Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Old Testament Scriptural Summaries and Commentary
The Book of Isaiah, chapters 54-56 and 63-65
Gospel Doctrine Class, Sunday School Lesson #40
"Enlarge the Place of Thy Tent" - Isaiah 54:2
Reference: Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual, (2001), 183-86
Reference: The Old Testament Made Easier, Part Three, David J. Ridges
The purpose of this lesson is to "strengthen the stakes of Zion and prepare for the Second Coming and the Millennium" (Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual).  The Teachers Manual asks: "What can we do to strengthen the stake in which we live?"  Some answers include: "[We can] develop personal spiritual strength, influence our families and friends to do the same, serve our member and nonmember neighbors, and accept calls from priesthood leaders to serve in the Church" (Teacher's Manual).

Isaiah 54 – In the last days Israel will become a righteous and successful people
            (Compare 3 Nephi 22.)   Ancient Israel was not faithful to their God and did not produce righteous children.  Here Isaiah uses the metaphor of the barren wife which was considered to be a curse to any married woman of his day. 
            “Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear [righteous children]; …and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child.”  Isaiah prophecies, “more are the children of the desolate [perhaps scattered Israel-Ridges, p. 181] than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.”  These children of the married wife are the sons and daughters of Christ in the last days who are converts from all parts of the world.  Thus, it becomes necessary to “enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy chords, and strengthen thy stakes” (vv. 1-2).  To make a tent larger the stakes are pulled up and moved farther from the center pole.  “This is what is meant by lengthening the chords and strengthening the stakes” (Student Manual, II, p. 199).  President Ezra Taft Benson said:
“The prophets likened latter-day Zion to a great tent encompassing the earth. That tent was supported by cords fastened to stakes. Those stakes, of course, are various geographical organizations spread out over the earth. Presently, Israel is being gathered to the various stakes of Zion” (“Strengthen Thy Stakes,” Ensign, Jan. 1991, 2; quoted from the Teachers Manual).
The latter-day growth of the Church is referred to by Isaiah as the breaking forth “on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited” (v. 3). 
            The Lord tells latter-day Israel not to be ashamed, as the “shame of thy youth” [her past apostate condition] shall be forgotten—the failures of the past are over and Israel is once again “married” to the Lord “thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth.”  Israel was “forsaken” by the Lord for their past apostasies “for a small moment,” but “with great merciesthe Lord will redeem and gather them (vv. 5-7).  The Lord’s promise to restore Israel in the last days will be fulfilled the same as his promise to Noah that the “waters of Noah should no more go over the earth.”  Though “mountains shall depart” and “hills be removed,” God will never break his promise to restore Israel. Then they will be blessed with material and spiritual blessings: “I will lay thy stones with fair colours and lay thy foundations with sapphires.  And I will make thy windows of agates and thy gates of carbuncles [gemstones], and all thy borders of pleasant stones” [similar to the Celestial Kingdom, see Revelation 21] (vv. 11-12). 
            And all the children will be “taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (v. 13) (see also D&C 45:58-59).  The people will be righteous and have no oppressors or fear, and their enemies “shall fall for thy sake” (vv. 14-15).  “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.  This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD” [you will have protection and  peace in the Lord at last] (v. 17).

Isaiah 55 – “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found”
            Isaiah opens this chapter using the metaphor of “everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters”—Christ the living water.
John 4:13-14 explains this passage as follows: “Jesus answered and said unto her [the woman of Samaria when he asked her for a drink], Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” 
Come to the Lord, eat and drink for “no money” as the gifts he gives do not require the exchange of money:—spiritual thirst cannot be satisfied with things bought with money. “Wherefore [why] do ye spend money for that which is not bread”?—The gospel [Christ] is the bread of life.  “Let your soul delight itself in fatness"—the richness of the gospel (Ridges, p. 184) (vv. 1-2).  Christ’s message is to listen and “come unto me…and I will make an everlasting covenant with you.” The Father has given Christ “for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people” (vv. 3-4).  In the last days, Christ will "call a nation" unknown to Israel and nations where the Church is established will send missionaries to gather Israel "because of the LORD thy God and for the Holy One of Israel."
Ridges comments: "In the last days Israel will be gathered, will return to God, and be saved" (p. 184)
The Lord continues to exhort the people to “seek ye the LORD while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near”—do not procrastinate the day of your repentance; “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the LORD, and he [the Lord] will have mercy upon him;…for he will abundantly pardon(vv. 6-7). 
            In verses 8 and 9, Isaiah again uses the chiasmus pattern form of repetition. In this instance the middle words are not the same but are related ideas.  “For my thoughts (A) are not your thoughts, neither are your ways (B) my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens (C) are higher than the earth (C’), so are my ways (B’) higher than your ways, and my thoughts (A’) than your thoughts.” 
            Verses 10 and 11 are summarized perfectly in the Student Manual, II, p. 203 as follows: 
“As the rain comes down from heaven to help crops grow and provide food for us, so will the words of God feed and prosper our souls if we [listen with] our ears to hear His word.  But often we are tempted to forget God and trust in our own wisdom or reject God’s way of doing things because they are not done as we think they should be done.”
 Alma 32:28, 41 - 28 "Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me."
41 "But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life."
            The Lord sends us out [to earth from premortality] “with joy” and we are “led forth with peace” [back to our Heavenly Father]; and then all God’s creations will “break forth…into singing, and…clap their hands” (Ridges, p. 185).  In God's time the earth will be celestialized and there will be no more thorns or briers and the earth “shall be to the LORD for a name"—will increase God’s glory and dominion, (Ridges, p. 185) "for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” [with no end] (vv. 12-14).

Isaiah 56 – “Outcasts of Israel” who keep the law will not be cut off
            "Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.  Blessed is the man that doeth this; …that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil” (vv. 1-2). 
            Verses 3 through 8 refer to “the son of the stranger,” meaning the Gentiles, and also the “eunuch” who is “a class of emasculated men” (Bible Dictionary, p. 667) "that hath joined himself to the LORD" and are not included in full fellowship with the “covenant people” as the “outcasts of Israel”(Student Manual, II, p. 204).  Concerning faithful eunuchs, the Lord states: “Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters" ["more honor and glory than they would have had from having sons and daughters on earth" (Ridges, p. 186)].  "I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off”—they too can receive exaltation (v. 5).  And the Gentiles “that join themselves to the LORD [make covenants] to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant: (v. 6) Even them will I bring to my holy mountain [the kingdom of God] and make them joyful in my house of prayer…for mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people (v. 7)”—celestial exaltation is available for all people if they covenant to keep His commandments. “The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel [scattered Israel] saith, Yet will I gather others [Gentiles] to him [Israel], beside those [Israelites] that are gathered unto him” (Ridges, pp. 184- 186) (vv. 3-8). 
            Isaiah now prophesies of Gentile “beasts” meaning Gentile armies, who “come to devour” [Israel].  Isaiah sees the “watchmen” meaning leaders who “are blind…and ignorant” of the dangers of wickedness “are all dumb dogs” who “cannot bark” to warn the people of danger ahead, “sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber” [they are asleep on the job].  These leaders “are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gainCome ye, say they [the leaders], I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink ['Let’s party!']; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant." (vv. 8-12). Does this sound familiar?  Who is saying this now?

Isaiah 63 –Isaiah prophesies of the Second Coming
            “Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel?” (see D&C 133:46-48)
            This chapter is divided into four parts: (1) the Second Coming of the Lord in dyed (red) apparel; (2) the destruction of the wicked; (3) the blessings of the righteous and (4) Isaiah’s prayer for redemption of Israel.  (1) The Second Coming - Isaiah begins with the question: “Who is this that cometh from Edom [the east] with dyed garments…that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in greatness of his strength?  Then Christ replies, “[It is] I [the Savior] that speak in righteousness, mighty to save” [those who repent] (v. 1).  Another question is asked: “Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?” (v. 2). 
            (2) The destruction of the wicked - And the Lord answers: “I have trodden the winepress alone…there was none with me: for I will tread them [the wicked] in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment [with the blood of the wicked].  For the day of vengeance is in mine heart [my responsibility] and the year of my redeemed is come” (vv. 3-4). 
Ridges comments: "Another way to look at the phrase 'the day of vengeance is in mine heart,' is to say the law of justice is a vital part of the plan of salvation (see Alma 43:25)" (p. 203).
Now the Lord explains that He alone can accomplish the Atonement (see Matthew 27:46), “therefore mine own arm [power] brought salvation unto me; and my fury [strength] it upheld me."  And the Lord vows to “tread down” the wicked at his coming “and I will bring down their strength to the earth” (vv. 5-6). 
            (3) The blessing of the righteous - In verses 7 to 14, Isaiah reminds the people of "the lovingkindnesses of the LORD…and the great goodness toward the house of Israel which he [the Lord] has bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses.  For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie [with integrity] so he was their Saviour” (vv. 7-8).  Again, Isaiah reminds them “in all their affliction…the angel of his presence saved them [from the Egyptians]; he redeemed them; and he bare them and carried them all the days of old.”  The Lord sent Moses who parted the waters of the Red Sea, and the Lord “put his holy Spirit within [them].”  And finally, the Lord led them in the wilderness “that they should not stumble” [be stopped] (vv. 9, 11-14). 
(But sadly, “they [the children of Israel] rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them” [and they were punished because of their wickedness]) (v. 10).
            (4) Isaiah's prayer for the redemption of Israel - Now Isaiah pleads with the Lord: “Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory: where is thy zeal and thy strength…and of thy mercies toward me? are they restrained?" (v. 15).  Isaiah knows the Lord is the God of Abraham and Jacob but the ancient prophets can’t help them now.  And he knows “thou, O LORD art our father, our redeemer, thy name is from everlasting” [from the beginning].  Isaiah asks why the Lord has allowed them to no longer fear him and he begs, “Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.”  Isaiah laments, “our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary” [destroyed the temple].  It’s as if the people “were not called by thy name”—meaning it seems as if they were never the covenant people through the promises made to Abraham so many years ago. (vv. 16-19).

Isaiah 64 – Isaiah pleads with the Lord to come and save his people
            This short chapter continues Isaiah’s pleading with the Lord to come and save his people who no longer are his righteous children.  “Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence.”  Isaiah knows and has seen in vision all that will happen when the Lord comes in glory for the second time.   He will come as a celestial being whose light and heat will cause burnings and fire and “the waters to boil.”   “[To] make thy name known to thine adversaries [the wicked] that the nations may tremble at thy presence” (vv. 1-2).  Verse four is an often quoted scripture describing the promised blessings that await those who are righteous at the time of the Second Coming.  “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him” (v. 4).  Verse five was changed in the Joseph Smith translation describing how the Lord helps those who are righteous. “Thou meetest [guides] him that worketh righteousness, and rejoiceth him that remembereth thee in thy ways; in righteousness there is continuance [everlasting life], and such shall be saved” (JST 64:5).  Now Isaiah describes the state of his people at the present time.  He says they have all sinned and are “as an unclean thing” symbolized as “filthy rags.”  “Our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” [from the Lord].  And he laments, “[the Lord] hast hid thy face from us and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities” (vv. 6-7).  “Israel’s former righteousness has now become evil” (Student Manual, II, p. 208).
            Isaiah speaks to the Lord as their father; “we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”  And he prays that the Lord will not remember their iniquity forever but will someday see that they are still his people (vv. 8-9).  Verses 10 and 11 describe the present condition of the “holy cities” as a wilderness and “Jerusalem a desolation.”  The “holy and beautiful house [the temple] is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste” (vv. 10-11).  Because of all the destruction that has already come to Israel, Isaiah asks: “[will you] refrain thyself for these things, O LORD? wilt thou hold thy peace and afflict us very sore [continue to punish us]?” (v. 12). He seems to be asking the Lord to have mercy on his people (Ridges, p. 206).

Isaiah 65 – The Lord answers Isaiah’s question in 64:12
            Verses 1, 2, 4, and 20 have been changed in the Joseph Smith translation of this chapter.  The JST translations will be used for this summary.  Now, the Lord gives Isaiah the reasons for his rejection of ancient Israel.  "I am found of them who seek after me.  I give unto all them that ask of me. I am not found of them that sought me not, or that inquireth not after me.  I said unto my servant, Behold me, look upon me; I will send you [Isaiah] unto a nation that was not called by my name, for I have spread out my hands all the day to a people who walketh not in my ways, and their works are evil and not good, and they walk after their own thoughts(JST: 65:1-2).  The Lord continues to enumerate the sins of Israel:  “[They are] a people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face [deliberately disobey]; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick” [they were commanded to use only uncut stones—see Exodus 20:25].  And they go “among the graves” [to commune with spirits of the dead], and “eat swine’s flesh” [forbidden by Mosaic law], and they put “broth of abominable beasts, and pollute their vessels” (JST 65:4).  And because “they walk after their own thoughts” they say to the Lord: “come not near to me; for I am holier than thou.”  It is written in the scriptures that for these sins the Lord “will not keep silence, but will recompense.” And for all their present iniquities and those of their fathers who have worshiped false idols, the Lord will “measure their former work into their bosom”—meaning the result of their sins will be returned to them (vv. 5-7).  But the Lord will not completely destroy all the people.  He will preserve “a seed out of Jacob [Israel] and out of Judah [the Jews]…and mine elect shall inherit it [God’s kingdom], and mine servants shall dwell there.” And the land will be preserved “for my people that have sought me” (vv. 8-10). The Lord knows the people have forgotten “my holy mountain” [the gospel] and continue to worship false idols.  For these sins, “will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer…but did evil before mine eyes” (vv. 11-12).
            Now the Lord contrasts the rewards of righteousness with the punishments of sin.  The righteous will eat but the wicked will be hungry; the righteous will drink, but the wicked will thirst: the righteous will rejoice, but the wicked will be ashamed; the righteous will “sing for joy of heart” but the wicked will “cry for sorrow of heart” and they will “howl for vexation of spirit.”  The names of the wicked will be cursed and the righteous will be called “by another name” [symbolic of celestial glory].  And the righteous who “shall swear by the God of truth” will have their former troubles forgotten “because they are hid from mine eyes,” saith the Lord (vv. 13-16). 
            Here the Lord speaks of the Millennium.  "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth.“  People living then will have no desire for things to be as they once were.  The old earth, in fact, "shall not be remembered, nor come into mind" (v. 17).  Everything will be gloriously new, sorrow will cease (v. 19), children will not die in infancy—everyone will live to be "an hundred years old" (JST 20), homes will be built and fruit trees and gardens planted and enjoyed.  No one will drive others from their lands, "they shalt not labour in vain" (vv. 21-23)—as the Saints were driven in the early days of this dispensation (Student Manual. II, p. 209).   And the scripture says: “before they call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear.  The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat.  They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD” (vv.  24-25).  There will be peace in the Millennium.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Old Testament Scriptural Summaries and Commentary
The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 50-53
Gospel Doctrine Class, Sunday School Lesson #39
"How Beautiful Upon the Mountains" - Isaiah 52:7
Reference: Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual, (2001), 183-86
Book Reference: Old Testament Made Easier, Part Three, David J. Ridges, pp. 171-181

1 Nephi 22:15-17 – Verses left out of The King James Version of the Bible
            The Student Manual, II, quotes Monte S. Nyman who suggests that these verses from the Book of Mormon be inserted between the last verse of Isaiah 49 and the first verse of chapter 50 (“Great Are the Words of Isaiah,” p. 191).
“For behold, saith the prophet [Isaiah], the time cometh speedily that Satan shall have no more power over the hearts of the children of men; for the day soon cometh that all the proud and they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that they must be burned [the earth will be cleansed].  For the time soon cometh that the fullness of the wrath of God shall be poured out upon all the children of men; for he will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous.  Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fullness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire.  Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet [Isaiah], they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire." 
The purpose of this lesson is to strengthen our testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ (Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 187–89).

Isaiah 50 – “Who has left whom?” The Lord asks: “Did I leave you, or did you leave me?”
            (For comparison, see 2 Nephi, chapter 7.)  In chapter 50 as in other chapters, Isaiah speaks of the future as if it has already happened.  The first verse contains questions the Lord, through his prophet Isaiah, asks of his people—scattered Israel:
            “Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away [where is the proof that I have left you and sent you away]; or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you” [it was lawful to sell himself or his children to satisfy a creditor]?  The answer: “Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves and for your transgressions is your mother put away” [you brought it upon yourselves] (v. 1).  Speaking as the Messiah, the Lord asks: “Wherefore when I came [in the meridian of time] was there no man? [my people rejected me]; when I called [“Come unto me”] was there none to answer?  Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver?”  We know this is not the case as He states: “behold, at my rebuke [command] I dry up the sea [remember when I parted the Red Sea], I make the rivers a wilderness” [I have the power to dry up the rivers and make the land a wilderness] (v. 2).  The Savior also reminds us that he can “clothe the heavens with blackness;”—meaning He has the power to control the elements that he created.  And Heavenly Father has given him “the tongue of the learned that I should know how to speak a word [of encouragement]…to him that is weary,” O house of Israel (see 2 Nephi 7:4) (vv. 3-4). 
            "And the Father “hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back [from completing the Atonement].  I gave my back to the smitters [I was flogged –Matthew 27:26] and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair [of my beard]: I hid not my face from shame and spitting [Matthew 26: 67] (vv. 5-6). 
Note: To pluck out the hairs of the beard is to show utter contempt (Edward J. Young, Book of Isaiah, vol. 3, p. 300) (quoted by Ridges, III, p. 172).
Then the Savior bears his testimony: “For the Lord GOD [the Father] will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint [I am strong], and I know that I shall not be ashamed [I will never fail my Father].  He [the Father] is near that justifieth me” [He approves of everything I do] (vv. 7-8).
            The question is asked: “who is among you that feareth the LORD that obeyeth the voice of his servant [who] walketh in darkness, and hath no light?”—no one, the Lord blesses his true followers with light.  To all those who walk in the light, “Let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God” (v. 10).  The last verse of this chapter is full of imagery.  Visualize!  “Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass [surround] yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks that ye have kindled.  This shall ye have of mine hand: ye shall lie down in sorrow” (v. 11). Those who kindle and walk in the light of their own fire, walk in their own way according to their own will rather than the will and direction of the Lord.  When we attempt to create our own light instead of relying on the light of Christ, the judgment will be to “lie down with our sorrow” (OT Student Manual, p. 195.}

Isaiah 51 – In the last days Israel will receive the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant
            In this chapter the Lord speaks to the righteous of Israel—compare 2 Nephi 8.  In verses 1 and 2, Isaiah wants us to consider our origins, the heritage we have from Abraham and Sarah, and be able to see the hand of the Lord in our lives (Ridges, III, p. 173)
            “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD:  look unto the rock [from] whence ye are hewn.…Look unto Abraham your father and unto Sarah that bare you [your ancestor] for I called him alone and blessed him and increased him” [see Abraham 2: 9-11].  Through covenant the Lord has made promises to Abraham and his descendants which he assures us will be kept. “For the LORD shall comfort Zion.”  He will make the earth like the Garden of Eden; “joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody” (v. 3). 
             The Lord tells Israel that “a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.”  This prophecy means that gospel laws and covenants will be restored in the last days and will bring new scriptures and prophets “to reveal God’s will” in the last days (Student Manual, II, p. 195).  We are to have a personal relationship with the Lord which is stressed in verses 4 to 8 using me, my, and mine pronouns:  “Hearken unto me, my people, and give ear unto me, O my nation” (v. 4); My righteousness [ability to save] is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people…and on mine arm shall they trust” (v. 5);
            "Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished" (v. 6)
Compare Mosiah 16:9 - "He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death."
“The [Lord] is our Creator, our Judge, He is our Savior, and He is our perfect Exemplar” (SM, p. 195).  If we trust in Him we shall not fear even though “the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment” (v. 6).  And the “reproach of men” and “their revilings” will not make us afraid. “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law” (v. 7);  “[My] righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation [throughout eternity]” (v. 8). Now righteous Israel replies, “Awake, awake [help us], put on strength, O arm of the LORD, awake, as in the ancient days”—when you saved our ancestors.  The people ask, “Art thou not [He]…that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed [the children of Israel] to pass over?” (vv. 9-10). “Therefore the redeemed of the LORD [we, righteous Israel] shall return and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their [our] head: and they [we] shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away” (v. 11).  And the Lord replies that he is their God who gives them comfort.  They need not fear any mortal man who has been their continual oppressor as their end will come and they “shall die” (vv. 12-13).  “I am the [same] LORD thy God, that divided the sea, and I have put my words in thy mouth [I have taught you], and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand [I have protected you], and [I] say unto Zion, Thou art my people!” (vv. 15-16).  
            For many centuries the covenant people of the Lord have “drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury” and this has “wrung them out” [they have paid a hard price] (v. 17).   And for many years, Israel has not had anyone “to guide her among all the sons” [of Israel].  Second Nephi 8: 19-20 corrects and clarifies Isaiah 19 and 20 referring to “two who shall be sorry for thee” in the last days.  “These two sons [see Revelation 11:3-12] are come unto thee, who shall be sorry for thee—thy desolation and destruction, and the famine and the sword—and by whom shall I comfort thee?  Thy sons have fainted [they are on their last legs], save these two; they [thy people] lie at the head of all the streets; as a wild bull in a net [they are caught]; they are full of the fury of the Lord, the rebuke of thy God”—God’s punishment because of their sins.  But the Lord will plead “the cause of his people…thou shalt no more drink the cup of the Lord’s fury again”—Christ will save the Jews in the last days, (see 2 Nephi 9:1-3) (vv. 19-20).  In the end the Lord’s fury will be turned on those who have afflicted the covenant people of the Lord (v. 23).

Isaiah 52 – Come unto Christ—“Thy God reigneth”
            Compare 3 Nephi 20:30-44.  In verse 1 the imagery is of clothing yourself in the gospel.  “Awake, awake: put on thy strength, O Zion, put on thy beautiful garments [see D&C 113:7-8], O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean” [the wicked].  Remember, in the Millennium the gospel will go forth from Old Jerusalem in the Holy Land and also from Zion, the New Jerusalem on the American continent.  “Shake thyself from the dust; arise and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.”  This is a call for the gathering of the people back to their God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Because of their wickedness, “my people [have been] taken away for nought”—for pride, worshiping false gods, wickedness (v. 5).  But, the Lord sees: “my people shall know my name:  they shall know in [the last] day that I am he that doth speak: behold it is I.” And then shall they say, (3 Nephi 20:40): “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings [Christ]; [and the servants of the Lord] that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth” (vv. 6-7).  And the “watchmen” who are the prophets and leaders “shall lift up the voice” of song and they will be united “eye to eye.”  “Then will the Father gather them together again and give unto them Jerusalem for the land of their inheritance” (see Nephi 20:33).  And the people will “break forth into joy…for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem” (vv. 7-9).  And the Lord will show his power to all the nations; “and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of the Father, and the Father and I are one(see 3 Nephi 20:35).  The righteous who answer the call for the gathering will prepare to depart from among the wicked having become “clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD.”  They are told not to go “with haste, nor go by flight,” that the Lord will protect them both in front and in back (vv. 11-12).  And the Lord reveals that “my servant” who is unnamed (see 3 Nephi 21:10-11) “shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high” (v. 13).  When the people see the Savior “many [will be astonished]…his visage was so marred more than any man” (v. 14) "when He suffered for the sins of mankind and was crucified on Calvary. Nails—metal spikes were driven into His hands and feet, and a spear pierced his side to ensure his death[see John 19:17-18; 32-34] (Student Manual, II, p. 197).  “So, shall he [gather, JST] many nations, the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.” The Lord’s work in the last days will not be stopped (vv. 14-15).

Isaiah 53 – Isaiah asks: Who hath believed our report?  Christ died for our sins!
               Compare Mosiah 14 in the Book of Mormon.  This is the most moving and inspiring chapter in all of Isaiah.  It cannot be summarized.  Therefore, I will quote it for the reader mostly as it is written.  When one considers that Isaiah saw all this in vision some seven hundred years before it actually happened, it is almost too hard to comprehend.  Please refer to the Student Manual, 1 Kings to Malachi, pp. 197-199 for detailed explanations of some of the passages.  The first verse indicates that Isaiah has grown weary of the people who don’t listen to the word of the Lord given through the prophets.
            “Who hath believed our report and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed” (v. 1)—are you listening? can you see the hand of God in your lives?  Now, we learn of Jesus Christ, our Savior, who died for our sins.  “For he shall grow up before him [Israel - those who don’t see] as a tender plant and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him (v. 2).  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not (v. 3).  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted (v. 4).  But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him and with his stripes we are healed (v. 5). 
            All we, like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD [the Father] hath laid on him the iniquity of us all (v. 6).  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth (v. 7).  He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken (v. 8).  And he made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death [Joseph of Arimathaea gave him his own tomb] because he had done no violence [nothing wrong] neither was any deceit in his mouth (v. 9).  Yet it pleased the LORD [the Father] to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou [Christ] shalt make his soul [life] an offering for sin [to fulfill the Father’s plan]; he shall see his seed [the sons and daughters of Christ], he shall prolong his [their] days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand (v. 10).  He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied [with Christ’s atoning sacrifice]; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant [Christ] justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities (v. 11). 
            Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great and he shall divide the spoil with the strong [the righteous will become joint-heirs with Christ] because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many and made intercession [with the Father] for the transgressors (v. 12).

Book of Mormon, Mosiah: 5:7-9:
"And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters (v. 7).  And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free.  There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives (v. 8).  And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ" (v. 9).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Old Testament Scriptural Summaries and Commentary
The Book of Isaiah, Selections from chapters 40-49
Gospel Doctrine Class, Sunday School Lesson #38
"Beside Me There Is No Saviour" - Isaiah 43:11 and Hosea 13:4
Reference: Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual, (2001), 183-86

This lesson is all about the greatness of the Savior.  It is introduced by quoting scriptures from holy texts (other than Isaiah) that ask questions about our commitment and devotion to him as his disciple.

Matthew 22:41-42 - " While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,
 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David."
3 Nephi 27:26-27 - "And know ye [Twelve Apostles] that ye shall be judges of this people, according to the judgment which I shall give unto you, which shall be just. Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as [perfect as] I am."
Matthew 16:13, 15 - 13 "When Jesus came into the coasts of C├Žsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?"
Exodus 32:26 - "Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s sidelet him come unto me."
Alma 5:14  - "And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? "

1. Isaiah teaches that the Savior is incomparable
Isaiah 40:18 - "To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness [idol] will ye compare unto him?"
Isaiah 44:8 - " Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any."
Isaiah 46:5 - "To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?"
Isaiah 43:11 - "I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour."
Isaiah 44:6 - "Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."
 Isaiah 45:5, 6, 14, 18, 21-22 - 5 "I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me:"
6 - "That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else."
14 - "Thus saith the Lord,…[Egypt, Ethiopia, the Sabeans, and men of stature], shall come over unto thee,… they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no [other] God."
18 - "For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: am the Lord; and there is none else."
21-22 - "Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else."
Isaiah 46:9 - " Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none elseI am God, and there is none like me."

2. Isaiah describes the Savior’s incomparable qualities
"The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that we need 'a correct idea of [God’s] character, perfections and attributes' in order to have faith in Him (Lectures on Faith [1985], 38). Isaiah gives many beautiful descriptions of the Savior’s character and attributes." (Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 183–86.)
Isaiah 40:13-14 - "Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught himWith whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?" [No one counsels or instructs the Lord. He is all knowing.]
Isaiah 40:28-31 - "Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is wearythere is no searching of his understanding." [The Lord is never weary.] 
Isaiah 40:12, 21-22, 26 -"Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?"
21-22 - "Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in."
26 -"Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth." [The Lord created the universe and knows every part of it.]
Isaiah 41:17-18 - "When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear themI the God of Israel will not forsake them.
 I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water." [The Lord hears and blesses his people.]
Isaiah 42:1, 4 - 1 "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. 4
He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law." [The Lord will not be discouraged or fail to fulfill his purposes.]
Isaiah 42:16 - "And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them." [The Lord helps those who are lost.]
Isaiah 43:1-4 - "[Thus] saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.  2 When thou passest through the waters, will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.  3 For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.  4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life."  [He will help his people through their trials.]
Isaiah 44:3-4 - "For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:  4 And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses." [The Lord pours out his spirit on us.]
Isaiah 46:3-4 - "Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: 4  And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar [gray] hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you." [He carries us from birth to old age.]
Isaiah 49:14-16 - "Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.  15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. 16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." [He will never forget us.]

3. The world (Babylon) competes with the Savior for our devotion
"Babylon was a powerful city of the ancient world that was destroyed for its wickedness. In the scriptures, Babylon is often also used as a symbol for the wickedness of the world." (Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 183–86.)
Isaiah 47: 1, 51 "Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate.  [Footnote 1b, Babylon was to be overthrown; this prophecy was fulfilled by Cyrus, 539 B.C.]  5  Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness [footnote 5a, exile] O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called, The lady of kingdoms." [The world will be brought down to the dust and become silent and dark.]
Isaiah 47:7-9 - "And thou saidst, I shall be a lady for everso that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it.  8 Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children: 9 But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments." [Despite the world’s thoughts that it is invincible, it will be destroyed and lose the things of greatest value, symbolized by the loss of husband and children.
Isaiah 47:10-11 - "For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, am, and none else beside me.  11 Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenlywhich thou shalt not know." [Because the world declares that it is greater than God, desolation will come upon it.]

4. Isaiah 49 describes the mission of latter-day Israel
Note:  many of the prophecies apply both to the work of the Savior and to the work of his servants, the house of Israel. (Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 183–86.)
Isaiah 49:3 -"And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified."
Isaiah 49:1, 5 - "Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. 5 And now, saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength." [We were called from birth to fulfill the Lord’s work in the last days.]
Isaiah 49:2 - "And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, [The Lord has protected us and prepared us for our great responsibilities.] 
and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;" [Arrows with polished shafts will fly straight and true. We have been polished and prepared by the Lord to fly straight and true wherever he sends us.]
Isaiah 49:6 - "And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth." [The Lord has asked his servants to raise up and restore the remnant of Israel and to be a light to the Gentiles. In this way we can help bring salvation to the ends of the earth.]

See also the following supplemental study of chapter 49 from my summaries of The Book of Isaiah.