Lesson 40: “Enlarge the Place of Thy Tent”

Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 190–93


Purpose

To encourage class members to strengthen the stakes of Zion and prepare for the Second Coming and the Millennium.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the passages from Isaiah 54–56 and 63–65 that are discussed in the lesson.

  2. 2.

    If you use the attention activity, bring a tent stake.

  3. 3.

    If the picture The Resurrected Jesus Christ is available, you may want to use it during the lesson (62187; Gospel Art Picture Kit 239).

Suggested Lesson Development

Attention Activity

You may want to use the following activity (or one of your own) to begin the lesson.

Draw on the chalkboard a picture of a tent like the one shown below. Then display a tent stake and ask the following questions.

tent
  • Why does this tent need stakes? What would happen if the tent were not supported by stakes?

  • What does the tent mentioned in Isaiah 54:2 represent? (The Church of Jesus Christ.) What do the tent stakes represent?

    President Ezra Taft Benson said:

    “The term stake is a symbolic expression. Picture in your mind a great tent held up by cords extended to many stakes that are firmly secured in the ground.

    “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).

Tell the class that the first stakes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were organized in Kirtland, Ohio, and in Clay County, Missouri, in 1834. As the Church grew, more stakes were added as commanded by the Lord (D&C 101:20–21). Today there are hundreds of stakes located throughout the world.

Explain that this lesson will discuss how we can strengthen the stakes of Zion. It will also discuss Isaiah’s powerful teachings about the Second Coming and the Millennium.

Scripture Discussion and Application

As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. “Lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes” (Isaiah 54:2).

  • What do you think is the meaning of the phrase “Enlarge the place of thy tent”? (Isaiah 54:2). (The Lord wants Church members to share the gospel with many people so it can cover the earth. Isaiah prophesied that in the latter days, the Church would grow rapidly and many people throughout the world would be converted to the truth [Isaiah 54:3]).

  • What other counsel is given in Isaiah 54:3 regarding the tent, or Church? How can we follow this counsel? You may want to summarize the discussion on the chalkboard, as illustrated below.

    Isaiah’s Counsel

    What We Can Do

    Stretch the tent curtains and lengthen the cords.

    Serve as full-time missionaries; share the gospel with friends and neighbors.

    Strengthen the tent stakes.

    Strengthen our local stakes.

  • What can we do to strengthen the stake in which we live? (Answers could include the following: 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.)

  • How can stakes bless people’s lives? (See D&C 115:5–6.) How are the stakes of Zion places of defense and refuge for us?

2. “With great mercies will I gather thee” (Isaiah 54:7).

  • Although Israel was scattered for many years, the Lord promised that he would gather her to the true Church in the last days (Isaiah 54:4–10). What can we learn about the Lord in Isaiah 54:4–10? What specific blessings does the Lord promise his righteous servants? (See Isaiah 54:13–14, 17.) Why are these promises important?

  • Who is invited to find refuge by gathering with the Saints? (All of Heavenly Father’s children.) Review the following passages from Isaiah that describe groups of people whom the Lord wants to come to him and find safety in the gospel:

    1. a.

      Isaiah 55:1–3. (All who thirst.) What kind of thirst is referred to in these verses? What happens when we try to satisfy spiritual thirst by spending money and effort on temporal things? How can our spiritual thirst be truly satisfied? (See 2 Nephi 9:50–51; 3 Nephi 20:8.)

    2. b.

      Isaiah 55:6–7. (The wicked who will repent.) What promise is extended to those who repent?

    3. c.

      Isaiah 56:3, 5–8. (Strangers who do not know the Lord.) What must the stranger do to be accepted by the Lord?

  • What do these passages teach about the mercy of the Lord? What do they teach about how we should view all of Heavenly Father’s children?

  • Isaiah wrote that God’s word can nourish our souls much like rain and snow nourish seeds (Isaiah 55:10–13). How does God’s word nourish our souls? (See Alma 32:28, 41.)

3. The Millennium will be a time of peace and joy.

  • Throughout his writings, Isaiah testified that although there would be struggles, temptations, and suffering in this world, good would overcome evil in the end, and for the righteous, the future would be full of joy. Isaiah prayed fervently for the Second Coming of the Savior, which would bring retribution for the wicked and great rejoicing for the righteous (Isaiah 64). What message of hope and joy is contained in Isaiah 64:1–4? How does this message increase your desire to endure to the end in serving the Lord?

  • The closing chapters of Isaiah’s record present a beautiful picture of the Millennium, the thousand-year period of peace that will be ushered in by the Savior’s Second Coming. As recorded in Isaiah 65:17–25, what conditions will exist during the Millennium? (You may want to list these conditions on the chalkboard; see also Isaiah 11:6–9.)

    1. a.

      The Lord will create new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17).

    2. b.

      There will be great joy and no more weeping for the Lord’s people (Isaiah 65:18–19).

    3. c.

      People will not die young; they will live to be 100 years old (Isaiah 65:20).

    4. d.

      People will enjoy the fruits of their own labors (Isaiah 65:21–23).

    5. e.

      Prayers will be answered immediately (Isaiah 65:24).

    6. f.

      There will be no enmity among beasts (Isaiah 65:25).

  • What does Isaiah 63:7–9 teach about the infinite goodness and love of the Lord? (Ask class members to suggest words and phrases from these verses that show the Savior’s love for us. You may want to write these on the chalkboard.) In what ways has the Savior shown you “the multitude of his lovingkindnesses”?

Conclusion

Testify that as we strengthen the stakes of Zion and share the gospel with the world, the riches of eternity await us. We can look forward to the Second Coming of the Savior and the peace and joy that will exist during the Millennium. The prophecies of Isaiah encourage us to remember that it is a privilege to serve the Lord and that he blesses his disciples.

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. The true law of the fast (Isaiah 58:3–12)

  • What can we learn from Isaiah 58 about fasting? What are the elements of a true fast? (See Isaiah 58:3–7.)

    One element of a true fast is giving a generous fast offering. President Spencer W. Kimball said, “I think that when we are affluent, as many of us are, that we ought to be very, very generous … and give, instead of the amount we saved by our two meals of fasting, perhaps much, much more—ten times more where we are in a position to do it” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 184).

  • What blessings for living the law of the fast are promised in Isaiah 58?

    1. a.

      We become stronger in resisting temptation (Isaiah 58:6).

    2. b.

      Our burdens are lightened (Isaiah 58:6).

    3. c.

      Our physical and spiritual health are improved (Isaiah 58:8).

    4. d.

      We become humble and prepared to communicate with the Lord (Isaiah 58:9).

    5. e.

      We assist the poor and the needy (Isaiah 58:10).

    6. f.

      We receive continual guidance from the Lord (Isaiah 58:11).

    7. g.

      We have our souls satisfied in drought and become “like a spring of water, whose waters fail not” (Isaiah 58:11).

    Invite class members to share examples from the scriptures, Church history, or personal experience that show the blessings of living the law of the fast. (See Topical Guide, “Fast, Fasting.”)

  • How can we become more diligent in living the law of the fast?

2. Description of the Savior’s ministry

  • Isaiah 61:1–3 is a declaration of the Savior’s calling and ministry. Early in his ministry in Nazareth, the Savior quoted these verses and said to the people, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:14–21). What do these verses teach about the character and mission of Jesus Christ?

3. Christ’s Second Coming (Isaiah 63:1–6)

  • The Second Coming of the Savior is described in Isaiah 63:1–6. What color will the Savior’s robe be when he comes in his glory? (See Isaiah 63:2; Revelation 19:11–13; D&C 133:46–48.) What does the red color symbolize? (The blood that he shed when he suffered for our sins in Gethsemane and on the cross.)