Chap 20 – Compare Isaiah 10
This chapter continues showing how the Lord will use other nations to chasten His people when they turn against Him. He doesn’t do this out of revenge or hate, but as a way to humble and soften hearts so His people will willingly turn back to Him.
The Lord condemns pride. Repeatedly, the pronouns MY and I are used in the following verse, depicting this negative trait.
“By the strength of MY hand and by MY wisdom I have done these things; for I am prudent; and I have moved the borders of the people…and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man.” (13)
But God says, “Shall the ax boast itself against him that heweth therewith? Shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? As if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself as if it were no wood!” (15)
We are like the ax. Compared to God, we are nothing and have no right to boast. We are reliant upon Him for our very breath each day, just as an ax needs someone to lift and swing it. Someday, we shall be as God is, but that is a long way in the future. Right now, our test is to see if we will follow Him, instead of acting like a dumb ax, thinking we have power to do things we can’t ever do on our own.
All things are possible through Christ, but without him, we are an ax.
Meekness = Strength
Chap 21 – Compare Isaiah 11
The opposite of pride is humility and meekness. This chapter talks about a stem coming out of the rod of Jesse. The Stem of Jesse refers to Christ, and out of Him shall a rod come forth—which can be Joseph Smith or Ephraim’s leadership in the latter days.
In Doctrine & Covenants 113:1-6, further evidence of these truths is given when Joseph Smith asks questions of the Lord:
“Who is the Stem of Jesse spoken of in the 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, and 5th verses of the 11th chapter of Isaiah?”
The next verse gives God’s answer—“Verily thus saith the Lord: It is Christ.”
To the question—What is the rod spoken of in the first verse of the 11th chapter of Isaiah, that should come of the Stem of Jesse?”
The answer is “Behold, thus saith the Lord: It is a servant in the hands of Christ, who is partly a descendent of Jesse as well as of Ephraim, or of the house of Joseph, on whom there is laid much power.”
The root is talked about in verse 6—“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 days.”
Talking about Joseph Smith, the Lord continues in 2 Nephi 21:2 to say: “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” (2)
Joseph Smith did gain all of the above from God once he humbled himself to pray and willingly did God’s will. Oh, the weight of his calling though. People hated him from the beginning, as seen in his own account.
I soon found, however, that my telling the story [of seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ] had excited a great deal of prejudice against me amongst the professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me.”Joseph Smith History vs 22
Yet, despite the bitter persecution, he received wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. He also received the torments of hell, as Satan attempted to destroy him and thwart his mission.
I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; and I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.”Joseph Smith History vs 25
It’s wise to remember that God might lay out a plan for us—our own missions, like Joseph—but that doesn’t mean the way will be paved in flowers for us to accomplish the task. Satan always opposes God’s work—seeking to make mankind miserable like unto himself. We might have lots of roadblocks in our path and have to work harder than normal to fulfill our divine missions.
Christ “with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”
This verse talks about the meek of the earth. Joseph Smith was truly meek. What does it mean to be meek?
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it in these ways:
- Enduring injury with patience and without resentment—This implies turning the other cheek; not seeking revenge; believing God will make all things right in His time.
- Mild—this definition shows that one is gentle in nature—loving
- Submissive—a meek person submits to God’s will, not their own. Some might believe this implies weakness, but it takes a strong man to do something unselfish, knowing God knows better.
- Moderate—moderation in all things; this helps one be balanced.
- Having or showing a quiet and gentle nature—not wanting to fight or argue with other people; it all boils down to love. A meek person is filled with love.
Let us strive to be meek, and shun pride (which set us against God). Let us believe in Him and be gentle in all our doings. Let us submit to God’s will and be balanced in all things and share heaven’s love with others.