1 Nevertheless [And so it is], the dimness [lack of understanding] shall not be such as was in her vexation [frustration], when at first he [Assyria] lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali [Northern parts of Israel], and afterwards did more grievously afflict by the way of the Red Sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations. [From the Red Sea to the Northern Kingdom, at first the Assyrians were less in their affliction, and then they came upon the House of Israel with fury.]
2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light [a great understanding, knowledge]; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death [Judah], upon them hath the light shined. [Blessed]
3 Thou [the Lord] hast multiplied the nation [Judah’s blessings], and increased the joy—they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest [after the work is accomplished], and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. [Enjoy the blessings and freedom.]
4 For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden [you have broken the hand of your opponent (Salvation)], and the staff of his shoulder [the laws of his delegates (overcome sin)], the rod of his oppressor. [the power of his army (Satan)]
5 For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise [without purpose], and garments rolled in blood [many die]; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire. [bodies burned, this is what occurred when the 185,000 Assyrians were killed by the Angel of God. (fate of those who follow Satan)]
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government [Kingdom of God, Eternal Life] shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. [Jesus Christ]
Verse six is explaining the blessings of verse two.
7 Of the increase of government [His Kingdom] and peace there is no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth, even forever. The zeal [determination] of the Lord of Hosts will perform [establish] this.
8 The Lord sent his word [command] unto Jacob and it hath lighted upon Israel. [Covenant is passed to the House of Israel.]
9 And all the people shall know, even Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria [those who rebelled] , that say in the pride and stoutness of heart:
10 The bricks are fallen down [great countries are no longer], but we will build with hewn stones [but we will build them stronger]; the sycamores are cut down [the covenant of God is no longer], but we will change them into cedars. [change them into laws that suit us.]
Such views are embodied in today’s political climate in America and many parts of the world. I have particular noticed this cultural shift since 9/11. Similar philosophies occurred amongst the Northern Tribes and apostate Jews after their destruction by the Assyrians. Overall, this is the philosophy of Satan, to replace God with his own dominion.
11 Therefore the Lord shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him [allow their enemies to conspire against them], and join his enemies together [alliance];
12 The Syrians before and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. [The judgment of God is upon them.]
13 For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them [They do not seek God’s protection.], neither do they seek the Lord of Hosts.
14 Therefore will the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush in one day. [The Lord will cut off their leaders, generals, and couriers in one day.]
15 The ancient, he is the head [A son of perdition, Satan]; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. [False prophet, aligned with Satan]
16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. [Kingdom of the Beast]
17 Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows; for everyone of them is a hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly [untruthfully]. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
When we read a “stretched out arm,” it implies God gathering or protecting His people. When we read “hand is outstretched,” it implies keeping at a distance, or allowing the judgments to come upon them.
18 For wickedness burneth as the fire [starts small and grows quickly]; it shall devour the briers and thorns [the wicked and evildoers are consumed with darkness], and shall kindle in the thickets of the forests [shall launch from hidden places], and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke. [They grow is size and show signs of great destruction.]
I used to think “mount up like the lifting up of smoke” was a description of a mushroom cloud; however, today I see this as more broad in its application.
19 Through the wrath of the Lord of Hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire [The Spirit of the Lord is completely gone.]; no man shall spare his brother. [no man has empathy for another]
20 And he shall snatch on the right hand and be hungry [steal from one another]; and he shall eat on the left hand [go to another place] and they shall not be satisfied; they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm— [resort to cannibalism]
21 Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh [will fight each other]; they together shall be against Judah [the Jews]. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. [And the judgements of God will be made manifest]
All of Isaiah’s writings are so interesting in that they prophesy of what will come upon the House of Israel during his time, and also what will befall us during our time. Few scriptures have a dual prophetic role like Isaiah. For this reason Nephi specifically included them in his record. As you read this chapter allow the Spirit to speak to you regarding how this applies toward what will occur in America and Israel in the last days.
This chapter is very dark, but the coming Isaiah chapters focus on the great blessings.