“Who seeth us and who knoweth us?”
In the 29th Chapter of Isaiah, where the Lord describes his work in these latter days as a ”marvellous work and a wonder,” he declares that one of the results of his work will be that “the wisdom of [the world’s] wise shall perish” and “the understanding of its prudent shall be hid.” Then he pronounces a woe upon those who conspire together, who “seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord,” whose “works are in the dark,” and who think that they can work in complete anonomity, as if there were no God, no higher authority to which they are subject.
Obviously, this is not the case, as he knows all things and nothing is hidden from his view. Thus, he inspires the ancient prophet to say to the latter-day conspirators:
[You] say: Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? And [you] also say: Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay. But behold, I will show unto [you], saith the Lord of Hosts, that I know all [your] works. For shall the work say of him that made it, he made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, he had no understanding?
Modern translators of the Bible implicitly attribute the words “your turning of things upside down” to the Lord, but as can be seen in the quote above, the prophet Nephi, a voice from the dust, explicitly attributes these words to the conspirators. This is a significant difference.
If it is the Lord speaking to the latter-day conspirators, then the meaning of this passage in Isaiah goes no further than a logical argument, where the Lord would be saying, in effect, that “If you think that no one sees you and that no one knows you, then you’ve got things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as clay; that the thing made should say of him that made it, He made me not; or the thing formed say of him that formed it, He hath no understanding?”
Clearly, this is a stinging indictment, but it simply declares that God is man’s creator and therefore knows what evil men are doing. In this view of the passage, the fact that the conspirators are conspiring is not connected to the perishing of their wisdom and the disappearance of their understanding.
On the other hand, however, if it is the conspirators speaking to the Lord, as Nephi writes it above, then they are saying to the Lord, in effect, that his work, the “turning things upside down,” that he does, ”shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay,” and a scene of conflict between God and those who deny him is set. This is much more meaningful in the context of the message of the entire chapter, indeed, it is much more meaningful in the context of the message of the entire book of Isaiah, which is that God will confound those who oppose his work in the latter days. Not only will the “sophisticated” wisdom of the wise perish and the “advanced” understanding of the prudent be hid, “but the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, even all that fight against her and her munition, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision. It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion.”
In short, those who deny the existence of God, who oppose his work, which is the restoration of the house of Israel, to the lands of their inheritances, and to the knowledge of their Redeemer, will be confounded, and their hope of success, in thwarting the gathering of Israel, shall be but an illusion.
What the Lord is turning upside down in the latter days, when the sealed book referred to in Isaiah Chapter 29 becomes the “vision of all,” is the relation between the Gentile nations of Western civilization and the house of Israel. Thus, the first shall be the last, and the last shall be first. This is his “turning of [civilization] upside down.” Indeed, it is his turning of the whole earth upside down:
Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.
And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him.
The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word.
The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.
The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.
The new wine mourneth, the vine languisheth, all the merryhearted do sigh.
The mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth.
They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it.
The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in.
There is a crying for wine in the streets; all joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone.
In the city is left desolation, and the gate is smitten with destruction.
When thus it shall be in the midst of the land among the people, there shall be as the shaking of an olive tree, and as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done.
They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the Lord, they shall cry aloud from the sea.
Wherefore glorify ye the Lord in the fires, even the name of the Lord God of Israel in the isles of the sea.
From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me! the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.
Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth.
And it shall come to pass, that he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake.
The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly.
The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.
And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.
Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously. (Isaiah 24)
Whereas the Gentiles have smitten and scattered the ancient covenant people of the Lord, it was only as the Lord’s rod of chastisment that they have attained this ascendency over his people, because of his people’s rejection of Christ, their Lord and King, and because of the faith that the Gentiles had in him, whom they had not known previously.
However, the warning of the voices from the dust is that now that the Gentiles have been set up as a free people and have possessed the land of America, a land choice above all other lands, which the Lord preserved for a righteous people from the beginning, they are under the same obligation to serve the God of this land, who is Jesus Christ, or be swept off the face of it, as were the former inhabitants:
And he [has] sworn in his wrath …, that whoso should possess this land of promise, …should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them.
And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.
For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.
And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.
Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.
Nevertheless, the very definition of secularism excludes the idea of God.