second half of the “first shall be last” prophecy. There is a line of demarcation between the two halves. A beginning and end of each. Isaiah’s prophecy is structured after this pattern.


Deutero Isaiah


          There is a scholarly theory widely disputed known as Deutero Isaiah. It is based on the theory chapters 1-39 of Isaiah are a contemporary account of Isaiah’s day and were authored by him. Chapters 40-66 discuss future events including Cyrus, King of Persia over 50 years before his birth.

          While the majority of scholars believe Isaiah is the sole author of his book, there is value in acknowledging the division between the two parts. According to the Savior, Isaiah’s words, “have been and shall be.” Could it be the first half of Isaiah represents the “have been,” and the last half is the “shall be?”

          Taking this approach, consider the possibility of the first half as a reference to Judah and the second half addresses the prophecy of Joseph. Also consider the possibility Isaiah was written as a script for a play. In the first half there are characters playing specific roles or parts. The cast of characters perform the play from beginning to end in the first shall be last prophecy. When it is completed, the play ends. The same play is recast to fill  the same characters, with a new cast. In the second half, the gentiles fill the roles filled earlier by Israel. The play begins with the gentiles and ends with Israel.

          We won’t go to the effort of defining all of the individual roles in the play. We only focus on two key characters, one in each half. The first half character is the “root of Jesse,” heir to Israel’s throne. The second half character is Cyrus, King of Persia.


David, the Root of Jesse


          When Nephi first appeared to Joseph Smith he quoted several Old Covenant prophecies including RE Isaiah 5:3-5 and said it would soon be fulfilled. We begin by examining this chapter to unveil another reason Isaiah is written in two parts.

          In a later revelation to Joseph Smith regarding Isaiah 5, the Lord described the roles of three individuals referred to as “the Stem of Jesse,” the “rod” and the “root of Jesse.” The Savior identifies Himself as the Stem of Jesse. But the identities of the rod and root of Jesse remain hidden. Focus begins on the “root of Jesse” and the role of his character in Isaiah’s play.

Question: What is the Root of Jesse spoken of in the 10th verse of the 11th chapter [Isa. 5:4]?Answer: Behold, thus says 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 day” (RE T&C 129:3, emphasis added).

The Root of Jesse shares two lineages, the line of Jesse (David and Jesus), and Joseph (Ephraim). In chapter 5 of Isaiah, lineage plays an important role. As mentioned earlier, Judah had the right to the throne of Israel. Ephraim was entitled to the right of the firstborn. This was a major cause of division between Israel and Judah. In the last days, Isaiah foretells a time when Ephraim and Judah resolve their differences and reunite as Israel.

“. . . And in that day, there shall be a root of Jesse who 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. 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. But they 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. And the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea, and with his mighty wind he shall shake his hand over the river [Spirit of Elijah], and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over with dry feet. And there shall be a highway for the remnant of his people which shall be left from Assyria, like it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt” (RE Isaiah 5:4-5, emphasis added).

A practical way of resolving the issues between Judah’s right to the throne and Ephraim’s firstborn rights is for the Lord to raise up someone from both lineages.  A “rightful” claim to both the throne and right of the firstborn. Someone acknowledged by both Judah and Ephraim to sit on Israel’s throne and wield the right of the firstborn.

          The “Root of Jesse” fulfills those requirements as a descendant of Jesse and Joseph. He receives his priesthood by right to accomplish two objectives: raise an ensign and gather Israel. The first objective of raising an ensign begets the authority to do the second, gathering Israel.

 

“It will be the place from which the first preparations for the Second Coming begin. At that location a small group will be prepared to endure this opening. They, and those called to join with them, will escape being ―utterly wasted‖ at the unveiling of our Lord in glory at His return. It is Elijah who will restore the hearts of the fathers to the children or, in other words, he will reestablish the lost corridor between heaven and earth that connects those in heaven with those on earth.144 This fiery path needs to be opened beforehand. The path, once it opens, will allow men on the earth to be prepared for the coming again of those who are Zion above. Well, Elijah answers to this. Joseph continued in this March 10th discussion teaching: ―in the days of Noah God destroyed the world by a flood & has promised to destroy it by fire in the last days but before it took place Elijah should first come & turn the hearts of the Fathers to the Children &c now comes the point what is this office & work of Elijah, it is one of the greatest & most important subjects that God has revealed, He should send Elijah to seal the children to the fathers & fathers to the Children. … I wish you to understand this subject for it is important & if you will receive it this is the spirit of Elijah that we redeam our dead & connect ourselves with our fathers which are in heaven & seal up our dead to come forth in the first resurrection & here we want the power of Elijah to seal those who dwell on earth to those which dwell in heaven.‖145 This quote divides mankind into three groups: First, us, the living, are required to do work using Elijah‘s guidance. Second, the ―fathers which are in heaven‖ to whom we must have a bond to avoid being wasted at the Lord‘s return. Third, ―our dead‖ who are intended to benefit from our connection and qualify to be resurrected into a saved line of priestly authorities stretching through us to the ―fathers which are in heaven.‖ We must be sealed to ―the fathers which are in heaven‖ in order to be saved. ―Our dead‖ must be redeemed and sealed to us, that they may also inherit eternal life with us. Doing a sealing between our dead and ourselves, however, is not enough and only connects two of the three groups together. Until we are also connected to the third group, that is ―our fathers which are in heaven,‖ we remain vulnerable to being ―utterly wasted at His coming. Joseph knew what he was talking about. He used the correct terms and outlined the correct path. We have just ignored it” (The Mission of Elijah Reconsidered, Denver Snuffer Jr., pp.29-30, emphasis added).

Preliminary to the Second Coming of the Savior, Elijah must come and open the corridor between Heaven and Earth. Those dwelling in Heaven, are our Patriarchal Fathers belonging to the Holy Order. They descend from Heaven to minister to their posterity on Earth. The “Root of Jesse” is the mortal who receives the Holy Order of the Priesthood. Once the conduit is open, Israel, or the family of God is ready to be gathered and taught by the great Patriarchs of this Order. The righteous will be drawn to the pillar and the wicked repelled.

          Terms like “conduit,” “fiery pillar,” “stairway to heaven,” “Jacob’s ladder,” “chariot of fire,” are all attempts to describe something other worldly with words from this world. There may or may not be literal signs like a pillar of fire at night or a cover of smoke by day, but the unmistakable sign will be among the wicked who are repelled with fear when approaching the presence of holy beings. In contrast, those who are pure and humble feel drawn to the society of holy beings because they qualify to associate with them.

          When the “Root of Jesse” raises the “ensign,” the outcasts from Israel and the gentiles, Judah and Joseph gather to the ensign.

“And he [Root of Jesse] shall set up an ensign for the nations [Spirit of Elijah, fiery conduit], and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel [scattered of Israel], and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” The work will proceed globally. It will result in all “four corners of the earth” being searched to locate and return these scattered “outcasts.” They are “outcast” because they lack any identification with Israel. They are “dispersed” because they are everywhere, in all nations, among all peoples. They do not know they have anything to do with the blood of Israel. Until they are converted again, their own bloodlines remain a mystery to them” (Snuffer Jr., Denver C.. Nephi's Isaiah, p.242, emphasis added, Mill Creek Press).

The work of the Root of Jesse accomplishes these objectives with Heaven’s help. Angelic ministrants do the work of gathering from the four quarters of the Earth. As discussed earlier and redundantly, John the Beloved is at the bottom of the conduit Elijah opens.

There has to be an opening that occurs in order to prepare the way. The opening at this end is going to be handled by someone who has remained behind and the opening at the far end is going to be the one to whom the assignment was given to open the way for His return– Elijah, the one who was promised. John [the Beloved] will have a role, but the work of Zion is the work of flesh and blood. Men have to extend the invitation for God to return so that men who extend that invitation are worthy of His return and the Lord can safely come without utterly destroying all who are upon the earth” (Jacob’s Ladder podcast, Denver Snuffer Jr.). 

It’s an interesting concept to think beyond the blessings of the Spirit of Elijah returning to Earth. In addition to blessings, there are also consequences for those who pretend to possess God’s authority.

          Elijah and the priests of Baal is a type of what happens when false religion is confronted by the living God. Israel abandoned the Lord and turned to Baal and his four hundred and fifty priests. In a sacrificial dual between Elijah and the Lord and the many priests of Baal, both parties built altars and offered sacrifice to their respective Gods.

          The priests of Baal slew a bullock and dressed it. They placed it on an altar of wood and called upon Baal from morning until noon to light the altar from Heaven. Elijah mocked the priests and Baal as he encouraged them to cry louder to Baal. As they cried louder they cut themselves until blood poured out of them. There was no response.

          Elijah turned to the people of Israel and encouraged them to draw closer as he prepared the altar with twelve stones, one each for the tribes of Israel. Elijah dug a trench around the altar. Placing wood on the altar, Elijah slew and dressed a bullock and placed it upon the wood. Elijah then instructed men to take four barrels of water and pour it over the altar three times or a total of twelve barrels. The water ran off the offering and the wood into the trench surrounding the altar. Elijah then waited until the time for the evening sacrifice and proceeded to call upon the Lord.

And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that you are the Lord God and you may turn their heart back again. Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God. And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal, let not one of them escape. And they took them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slew them there” (RE 1 Kings 4:18-19, emphasis added).

When the pillar of fire descended from Heaven and consumed the altar and its contents all Israel knew who the true and living God was. The consequences for the false priests of Baal proved fatal.

          One may conclude this was an isolated incident and such an event could never happen today. However, the prophecies of Nephi and Isaiah point to a similar outcome for those who worship idol gods.

“And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters, and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters. Nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw. And it came to pass that I beheld that the great mother of abominations did gather together in multitudes upon the face of all the earth, among all the nations of the gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb [Joseph, gentiles] and upon the covenant people of the Lord [Judah, Israel], who were scattered upon all the face of the earth. And they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.

And it came to pass that I beheld that the wrath of God was poured out upon that great and abominable church, insomuch that there were wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and kindreds of the earth. And as there began to be wars and rumors of wars among all the nations which belonged to the mother of abominations, the angel spake unto me, saying, Behold, the wrath of God is upon the mother of harlots, and behold, thou seest all these things. And when the day cometh that the wrath of God is poured out upon the mother of harlots — which is the great and abominable church of all the earth, whose foundation is the Devil — then at that day the work of the Father shall commence in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel” (RE 1 Nephi 3:28-29, emphasis added).

The power descending upon a small group of repentant gentiles and a remnant of Israel is the power of Elijah that empowers the latter-day David and allows he and angelic ministrants to assemble the family of God at the time that God’s wrath is poured upon all who draw near to Him with their lips but their hearts are far from him.

          The Savior foretold the same events to the survivors of Lehi’s seed when He foretold the fulfillment of the prophecy of Moses.

“For in that day, for my sake, shall the Father work a work which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them, and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them. But behold, the life of my servant shall be in my hand; therefore, they shall not hurt him, although he shall be marred because of them. Yet I will heal him, for I will shew unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the Devil. Therefore, it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him to bring forth unto the gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the gentiles, it shall be done even as Moses said — They shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant. And my people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the gentiles [immigration issues possibly?], yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through, both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. Their hand shall be lifted up upon their adversaries, and all their enemies shall be cut off. Yea, woe be unto the gentiles except they repent, for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots, and I will cut off the cities of thy land and throw down all thy strong holds. And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy land, and thou shalt have no more soothsayers. Thy graven images I will also cut off and thy standing images out of the midst of thee, and thou shalt no more worship the works of thy hands. And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities. And it shall come to pass that all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms shall be done away. For it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that at that day, whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son, them will I cut off from among my people, O house of Israel, and I will execute vengeance and fury upon them, even as upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.

But if they will repent, and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church [definition of the Lord’s church] among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance. And they [Joseph, gentiles] shall assist my people [Judah Israel}, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city which shall be called the New Jerusalem . . .” (RE 3 Nephi 9:12 & 10:1, emphasis added).

 

When the servant delivers the words of Christ to the gentiles, the gentiles choose between the Lord and the “priests of Baal.” If they repent and receive the servants and the words of Christ, the Lord establishes His church under His criteria.

          Those following Baal and his priests continue blindly and suffer the wrath of a just God. He intends to collapse everything standing in the way of gathering His family, Israel. Those rejecting the servant and the words of Christ return to worshipping their idols.

“Graven images include worshiped leaders we adore or call “beloved” (a title belonging to Christ). Graven images include men as idols of authority. Those claiming to hold keys to deliver salvation, are an idol. Whether Catholic, Mormon, or Fundamentalist, all graven images will be cut off. These “strongholds” are weak and will fail” (Snuffer, Denver. Preserving the Restoration, p.148, emphasis added, Mill Creek Press).

Worshippers of graven images fail to realize they are engaging in thinking and behavior. It becomes exposed when it is confronted by truth. When the Lord’s servant delivers the words of Christ, they are received as they were when Christ ministered on Earth. Traditional beliefs erode over time when the free flow of revelation is not present. Rather than direction from God translating into an ever expanding canon of scripture, volumes are written addressing the meaning of past canons. When revelation stops flowing, the definition of revelation is adapted to maintain support for those currently presiding. The bar is never raised, only lowered.

          When the “Root of Jesse” delivers the words of Christ to the gentiles, the gentiles initially rejects new revelation because it challenges generational traditions. The same is true today. Ingrained teachings assigning infallibility to man are easier to accept when it is what has been for generations.

          The appearance of the Lord’s servant and additional words of Christ will be disruptive for everyone. For the righteous who accept new revelation, they are prepared to withstand the Second Coming of Christ. For those who reject the servant and the Lord’s new revelation, the wrath of God is poured upon them without measure upon false priests who oppress.

          Part IV will address the Deutero Isaiah and its relevance to understanding Isaiah for both Israel and the gentiles.


3/14/2024

Scott Roderick



Israel and Zion Part III
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