Many of Isaiah’s prophecies in the Book of Mormon are about the last days. He prophesied about the Restoration of the gospel, the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Second Coming, and the destruction of the wicked. He foresaw that the Lord would “set up an ensign for the nations” to gather His people in the last days (see 2 Nephi 21:11–12). Isaiah also testified that the Lord would triumph over Satan and usher in the Millennium, an era of peace and joy.
Suggestions for Teaching
Isaiah foresees the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the latter days
Display the picture Moroni Appears to Joseph Smith in His Room (62492; Gospel Art Book , no. 91). Explain that when Moroni first appeared to Joseph Smith, “he quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled” (Joseph Smith—History 1:40). The prophecy in Isaiah 11 is also found in 2 Nephi 21.
Invite students to read 2 Nephi 21:1 silently. Direct their attention to the phrase “a rod out of the stem of Jesse.” Then invite them to read 2 Nephi 21:10 silently. Direct their attention to the phrase “root of Jesse.” You may want to suggest that students mark these phrases. Explain that the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation about these phrases. Invite students to turn to Doctrine and Covenants 113:1–6. Read this passage aloud. Before you read, ask students to read along and look for the meanings of the phrases. You may want to write these meanings on the board, as shown below. You may want to encourage students to write these meanings in their scriptures.
Stem of Jesse—Jesus Christ
Rod—a servant of Christ “on whom there is laid much power”
Root of Jesse—an individual in the latter days who will hold the priesthood and “the keys of the kingdom”
Ask a student to read the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for the identity of the “rod” and the “root of Jesse.”
“Are we amiss in saying that the prophet here mentioned is Joseph Smith, to whom the priesthood came, who received the keys of the kingdom, and who raised the ensign for the gathering of the Lord’s people in our dispensation? And is he not also the ‘servant in the hands of Christ, who is partly a descendant of Jesse as well as of Ephraim, or of the house of Joseph, on whom there is laid much power’?” (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man , 339–40).
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 21:10, 12 aloud. Ask the class to look for words and phrases that relate to Joseph Smith and to the Restoration of the gospel and the Lord’s Church. Before the student reads, you may want to remind them that the word ensign refers to a standard, flag, or banner that is used as a rallying point or as a signal to assemble (see lesson 32).
How did the work of Joseph Smith fulfill the prophecy concerning the root of Jesse?
In what ways do we gather today as members of the Church? In what ways do we lift an ensign to help others know where to gather?
Testify that the Lord has restored His gospel and His Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith and is now gathering His people in the last days.
Isaiah describes the Millennium
Ask students to imagine that a friend who is a member of another church has asked them what they believe about the Millennium. Have them study 2 Nephi 21:6–9 and 22:1–6 silently, looking for truths they might share in such a conversation. Invite them to write their ideas in their scripture study journals or class notebooks. To help them discuss what they have found, ask some or all of the following questions:
What do the descriptions in 2 Nephi 21:6–8 suggest about the conditions on the earth during the Millennium?
According to 2 Nephi 21:9, why will the earth be a place of peace during the Millennium? (Help students understand that during the Millennium, the earth will be a place of peace because it will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.)
How can the knowledge of the Lord help us live more peacefully now?
In 2 Nephi 22:1–6, Isaiah describes the spirit of worship that people will have during the Millennium. How can we develop that same attitude today?
What are some aspects of the Millennium that you would like to have in your life right now? (Encourage students to ponder what they can do to receive some of these blessings in their lives.)
Isaiah teaches that the wicked will perish and that the Lord will have mercy on His people
Explain that in 2 Nephi 23, Isaiah prophesies of the destruction of Babylon and compares it to the destruction of the wicked at the Savior’s Second Coming. Invite students to read the entry for “Babylon” in the Bible Dictionary. Explain that in some scripture passages, the word Babylon refers generally to the wickedness of the world. Isaiah prophesied that great destruction would come upon the wicked in Babylon and in the last days.
To help students identify the consequences for the wicked in the last days, have them read 2 Nephi 23:1, 5–9, 11, 15, 19, and 22 silently.
Explain that Isaiah referred to the fall of Lucifer, or Satan, as another illustration of how the wicked will perish. Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 24:12–16 aloud.
What phrases in these verses show Satan’s arrogance?
How does 2 Nephi 24:16 describe how we would feel about Satan if we could see him for what he is?
Invite a student to read the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson:
“In the premortal council, it was pride that felled Lucifer, ‘a son of the morning.’ (2 Ne. 24:12–15; see also D&C 76:25–27; Moses 4:3.) … In the pre-earthly council, Lucifer placed his proposal in competition with the Father’s plan as advocated by Jesus Christ. (See Moses 4:1–3.) He wished to be honored above all others. (See 2 Ne. 24:13.) In short, his prideful desire was to dethrone God. (See D&C 29:36; 76:28.)” (“Beware of Pride,” Ensign, May 1989, 4–5).
Direct students’ attention to the word of the Lord at the conclusion of 2 Nephi 23:22: “I will be merciful unto my people, but the wicked shall perish.” You may want to encourage students to mark this declaration in their scriptures. (Note that the final sentence in this verse does not appear in the corresponding verse in the book of Isaiah in the King James Version of the Bible. This suggests that the brass plates contained some information that is not in the Bible.)
What do you think it means to be among the Lord’s people?
Ask several students to read 2 Nephi 24:1–7, 24–27 aloud, taking turns reading one or two verses. Invite the class to look for the Lord’s promises to His people. Encourage them to share their observations with each other. You might consider having a student write these observations on the board.
What messages do these verses share for those who suffer because of other people’s wickedness?
What evidence of happiness and hope do you see in these verses?
Make sure students understand that the Lord will be merciful to His people, but the wicked will perish. Help students understand that Isaiah’s prophecies in 2 Nephi 21–24 reflect one of the main messages of the Book of Mormon—that the obedient will prosper and the disobedient will perish. Testify that we can live in righteousness and prosper today as we look forward to the Millennium.
Commentary and Background Information
2 Nephi 21:1. “And a branch shall grow out of his roots”
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained the branch mentioned in 2 Nephi 21:1:
“‘Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and King shall reign and prosper …’ (Jer. 23:3–6). That is to say, the King who shall reign personally upon the earth during the Millennium shall be the Branch who grew out of the house of David. He shall execute judgment and justice in all the earth because he is the Lord Jehovah, even him whom we call Christ. That the Branch of David is Christ is perfectly clear. We shall now see that he is also called David, that he is a new David, an Eternal David, who shall reign forever on the throne of his ancient ancestor [see Jeremiah 30:8–9]” (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ , 193).
Supplemental Teaching Idea
2 Nephi 21:9. “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord”
Have a student read 2 Nephi 21:9 aloud. Share the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“In our day we are experiencing an explosion of knowledge about the world and its people. But the people of the world are not experiencing a comparable expansion of knowledge about God and his plan for his children. On that subject, what the world needs is not more scholarship and technology but more righteousness and revelation. I long for the day prophesied by Isaiah when ‘the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.’ (Isa. 11:9; 2 Ne. 21:9.)” (“Alternate Voices,” Ensign, May 1989, 30).
According to Elder Oaks, what does the world need?
How can we help bring about the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy?