Thursday, March 08, 2007

Isaiah 27 - Smoke on the water

A few thoughts come to my mind from this highly symbolic chapter. 

My first thought is more of an inquiry and has to do with the symbology of the leviathan and the sea.  The leviathan comes up in several places in the bible, most notable Job 41 where it is described in some detail.    There is an interesting mention of it also in the apocryphal book of Enoch:

60:7-8 And that day will two monsters be parted, one monster, a female named Leviathan in order to dwell in the abyss of the ocean over the fountains of water; and (the other), a male called Behemoth, which holds his chest in an invisible desert whose name is Dundayin, east of the garden of Eden.

The dominion of the leviathan over the waters is what interests me the most.  It reminds me of these verses from 1 Nephi 14:

11 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over ball the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.

12 And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon ball the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw.

This image of evil upon the waters comes up repeatedly in the scriptures.  It seems to me that the Leviathan is a metaphor for the organized forces of evil upon the earth.  Their influence is broad (and deep) and represent a significant hinderance to the advancement of the kingdom of God.  Isaiah prophecies that the Lord with his strong sword (truth!) will triumph over leviathan and slay the dragon. 

This leads me to the second thought that comes to me out of this chapter- as if to answer how he will slay the dragon, the Lord reveals through Isaiah the conditions of Israel at some future time:  The Lords “vineyard” will be watered and protected.  In the end it will blossom and bud, filling the “face of the world with fruit”.   This is similar to what Nephi saw: the saints of God will be upon the all the face of the Earth and their earthly dominion will be small because of the great wickedness of evil organizations.  Nephi then makes this observation:

14 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.

The saints will be armed, but not with guns, wealth, political prestige, or any other worldly form of power.  They will be armed with the power of God, which is distinct and different than the forms of power paraded before us in the media.  In fact, the worldly power so sought after by the evil organizations of the earth with be the very thing that causes there destruction:

15 And it came to pass that I beheld that the wrath of God was poured out upon that great and abominable church, insomuch that there were wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and kindreds of the earth.

The power of God is not the power of destruction.  It is the power to build and lift others, the power to adminster the ordinances of the kingdom, the power to bring about Zion.  Saints will fulfill their covenants to build the kingdom of God when they turn away from seductive worldly powers and rely on the arm of God.  When we can stop our obsessions with physical and financial security the spirit will have place in us to move us and use us according to the Lord’s will. 




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