Question: I’m curious about Isaiah’s description of Judea’s and Jerusalem’s deprivation of “both staff and crutch—all food supply and water supply” in Isaiah 3:1. Where will the staff and crutch be deprived? Is it safe to assume it is here in the U.S.? We can see the lack of leadership Isaiah describes in the same chapter, but why use the names “Jerusalem” and “Judea” to say what seems to be happening in this country right now?
Answer: Because Isaiah’s seven-part synchronous literary structure—as well as others layered over it—convert Isaiah’s entire prophecy into an end-time scenario, the names “Judea” and “Jerusalem” act as codenames of God’s people and where they live in an end-time context. In that setting, moreover, the geographical and demographic boundaries are far more expansive than were those of the small nation that comprised the house of Judah in Isaiah’s day. Nevertheless, because Isaiah was shown “the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10), and was commanded to write his book “for the end-time” (Isaiah 30:8), there is no question he was referring to our day, using his own day as a type or foreshadowing. The larger passage states:
“Even now, the Lord, Jehovah of Hosts, deprives Judea and Jerusalem of both staff and crutch—all food supply and water supply, the valiant man and soldier, the magistrate and prophet, the augur and elder, the officer and dignitary, advisers, skilled craftsmen, and orators. I, [Jehovah,] will make adolescents their rulers; delinquents will lord it over them. People will oppress one another, every man his neighbor. The young will be insolent to the elderly, the vile to the honorable.” (Isaiah 3:1–5) Compared to a generation ago, we are indeed reaching this degree of social and political deterioration in the U.S. so far as many parts of Isaiah’s prophecy are concerned—the next phase being anarchy and famine (Isaiah 3:6–7).
Addressing his end-time readers, Nephi quotes this passage along with entire chapters of Isaiah (2 Nephi 13:1–5). Considering the difficulty of inscribing gold plates, his doing so had to have relevance to the Ephraimite Gentiles who were to bring the Book of Mormon to his end-time descendants. The fact that this country is fulfilling this very prophecy of Isaiah is itself evidence of its warning and applicability to us today.