My Seminary class has just started studying the Book of Isaiah. Chapter 2:2-4 contains the oft-quoted verses:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD?s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
While most Mormons view these verses as a source of great inspiration, I read them and say, “huh?”
Donald Parry et al. authored a book entitled Understanding Isaiah. In it the authors suggest that “temple service and worship (2:2-3) are directly connected to worldwide peace and prosperity (2:4).” And later in the same paragraph, “temple attendance (2:2) results in peace.” Does this interpretation make sense?
The timing seems to be messed up. The references to people going to the temple place that event (or period of time) “in the last days,” but the references to peace are clearly millennial. Indeed, the authors of the commentary expressly tie peace to the millennium, not to “the last days” (an expression that they interpret to mean “our day”). I suppose that it is possible to connect temple attendance today with peace in the millennium, but would you really claim that one causes the other?
Also, the fact that “all nations shall flow unto it” might be completely unconnected with temple attendance. Some people (including Apostle Robert Hales, in the April 2002 General Conference) have suggested that the 2002 Olympics was a fulfillment of that prophecy, but most of the people who attended the Olympics were not permitted to enter the temple.
Nevertheless, temple attendence does seem to be part of the prophecy. After all, the people “go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob” so that the Lord may “teach us of his ways.” Surely, this is a reference to the learning of the temple ordinances.
What does Isaiah mean when he writes, “out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem”? Here is an excerpt from the dedicatory prayer of the Idaho Falls Temple:
We pray that kings and rulers and the peoples of all nations under heaven may be persuaded of the blessings enjoyed by the people of this land by reason of their freedom under Thy guidance and be constrained to adopt similar governmental systems, thus to fulfill the ancient prophecy of Isaiah that “out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
No problem, but does the spread of constitutional democracy have anything to do with temple attendance? The 2002 Olympics? To be clear, I am not saying that these ideas are not related, but the connections are more opaque than generally assumed. Based on the foregoing, these verses contain at least five separate concepts:
* The temple is built in Salt Lake City (late 1800s)
* People of the world visit Salt Lake City (2002)
* Members do temple work in the Salt Lake Temple (1893 – present)
* The nations will embrace constitutional democracy (1989 – present?)
* Peace will prevail on earth (Millennium)
This raises my Seminary Thought Question: Can you explain how these five ideas might be interconnected?