A Latter-Day Prophet
Probably the most significant and important prophecy of the last days is the foretelling of “a mighty prophet” that would come forth amongst the Gentiles. This prophecy was first foretold by Isaiah who lived and prophesied among the Israelites sometime between 792 and 715 BC. Isaiah states:
10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek; and his rest shall be glorious.
Now there have been many adversaries of the Church that have scoffed at this prophecy. But let’s take a closer look at the language of the scripture. We also have to remember the context from which the prophets of antiquity spoke to us.
“…in that day…” In many ancient writings, the prophets would use this phrase in reference to the last days. It is comparable to when we say “someday”.
“…there shall be a root of Jesse,…” The meaning of this phrase was revealed to us in the Doctrine & Covenants. When he was studying and contemplating the Book of Isaiah, Joseph Smith asked the Lord the following question:
5 What is the root of Jesse spoken of in the 10th verse of the 11th chapter?
In response, the Lord answered:
6 Behold, thus saith the Lord, it is a descendant of Jesse, as well as of Joseph, unto whom rightly belongs the priesthood, and the keys of the kingdom, for an ensign, and for the gathering of my people in the last days.
Little did Joseph Smith know that the very question he asked was about himself. According to Donald W. Parry (1999), “Latter-day scholars generally agree that the root of Jesse refers to the Prophet Joseph Smith. He is a descendant of both Jesse and Joseph” (p. 27). Therefore, Isaiah who lived two-thousand years before our time spoke of Joseph Smith personally. Moreover, it was Joseph Smith’s calling to be an ensign to the Gentiles. It was he who restored the priesthood keys upon the earth in the last days.
Lehi, the ancient Book of Mormon prophet also confirms the authenticity of Joseph Smith’s calling:
24 And there shall rise up one mighty among them, who shall do much good, both in word and in deed, being an instrument in the hands of God, with exceeding faith, unto the remembering of my covenant which I made unto thy fathers.
John Taylor, the third President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, had this to say about the root of Jesse, “Joseph Smith,…, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it” (D&C 135:3).
It is through the Prophet Joseph Smith that many of the ancient prophecies concerning the last days have been clarified. It was through his unique relationship with the Lord and his priesthood authority that this prophecy has been fulfilled.