Speaking to the Nephites, the Lord Jesus announced, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, thus hath the Father commanded me—that I should give unto this people (the Nephites, the seed of Lehi and ancient Joseph) this land for their inheritance. And then the words of the prophet Isaiah shall be fulfilled, which say: Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing, for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God. (3Nephi 16: 16-20)
Only after the Lord officially gives the land of promise to the offspring of Lehi and ancient Joseph, only then will "the words of Isaiah be fulfilled" that speak about the latter day Zion.
The writings of Isaiah are not always easy to follow and understand. The spirit of the Holy Ghost is required to help lend understanding to the words of all the prophets, perhaps especially Isaiah. Nephi counseled, (2Nephi 25: 7-8)
7... in the days that the prophecies of Isaiah shall be fulfilled men shall know of a surety, at the times when they shall come to pass.
8 Wherefore, they are of worth unto the children of men, and he that supposeth that they are not, unto them will I speak particularly, and confine the words unto mine own people; for I know that they shall be of great worth unto them in the last days; for in that day shall they understand them; wherefore, for their good have I written them.
Nephi recognized the particular worth of the words of Isaiah for his "own people" in the latter days. It was "for their good" that Nephi included the words of Isaiah in his record. Nephi is putting the latter day remnant of his seed, "the remnant of Israel" on notice that they, (and we,) ought to pay close attention to the words of Isaiah in order to understand the course of things in the latter days.
If we have eyes to see and ears to hear, much of what Isaiah wrote pertains to the latter day remnant seed of ancient Joseph, the Lamanites, and fulfillment of latter day prophesy concerning them. Isaiah seems to have had a particular interest in, and spoke directly to, the latter day Lineage of Joseph and their role in establishing Zion.
In March 1838, Elias Higbee asked Joseph Smith questions regarding some of the statements of Isaiah regarding Zion. Joseph's responses to brother Higbee's questions inform us that Isaiah had the remnant of Israel in mind when he prophesied of the latter day Zion. Brother Higbee asks:
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?
Joseph Smith responds:
"He (Isaiah) 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. (D&C 113: 7-8)
Those who God will call in the last days to bring again Zion, those responsible for the redemption of Israel, those who have that right by lineage as Joseph implied, ARE the remnant seed of Lehi and ancient Joseph, "the remnant of Israel" of the Book of Mormon.
The following words of the Lord Jesus from the Book of Mormon designate that particular lineage, the remnant of Jacob, (Israel) as the rightful builders of Zion and those who will facilitate the "redemption of Israel" as Joseph Smith pointed out in his response to Elias Higbee. The Lord's words: (3Nephi 16: 23-25)
23 And they (gentiles) shall assist my people, 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.
24 And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem.
25 And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst.
When Isaiah wrote, "Put on thy strength, O Zion," he was referring to the latter day remnant seed of Jacob, (Joseph, through Joseph's grandsons Lehi and Ishmael) who have right by lineage to:
- "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."
Concerning this last point made by Joseph Smith about the latter day Zion people, do we need to be reminded that in a former day, the offspring of Lehi had already established and lived in a Zion society? For nearly two hundred years following the personal ministry of Christ among them, the seed of Lehi (and ancient Joseph) lived in a Zion society. Christ dwelled among them. (4Nephi) For the latter day remnant of Israel, the building of Zion, the New Jerusalem will in very fact be as Joseph Smith said, "return to that power which she had lost."
Elias Higbee asked a second question:
What are we to understand by Zion loosing herself from the bands of her neck; 2d verse?
Joseph Smith's response:
"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." (D&C 113: 9-10)
Once again, Isaiah makes reference to the remnants of Israel. In this case, Isaiah seems to speak to all the many remnants of Israelite blood scattered around the world. This would include "the remnant of Israel," Joseph's latter day remnant offspring spoken of in the Book of Mormon. In fact, particular meaning should be found in his words as they apply to the latter day remnant of Lehi's offspring. We learn the following about the latter day remnant of Israel from the Book of Mormon. The words of Isaiah are indeed "about" the remnant seed of Lehi and Joseph:
Joseph Smith said:
- "the scattered remnants are exhorted to return to the Lord from whence they have fallen;"
"And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed—And at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are of the house of Israel, and that they are the covenant people of the Lord; and then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and also to the knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer, which was ministered unto their fathers by him; wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved. (1Nephi 15: 13-14)
Joseph Smith said:
- "which if they do, the promise of the Lord is that he will speak to them, or give them revelation"
"And then at that day will they (his remnant seed) not rejoice and give praise unto their everlasting God, their rock and their salvation? Yea, at that day, will they not receive the strength and nourishment from the true vine?" (1Nephi 15: 15)
Joseph Smith said:
"The bands of her neck are the curses of God upon her, or the remnants of Israel in their scattered condition among the Gentiles"
The Lord Jesus said:
"And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel." (3Nephi 16: 12)
If we are to understand the latter day remnant of Joseph's seed and all the prophecy concerning them in the Book of Mormon, understanding Isaiah's words is required. This is why the Lord Jesus would say: "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. 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." (3Nephi 23: 1-3)