These chapters are all about the stakes of Zion (Isaiah 54-56; 63 – 65). It is important to know what Isaiah is talking about when he makes reference to the stakes. In the last days the Lord is going to bring his people from their long dispersion with great mercies. There are great promises offered to those who are gathered.
The Stakes of Zion
Look at the picture above. There is the main body of the tent, which is connected to the stakes in the ground that hold up the roof of the tent by the white ropes. If the family living in this tent grows and needs more room, all they have to do is get some more supporting poles, another overhead cloth, and they can enlarge the tent by moving the stakes further away from the tent and setting up the new poles and overhead cloth. By doing this they can add as many rooms on to the original space as they need. Some of these tents get pretty big. Go to images.google.com and type in “bedouin tents” and see what I mean. I was blown away by the size and splendor of some of these tents.
When Isaiah refers to the stakes he is only partly referring to the actual stake that is pounded into the ground to support the tent. Almost everything Isaiah talks about is a figurative reference to something spiritual. So look back at the tent and think of the Church of God. The main tent is the headquarters or body of the Church. The white ropes tether or connect the main body of the Church to the stakes or congregations of the Saints throughout the world.
This, by the way, is where we get the term for Stakes in the Church. The term Ward was borrowed from the division cities often use to refer to sections of a town. That is why our Wards are laid out by geographical areas. The term Stake comes from Isaiah’s references to the stakes that support the main body of the Church.
1 Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.
2 Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;
3 For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.
In Isaiah 54:1 – 3 he prophesies that in the last days barren Israel, these same people who have been scatter across the whole earth and have no home and no family, will suddenly find themselves with “children” who seem to come out of nowhere. Where they had no descendants now suddenly they have more than they know what to do with. This is a reference to the establishment of the Church and kingdom of God in the latter days. The growth of the Church will be a surprise to everyone. We, as a people, will need to enlarge our tent. The growth of the Church will not allow everyone to be in one place.
This is exactly what has happened. Brigham Young had to start sending the saints out to far flung locations to settle because they were coming to the Church so fast they couldn’t handle them all. Today we are told to gather to our own home country and grow the Stakes of Zion where we are. Our responsibility is to strengthen our Stakes, which we do by continuing the missionary work and by providing faithful service to those around us. We study our scriptures and hold Family Home Evenings. We pay our tithes and offerings, and keep the commandments. These are the things that allow the Church to lengthen its cords and strengthen its stakes.
The Mercies of God
When the Lord promised to gather Israel in the last days, we have to think of a much larger group. The dispersion of Israel was done so that their bloodline could mix with almost all the people of the earth. That way, when the Lord calls them forth from the world in the last days, they will recognize the message and separate themselves out from among the wicked and come to Zion.
In Isaiah 54:10 the Lord says “… my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.” He goes on to say in verse 13, “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” The Saints of God are promised many things. Whereas in the past they were driven from place to place and were despised by all people, in the latter days they will be loved and protected by the Lord.
So who qualifies as a child of Israel? Who gets to claim such a privilege? Here are a couple of partial quotes from Isaiah 55:1, 3. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; …” and “Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you …” Do you see what these two verses have in common?
The Lord puts no restriction on who he will make a covenant with. If you thirst after the word of God, come! If you have no money to buy, not a problem! If you are willing to listen to his counsel, your soul will live and he will make an everlasting covenant with you! These are the temple covenants. All we are looking for are those who are sincere, seeking, and who will listen to the word of the Lord. These are those who are acceptable to God. These are they with whom he will make his everlasting covenants.
Israel used to be a very closed group. They did no missionary work, and kept themselves apart from all other nations. This is not the case in the last days. Their bloodline has been spread throughout the world, and now we are searching for all those who hear the call of their Lord and are willing to come and make covenants with him. With great mercy and blessings the Lord has promised to show all his favors to his people. He is our protector and our guide. As we lengthen our cords (do our missionary work), and strengthen our stakes (become better Latter-day Saints), the Lord will magnify us among the nations of the earth.