Stained glass window depicting Isaiah, Zechariah, and Habakkuk. This window is on the south aisle of St John the Evangelist, Knotty Ash, a church in Liverpool, England.
About 50 years after the death of Isaiah, the prophets Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah preached in Jerusalem. All three were likely familiar with Isaiah’s prophecies; all three of their books include paraphrases of his teachings. By the time of their ministries, the northern kingdom of Israel had been conquered by the Assyrian Empire. The Babylonian Empire was growing and was becoming a threat to both the Assyrians and to the kingdom of Judah. All three prophets anticipated difficult days ahead, but all three emphasized the goodness of God and the importance of waiting patiently for His promises to be fulfilled.
Nahum: Publishing peace
Israel may have been conquered by the powerful Assyrian army, but Assyria itself will be destroyed. That is the message of Nahum. “Now will I break his yoke from off thee,” says the Lord to Israel, “and will burst thy bonds in sunder” (Nahum 1:13).
Nahum teaches us to trust God. “The Lord is slow to anger,” he says, but He “will not at all acquit the wicked” (Nahum 1:3). “The Lord is good,” he adds, “a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him” (Nahum 1:7).
In a paraphrase of Isaiah 52:7, Nahum rejoices in messengers who communicate the good news of the gospel to God’s children:
|Nahum 1:15||Isaiah 52:7|
|Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace!…||How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!|
Several Book of Mormon prophets also reference this passage from Isaiah, including Nephi, Abinadi, and Mormon. Jesus Christ also referenced it during His ministry on the American continent. Here is a blog post about the significance of this passage:
Habakkuk: A marvelous work
“O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear?” implored Habakkuk. “Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance?” (Habakkuk 1:2-3). His heartfelt plea is similar to Joseph Smith’s prayer from Liberty Jail. (See Doctrine and Covenants 121:1-3.) And like Joseph Smith, Habakkuk records the answer he received from God, which is a paraphrase of Isaiah 29:14:
|Habakkuk 1:5||Isaiah 29:14|
|Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.||Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.|
In response, Habakkuk reaffirms his confidence in God:
I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me….
Behold…the just shall live by his faith.Habakkuk 2:1, 4
Nephi quoted Isaiah’s prophecy of God’s marvelous work and connected it to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. (See 2 Nephi 27:26.) Jesus also referenced it, using similar language to Habakkuk’s version of the prophecy: “In that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them” (3 Nephi 21:9).
Zephaniah: Be glad and rejoice!
“The day of the Lord is at hand” (Zephaniah 1:7). This is Zephaniah’s warning as he foretells the destruction which will befall the kingdom of Judah, as well as many other nations: Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Ethiopia, and Assyria. But in the end, his message is an invitation to have patience and exercise faith in God: “Wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations” (Zephaniah 3:8).
Zephaniah’s joyful description of the gathering of Israel is reminiscent of several passages from Isaiah, including the following:
|Zephaniah 3:14-15||Isaiah 52:9-10|
|Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.|
The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.
|Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.|
The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
This Isaiah passage appears four times in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 12:23, Mosiah 15:30, 3 Nephi 16:19, 3 Nephi 20:34). Here is a blog post about singing as an expression of pure joy:
Blog Posts: November 29 – December 4
The prophet Nahum characterized the chaos which would accompany the destruction of the Assyrian Empire in this way: Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them. Nahum 3:18 As Ezekiel would later point out, a shepherd is supposed to be…
“The Just Shall Live by Faith”
We’re not supposed to know everything. Not knowing is uncomfortable, so uncomfortable that we work hard to avoid acknowledging it. We look for evidence that our opinions are right. We ignore evidence that they are not. We place ourselves in familiar environments, where we have some expertise. We avoid unfamiliar environments, where other people know…
“Gather yourselves together,” says Zephaniah, “…before the day of the Lord’s anger come upon you.” What should we do to prepare for those difficult days? “Seek ye the Lord,” he says, “all ye meek of the earth.” How should we do this? “Seek righteousness,” he clarifies, “seek meekness.” Then, he adds, “it may be ye…
The Hebrew word mauz (מָעוֹז) means a place of safety or protection. In the King James Version of the Bible, it is usually translated “strength,” sometimes “rock,” “fortress” or “fort,” and once, in the book of Nahum, it is translated “strong hold:” The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them…
“Revive Thy Work”
God is unchanging. Therefore, if He performed miracles in the past, he can perform miracles today. This is a core message of the Book of Mormon. Nephi repeatedly appeals to scriptural accounts of miracles as evidence that his family can expect miracles in their lives. “The Lord is able to deliver us, even as our fathers, and…
He Will Save
At the end of his book, the prophet Zephaniah paints a picture of what it will be like for modern Israel to be gathered and delivered. Here is part of his description: The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love,…
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