Question: What is meant by this verse from D&C 1:14: “And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people.” What is the arm of the Lord and who are the servants, prophets and apostles?
Answer: First, please note the end-time context in which this verse appears—God’s worldwide Day of Judgment, “when the wrath of God shall be poured out upon the wicked without measure. . . and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth” (Doctrine & Covenants 1:9, 13). Word links to the prophecies of Isaiah and Book of Mormon show (1) that the Lord’s “arm” is a metaphorical term that act as a pseudonym or alias of the Lord’s end-time servant who prepares the way before the Lord’s coming to reign on the earth; and (2) that the Lord’s “sword” is a metaphorical term that act as a pseudonym or alias of the end-time “king of Assyria” who conquers the modern world following the pattern of the ancient kings of Assyria.
Being “cut off from among the people,” on the other hand, refers to an end-time event when the Lord’s servant brings forth Jesus’ words that are on the large plates of Nephi: “In that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them. But behold, the life of my servant shall be in my hand; therefore they shall not hurt him, although he shall be marred because of them. Yet I will heal him, for I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil. Therefore it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him to bring forth unto the Gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the Gentiles, (it shall be done even as Moses said) they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant” (3 Nephi 21:9–11). These things fulfill the prophecies of Isaiah, as Jesus explains them to the Nephites (3 Nephi 20:11–46; 21:8–11, 29; 22:1–17; 23:1–3), while “my people who are of the covenant” refers to Latter-day Saints whose faith is tried in that day.
As Isaiah’s prophecies depict end-time events, not ones that transpired in the days of the prophet Joseph Smith, God’s servants, prophets and apostles are those called or living at that time. From Isaiah we learn that the Lord’s “arm” is bared in power in a time of peril when end-time Babylon is about to be destroyed—when the Lord’s “arm” is empowered to lead a new exodus to Zion (Isaiah 51:9–11; 52:10–15; cf. 1 Nephi 22:11–13; 2 Nephi 8:9–11; 3 Nephi 16:17–20). In that day, the question of who are the Lord’s servants and who are not (cf. Isaiah 65:8–15; Malachi 3:18; 3 Nephi 28:31–35), who are prophets and apostles and who are not (cf. Isaiah 41:21–26; Matthew 24:24; Doctrine & Covenants 64:38–39), will be resolved. Without considering the end-time context of Doctrine & Covenants 1:14 and its scriptural interconnections, interpreting it becomes guesswork, or even prooftexting—finding “support” for one’s private interpretation.