"And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." (Isaiah 11: 1, 2Nephi 21: 1)
Moroni first quoted, and then told Joseph Smith the contents of Isaiah chapter 11 were "about to be fulfilled." (JSH 1: 40) The things Isaiah says and prophesies in that chapter are things not yet fulfilled in September 1823. If Isaiah's prophecy was "about to be fulfilled," as described by Moroni in 1823, then what players were/are to fulfill the prophecy? What events in history have, since 1823, or will yet, fulfill the words of Isaiah's prophecy? What is the meaning of Isaiah's words in this prophecy that rise to the level of importance that Moroni would be instructed by Christ ("angels speak the words of Christ," 2Nephi 32: 3, and "they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command" Moroni 7: 30) to first quote the prophecy, then tell Joseph Smith it was "about to be fulfilled?"
Joseph Smith records nothing in his history regarding the visit with Moroni in September 1823 that might lend explanation about the meaning of Isaiah's prophecy. However, later, in March of 1838, some fourteen and a half years after Moroni told Joseph these things were "about to be fulfilled," Joseph wrote the following:
"Who is the Stem of Jesse spoken of in the 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, and 5th verses of the 11th chapter of Isaiah?
2 Verily thus saith the Lord: It is Christ." (D&C 113: 1-2)
The first bit of interpretive information of Isaiah's prophecy offered by Joseph the prophet tells us the "Stem of Jesse" is Christ. In order to appreciate Isaiah's symbolic language, it is helpful to think of the "stem" of Jesse as a trunk or stump, like the trunk of a tree. Jesse is the progenitor of both David and Christ. So, to begin with, we now know Isaiah's prophecy speaks of Christ.
Verses 2 through 5 of 2Nephi 21 are Isaiah's messianic description of the stem of Jesse, Christ.
At this juncture, we should be reminded we are attempting to understand more about the remnant of Israel prophesied of in the Book of Mormon. The idea should be planted in our minds, that all of this discussion about Isaiah's prophecy and Moroni quoting it to Joseph Smith, has very much to do with the prophetic remnant of Israel, the descendants of Lehi and ancient Joseph, who will build and establish Zion in the last days. If there are eyes to see and ears to hear, the Lord will make known to us the meaning and interrelationship of these things.
It has already been pointed out, but bears repeating, that Moroni is the one that holds the keys of the stick of Ephraim. (D&C 27: 5) The stick of Ephraim, or the record of Joseph, is the Book of Mormon. (Ezekiel 37: 16-20)
As an aside, it is interesting that the Book of Mormon record would be called by the Lord, the stick of "Ephraim" and not the stick of Manasseh. Lehi, as we have seen in earlier posts, is a descendant of ancient Joseph's eldest son Manasseh. Ishmael, who accompanied Lehi and his family across the sea to the land of promise, was descended from ancient Joseph's younger son Ephraim according to Joseph Smith. (Erastus Snow statement Logan, Utah May 1882) The Book of Mormon narrative is primarily about Lehi's offspring. Yet the Lord calls the record the stick of Ephraim. Do you know why this is? We will not take time here to address this question. But it is an interesting question you should try to answer.
Moroni himself was a descendant of Lehi. In his mortality, Moroni carried the blood of Lehi (and perhaps the blood of Ishmael as well.) We know that Ishmael's sons (and daughters) married into Lehi's family, (according to Joseph Smith from Erastus Snow statement). It is entirely possible thereby that Moroni also carried the blood of Ephraim. In any event, Moroni was given the keys of the stick of Ephraim (The Book of Mormon). When he visited Joseph Smith in 1823 in the role of an angel of God, he was fulfilling responsibilities incumbent upon him by virtue of the keys he holds.
When he (Moroni) quoted Isaiah chapter 11 to Joseph Smith in September 1823, he was acting in the role as the holder of the keys of the stick of Ephraim. As the holder of those keys, Moroni was acting under Christ's direction as an angel, to begin or unfurl fulfillment of Book of Mormon prophecy. ALL Book of Mormon prophesy.
Back to Isaiah chapter 11.
Isaiah prophesies that a "rod" shall come forth out of the stem of Jesse. Think of a "rod" as a shoot or limb that might grow out of a trunk. Joseph Smith offered this explanation about the "rod" from Isaiah's prophecy.
3 What is the rod spoken of in the first verse of the 11th chapter of Isaiah, that should come of the Stem of Jesse?
4 Behold, thus saith the Lord: It is a servant in the hands of Christ, who is partly a descendant of Jesse as well as of Ephraim, or of the house of Joseph, on whom there is laid much power. (D&C 113: 3-4)
Christ is the stem of Jesse. The "rod" that will "come forth out of the stem" is a "servant in the hands of Christ." That servant, according to Joseph Smith, is a descendant of both Jesse and ancient Joseph through Joseph's younger son Ephraim. Why would Joseph Smith feel it necessary to point out the blood lineage of this servant? Is the servant's lineage important to Isaiah's prophecy? Is the servant's lineage important to Moroni's work as the holder of the keys of the stick of Joseph? What does it mean when Isaiah says, a rod will come forth "out of" the stem of Jesse. If we insert Joseph Smith's interpretation of terms into Isaiah's prophecy it says:
"There shall come forth out of Christ, a servant in the hands of Christ, who is a descendant of both Jesse and Joseph through Ephraim, on whom is laid much power, and a branch shall grow out of his roots."
What is meant when Isaiah says the servant will "come forth out of Christ?" It sounds like Christ who is a descendant of Jesse and this servant who is also partly a descendant of Jesse may be related?
Does the fact this servant is a descendant of Ephraim and Joseph give him the right to have "much power" laid upon him? Remember the blessings and promises of Jacob, (Israel), and the Lord on Joseph and his sons Manasseh and Ephraim? Go back and review the prior posts concerning these things.
Now, what about a "branch" that shall grow out of "his" roots? Who is "his" referring to? What is the "branch"? Does a stem have roots? Does a stump have roots?
How can all of this possibly mean anything to us? If Zion is our objective, we need to be prepared. The Lord has begun to prepare a contingent of Gentiles to fulfill His needs as prophesied. Their fullness has come. The day of the remnant of Israel approaches. Much has been done already. Much is to come. If we will hear Him, He will continue the preparation.