Lesson 122

Isaiah 29

“Lesson 122: Isaiah 29,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)


Introduction

Isaiah prophesied of the Great Apostasy and the Restoration of the gospel, including the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. He prophesied that the Book of Mormon would correct false doctrine and bring joy to those who read and live by its teachings.

Suggestions for Teaching

Isaiah 29:1–17

Isaiah prophesies of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration

two boards with one nail

Show students two wooden boards of equal length. Place one of the boards on top of the other, and nail them together at one end so the boards can swivel. Explain that the single nail represents the Bible, the bottom board represents the doctrine of Christ, and the top board represents how some people interpret the Bible. Move the top board to various positions.

  • Why are there so many different Christian churches if they all believe in the Bible? (Christian denominations interpret the Bible and Christ’s doctrine differently.)

  • How can you know the Lord’s true doctrine when there are so many ways to interpret the Bible?

Invite students to look for truths as they study Isaiah 29 that can help them know the Lord’s true doctrine.

Summarize Isaiah 29:1–8 by explaining that Isaiah prophesied of the destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred because of the wickedness of the people who lived there. He also referred to the Nephite nation, which would also be destroyed because of wickedness. Point out the phrase, “thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust” (verse 4). Explain that this prophecy refers to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, which was translated from plates hidden in the ground by Moroni. The voice of the Nephite people speaks to us today from the pages of that book. Explain that Isaiah also spoke of the conditions of the latter days (see verses 5–10).

Invite a student to read Isaiah 29:9–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Isaiah prophesied would happen after the Lord’s people fell to their enemies.

  • According to verse 10, what did Isaiah say would happen after the Lord’s people fell to their enemies? (People would experience “the spirit of deep sleep,” and the prophets and seers would be covered, or removed from the people.)

Explain that with the loss of the prophets and the straying of the Lord’s people from the truth, the world would fall into a state of spiritual darkness. This falling away from truth is called apostasy.

Write the phrase the Great Apostasy on the board. Explain that Isaiah’s words in verses 9–10 refer to a period known as the Great Apostasy, which would occur after the death of the Savior and His Apostles. Over time, people changed many gospel principles and ordinances and altered the organization of the Savior’s Church. Consequently, the Lord withdrew the authority and keys of His priesthood from the earth. Many of the “plain and precious” parts of the Bible were also corrupted or lost, and the people no longer had an accurate understanding of God (see 1 Nephi 13:26–29). Eventually many churches were established, but they did not have the authority to perform priesthood ordinances or to properly interpret the Bible.

Write the following doctrine on the board: During a period of great apostasy, people were without divine direction from living prophets and apostles.

  • How does the object lesson with the boards relate to the Great Apostasy?

Explain that Isaiah also prophesied of events in the last days that would help end the Great Apostasy.

If possible, provide students with copies of the following chart, or copy it on the board before class.

handout, Isaiah chart

The subject of one of Isaiah’s prophecies

Isaiah’s prophecy of what the person or people would do

The fulfillment of the prophecy

Isaiah 29:11—“men”

 

Joseph Smith—History 1:63–65

Isaiah 29:11—“one that is learned”

 

Joseph Smith—History 1:63–65

Isaiah 29:12—“him that is not learned”

 

Joseph Smith—History 1:59

Divide students into pairs. Ask each partnership to read the references in the chart together and summarize Isaiah’s prophecies and their latter-day fulfillment in the center column. (You may want to explain that Nephi also recorded Isaiah’s account in 2 Nephi 27:6–10, 15–20. Nephi’s account provides more detail than Isaiah’s account in the Bible.) After sufficient time, ask:

  • Who delivered the copied characters of the Book of Mormon to the learned man?

  • Who was the learned man who said he could not read a sealed book?

Remind students that a portion of the golden plates was sealed, and the Prophet Joseph Smith was commanded not to translate this portion.

  • Why might someone with little formal education, like Joseph Smith, be a better choice to translate the Book of Mormon than a scholar like Charles Anthon?

Invite a student to read Isaiah 29:13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said people would do during the Great Apostasy.

  • What do you think it means that people “draw near [the Lord] with their mouth” but “have removed their heart far from [Him]”?

Explain that the phrase “their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” means that people’s worship of God would be corrupted by false teachings.

Invite a student to read Isaiah 29:14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Lord said He would do to overcome the effects of the Apostasy.

  • What did the Lord say He would do to overcome the effects of the Apostasy?

  • What is the marvelous work and wonder Isaiah prophesied about?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for what Elder Nelson said is the marvelous work and wonder.

Elder Russell M. Nelson

“Isaiah foresaw that God would do ‘a marvellous work and a wonder’ in the latter days (Isaiah 29:14). … That marvelous work would include the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of the gospel” (“Scriptural Witnesses,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 46, endnote 26).

  • According to verse 14, what effect will the Restoration and the Book of Mormon have on the wisdom of the world?

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: The Restoration of the gospel, including the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, is a marvelous work that …

  • According to verses 13–14, how could we complete this truth? (Students may give many correct responses, but make sure they identify the following truth: The Restoration of the gospel, including the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, is a marvelous work that corrects false teachings and counters the wisdom of the world. Using students’ words, complete the statement on the board.)

two boards with two nails

Show students a second nail, and explain that it represents the Book of Mormon. Align the boards, and hammer the nail into the end opposite the first nail. Show students that the boards no longer swivel.

  • How does the Book of Mormon help correct false doctrine and counter the wisdom of the world?

Invite students to share with a partner some of the blessings they have received because of the Restoration of the gospel and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.

Summarize Isaiah 29:15–17 by explaining that Isaiah prophesied that the Book of Mormon would come forth at a time when people would seek to hide their works from God and would not acknowledge the hand of God in their lives.

Isaiah 29:18–24

Isaiah prophesies of the positive impact of the restored gospel and the Book of Mormon

Show students a copy of the Book of Mormon.

  • What would you say to someone to interest him or her in reading the Book of Mormon?

Write the following phrase on the board: If we study the Book of Mormon, it can help us to …

Invite a student to read Isaiah 29:18–19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Book of Mormon can do for those who study it with a sincere desire to understand its teachings. You may want to suggest that students mark what they find.

  • What does Isaiah’s imagery in these verses teach about how the Book of Mormon can help us? (List students’ responses on the board to complete the principle.)

Invite a student to read Isaiah 29:22–24 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what Isaiah prophesied the Book of Mormon would do for Jacob’s posterity. Explain that the phrase “house of Jacob” in verse 22 refers to the Lord’s covenant people.

  • According to verses 23–24, what would the Book of Mormon do for Jacob’s posterity in the latter days? (List students’ responses on the board.)

Point out the phrase “fear the God of Israel” in verse 23, and explain that it means to have reverential awe and respect for God and His covenants. Ask students to ponder the principle about the Book of Mormon on the board.

You may want to testify of the following principle: If we study the Book of Mormon, it can help us to have joy, revere God, and understand true doctrine.

Invite students to share with the class how the Book of Mormon has blessed their lives. You may also want to share an experience from your life.

Encourage students to make a commitment to read the Book of Mormon so they can receive these blessings in their lives. Consider challenging them to give a copy of the Book of Mormon to a family member or friend and to explain the blessings Isaiah promised would come from studying this book.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery—Isaiah 29:13–14

The following activity could be used as part of the lesson or on another day when you have time to review Isaiah 29:13–14:

To help students feel the truth and importance of the doctrines taught in Isaiah 29:13–14, invite them to write their names on pieces of paper, along with one or two reasons why the restored gospel and the Book of Mormon are marvelous and wonderful to them. After sufficient time, ask students to pass their papers to other students. Invite students to write on their classmates’ papers one or two reasons why the gospel is marvelous and wonderful to them. Consider repeating the process multiple times. To conclude the activity, ask students to pass the papers back to their original owners. Ask them to read what their classmates wrote. Invite a few students to testify of the reasons why the gospel is marvelous and wonderful to them.

Commentary and Background Information

Isaiah 29:1–4. “Woe to Ariel”

Elder LeGrand Richards of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the dualism of Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 29:1–4:

“If you will read [Isaiah 29:1–2] thoughtfully, you will know that [Isaiah] not only saw the destruction of Jerusalem, but he saw the destruction of another great center like unto Jerusalem. Then he adds:

“‘And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust’ [Isaiah 29:4].

“Nobody in this world could explain that intelligently or know what people Isaiah saw like unto Jerusalem without the Book of Mormon [see 2 Nephi 26:15–17]. …

“How could Joseph Smith have known these things when the Book of Mormon was published even before this Church was organized, except for the fact that the Book of Mormon is the promised record that God said he would bring forth and join to the record of Judah. How could anyone understand this prophecy of Isaiah without the explanation contained in the Book of Mormon” (in Conference Report, April 1963, 118).

Isaiah 29:42 Nephi 26:15–16 (). “Thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground”

Nephi wrote, “Those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit” (2 Nephi 26:16). The term “familiar spirit” refers to the spirit of a dead person who helps give guidance or comfort to a living person. While this term may sound odd to us today, in the past it commonly conveyed the sense that departed spirits can have an influence beyond the grave. In one sense, the Nephites, “who have slumbered in the dust” (2 Nephi 27:9) for centuries, are now whispering “out of the dust” (Isaiah 29:4) through the Book of Mormon.

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained why the Book of Mormon would be “familiar” to many in our day:

“Isaiah described the spirit of the Book of Mormon as ‘familiar’ [Isaiah 29:4]. It resonates with people who know the Old Testament, especially those who are conversant with its Hebrew language. The Book of Mormon is rich with Hebraisms—traditions, symbolisms, idioms, and literary forms. It is familiar because more than 80 percent of its pages came from the same time frame as parts of the Old Testament” (“The Exodus Repeated,” Ensign, July 1999, 10).

Isaiah 29:11–12, 18–24. The Book of Mormon

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described the role the Book of Mormon plays in the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days:

“Few men on earth, either in or out of the Church, have caught the vision of what the Book of Mormon is all about. Few are they among men who know the part it has played and will yet play in preparing the way for the coming of Him of whom it is a new witness. …

“… The Book of Mormon shall so affect men that the whole earth and all its peoples will have been influenced and governed by it. …

“… There is no greater issue ever to confront mankind in modern times than this: Is the Book of Mormon the mind and will and voice of God to all men? For if it is, then Joseph Smith was a prophet, the testimony of Jesus he gave is true, and the plan of salvation of the Great God is in full operation” (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [1982], 159, 170, 179–80).

Isaiah 29:12. “Him that is not learned”

Emma Smith, who assisted her husband Joseph Smith at times in the translation of the Book of Mormon by acting as a scribe, bore this testimony:

“I am satisfied that no man could have dictated the writing of the manuscripts unless he was inspired; for, when [I acted] as his scribe, [Joseph] would dictate to me hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he would at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him. … It would have been improbable that a learned man could do this; and, for one so … unlearned as he was, it was simply impossible.

“Joseph … could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter; let alone dictating a book like the Book of Mormon. And, though I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired, … it is marvelous to me, ‘a marvel and a wonder,’ as much so as to any one else” (“Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” The Saints’ Herald, Oct. 1, 1879, 290).