CLICK HERE to read Isaiah 27.
This chapter continues Isaiah’s psalm from the previous chapter, still with the concept of the Lord fighting our battles and conquering our enemies. Isaiah declares that the Lord will conquer the enemy of the sea (verse 1). Some believe this to be a great naval power during the last great war. It does refer to the adversary, whether directly or via naval/political powers or both (see also D&C 61).
When Isaiah gives the vineyard imagery in verse 2, it is not really so much about wine. He is giving an image of a vineyard that has produced and done well, compared to previous chapters where all was destroyed and there was no food or fruit. The comparison, then, is that when we do not do what the Lord says, we have no fruit or evidence that we are His people; but when we are righteous and obedient, there is fruit (see Galatians 5:22, 23) that is “evidence”, or a token, that we are His people.
And when we behave like His people, He is able to bless us as His people (verse 3). When we turn to Him, He will nourish us and protect us and provide for us. He will guard us and grow us into the choice fruit, the best selection, the chosen material to become what He has planted us for, to become who we were created to be.
In lyrical form, the vineyard (us!) responds to the Lord, saying there is no wall that keeps us away from the world (verse 3). He has planted us in the same place as the world, with the thorns growing beside us. It is uncomfortable, and not safe, and doesn’t feel good. How is He caring for us, if we have to grow up among the thorns? The Lord answers, telling us that He will let them grow together until He can rake the thorns together in groups, pulling weeds without damaging the good crop, and then the thorns and weeds will be burned (see also Matthew 13 and Ether 2).
Trust me, He says, I know how to harvest.
Have peace, He says, I know what is best for you.
He invites us to rely on Him for strength. He commands us to stop worrying about what other people are doing wrong, and to focus on working out our own salvation so that we can have peace with God (verse 5).
Then He will keep His promises for us, as children of Abraham, to fill the world – not just in posterity like the sands or the stars, but also with good works. This is our “fruit”, our evidence, our token, declaring that we are truly covenant people, that we are people of holiness (verse 6).
The people should know, the Lord says, that this is how He works, because they themselves have been chastened in the past (verse 7). We are all purified by being refined, and corrected, and chastened. We all have weeds that need pulling and leaves that need pruning. It is part of the growth process.
Verse 8 teaches an important principle. He says that wickedness always receives justice in equal amounts. Some cultures call this karma. Some call it getting what you deserve. But this is the Law of Harvest, that you reap what you sew. What you dish out is what you get back, what you put out into the world is what you get out of it.
By this Law, iniquity has been purged from the people because they have paid their own consequences (verse 9). The people cannot just go through the motions. Hypocrites are unacceptable. The Savior Himself was the final and ultimate sacrifice, meeting the demands of justice so that we can receive mercy. But if we do not accept this gift, and honor it by obedience to His laws, then justice remains in effect and the consequences are ours. With His mercy, justice would require everything for the accounts to be settled, and all would be destroyed (verse 10).
Therefore he that made them
will not have mercy on them,
and he that formed them
will shew them no favour (verse 11).
When we understand what He has done for us, and accept and honor that gift, then He is able to show us mercy and grant us favor because He gives us His righteousness. It is not because we ourselves are “good” or righteous, but because He takes from us what is not-of-God and gives us in exchange His righteousness and His holiness.
Even these people, will be gathered one by one (verse 12). These are temple ordinances, which we do only one at a time. This again is reference to the Temples that will one day be in the land of the Jews and Arabs (see also Isaiah 11 and Isaiah 19), along with the returned ten tribes of Israel (verse 12). All will come from Assyria and Egypt to worship the Lord, even serving as temple workers together. These are the people of today: the Muslims and Arabs, the Jews, and the returning Israelites of the ten tribes. We will work together, Isaiah says.
We will have to work together.
Because we each hold a piece.
The temple mount belongs to Jordan, or the Muslims.
The temple furnishings have been made by the Jews according to Old Testament writings.
And we, Ephraim and the tribes of Israel, have the restored ordinances for the temple.
We are all cousins, all children of promise, and we need to work together to claim our blessings.