“The children whom thou shalt have”

July 6, 2005 | 18 comments

After prophesying the woes that will come on Israel, Isaiah relays a promise of the Lord’s:

For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants; and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away.

The children whom thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the first, shall aagain in thine ears say: The place is too strait for me; give place to me that I may dwell.

Then shalt thou say in thine heart: Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? And who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where have they been?

Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.

And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers

The general symbolic meaning is clear. After their struggles and loss the people of Israel will be stunned by their blessings. In Isaiah’s time, as in ours, posterity was understood to be the blessing of blessings, so here it represents the magnitude of the blessings that the people of Israel will receive.

Nephi gives a more specific interpretation of the symbolism. He says that the great blessings the Israelites will recieve are that the gospel will be restored to the American “gentiles,” who will in turn share it with the scattered seed of Israel—

And after our seed is scattered the Lord God will proceed to do a marvelous work among the Gentiles, which shall be of great worth unto our seed; wherefore, it is likened unto their being nourished by the Gentiles and being carried in their arms and upon their shoulders

—and that the Lord will gather a broken and scattered people into a land and a nation again.

What if Isaiah also meant this promise of unexpected posterity literally?

Not everyone will be saved. Some will reject the stewardship God gives them and it must then be that God will then their “bishoprick let another take.” Parenting is a stewardship. Children need to be sealed to somebody.

Imagine coming up on Resurrection Morning, marveling in your new body, and then seeing around you the clean-limbed youths you never knew you had.

These breaths! These limbs! This resurrected being!
In my features His features seeing!

And this son I’ve found, in his face,
of my own lineaments a trace!


18 Responses to “The children whom thou shalt have”

  1. Ana on July 6, 2005 at 2:21 pm

    Beautiful poetry — what’s the source? I do have to add that when you find yourself a parent of children you did not bear, you may see nothing of yourself in them at all, and love them just as much. Speaking from experience.

    As an adoptive family, we like this idea. The more, the merrier, and bring them in all colors, shapes and abilities, please! But as a family with a beloved but less-than-faithful grandfather (my husband’s dad) we worry. That’s instructive for us, too. It reminds us that the children we rejoice in have losses of their own to process.

  2. A. Greenwood on July 6, 2005 at 2:58 pm

    The conceit of the poem above is that in the Resurrection we will find ourselves genetically linked to those to whom we are sealed (including God). As you point out, Miss Ana, we don’t really know if that is true or not. I’d like to think it is. But even if it is, nothing can entirely erase the tie that children have to their earthly and biological parents, even if those ties aren’t precisely reflected in sealing ordinances. Heaven cannot and will not erase the bittersweetness of lost relationships and unrealized potential.


    “The more, the merrier,” is my sentiment exactly. When I first thought that I might get a bunch more children in the Resurrection I started whistling.

  3. Rosalynde Welch on July 6, 2005 at 3:36 pm

    “Not everyone will be saved. Some will reject the stewardship God gives them and it must then be that God will then their ?bishoprick let another take.? Parenting is a stewardship. Children need to be sealed to somebody.”

    Adam, what do you mean here? Forgive me, but I just don’t get it. Are you talking somehow about adoption? Or about fertilized zygotes that never implant?

  4. A. Greenwood on July 6, 2005 at 4:29 pm

    Fertilized zygotes that never implant is my follow up post.

    No, I’m arguing that children whose parents refuse the blessings of the Celestial glory will need to be sealed to somebody besides their earthly parents. I further suggest that we might all have the opportunity of taking some of these children in.

  5. annegb on July 6, 2005 at 4:41 pm

    “not everyone will be saved”……many many more than most of us think will be saved, will be saved. I am one, I believe, of a minority, who believes the Celestial Kingdom is going to be a lot more crowded than the Sunday School crew believes. Sometimes I say that in Sunday School, “I think a lot of people are going to be there who you think won’t be there.” and I sit back and let them argue. God must get really disgusted at the hubris.

  6. Rosalynde Welch on July 6, 2005 at 4:54 pm

    Okay, Adam, think I got it now, sorry for being obtuse.

  7. costanza on July 6, 2005 at 4:55 pm

    Don’t be so hard on yourself annegb. I’m sure God will forgive your hubris in telling us what he must think of the “sunday school crew.”

  8. A. Greenwood on July 6, 2005 at 6:05 pm

    That’s kind of you, Mrs. Welch, but the problem is mine, I’m sure. I usually go into long, ornate explanations that are confusing because of their length. This time I tried to be short and sweet and ended up leaving out relevant detail. I wish I’d kept the receipt on my gift of writing.

  9. Kingsley on July 6, 2005 at 6:53 pm

    Amen, Constanza. Adam precisely said — not everyone will be saved. That is, not everyone. Not. Everyone. And somehow we went from there to a heroic tale of Sunday School iconoclasm featuring maybe the most banal point ever made, followed by a snotty, sweeping judgment of, well, the majority of the Church. All in the spirit, of course, of teaching others not to do that, shame on them.

  10. Kingsley on July 6, 2005 at 7:10 pm

    “clean-limbed youths” …… Just because you shower does not mean you are more righteous than everybody, in fact sometimes in Sunday School I will say, “I think a lot of people who are sweaty and fusty are more like Jesus than you think they are,” and then just put my feet up and watch the fireworks.

  11. Kingsley on July 6, 2005 at 7:12 pm

    This one time at band camp …

  12. A. Greenwood on July 6, 2005 at 7:51 pm

    Easy on Anne of GB, my friends. She’s a good sort. I’ll bet when she puts up her feet in Sunday School, it doesn’t cause fireworks.

  13. Lisa B. on July 6, 2005 at 9:34 pm

    Huh??? Having a bit of trouble here with the post-earthlife-adoption idea. Are we not all spirit siblings and joint-heirs with Christ? Are we not all children of God? Isn’t THAT what sealing is all about? And aren’t we taught that those COUPLES who are sealed and remain worthy of exaltation have their own SPIRITUAL offspring, worlds without number? Why then the need to claim/adopt the spirit children of our Heavenly Parents and of other earthly parents?

  14. Jack on July 6, 2005 at 9:57 pm

    At this point, it seems that the goal of proxy work is to eventually bind the human family together as one–which binding is between husbands and wives, and parents and children. I think this is a different kind of preparation then what we assume to have taken place in premortal life. i.e., “spiritual offspring” etc.

  15. A. Greenwood on July 6, 2005 at 9:57 pm

    Yes, we’re all children of God or destined to become such. But we are also children of our parents and sealed to them. Some children aren’t so lucky. Can they be left hanging without being sealed to anybody? I imagine not. Now, perhaps you are correct that these children are only sealed to God as their Father. Or perhaps they are sealed within their own lineage only, the lines collapsing back through the generations until a righteous pairing is found. But it is also possible that the children will be sealed to parents of their own milieu.

  16. Kingsley on July 6, 2005 at 10:36 pm

    Sorry, Annegb. As a balding, single twenty-eight-year-old, I often speak out bitterly for no good reason. Just ask my Sunday School class.

  17. Harold B. Curtis on July 6, 2005 at 11:56 pm

    Mr. Greenwood…

    I tend to think the scripture you quoted has more to do with the gathering of scattered Israel to the Gospel of Christ where they are healed by being sealed.Thus gathered
    they become a part of Christs family whom He save’s, with an everlasting salvation, including Eternal Life.

    What you propose seems to fit better with the Idea of not being the weak link that may be dropped form the chain. Our brethern have spoken about this on many occasions. Of course if there are some weak links the chain would be welded together minus those links. Perhaps then you would see some “new plates at the dinner table.”

    Your genetically linked comment is already a reality. We are all descended from Adam, who is descended from God.

    The exception to this rule of course would be those evolutionist’s who are linked to dinosaurs, who are ultimately linked to comet ejecta. Ironically even though comets are supposed to be the seed bearers of life in the universe, that consideration didn’t stop NASA from blowing up a bunch of seeds on July 4th. I can’t imagine who those seeds could have been linked to.

    Hopefully someone with a bigger impactor ie (burning mountain) doesn’t decide to trump our impactor with their own. (life in the ocean dies). Sorry for getting off on a tangent.

    I enjoyed your thoughts…Harold

  18. A. Greenwood on July 8, 2005 at 11:38 am

    Your interpretation sounds good, Mr. Curtis. Bereaved Israel comes to Christ and finds, through the sealing ordinances, that their lost children were not lost after all.


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