CLICK HERE to read Isaiah 52.
This chapter continues the Lord’s message for us, the people these latter days of the Latter-days. He urges us to put on our strength, the strength of the priesthood (verse 1). The authority has been restored this dispensation, but only by us obtaining His righteousness do we have power in that priesthood. We should be a righteous people, a holy people, not part of the world or filled with what is not-of-God. We should be a shiny covenant people, full of power from the Temple, by the atonement, and through the tutoring of the Spirit. There will be a day, He says, when the people of Zion – literally in Jerusalem and in the New Zion – and even now in temples all over the world – but also spiritually, in our own homes and lives and families – there must be a day where we are an obedient people, a holy people, a righteous people, shiny with our power that comes from Him.
We are shiny because we are redeemed. We rejoice in what He has done for us, and it is the cleansing that He provides that makes us shiny. We are to “shake thyself from the dust”, which is to leave the world and its darkness and misty confusion, and to “loose theyself from the bands of thy neck”, which is to be delivered from the captivity and bondage of our past by the power of the atonement (verse 2). It will be literal for many in Jerusalem, as they reclaim that beautiful city by righteousness and covenant making (D&C 113:10). The ancient Jews were not “bad” so much as they let the world sneak into their lives until they were no longer “set apart”, and so no longer holy. This is how they lost the priesthood, how they sold themselves into bondage (verse 3). But He can deliver them, and promises that He will. He reminds them how He delivered them from Egypt, and from the Assyrians (verse 4), and so He is able to deliver them again now that they are so burdened down with consequences that every day feels like a curse (verse 5).
These struggles will cause the people to cry out to God, and He will reveal Himself to them. They will know Him, and His prophets (the beautiful feet of verse 7), and worship Him by covenant making (verse 6; D&C 93:19). They will acknowledge and become a part of the restored priesthood (the watchmen of verse 8). This will be a miraculous thing, and the people will rejoice (verse 9, lyrics in D&C 84:99-102). There will be no more people who deny God, because all will understand and acknowledge Him, and every person will bow and declare that Jesus is the Christ (verse 10; Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10-11; and D&C 8:104).
But for every person to acknowledge this, every person must be taught (verse 11). Missionary work happens first by our gathering unto ourselves in our wards and stakes so that we can be taught. Then missionaries – on formal missions or we ourselves as priests and priestesses testifying of the Savior – go out into the world to serve and love and teach. The third gathering is the final gathering of all the members, of all those who believe in the Savior, so that we will not be destroyed with the wicked (Jeremiah 16:16; 31:6; D&C 88:84-85).
We must both literally (temporally & physically) and spiritually abandon all that is not-of-God, to be gathered up with those who-are-of-God. We will be prepared, if we have done what the Prophets have asked, and will not be in a hurry or in chaos or in confusion. We will understand what is happening, understand when it is time to leave our homes, and will be protected when we do so (verse 12). We must trust this process, and the priesthood leadership that has organized it, and not “dally or be faint-hearted” (Skousen, p 651). Skousen goes on to quote President Heber J Grant, who reminded the people that they will not be blessed when they are out of Order, anxious, or trying to go (live) places other than the bounds the Lord has set for them at any particular time.
The Lord will lead us. We will be astonished when we see Him and the scars of what He has endured for us (verse 14). Likewise, Joseph Smith was martyred in the process of restoring the gospel, but the gospel was not hindered. The Savior will accomplish Heavenly Father’s plan just as He promised He would, and Satan cannot stop Him. As He does so, even leaders of great governments will watch in wonder as it unfolds (verse 15). This happened as the European world watched the establishment of “free” America, unlike any government previous (see 3 Nephi 21:4), and it is through this environment that the Savior will gather and lift up the people “by the power of God” (1 Nephi 13:30). We will continue to be “astonished” as we watch these things unfold, and see the Lord bring it all to pass in every detail. This is part of why every person will acknowledge Jesus is the Christ, even those who choose not to follow Him. No one will be able to deny who He is, even if they do not want what He has to offer.