Verses 1–5 pertain to latter-day temples—the Jerusalem temple, the Salt Lake temple, and others. The temple is called “the mountain of the Lord’s House,” “the mountain of the Lord,” and “the House of the God of Jacob” (2:2–3). People from all nations will go to the temple (see also Jeremiah 3:17); God will teach us His ways (which include His covenants and sacred ceremonies) so that we can “walk in His paths” (2:2–3); God’s law goes forth from the temple (from His prophets and apostles, who meet regularly in the temple) (2:3); temple attendance and worship (from both sides of the veil) will help usher in the Millennium, so that weapons of war (swords/spears) will become instruments of agriculture (plowshares/pruning hooks), and nations will no longer use weapons against each other, nor will they learn the things pertaining to warfare (2:4). In addition, because of the temple, we can walk in the Lord’s light (2:5).
Isaiah . . . saw. The Hebrew verb here (chzh) means “see in a vision.” Isaiah saw in vision the mountain of the Lord’s house that would be built in the last days.
last days. The prophecy about the temple, or “the mountain of the Lord’s house,” will be fulfilled in the latter-days. mountain of the Lord’s House. Symbolically, all of the Lord’s temples are mountains—they are made of mountain materials (granite, marble, etc.), they reach to the sky, they appear to be “mountain-like,” and those who worship in them ascend, step by step, from profane to sacred space, as if they are climbing a mountain. Furthermore, from the mountain top we can see the entire view of the surrounding area, or, we can obtain an eternal view of the gospel. Other prophets called the temple a “mountain” (Exodus 15:17; Psalms 68:16; 99:9). Isaiah’s prophecy refers to the future temple of Jerusalem, the Salt Lake City temple, and all of the Lord’s temples of the “last days.” top of the mountains. Top (from the Hebrew r’sh), literally means “head”; but it also denotes the chief or highest ranking. God’s temple, therefore, is God’s highest ranking institution—one of utmost importance and of great prominence. all nations. In Isaiah’s day, only the priests from the family of Aaron could enter the temple; but in the last days, “all nations” will come and worship at the temple. flow like a river. Isaiah skillfully took the Hebrew noun for river (nhr) and made a verb out of it, thus the translation is literally “to river,” “to flow like a river,” or “to stream.” The miracle of the temple is expressed in this verse—all nations will flow like a river to the mountain temple, uphill; generally, water flows downhill.
let us go up. The Hebrew term alah (“go up,” “ascend”) is a watchword utilized by prophets in connection with individuals who ascend to God’s temples. The Israelites were required to “go up” to worship in the temple three times a year (Exodus 34:24); when King Hezekiah needed divine help, he “went up into the house of the Lord” (2 Kings 19:14; emphasis added); The Psalmist asked, “Who shall ascend into the hill [Hebrew: “mountain”] of the Lord?” (Psalm 24:3; emphasis added), a reference to the temple. mountain of the Lord / House of the God of Jacob. Isaiah creates an engaging parallelism, wherein “mountain” and “House” (or temple) are synonymous. He may teach us . . . walk in His paths. The Hebrew Torah (“law”) is derived from the verb “to teach.” In God’s temples, He teaches us His laws, or sacred teachings about God and how to return to Him. “His paths” are the covenant paths. Zion the law will go forth. From Zion, God’s fortress and the place of God’s temples, will go forth the law (Hebrew Torah).
He will judge among the nations. The Lord’s perfect judgments halt evil people and their works, so that peace will exist on the earth. swords/plowshares/spears/pruning hooks. An artistic parallelism—four instruments, all made of metal and all with blades. The war instruments—swords and spears—will be turned into agricultural tools. Instead of war (during the Millennium), there will be peace (and food for all!). nor will they learn war again. No more war schools or military institutions. No more teaching children how to war and battle. It is ultimately the Messiah who will abolish all wars (Hosea 2:18; Zechariah 9:10; Isaiah 9:5).
walk in the light of the Lord. “Walk” refers back to “walk in His paths,” God’s covenantal paths, in this context, the temple.
Bracketed words are from JST, 2 Nephi 12:5.
After Isaiah’s glorious prophecy of the “last days” and Millennium (see the previous sections), he now turns to the darkness of Israel during his own day. In this prayer, Isaiah sets forth various sins that Israel (“the house of Jacob,” 2:6) was guilty of, including false temple worship (2:6), seeking after earthly riches (2:7), building up arms and weaponry (2:7), worshipping idols (2:8), and indulging in pride (2:9). Note that the bracketed items are from the JST, 2 Nephi 12.
O Lord. Indicates that this section of Isaiah is a prayer. For other prayers in Isaiah, see 26:7–18; 33:2–6; 37:16–20; 63:15–19; 64:1–12. hearken unto. Clarifies that the people are not “soothsayers,” but rather they listen to soothsayers. Soothsayers are those who pretend to predict the future or to prophesy. Rather than listen to God’s prophets, Israel was associating with soothsayers. Soothsaying and the like was expressly an abomination to the Lord (Deuteronomy 18:10–12). clap hands. The Hebrew (sfq) underlying “clap hands” can also be translated “clasped hands” or “exchange handshakes,” either in business or trade agreements or in false temple worship. Philistines. An unclean, idolatrous, warring people; enemies of Israel.
silver/gold/treasures. In addition to participating in apostate temple worship, Israel had inappropriately sought wealth. God revealed to Moses, “Neither shall [you] greatly multiply to [yourself] silver and gold” (Deuteronomy 17:17). Seeking wealth sometimes leads people away from God. horses/chariots. Represent military might. Rather than look to their God and temples for safety and security, Israel had sought the protection of horses and chariots (see also 31:3).
full of idols. Isaiah speaks against idols in 10:10–11; 19:1, 3; 31:7; and elsewhere.
The twice attested “not” clarifies these difficult sentences. human has not bowed down. Inasmuch as Israel has committed so many sins and has not bowed down before Jehovah, Isaiah prays, “Do not forgive him.”
This section deals with “the day of the Lord,” the time period that pertains to the Lord’s judgments upon the wicked. In his book, Isaiah uses the phrases “day of the Lord,” “in that day,” “day of visitation,” “day of his fierce anger,” and “day of the Lord’s vengeance” more than 55 times, which demonstrates how often Isaiah speaks concerning the Lord’s judgments. The time period of a “day” is not always clearly identified—it can have multiple fulfillments, anciently and in our dispensation. Sometimes the “day” refers to the events associated with the last days and Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. In the present section, the Lord’s day of judgment will be “upon all nations” (2:12, 14). The bracketed expressions are from the JST and 2 Nephi 12.
O you wicked ones. This section is addressed to the wicked. enter into the rock, and hide in the dust. During times of crisis, the ancients often fled to rocks and caves (Joshua 10:16; Judg. 6:2; 1 Samuel 13:6; Revelation 6:15) for protection. In this case, they are fleeing because of their “fear of the Lord” and because His glorious majesty was going to “smite” them. Isaiah repeats the idea of the wicked entering into the “crevices of the rocks” and “the clefts of the cliffs” in 2:21.
day of the Lord. In the present section, for emphasis, “day” or “the day of the Lord” is mentioned five times. “The day of the Lord” may refers to Jehovah’s judgment upon the wicked during any period in the earth’s history; it also may refer to His Second Coming (see also Amos 5:18–20). proud and lifted up. Throughout this section, Isaiah skillfully emphasizes the highness of the wicked: “lifted up,” “high and elevated,” “high,” “elevated,” “tall,” “loftiness,” “height.” But after the judgments, the wicked will be laid low, and “the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (2:17).
cedars of Lebanon/oaks of Bashan. Lebanon, a mountain range in Syria, was famous for its fine cedars; and Bashan, a region east of the Jordan River, was known for its oak trees. Here Isaiah compares proud individuals to these “high and elevated” trees. High mountains/hills. Probably an image of apostate and false temple systems, which were imitations of “the mountain of the Lord” (2:2–4).
tall tower/fortified wall. Humankind’s attempt to place protections and defensive barriers around their cities may symbolize reliance on the arm of flesh, but these will not protect them from the Lord’s day of judgment. By contrast, the righteous rely on God for protection because to them God is a “high tower” (2 Samuel 22:3; Psalm 18:2) and a “wall of fire” (Zechariah 2:5).
ships of Tarshish/luxury ships. Vessels that bring wealth to prideful nations, thus symbolizing pride.
Through implication, Isaiah compares the proud humans to the moles and the bats, which dwell in darkness. moles . . . bats. This reading is from DSS Isaiah.
Cease from the human. Because humans are nothing compared to God. As Moses declared, “I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.” (Moses 1:10).