Isaiah and the Great Arraignment

By Terry B. Ball

Ball, Terry B., “Isaiah and the Great Arraignment” in Sperry Symposium Classics: The Old Testament, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson (Provo and Salt Lake City: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, and Deseret Book 2005), 196–208.

Isaiah and the Great Arraignment

Terry B. Ball

 

Terry B. Ball is department chair of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University.

The resurrected Christ gave special recognition to the writings of Isaiah. As He spoke to the Book of Mormon people gathered at the temple in Bountiful, the Savior proclaimed, “And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye 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” (3 Nephi 23:1). Considering how difficult it is for many people to understand Isaiah’s words, we may wish the Savior had picked an easier book to command us to study! We might be more comfortable if He had said, “Master the writings of Ruth,” or perhaps, “Ponder the doctrine of Omni.” But there is a reason why Isaiah’s writings are worthy of the distinction afforded them by the Lord. As He explained to the Nephites: “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 have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake” (3 Nephi 23:2–3). Thus we can be assured that Isaiah spoke not only to ancient covenant Israel but also to the latter-day covenant people. Moreover, we have the Savior’s personal witness that everything Isaiah foretold has been or will be fulfilled.

Not only are Isaiah’s writings distinctive, but the man himself seems to stand out as an anomaly when compared with other prophets of his dispensation. When we think of an Old Testament prophet, we may picture a humble, simple man, one living in the wilderness and being fed by ravens like Elijah the Tishbite (see 1 Kings 17:3–4), or perhaps a gatherer of sycamore fruit and a herdsman like Amos (see Amos 7:14). Isaiah, however, seems to have been a man of relatively high social station who could find audience with kings (see, for example, Isaiah 37; 38:1). Josephus proposes that King Hezekiah was actually Isaiah’s son-in-law.[1] Moreover, the complexity and beauty of his writings, complete with all the poetic elements of metaphor, parallelism, and elevated language, reflect his station as a well-educated man.[2] Furthermore, Isaiah enjoyed exceptional longevity as an Old Testament prophet, serving half a century from about 740 B.C. to about 690 B.C. under four different kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (see Isaiah 1:1).[3]

While Isaiah may have differed from other Old Testament prophets in social station, education, and longevity, he was very much the same in how he fulfilled his calling as a prophet to a covenant people. As part of their calling, Old Testament prophets provided many “services” for those to whom they ministered. They taught of the coming of both the mortal and millennial Messiah. They provided instruction concerning the stewardship associated with being a covenant people. Some led their people to battle, and others controlled the elements to accomplish God’s will. One of the most important roles of Old Testament prophets was to act as “spiritual physicians” for the people. As such they offered diagnoses of the spiritual maladies afflicting the people, suggested prescriptions whereby they might be healed, and gave them prophetic prognoses of what they could expect if they did or did not choose to follow the prescriptions.

The first five chapters of Isaiah are an excellent example of a prophet acting as a spiritual physician. These opening chapters of Isaiah can be called the Great Arraignment, for in them the prophet lays out the charges the Lord wishes to bring against His people. One approach that can help us understand Isaiah’s teachings in the Great Arraignment is to classify, analyze, and consider the counsel contained therein as diagnoses, prescriptions, or prognoses given by the Lord’s designated spiritual practitioner. Doing so not only makes the prophet’s message to ancient Israel[4] clear and poignant but also reveals important counsel for a latter-day covenant people.

The Diagnosis

Despite some moments of righteousness and repentance during Isaiah’s tenure as prophet, the house of Israel habitually chose to be afflicted with a number of spiritual maladies.[5] Isaiah identified ignorance, apathy, greed, worldliness, idolatry, and failure to thrive as some of the infirmities prevalent among the people of this day.

Ignorance and apathy. Isaiah begins the diagnosis of the spiritual maladies that afflicted ancient Israel with a telling poetic verse found in the opening chapter of the Great Arraignment:

The ox knoweth his owner,

and the ass his master’s crib:

but Israel doth not know,

my people doth not consider.

(Isaiah 1:3)

Isaiah seems to be suggesting a hierarchy of intelligence and obedience among these creatures.[6] First is the ox, smart enough and obedient enough to know its master, whom it should obey and to whom it should look for guidance. Next is the ass, which may not know its master but at least knows where to look for the food its master provides. Last is Israel; these people know comparatively nothing concerning their master or where to receive sustenance. To make matters worse, not only do they not know these things but apparently they do not even care: “my people doth not consider.” The message to Israel is vivid. They are so spiritually bankrupt that God considers them less responsive than even domesticated animals.

Isaiah uses a medicinal metaphor to reaffirm this diagnosis and explain the extent of spiritual ignorance and apathy afflicting the covenant people: “Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment” (Isaiah 1:5–6). Herein he questions why the people would choose to continue in their apathy when it causes illness to their entire beings, to their “whole head,” or thoughts, and to their “whole heart,” or desires. He marvels that in spite of the sickness filling their entire society from their “head” right down to the “sole of the foot,” with “wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores,” the people could care so little that they refused to seek treatment for the malady. Rather, their wounds had “not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” Apparently oblivious to their condition, they had become “wise in their own eyes” (Isaiah 5:21) and sought counsel from peoples outside the covenant (Isaiah 2:6) rather than looking to the Lord for healing. Ignorance and apathy were destroying the covenant people.

Greed and worldliness. Isaiah lamented over the city of Jerusalem: “How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them” (Isaiah 1:21–23). He marveled that this great city, which was once a seat of justice and righteousness, had become the abode of harlots and murderers. He placed much of the blame for the corruption upon the leaders of the people, who had allowed greed and worldliness to dictate their actions. Consequently they had become the friends of thieves and acceptors of gifts or bribes, who cared little for the plight of the poor and helpless. Isaiah makes it clear, however, that the disease of avarice was not confined to the leaders only. He suggests that greedy vendors were practicing deception by cutting their wine with water and adulterating their precious metals with worthless alloys: “thy silver is become dross” (Isaiah 1:22).[7] Misers were hoarding wealth (Isaiah 2:7), land mongers were monopolizing real estate (Isaiah 5:8),[8] and drunkenness, gluttony, and riotous living were becoming round-the-clock activities for many, especially the men of renown and strength (Isaiah 5:11, 22).[9] Moreover, some were challenging values, calling good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20). Indeed, so intent were the people on satisfying carnal desires that they went out of their way to bring themselves opportunities to sin. Isaiah pronounced woe upon such people “that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope” (Isaiah 5:18).

The prophet referred to the covenant people of this time as the “daughters of Zion.” Like all good daughters of his day, they should have been keeping themselves pure and virtuous, awaiting the day when they would meet their bridegroom, or Christ.[10] Instead, these worldly people were doing just the contrary: “The daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet” (Isaiah 3:16). Rather than virtuously preparing for marriage, they were prostituting themselves. Rather than seeking beauty in purity and devotion, they had decked themselves in all manner of worldly adornments to attract other lovers (see Isaiah 3:16–23). Rather than maintaining the faith and fidelity requisite to finding everlasting joy through the Lord’s covenant, they were wantonly seeking for pleasure in promiscuity and indulgence. Greed and worldliness were destroying the covenant people.

Idolatry. Historically, the Lord had blessed ancient Israel in spectacular fashion. He parted the Red Sea and the Jordan River for them, fed them manna for forty years, brought down the walls of Jericho, and rained down stones from heaven upon their enemies (see Exodus 14:21–22; 16:35; Joshua 6:16–20; 10:8). Yet, all of these remarkable events failed to prevent Israel from turning to other gods during Isaiah’s time. The prophet lamented that “their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made” (Isaiah 2:8). Isaiah noted that the idolatry was widespread, as both “mean” or ordinary men and great men were bowing down and humbling themselves before idols (Isaiah 2:9).[11] In groves of trees and gardens, they had established places of idol worship (see Isaiah 1:29).[12] Idolatry was destroying the covenant people.

Failure to thrive syndrome. Some infants do not grow and develop normally or respond to the treatment that would help them do so. For some reason they refuse to eat, or if they do, their bodies do not assimilate the nourishment. These infants are clinically diagnosed as having “failure to thrive syndrome.” In the fifth chapter of Isaiah, the prophet uses a botanical metaphor to warn the house of Israel that they have chosen to afflict themselves with what could be called a spiritual version of failure to thrive syndrome. In this metaphor, known as the song of the vineyard (see Isaiah 5:1–7), he likens the Lord to a “wellbeloved” husbandman who plants a vineyard in an exceptionally choice location and does everything requisite for producing a wonderful harvest of grapes. “And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine” (Isaiah 5:2). He built a tower in the vineyard to protect it, and in anticipation of the abundant harvest, he hewed out a winepress within the vineyard itself. Imagine the husbandman’s disappointment when, in spite of all his efforts, the vineyard refused to produce good grapes. Rather it brought forth “wild grapes,” or in the Hebrew, be’ushim, literally meaning stinking, worthless things.[13] When the house of Israel should have thrived in righteousness, it floundered in sin. Such failure to thrive was destroying the covenant people.

The Prescription

Isaiah was anxious to see the house of Israel healed from its afflictions. Accordingly, in the Great Arraignment, he prescribed the course of action the people should follow to regain their spiritual health. He counseled them to put an end to their sins and become clean: “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil” (Isaiah 1:16). He further instructed them to develop charity in their lives, to care for the poor and helpless, and to “learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). He commanded them to cease relying on the arm of flesh and things temporal, reminding them of the insignificance of such things: “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” (Isaiah 2:22). He pled with them to return to their God. “O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5).

Although this prescription constitutes only a small portion of the Great Arraignment, adherence to it would have brought about a remarkable recovery in the spiritual well-being of the people of Isaiah’s day. Such medicine is beneficial to a covenant people in any dispensation.

The Prognosis

In the Great Arraignment, Isaiah gave clear prophecies of what the members of the house of Israel could expect if they chose not to follow the Lord’s prescription for health for a covenant people. He also made it clear what the prognosis would be if they repented and followed the prescription.

The prognosis for continued rebellion. The prophet warned Israel that the prognosis for continued rebellion would include abandonment, captivity, desolation, and humiliation. Perhaps the greatest portion of the Great Arraignment is devoted to emphasizing this point.

Abandonment. In the song of the vineyard, once the wellbeloved husbandman realized that all his nurturing and efforts to produce grapes were in vain, he described how he would respond to the vineyard’s refusal to thrive: “And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: and I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it” (Isaiah 5:5–6). In this response, the Lord does not personally go about tearing out and destroying the vines. Rather, He abandons the vineyard. He ceases His nurturing and withdraws His protection from the vineyard, leaving the rebellious vines on their own. Consequently, they are trampled, ravaged, and eventually displaced by other vegetation or peoples. Such was indeed the eventual lot of ancient Israel.

Captivity. Isaiah cautioned Israel that once they were abandoned by the Lord, they would be easy prey for the empire builders of the ancient Near East, who sought to conquer and enslave the weaker nations around them. He warned the southern kingdom of Judah that Jerusalem would be ruined and would fall (see Isaiah 3:8), a prophecy fulfilled in 587 B.C. when the Babylonian Empire conquered the people of Judah and carried them away into captivity in Babylon. Likewise, he warned the northern kingdom of Israel that they too could expect to be overrun by a terrifying army. He described the army’s attack as one that would be so swift that none would escape and declared that it would leave darkness and sorrow in its wake (Isaiah 5:26–30).[14] This prophecy was fulfilled in 721 B.C. when the Assyrians conquered and deported many of the ten tribes of the kingdom of Israel.

Desolation. Isaiah prophesied that life would be desolate and difficult for the remnant of Israel who were not carried away into captivity: “Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers” (Isaiah 1:7). The prophet likened the desolation to a cottage or harvest shack and to a lodge or a watchman’s hut, both left dilapidated and forsaken after the harvest is over (see Isaiah 1:8).[15] He warned that as a result of the deportations there would be a shortage of food, leaders, teachers, and craftsmen in the land. Only the poor, ignorant, and unskilled would be left. In their desperation, children would rule over them, and one who merely had clothing would be considered qualified to be king (Isaiah 3:1–8).[16] Moreover, the land would become unproductive, so that five acres[17] of a vineyard would produce only one bath (eight gallons) of wine, and a homer (six bushels) of seed would yield only an ephah (four gallons) of grain. Isaiah’s prognosis in these passages accurately describes the pitiful circumstances the remnant of Israel faced after the Babylonian and Assyrian deportations.

Humiliation. The prophet also warned that in the “day of the Lord”[18] the proud, the worldly, the uncharitable, and any others who trusted or looked for happiness in something outside the Lord’s plan for joy would be humbled: “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low” (Isaiah 2:11–12). Isaiah likened the proud and worldly to tall cedars and oaks, to high hills and mountains, to formidable towers and walls, and to luxurious ships and other desirable objects, all of which would be abased and banished (Isaiah 2:13–16; see also Isaiah 5:13–17). He described the embarrassment of the worldly in that day of the Lord’s coming, as they would frantically try to hide their hoarded wealth and useless idols in “holes of the rocks” and “caves of the earth” with the moles and the bats in hopes that the Lord would not notice them. Isaiah assured them that all such attempts would be in vain as the Lord rises in “the glory of his majesty” to “shake terribly the earth” (Isaiah 2:17–21). Isaiah described further how all the temporal, vain, and worldly adornments with which the promiscuous “daughters of Zion” had hoped to beautify themselves in an effort to attract adulterous (idolatrous) lovers would be taken away, leaving them disgusting and repulsive rather than tempting and alluring (Isaiah 3:18–24): “And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty” (Isaiah 3:24). In their humbled and contemptible state, they would sit at the gates of the city and wail, but to no avail, for the lovers they sought would have fallen “by the sword,” and those remaining would not take these foul and filthy daughters regardless of what they offered (Isaiah 3:25–4:1). Every evil thing in which they trusted and hoped to find pleasure would be lost or turned against them. Instead of finding happiness, they could expect to find abandonment, captivity, desolation, and humiliation.

The prognosis for the righteous and repentant. While the abominable apostate daughters of Zion would be weeping, bald-headed, stinking, and repulsive, Isaiah promised that the righteous, the “branch of the Lord,” would be lovely: “In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning” (Isaiah 4:2–4). The prophet further promised the obedient that the Lord would dwell with and protect them (Isaiah 4:5–6). Moreover, they could expect to enjoy the “good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19), to have righteous leaders rule over them, and to be known as “the city of righteousness” (Isaiah 1:25–27). Ancient Israel did not see these prophecies fulfilled.

For those who had strayed but were willing to repent, the prognosis was especially encouraging. Using beautiful imagery, Isaiah recorded the tender invitation of the Lord: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). The imagery of the scarlet and the wool points to the Atonement, the means whereby the penitent could find forgiveness. As they repented and returned to the Lord, they could expect their stained souls to be “washed white through the blood of the Lamb” (Alma 13:11).

Conclusion

The Great Arraignment offers a compelling message for any covenant people. As Isaiah diagnoses the spiritual maladies that afflicted the house of Israel in his day, a modern covenant people should learn to avoid similar sicknesses, particularly ignorance, apathy, rebellion, greed, worldliness, idolatry, and failure to thrive. Moreover, a covenant people in the dispensation of the fullness of times can learn from the Great Arraignment that repentance, charity, humility, faith, and obedience constitute proper prescriptions or medicine for a return to spiritual health. Finally, all who have entered the covenant should learn from the Great Arraignment that the prognosis for refusing to repent is abandonment, captivity, desolation, and humiliation, while those who repent and remain faithful can be assured forgiveness, prosperity, and eternal joy.

In the Great Arraignment, Isaiah foresaw that “in the last days” there will indeed be a righteous and repentant covenant people. He promised that they will enjoy the blessings of having temples, “the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains” (Isaiah 2:2).[19] People from all nations will be drawn to such temples to learn of God’s ways and to covenant to “walk in his paths” (Isaiah 2:2–3). He prophesied that there will be holy cities for the righteous, one in Zion in the Western Hemisphere, and another in Jerusalem in the Eastern Hemisphere (see Isaiah 2:3).[20] He promised that the faithful will flock to the gospel, the “ensign to the nations,” as it beckons to them (Isaiah 5:26). He foretells that though they will come from “the end of the earth,” their gathering will be swift and employ rapid means of transportation (Isaiah 5:26–30).[21] He acknowledges that in that day the Lord personally will “judge among the nations” and that peace will reign. Instruments of destruction will be converted to tools of production as men “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks” (Isaiah 2:4). Not only will men no longer practice war but they will cease even to learn about it (see Isaiah 2:4). It will be a world in which no one finds a use for violence. It will be the millennial day for which Isaiah yearned, and for which we prepare.

 

[1] Louis Ginsberg, Legends of the Jews (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1941), 4:279. In this text Josephus claims that Isaiah was killed by his own grandchild, Manasseh. Manasseh’s father was King Hezekiah.

[2] For an introduction to biblical poetry, see James L. Kugel, The Idea of Biblical Poetry (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1981).

[3] A pseudepigraphic work known as the Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah records that Isaiah’s life ended when he was sawn in half by King Hezekiah’s wicked son Manasseh, a claim supported by Josephus (see “Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah,” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, ed. James H. Charlesworth [Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1985], 16; see also Ginsberg, Legends of the Jews, 4:279). The circumstances surrounding the martyrdom are different in the Josephus account, but both accounts identify Manasseh as the one responsible for Isaiah’s tragic death.

[4] Isaiah was a prophet to both the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah. Because both kingdoms were a covenant people, I will use the term Israel to refer to either one or both.

[5] One of the few periods of relative righteousness during Isaiah’s ministry was King Hezekiah’s reign (see Isaiah 37–38).

[6] Kugel, Idea of Biblical Poetry, 9.

[7] Ludlow suggests this interpretation for Isaiah 1:22 (see Victor L. Ludlow, Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1982], 79).

[8] For a clear interpretation of this verse, see footnote c to Isaiah 5:8 in the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible.

[9] Nyman suggests that a modern parallel can be seen in the lives of current celebrities. See Monte S. Nyman, Great Are the Words of Isaiah (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980), 45.

[10] The metaphor of Jehovah as the bridegroom and the covenant people as those espoused or married to Him is found throughout the prophetic writings of the Old Testament. The imagery is powerful. The love, devotion, faith, and trust that should exist between God and His covenant people should be as great as, or greater than, that which should exist between a husband and wife.

[11] The Book of Mormon account of this verse in 2 Nephi 12:9 reads, “the mean man boweth not down, and the great man humbleth himself not,” suggesting that these men were not worshipping Jehovah.

[12] For a discussion of the relationship between vegetation and idol worship, see Terry B. Ball, “Isaiah’s Imagery of Plants and Planting,” in Thy People Shall Be My People and Thy God My God: The 22nd Annual Sperry Symposium (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1994), 24–25.

[13] Francis Brown, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1906; reprint, n.p.: Christian Copyrights, 1983), 93. For a more thorough discussion of this botanical metaphor, see Ball, “Isaiah’s Imagery,” 18–20.

[14] Isaiah 5:26–30 is a dualistic prophecy, meaning it applies to more than one time period and may have more than one interpretation. Latter-day Saints have traditionally placed the fulfillment of this prophecy in the last days and given it another interpretation, which will be discussed in the conclusion of this paper. Most commentators, however, see this as a prophecy that was fulfilled in Isaiah’s day and interpret it as discussed above.

[15] Ball, “Isaiah’s Imagery,” 27–28.

[16] Ludlow offers a fascinating discussion of the chiasmus in these verses and suggests that the chiastic structure of the passage indicates that the people’s oppression of one another is the major cause of their difficulties (see Ludlow, Isaiah, 104–5).

[17] The King James Version here states ten acres, but the Hebrew reads ten yoke or the amount ten yoke of oxen could plow in a day, which is equivalent to about five acres.

[18] The phrase “day of the Lord” is used frequently by Isaiah and seems to refer to any day of retribution or reward. For example, the day when Judah fell to the Babylonians was a day of the Lord, as will be the day of His Second Coming. It is both a great and dreadful day, great for the righteous and dreadful for the wicked (see Malachi 4:5).

[19] Isaiah’s use of a mountain as a metaphor for the temple is appropriate, for there is much about a mountain that is similar to a temple. For example:

Both mountains and temples are high places where we can go to get nearer to God. Ancient prophets, such as Moses, Elijah, and Enos, and later the Savior frequently went to the mountains to communicate with God and seek answers to questions. Today, we can go to the temple to draw nearer to our Father in Heaven and receive direction from Him.

Mountains are impressive, firm, and enduring. So are the doctrines taught and the ordinances performed in the temple.

It takes effort for us to reach the top of a mountain. To do so we must maintain good physical health and be willing to expend the energy required to make the climb. It is not a task for the feeble or lazy. Likewise, to enter the temple we must be in good spiritual health and be willing to live a life in harmony with the will of our Father in Heaven. It is not a task for the spiritually flabby or the unrepentant soul. As the psalmist put it, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully” (Psalm 25:3–4).

The view from the top of a mountain is both spectacular and beautiful. We gain a new perspective of our surroundings from the high elevation. From a mountaintop we can see where we have come from and all the potential destinations to which we may travel. The view from the temple is equally spectacular and beautiful. There we gain an eternal perspective. We learn where we came from and where we may go if we are willing to be true and faithful to the covenants we make in the house of the Lord.

[20] In view of the Hebrew poetic device of parallelism, some would argue that Zion and Jerusalem in this passage are not two different cities, but one and the same, the Old World Jerusalem. LDS theology traditionally interprets the passage as I have. For a further discussion of the two religious capitals interpretation, see Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979–81), 1:95.

[21] Elder LeGrand Richards interpreted Isaiah 5:28–30 as being a metaphorical reference to modern means of transportation. For example, he understood the phrase “their horses’ hoofs be counted like flint, and their wheel like a whirlwind” to be referring to trains, while the phrase “their roaring . . . be like a lion” was a reference to airplanes. He gives the entire passage a latter-day context and convincingly illustrates Isaiah’s prophetic vision (see LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976], 229).