39. “How Beautiful upon the Mountains”

These chapters of Isaiah focus on the Savior: his Atonement, his power and glory, his ability as a Creator.

“Isaiah’s ‘Other’ Servant Songs,” Terry B. Ball, in The Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament (Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2009).
The latter chapters of Isaiah contain a series of beautiful poetic prophecies about a servant who would bless the world through his life, labors, and suffering. Collectively these prophecies are known as the “Servant Songs” or the “Servant Psalms.” Though an issue of some debate, a typical list of the Servant Songs includes Isaiah 42:1–6; 49:1–6; 50:4–9; 52:13–15; 53:1–12.

Latter–day Saints and other Christians typically identify “the Servant” as Jesus Christ, for it can be shown that he fulfills all the prophecies of the Servant Songs and some only he can fulfill. This article looks in depth at these songs.

“The Temple and the Holy Mountain,” Richard J. Clifford, in The Temple in Antiquity: Ancient Records and Modern Perspectives (Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1984), 107–24.
Isaiah 51:9–11 associates the redemption of Israel with creation. In the ancient Near East, creation often involved conflict, the taming or returning to their proper place of forces hostile to humanity, such as darkness (non–light) and formlessness (typically symbolized by the unlimited ocean). Creation or cosmogony issued not in the universe in its unpeopled physicality, as we are wont to imagine it, but in structured human society.

“‘Always Remember Him,'” D. Todd Christofferson, in The Voice of My Servants: Apostolic Messages on Teaching, Learning, and Scripture (Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University), 199–210.
Elder Christofferson cites Isaiah 51:7–8, 12–16 to illustrate looking to the Savior in every thought and always remembering him. “Through his Atonement he has been given all power in heaven and earth and has both the capacity and the will to protect us and minister to our needs. We need only be faithful and we can rely implicitly on Him and His grace.”

“Atonement of Jesus Christ,” by Jeffrey R. Holland, Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Elder Holland sees Isaiah 53 as a description of Christ as Messiah: “The need for a future Atonement was explained in a premortal Council in Heaven at which the spirits of the entire human family were in attendance and over which God the Father presided. The two principal associates of God in that council were the premortal Jesus and the premortal Adam. It was in this premortal setting that Christ voluntarily entered into a covenant with the Father, agreeing to enhance the moral agency of humankind even as he atoned for their sins, and he returned to the Father all honor and glory for such selflessness. This preordained role of Christ as mediator explains why the book of Revelation describes Christ as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8) and why Old Testament prophets, priests, and kings, including Moses, Job, the Psalmist, Zechariah, Isaiah, and Micah, could speak of the Messiah and his divine role many centuries before his physical birth.”

“‘All Things Denote There is a God’: Seeing Christ in the Creation,” Bruce A. Roundy and Robert J. Norman, in Religious Educator 6, no. 2 (2005): 51–62.
The Lord plants us on the earth, as in a vineyard, that He might nourish and prune us to later “plant the heavens” (Isaiah 51:16).

“Moses and Jesus: The Old Adorns the New,” S. Kent Brown, in From Jerusalem to Zarahemla: Literary and Historical Studies of the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1998), 157–168.
Prophecies about the last days were uttered by Isaiah, specifically those found in chapter 52, a chapter from which the resurrected Jesus quoted extensively when he was speaking of the house of Israel and the Gentiles in the last days (3 Nephi 16, 20–21). Isaiah 52 is known as a chapter dealing with the so–called “new exodus” or “second exodus,” that is, the gathering of the house of Israel in the last days. In its own way, the new exodus of Israel is to resemble the old exodus under Moses because of its miraculous character and because the results will be the same: a return to the land promised to Israel’s forebears and a return of the covenants that the Lord had made with them. If one were to read Isaiah 52 with care, one would see allusions in almost every verse to the exodus that took place in the days of Moses.

“Isaiah 53, Mosiah 14, and the Book of Mormon,” John W. Welch, in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon (FARMS, 1998), 293–312. [PDF of whole book on Isaiah; scroll to page 293 for this article.] Is the servant in Isaiah 53 a divine future being? It is possible to read this text several ways. Because of the open texture of Isaiah 53 in this regard, Abinadi was textually vulnerable on this very point, and thus it is logical that the priests attacked him precisely on this position. However, Abinadi’s words and his blood stand as a testimony of this crucial declaration that Isaiah 53 is a prophecy of Christ.

“‘Thy Will Be Done’: The Savior’s Use of the Divine Passive,” Matthew L. Bowen, in The Sermon on the Mount in Latter–day Scripture (Religious Studies Center, 2010), 230–48.
In the divine passive “thy will be done,” Jesus also acknowledges the imminence of his Atonement as described in the servant song(s) of Isaiah 52:13–53. He would fill the role of “servant,” through whose suffering divine justice would be “satisfied” and in whose hand the divine will would ultimately “prosper.” Ambiguities within this text have allowed for wide–ranging interpretations. For example, the description of the servant in the divine passive, “he shall be exalted . . . extolled [nissa’, i.e., ‘lifted up’]” (Isaiah 52:13), can be interpreted in a triumphant sense, or in the same sense as John 3:14: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.”

The description of the atoning servant’s suffering (Isaiah 53:4–8) is punctuated in Isaiah 53:10 with the declaration, “It pleased the Lord to bruise [crush] him”—alternatively rendered, “It was the Lord’s will that he be crushed.” In other words, this suffering was a part of the divine plan. Abinadi gives this phrase a christological interpretation: he describes the servant (Christ) as “having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father” (Mosiah 15:2).