The change in how I viewed Isaiah’s description of war in the last days occurred when I read the following verses.
22 And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them.
31 For through the voice of the LORD shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod.
When I stumbled upon these verses in Isaiah, I was puzzled at first. How can the Lord smite and heal at the same time? But Isaiah 30:31 finally clarified how it is done. The Lord smites the sinners of the earth not with a sword made of fine steel, or with other weapons of war. Instead, the Lord smites the sinner with his voice. Hence, the sword of the Lord is his word, or in other words the preaching of his Gospel to the nations. As my mind took hold of this thought, the entire set of passages I had read previously suddenly took on a completely new meaning.
The young men that were dashed to pieces before the eyes of their parents were not really killed physically by the Lord’s servants, but were converted to the restored Gospel. Likewise, when the wife was ravished, it simply meant that a family was being taught the Gospel, and only the mother was converted. To her husband and children it was as if she were ravished. But, in reality she becomes the key to her family’s ultimate conversion in the future. Consider now the following verses with the idea in mind that the armies of the Lord in the Book of Isaiah are really his army of missionaries.
26 ¶ And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly:
27 None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken:
28 Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind:
29 Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it.
30 And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.
My mind focused quickly on verse 29 as I read these verses with new understanding. What lion in nature would ever lay hold of the prey, and then “carry it away safe.” No wild lion in nature would do so. Therefore, I was left to conclude that these young lions were not really lions or soldiers in a physical battle. Instead the army described above represents the Lords missionaries, and their prey is both the sinner and the seeker of truth. When the Lord’s missionaries lay hold upon them, they are teaching them the Gospel. When they carry the prey away safe, it means the investigator is converted and baptized, thus joining the Church.
This paradigm shift in my thinking has completely changed the way I look at not only the Book of Isaiah, but in fact the entire Bible. I can now see that many of the violent descriptions contained in the Bible are figurative in nature. This is not to say that no actual physical wars and battles will occur in the Last Days. It just means that the armies of the Lord are more concerned with the conversion of souls, rather than the physical destruction of the wicked. So to me, when the Lord says in Isaiah 13:9 cited above, “he will destroy the sinners thereof out of it,” many of them will be removed through repentance and conversion rather than through a physical slaughter. My heart and mind prefer this interpretation, especially considering my view of the Savior and his personality as described in the New Testament account.