There are four “woe” chapters in Isaiah (28-31) representative of a covenant curse. Obedience to God’s commandments brings covenant blessings while disobedience brings covenant curses. In chapter twenty-eight, Isaiah addresses Ephraim:
Isaiah 28:1 Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!
2 Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.
3 The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet:
4 And the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up.
Isaiah addresses the heads of Ephraim crowned with pride yet refers to them as fat valleys, or in other words, rich and low. They are drunk with wine, or in other words, intoxicated with their own sense of pride, power, and glory. But they will reap destruction. Isaiah can always be read as a historical record as Ephraim was indeed destroyed along with the entire northern kingdom, but it can also be read allegorically and prophetically. Because human nature is the same in every generation and every civilization, we can expect the same to happen with Ephraim in the last days. Ephraim’s father was Joseph who was sold into Egypt who married Asenath an Egyptian woman. So Ephraim was half Hebrew and half Egyptian. Jews always seemed to have familial and economical ties with Egypt, a superpower in its day and its influence no doubt is seen in Lehi’s life as well as Nephi whose name’s etymology is Egyptian.
“The Prophet Joseph Smith informed us that the record of Lehi was contained on the one hundred sixteen pages that were first translated and subsequently stolen, and of which an abridgment is given us in the First Book of Nephi, which is the record of Nephi individually, he himself being of the lineage of Manasseh; but that Ishmael was of the lineage of Ephraim, and that his sons married into Lehi’s family, and Lehi’s sons married Ishmael’s daughters, thus fulfilling the words of Jacob upon Ephraim and Manasseh in the 48th chapter of Genesis [verse 16] which says: ‘And let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.’ Thus these descendants of Manasseh and Ephraim grew together upon this American continent, with a sprinkling from the house of Judah, from Mulek descended, who left Jerusalem eleven years after Lehi, and founded the colony afterwards known as Zarahemla found by Mosiah — thus making a combination, an intermixture of Ephraim and Manasseh with the remnants of Judah, and for aught we know, the remnants of some other tribes that might have accompanied Mulek. And such have grown up upon the American continent.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 23, pp. 184, 185)
So why do I bring up Lehi? Well, I sometimes tend to go off on tangents and this is one of them, although it’s all connected. But if we liken Isaiah’s words concerning Ephraim to ourselves, what does his ties with Egypt have to do with us? Egypt and America fit the same superpower archetype. I like how Avraham Gileadi described the matter:
“It would be inconsistent with a God who communicates his will to his children if the endtime revelations he gave through his prophets didn’t specifically mention America, the superpower of the world today. In fact, America features prominently in Isaiah’s prophecy under another name.
That name—a codename belonging to the great superpower of Isaiah’s day—is Egypt. Having seen the end from the beginning, Isaiah synchronized the things he chose to write about ancient Egypt so they would match endtime America, one nation being the mirror image of the other.
Like Egypt, America reaches a peak of prosperity, then experiences sudden decline. Nations who rely on America’s military for protection against an endtime Assyrian alliance, are disappointed as America descends into anarchy and a harsh taskmaster takes over the reins of government:
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
relying on horses,
putting their trust in immense numbers
of chariots and vast forces of horsemen,
but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
nor inquire of Jehovah!
I will stir up the Egyptians against the Egyptians;
they will fight brother against brother
and neighbor against neighbor,
city against city and state against state.
Egypt’s spirit shall be drained from within;
I will frustrate their plans,
and they will resort to the idols and to spiritists,
to mediums and witchcraft.
Then will I deliver the Egyptians
into the handof a cruel master;
a harsh ruler will subject them,
says the Lord, Jehovah of Hosts.
Because of the people’s wickedness, idolatries, and abominations, plagues and natural disasters desolate America and its economy collapses. Its heads of state in the political capital consider themselves as wise as the founding fathers but they make a total mess of the nation’s affairs:
The waters of the lakes shall ebb away
as stream beds become desolate and dry.
The rivers shall turn foul,
and Egypt’s waterways recede and dry up.
Manufacturers of combed linen
and weavers of fine fabrics will be dismayed.
The textile workers will know despair,
and all who work for wages suffer distress.
The ministers of Zoan have been foolish,
the officials of Noph deluded;
the heads of state have led Egypt astray.
Jehovah has permeated them
with a spirit of confusion;
they have misled Egypt in all that it does,
causing it to stagger like a drunkard into his vomit.
And there will be nothing the Egyptians can do about it.”
We see this happening today. But what about Ephraim? Most Latter-day Saints are grafted into that great tree through Ephraim. In another blog, I quoted the following scripture:
Isaiah 2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
I also posed the following question:
Could one replace Judah with Ephraim and Jerusalem with Salt Lake City? Is there another candidate for the Lord’s covenant people in the latter days if not Judah? Who else sang joyfully, “O Babylon, O Babylon, we bid thee farewell. We’re going to the mountains of Ephraim to dwell?” (LDS Hymns, Ye Elders of Israel, p. 319).
And yet Brigham Young lamented how much the saints had brought Babylon with them:
Have we separated ourselves from the nations? Yes. And what else have we done?… Have we not brought Babylon with us? Are we not promoting Babylon here in our midst? Are we not fostering the spirit of Babylon that is now abroad on the face of the whole earth?… Yes, yes, to some extent, and there is not a Latter-day Saint but what feels that we have too much of Babylon in our midst.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 17, p. 38).
Brigham Young also declared:
I am more afraid of covetousness in our elders than I am of the hordes of hell. Have we men out now of that class? I believe so. I am afraid of such spirits; for they are more powerful and injurious to this people than all hell outside our borders. All of her enemies in the United States or in the world and all hell with them marshaled against us to not do us the injury that covetousness in the hearts of this people to do us; For it is idolatry. (Journal of Discourses, vol. 12, p. 269).
Before him, Joseph exclaimed the following at Far West:
Brethren, we are gathering to this beautiful land to build up Zion…But since I have been here I perceive the spirit of selfishness, covetousness exists in the hearts of the saints…Here are those who begin to spread out, buying up all the land they are able to do…thinking to lay foundations for themselves only, looking to their own individual families…Now I want to tell you that Zion cannot be built up in any such way…I see signs put out, beer signs, speculative schemes are being introduced. This is the ways of the world—Babylon indeed, and I tell you in the name of the God of Israel, if there is not repentance…you will be broken up and scattered from this choice land. (Edward Stevenson, Life and History of Elder Edward Stevenson, p. 40-41).
The saints indeed were broken up and scattered. The Lord gave them an opportunity to build Zion, but they built up foundations of commerce for themselves instead. They served Mammon rather than God. Hugh Nibley expounded further:
“Elders of Israel are greedy after the things of this world. If you ask them if they are ready to build up the kingdom of God, their answer is prompt–”Why, to be sure we are, with our whole souls; but we want first to get so much gold, speculate and get rich, and then we can help the church considerably. We will go to California and get gold, go and buy goods and get rich, trade with the emigrants, build a mill, make a farm, get a large herd of cattle, and then we can do a great deal for Israel.
I have heard this many times from friends and relatives, but it is hokum. What they are saying is, “If God will give me a million dollars, I will let him have a generous cut of it.” And so they pray and speculate and expect the Lord to come through for them. He won’t do it: “And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thine own property” (D&C 19:26). “Let them repent of all their sins, and of all their covetous desires, before me, saith the Lord; for what is property unto me? saith the Lord” (D&C 117:4). He does not need our property or our help.
Every rhetorician knows that his most effective weapons by far are labels. He can demolish the opposition with simple and devastating labels such as communism, socialism, or atheism, popery, militarism, or Mormonism, or give his clients’ worst crimes a religious glow with noble labels such as integrity, old-fashioned honesty, tough-mindedness, or free competitive enterprise. “You can get away with anything if you just wave the flag,” a business partner of my father once told me. He called that patriotism. But the label game reaches its all-time peak of skill and effrontery in the Madison Avenue master stroke of pasting the lovely label of Zion on all the most typical institutions of Babylon: Zion’s Loans, Zion’s Real Estate, Zion’s Used Cars, Zion’s Jewelry, Zion’s Supermart, Zion’s Auto Wrecking, Zion’s Outdoor Advertising, Zion’s Gunshop, Zion’s Land and Mining, Zion’s Development, Zion’s Securities–all that is quintessentially Babylon now masquerades as Zion.”
The drunkards of Ephraim in the last days are on course to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy. They pretend to build up Zion by waving the flag, but they prop up Babylon instead.