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Isaiah 52:1–12 Zion Will Return and Be Redeemed in the Last Days
The Lord who speaks throughout this section is Jehovah, who would later be called “Jesus Christ.” He will redeem us (52:3, 9), return to Zion (52:8), comfort us (52:9), bring salvation to us (52:10), and position Himself (like a soldier) at the front of our ranks and as our rearguard (52:12). The Lord verified that the events spoken of in Isaiah 52 will occur in the last days (3 Nephi 20:30; see also Doctrine and Covenants 113:8). See also the chapter heading for Isaiah 52 (Latter-day Saint Bible), “In the last days, Zion shall return and Israel be redeemed.” When Jesus recited Isaiah 52 to the Nephites (3 Nephi 20:32–44), he rearranged the order of the verses, quoting them in this order: 8–10, 1–3, 6–7, 11–15; he did not quote verses 4 and 5 at all.
Awake, awake! The Lord commands Zion to wake up from her spiritual sleep. Put on your strength, O Zion. “What is meant by the command in Isaiah, 52d chapter, 1st verse, which saith: Put on thy strength, O Zion—and what people had Isaiah reference to? He had reference to those whom God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel; and to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion, has a right to by lineage; also to return to that power which she had lost” (Doctrine and Covenants 113:7–8). put on your glorious garments. Israel is to replace her slave garments with garments of royalty and the temple. Zion/Jerusalem. These are the two capital cities of the Lord’s kingdom, which also symbolize the covenant people. uncircumcised/unclean. Unholy people or unbelievers. Note that Christ’s disciples are circumcised in the heart (Romans 2:29).
Shake yourself from the dust; arise, sit down. God’s people had been slaves to various worldly powers and also to sin. But now the Lord commands them to arise from sitting in the dust and to sit down on a throne. In contrast, Babylon has been cast from a throne into the dust (47:1). loose yourself from the bonds of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion. “What are we to understand by Zion loosing herself from the bands of her neck; 2d verse? We are to understand that the scattered remnants are exhorted to return to the Lord from whence they have fallen; which if they do, the promise of the Lord is that he will speak to them, or give them revelation. See the 6th, 7th, and 8th verses. The bands of her neck are the curses of God upon her, or the remnants of Israel in their scattered condition among the Gentiles” (Doctrine and Covenants 113:9–10).
sold for nothing/redeemed without money. Israel’s people became slaves and were sold at no price; God will redeem them by the blood of the Savior, and not with money.
Egypt/Assryrian. Two oppressors of Israel; Egypt at the beginning of Israel’s history and Assyria during Isaiah’s time. Both of these oppressors symbolize the wicked nations of the world. But in the end, God redeemed Israel.
it is I who speaks, Here I am. In the last days, God’s people will recognize Him and hear Him say, “Here I am” (see also 59:9).
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet. This speaks of the Lord’s prophets (Mosiah 15:13–14) and missionaries (Doctrine and Covenants 19:29; 31:3; 79:1; 128:19). “Mountains” remind us of temples, where the statue of Moroni blows his trumpet, inviting people to come to the gospel. We recall also that the gospel ensign is lifted “on the mountains” (18:3; see also 13:2; 30:17) for the nations to behold and to gather around. “Feet” represent those who travel about preaching the gospel (Romans 10:14–15). Your God reigns! Rather than have mortal rulers prevail over Israel, God will be her king (24:23; Jeremiah 3:17; Zephaniah 3:15).
Isaiah 52:8–10 is quoted four times in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 12:22–24; 15:29–31; 3 Nephi 16:18–20; 20:32–35). Abinadi used these verses as support for his teaching that “the salvation of the Lord shall be declared to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people” (Mosiah 15:28). Jesus taught that this prophecy would be fulfilled after the descendants of Lehi had again received the land of America as their inheritance (3 Nephi 16:16–18). He also taught that the fulfillment would come after the Jews had been restored to the land of their inheritance, Jerusalem, and had received Christ and His gospel (3 Nephi 20:29–32).
Your watchmen will lift up their voice. The image here may be of watchmen catching sight of a messenger running to bring good news—the coming of the Lord. “Watchmen” refers to God’s prophets, or those to whom the prophets give authority. they will see eye to eye. “Eye to eye” (Mosiah 16:1; Alma 36:26; Doctrine and Covenants 84:98) means to be unified and in agreement with each other.
Break forth, sing together, O ruins of Jerusalem. Isaiah attributes a person’s characteristics to Jerusalem; it will be Jerusalem’s inhabitants that “sing together.” He has redeemed Jerusalem. Meaning Jerusalem’s inhabitants.
The Lord has made bare His holy arm. Anciently, men prepared for battle by removing their robes from their shoulders so that they could fight with their arms (Psalm 74:11). Isaiah uses this image to show that “the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God,” meaning that He will secure the battle against evil and worldly powers and save His covenant people. At His Second Coming, Jesus Christ will “make bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of their God” (Doctrine and Covenants 133:3).
Depart, depart; go out from there. “Depart” (repeated for emphasis) from Babylon, which is wickedness (Doctrine and Covenants 133:5, 7, 14). Be clean, you who bear the vessels of the Lord. This refers to the temple vessels (Ezra 1:7–11); the ancient priests and Levities had to remain ceremonially and morally clean in order to serve in ancient temples; in our day, the phrase refers to priesthood holders who must remain clean: “Go ye out from among the wicked. Save yourselves. Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:42; see also Doctrine and Covenants 133:5).
Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be Your rearguard. Isaiah uses military imagery to express how the Lord will protect His faithful Saints (see also 58:8). The imagery recalls the Exodus, where God led and protected His people. Jesus revealed in our day, “Behold, I will go before you and be your rearward; and I will be in your midst” (Doctrine and Covenants 49:27).
Isaiah 52:13–15 The Suffering of the Servant
Jesus Christ is God’s servant who will suffer so much physical abuse, torture, and cruelty that He will be “disfigured more than any man.” This extreme disfigurement will cause people to look at Jesus with astonishment. JST 52:15 reads “gather.”
My servant. Jesus Christ, so called because He will do the will of His Father. He will be exalted and lifted up. Jesus Christ is more exalted than everything and everyone else, including all mortals and immortals. Paul applied this passage to Jesus Christ when he wrote, “Wherefore God [the Father] also hath highly exalted him” (Philippians 2:9).
so His appearance was disfigured. The Hebrew word mischat, translated “disfigured,” is rare in the Hebrew Bible; it refers to Jesus Christ’s disfigurement after He wore the crown of thorns, was beaten and slugged in the face (Matthew 26:67; 27:30), suffered for about three hours in Gethsemane, and experienced the cruelty of the cross. No individual, ever, in eternity had suffered in such an extreme manner! Thus Isaiah prophesied, “His appearance was disfigured more than any man, and His form more than the children of a human” (emphasis added). DSS Isaiah possibly reads “I have anointed his appearance,” but this reading is incorrect.
He [gather] many nations. The Servant, through the Atonement, will bring many people together to the gospel. shut their mouths. Jesus Christ, first disfigured more than any other and then exalted above all else and enthroned in eternal glory, will cause people, even kings and queens and other human notables, to shut their mouths in awe. They will be speechless. they will see/they will consider. Kings and queens and other high people of the earth will hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and learn of His eternal atoning sacrifice and they will “see” and “consider” these important truths, meaning they will comprehend them. The Apostle Paul cited this passage in connection with his preaching Jesus Christ to the Romans (Romans 15:21).
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