The prophet Isaiah’s going naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and portent against Egypt—the world’s great superpower of his day—contrasts sharply with the comfort zone of Babylon’s high rises that lend a God-like view over the landscape. Isaiah’s extensive literary devices show that ancient Egypt typifies modern America in the world’s end-time scenario, as also seen by Book of Mormon prophets. Isaiah himself typified God’s end-time people’s division when he was sawn in half by the corrupt establishment of his day.
Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish virgins further signifies such a division. Isaiah’s use of the term “vessels” to symbolize people suggests that those who lack oil for their lamps at the Lord’s coming are themselves the vessels that lack the Holy Ghost and who are consequently deceived. In that sense, the term “vessel” denotes both the outer and inner vessel—the inner to be cleansed first so that we know how keep the outer clean also. Then shall we be “vessels unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use” (2 Timothy 2:21).
If not, we may violate our own bodies and bring upon us the judgments of God. As Paul says, “Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). If God’s counsel to the church in the days of the prophet Joseph Smith was to refrain from harmful substances because of the evil designs of conspiring men, how much more so in our day when a secret combination conspires to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries?
Should we tamper with our divine genome in the way it is done with plants and animals? Don’t the scriptures infer that the DNA of the descendants of Cain, of the Lamanites and other peoples changed after their ancestors transgressed the laws of God? If in the end-time “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:11–12), what is that lie? Or what are the end-time deceptions so that “if it were possible” even the elect would be deceived?
As Lehi was led through a dreary waste by a man clothed in white, there came a time when he felt to call on the Lord directly. Said Peter when facing a similar imposition, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). If we are to endure to the end of our probation, we must know that there is a spiritual component to every physical malady—that every evil which challenges us is God’s testing us. If we are to “more fully keep ourselves unspotted from the world,” what measures should we be taking to make sure we stand in holy places?
Although Jeremiah advised God’s people in his day to serve the king of Babylon or he would destroy them, that didn’t mean kowtowing to a false god. Rather, with every new evil that emerges in the world, God also furnishes a greater good or empowerment over it if we stand on our principles and take him at his word. So did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who walked through the same fire that slew its stokers. Hugh Nibley’s favorite scriptural theme of “the church in the wilderness” was his antidote to the church in Babylon.