To inspire class members to read the prophecies of Isaiah and to help them understand how these prophecies apply in their lives.
Read, ponder, and pray about the following scriptures:
2 Nephi 12:1–12. Isaiah sees the latter-day temple and the gathering of Israel.
Additional reading: Bible Dictionary, “Isaiah,” 707.
If the following pictures are available, prepare to use them during the lesson: Isaiah Writes of Christ’s Birth (62339; Gospel Art Picture Kit 113); Salt Lake Temple (62433; Gospel Art Picture Kit 502); and Jesus the Christ (62572; Gospel Art Picture Kit 240).
To increase your understanding of Isaiah’s writings, you may wish to review lessons 36–40 in the Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual (35570).
Suggestions for Lesson Development
As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.
Read Mosiah 8:17–18. Then ask class members the following questions:
What are seers able to see? (Past, present, and future events.) Why are seers so important for us?
Explain that because he was a seer, Isaiah saw in vision such events as the War in Heaven, the destruction of Jerusalem after the Savior’s death, the battle of Armageddon, and the millennial reign of the Savior.
Many of Isaiah’s writings seem difficult to understand because they refer to a wide range of past and future events described in symbolic language. However, we can come to understand them as we make a consistent, prayerful effort to read and study them. This lesson discusses some of Isaiah’s most significant writings.
Scripture Discussion and Application
Prayerfully select the scripture passages, questions, and other lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Discuss how the selected scriptures apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share appropriate experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.
1. Nephi testifies of Isaiah’s writings and gives keys for understanding them.
Discuss 2 Nephi 11; 25:1–7. Invite class members to read selected verses aloud. If you are using the first additional teaching idea, invite the assigned class member to give a brief report about Isaiah and his times.
Why did Nephi find Isaiah’s words important for his record? (See 1 Nephi 19:23; 2 Nephi 11:2–6, 8; 25:3. Ask different class members to read aloud each of these passages. While each passage is read, ask a class member to write on the chalkboard the reference and the reason for quoting Isaiah. An example is shown below.)
Why are these reasons important for us today? How can understanding Isaiah’s words cause us to rejoice?
Explain that Nephi provided several keys that can help us better understand the writings of Isaiah. As time permits, discuss these keys with class members.
Key 1: “Liken all scriptures unto us” (1 Nephi 19:23; see also 2 Nephi 11:2, 8). Many of Isaiah’s prophecies deal with events in the latter days. As we watch these prophecies unfold and as we participate in their fulfillment, we can better understand Isaiah’s teachings and apply them in our lives. For example, 2 Nephi 15 contains Isaiah’s prophecy that the Lord will “lift up an ensign to the nations” to gather Israel (2 Nephi 15:26). This prophecy can help us better understand the importance of sharing the restored gospel—the ensign, or standard, to guide all nations to the Lord.
Key 2: “Know … concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews” (2 Nephi 25:1). Isaiah’s prophecies are written in a style that the Jews were accustomed to reading and hearing. We can better understand Isaiah’s writings if we remember that he used imagery and symbolism that would have been familiar to Jewish people in his time. For example, in 2 Nephi 12:1–3, Isaiah uses the word mountain to symbolize a high spiritual place, a place for revelation and closeness with God, such as the temple.
Key 3: “Know the judgments of God” (2 Nephi 25:3; see also verse 2 Nephi 25:6). Isaiah foresaw how the kingdoms of Israel and Judah would suffer because of their wickedness, but he also prophesied that their blessings would be restored when they repented and followed Jesus Christ. From Isaiah’s accounts of what happened to Israel and Judah, and from his prophecies of the future restoration of the house of Israel, we can better understand how God works in our lives and how He blesses nations according to their righteousness.
Key 4: “Know concerning the regions round about [Jerusalem]” (2 Nephi 25:6). Knowing the geography and place-names in Israel helps us better understand Isaiah’s prophecies concerning the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and the nations that threatened them. For example, in 2 Nephi 20:28–34, Isaiah named the cities the Assyrian army would pass through and how it would be stopped just as it reached Jerusalem. The events happened exactly as he prophesied.
Key 5: Be “filled with the spirit of prophecy” (2 Nephi 25:4).
What is the spirit of prophecy? (See Revelation 19:10.) How can we obtain it? How can the spirit of prophecy help us understand Isaiah’s teachings about the Savior?
2. Isaiah sees the latter-day temple and the gathering of Israel.
Read and discuss 2 Nephi 12:1–12. If you are using the picture of the Salt Lake Temple, display it now.
How does the Salt Lake Temple fulfill a portion of Isaiah’s prophecy recorded in 2 Nephi 12:2–3? Why do you think Isaiah described the temple as “the mountain of the Lord”? (Ancient prophets often went up into the mountains to commune with the Lord and receive revelation from Him.) How can all temples be “mountains” for our worship?
Emphasize that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been established in the tops of the mountains and that temples are being built where people can come and learn about the Lord.
Isaiah described temples as a “place of refuge” from heat and storms (2 Nephi 14:6). What are some examples of spiritual storms that we face in this life? How can the temple help protect us from these storms?
Isaiah exhorted the house of Jacob to “walk in the light of the Lord” instead of “all [going] astray, every one to his wicked ways” (2 Nephi 12:5). What are some of the specific sins mentioned in 2 Nephi 12:7–12? How are these sins still prevalent today? How can we avoid these pitfalls and “walk in the light”?
3. Isaiah prophesies that the Lord will raise an ensign and gather Israel.
Isaiah prophesied that the Lord would “lift up an ensign to the nations” (2 Nephi 15:26; see also 2 Nephi 21:12). What is an ensign? (A banner or flag; a standard-bearer.) What did Isaiah say would happen when this ensign was raised? (See 2 Nephi 15:26–29.)
When the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith, he said that chapter 11 of Isaiah (quoted in 2 Nephi 21) was about to be fulfilled (Joseph Smith—History 1:40). How is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ an ensign to all nations? (See D&C 64:41–43; 105:39; 115:4–6.)
How is the prophecy that nations will be “gather[ed] together” being fulfilled today? (See 2 Nephi 21:12. Missionaries are going throughout the world to teach the gospel and gather people to the truth.) What can each of us do to help fulfill this prophecy?
4. Isaiah and Nephi testify of Jesus Christ’s redeeming power.
2 Nephi 16 contains Isaiah’s account of a vision in which he saw the Lord. How did Isaiah describe the setting of the vision? (See 2 Nephi 16:1–4.) How did Isaiah feel in the presence of the Lord? (See 2 Nephi 16:5.)
What was symbolized by the angel touching Isaiah’s lips with the burning coal? (See 2 Nephi 16:6–7. Isaiah’s sins were forgiven.) How did Isaiah respond when he heard the voice of the Lord? (See 2 Nephi 16:8.) In what other scriptural account have you seen similar language used? (See Abraham 3:27.) When might we need to give a similar response to the Lord?
Have class members read 2 Nephi 22:1–6. Explain that these verses contain Isaiah’s description of how all people will praise the Savior during the Millennium. What impresses you about these verses? What “excellent things” (2 Nephi 22:5) has the Savior done for us?
Invite class members to scan 2 Nephi 25:19–30 and discuss Nephi’s testimony of the Savior. What impresses you about Nephi’s testimony? How can we, like Nephi, “labor diligently … to persuade our children … to believe in Christ”? (2 Nephi 25:23; see also verse 2 Nephi 25:26).
Nephi taught that “it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). What does this statement teach about the relationship between the grace of Jesus Christ and our works? (See 2 Nephi 10:24–25; D&C 20:29–31.) How does this statement give you encouragement to do the best you can?
Have a class member read 2 Nephi 25:29 aloud. What might you do this week to comply more fully with Nephi’s exhortation to worship the Lord “with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul”? (You may want to invite class members to think about this question rather than answer it aloud.)
Point out that the Savior gave His approval of Isaiah’s teachings in this single statement: “Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1).
As directed by the Spirit, testify of the truths discussed during the lesson.
Additional Teaching Ideas
The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.
1. Isaiah and his times (class member report)
A week before you teach this lesson, invite a class member to prepare a brief report about Isaiah, using the information found on page 707 of the Bible Dictionary. Have the class member present the report at the beginning of section 1 of this lesson.
As part of the discussion on 2 Nephi 15:26, have a class member sing or read the words to
3. Calling “evil good, and good evil” (2 Nephi 15:20)
4. How the Book of Mormon increases our understanding of Isaiah
The Book of Mormon is one of the greatest guides to help us understand the writings of Isaiah. Share with class members the following ways the Book of Mormon helps us understand Isaiah.
The Book of Mormon quotes, either in their entirety or in part, 22 of the 66 chapters in the book of Isaiah, and it contains additional commentary about those chapters. Because the Book of Mormon prophets lived near the time of Isaiah, their commentaries can help us understand his teachings.
The writings of Isaiah that are quoted in the Book of Mormon include words, phrases, and explanations that do not appear in any other copies of the book of Isaiah.
The world’s oldest known copy of Isaiah was discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The “Isaiah scroll” dates back to 200 B.C. (Bible Dictionary, “Dead Sea Scrolls,” 654). However, the chapters of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon date back to the time of Nephi, approximately 600 B.C. Joseph Smith’s translation of the Book of Mormon provided the world with a copy of Isaiah’s writings that predates the Dead Sea Scrolls by 400 years.
Because the tone of the first 33 chapters of Isaiah differs from the last 33 chapters, many people believe that the book of Isaiah was written by two different people. The Book of Mormon quotes from both the first and last half of Isaiah and identifies Isaiah as the author, thus bearing witness of and authenticating his writings.