The opening verse of Isaiah 56 states: “Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment [Heb. justice], and do justice [Heb. righteousness]: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil” (56:1-2). “Keep justice and do righteousness is a dash of cold water in the face after the glowing promises of chas. 54 and 55. Reveling in the unconditional acceptance that those words convey, one would easily believe that the grace of God carries no obligations with it” (John Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah:
hapters 40-66, p. 455). But there are obligations. As noted previously, the gathering of Israel consists of joining the Church through baptism and receiving the temple ordinances. But it is not enough simply to receive these ordinances. It is necessary to keep the covenants associated with these ordinances. It is not enough to “buy wine and milk without money.” One must live the sayings of the Lord. It is not enough to pay lip service to the words of the prophets, it is imperative to live them. Doing the works of the Lord is only good if done for the right reason. A righteous or good person is one who does good works “with real intent.” Otherwise, “it is not counted unto him for righteousness”(see Moroni 7:5-6).
In 56:3-8, it is clear that as Israel gathers from among the nations of the world, there will some gentiles who are caught in the “gospel net” (see Matt. 13:47-49). Isaiah said, “The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him” (56:8). But these verses also teach that the gentiles shall not be denied any blessings of the fulness of the gospel. In our day, the same message was taught by President James E. Faust, of the First Presidency, when he taught in October 1995 General Conference: “The Church is expanding at a tremendous rate. We now have stakes of Zion in a great many countries of the world, and most stakes have at least one patriarch. This growth permits many people across the earth the privilege of receiving patriarchal blessings. As President Joseph Fielding Smith stated, ‘The great majority of those who become members of the Church are literal descendants of Abraham through Ephraim, son of Joseph’(Doctrines of Salvation, 3:246). However, Manasseh, the other son of Joseph, as well as the other sons of Jacob, has many descendants in the Church. There may be some come into the Church in our day who are not of Jacob’s blood lineage. No one need assume that he or she will be denied any blessing by reason of not being of the blood lineage of Israel. The Lord told Abraham, ‘And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father.’ (Abraham 2:10)” (Ensign, Nov. 1995, p. 64; emphasis added).
As the chapter began, so it ends. Isaiah warns the covenant people in 56:9-11 to always remain vigilant. Just because they are the chosen and elect people of the Lord, does not mean their calling and election is sure. The Lord will allow his people to be destroyed by the beasts of the field (i.e., Israel’s enemies). In language reminiscent of Ezekiel 34, Isaiah speaks of Israel’s “watchmen” (i.e., their political and religious leaders) as being blind, ignorant, and dumb. In fact, it was because of the indolence of Israel’s leaders that the calamity of Israel’s destruction came upon them.
Isaiah 63-65 is divided into four divisions: (1) The second coming of the Savior and the destruction of the wicked (63:1-6); (2) a psalm (63:7-14); (3) a prayer (63:15 - 64:12); and (4), an answer (65).
Destruction of the Wicked
The second phase of the gathering of Israel ends with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Upon His coming, Christ will destroy the wicked from the earth,and gathered Israel will then “inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited” (Isaiah 54:3). Isaiah 63 speaks of the destruction of the wicked upon the Savior’s coming.
In the opening verses, we envision a watchman sitting atop the wall of a city (see Isa. 62:6) who observes a lone figure coming from the east. He asks the stranger two questions. Question: “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength?” Answer: “I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Question: “Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?” Answer: “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come” (62:1-12).
The lone figure is the Lord, Jesus Christ. It is His second coming. He has come to wreak vengeance upon the wicked of the world symbolized by Edom and Bozrah, the capital of Edom. “Edom was the perennial enemy of Judah, so much so that it came to represent all its enemies (cf. 34:5ff.; Ps. 137:7; Ezek. 35:10-15; Amos 1:6; Obad. 10-16)” (Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 40-66, p. 596). In later history, Edom was called Idumea which the Lord equated with “the world” in D&C 1:36.
Upon His second coming, the Savior will be “red in his apparel, and his garments like him that treadeth in the wine-vat” (D&C 133:48). This
The imagery of Christ having trodden the winepress alone is used to symbolize not only the suffering in Gethsemane, but also the destruction of the wicked upon his second coming.