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.
Display several objects that can be used to symbolize aspects or principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ (such as a seed, some soap, and a wedding ring).
What principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ might be symbolized by the seed? the soap? the wedding ring? (The seed can symbolize faith in Jesus Christ, the soap can symbolize repentance, and the wedding ring can symbolize celestial marriage.)
Why do the Lord and His prophets sometimes use symbols in their teaching?
Explain that in 2 Nephi 21, Nephi continued to record the words of Isaiah, who used several symbols as he prophesied of important events that would occur in the latter days.
Draw a simple picture of a stump with roots and a small sprout or branch growing out of it, and label it as shown in the accompanying image.
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 21:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Isaiah described the tree stump and the sprout growing from it.
What did Isaiah call the tree stump? (The stem of Jesse.)
What did he call the sprout growing from the stem? (A rod or branch.)
Ask the class to look in the chapter heading of 2 Nephi 21 to discover who the “stem of Jesse” is.
Who is the stem of Jesse? (Write Jesus Christ on the board next to the word Stem.)
Summarize 2 Nephi 21:2–9 by explaining that Isaiah described some of the Savior’s characteristics and testified that His judgments are righteous. Isaiah also prophesied of conditions during the Millennium—the thousand-year period of peace following the Savior’s Second Coming.
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 21:10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Isaiah described the root of the stem.
How did Isaiah describe the root of the stem?
You may want to explain that the phrase “root of Jesse” as used in this verse refers to a descendant of Jesse. (Jesse was the father of King David.) While we sometimes use roots to symbolize ancestors, in the Old Testament the English word root is used in reference to ancestors and descendants.
Explain that the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation about these phrases. Ask students to turn to Doctrine and Covenants 113:1–6. Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from these verses. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the meanings of the rod and the root of Jesse.
What do we learn from these verses about the rod and the root of Jesse?
Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for the identity of the rod of Jesse 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’?” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man , 339–40).
Whom do the rod and root of Jesse represent? (After students respond, write Joseph Smith on the board next to the words Roots and Rod.)
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 21:11–12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Isaiah prophesied the Lord would do in the last days. Before the student reads, you may want to explain that the word ensign refers to a standard, flag, or banner that is used as a rallying point or as a signal to assemble.
What did Isaiah prophesy the Lord would do in the last days?
What do you think this prophecy refers to? (You may need to explain that the phrase “set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people” in verse 11 refers to the Restoration of the Church and the latter-day gathering of Israel.)
Write the following truth on the board: In the last days, the Lord has restored His Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith and is gathering His people.
How have you come to know that the Lord restored His Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith?
How is the Lord gathering His people today?
What can we do to help the Lord gather His people?
Consider sharing your testimony that the Lord has restored His Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith and is gathering His people.
Summarize 2 Nephi 21:13–16 by explaining that Isaiah described the destruction of various kingdoms as an illustration of the destruction of the wicked at the Second Coming.
Divide students into groups of two or three. Ask each group to create a list of things or circumstances that teenagers may fear. After sufficient time, invite a member of each group to report what they wrote.
As students study 2 Nephi 22 today, invite them to look for truths that can help us overcome our fears.
Explain that as recorded in 2 Nephi 22:1–6, Isaiah described the spirit of worship that people will have during the Millennium. Ask students to read these verses aloud in their groups, looking for what the people will say about the Lord Jehovah, or Jesus Christ. You may want to invite students to consider marking phrases that stand out to them.
Based on what people will say about Jesus Christ as recorded in these verses, what truths can we learn about Him? (Students may identify truths similar to the following: Jesus Christ is our source of strength and salvation. If we trust Jesus Christ, we will not be afraid.)
Provide each student with a copy of the following handout.
Instruct students to write their thoughts about only the first question on the paper. After sufficient time, ask students to pass their papers to another student sitting nearby. Instruct them to respond to only the second question. Continue this process until students have answered all four questions on different papers. Ask them to pass the paper one more time so they end up with a paper they have not written on that contains answers from four other students. (Adapt this activity according to your class size.) Give students time to read the responses on their papers, and invite them to share what they learned.
Draw students’ attention to the fourth question on the handout, and invite them to ponder how what they have learned can help them with any fears they may be experiencing. Ask them to write in their class notebooks or study journals one way they will rely more on the Savior as a source of strength or how they will show their trust in Him. Encourage them to apply what they wrote.
Explain that in 2 Nephi 23, Isaiah refers to Babylon, an ancient city that is often used in the scriptures to symbolize the wickedness of the world, to describe what will happen to the wicked at the Savior’s Second Coming. In 2 Nephi 24, Isaiah describes what the Second Coming will be like for the righteous.
Using the groups students were placed in earlier, assign half of the groups to read 2 Nephi 23:1, 5–9, 11, 15, 19, 22, looking for the consequences the wicked will experience in the last days. Ask the other groups to read 2 Nephi 24:1–7, 24–27, looking for the Lord’s promises to His people. (Consider writing both sets of scripture passages on the board.) Ask students to discuss what they learned with their groups and then with the class.
According to 2 Nephi 23:22, what truth can we learn about what will happen to the Lord’s people and to the wicked when He comes again? (Help students identify the following truth: The Lord will be merciful to His people, but the wicked will perish. You may want to invite students to consider marking this declaration from the Lord at the conclusion of 2 Nephi 23:22. [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?
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?
What do these verses teach about the consequences that will come upon the wicked?
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. Conclude the lesson by testifying of the blessings that come from being part of the Lord’s people—those who are obedient to Him.