Lesson 123

Isaiah 30–35

“Lesson 123: Isaiah 30–35,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)


Introduction

Instead of depending on the Lord, the people of Judah sought help from Egypt to defend themselves against Assyria. Isaiah prophesied that the people of Judah would be scattered because of their rebellion. He also prophesied concerning the Apostasy, the Restoration, and the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah testified that the Lord would come to save His people.

Suggestions for Teaching

Isaiah 30–31

Isaiah warns Judah not to trust in Egypt and to trust in the Lord instead

Invite students to think about somebody they know who cheerfully obeys all the words of the prophet and the standards in the For the Strength of Youth booklet.

  • What are some ways we are blessed when we obey the words of the prophets?

  • What can happen to people who refuse to follow the counsel of the Lord’s prophets?

Invite students as they study Isaiah 30–31 to look for a principle that helps them understand what can happen if we refuse to follow the counsel of the Lord’s prophets.

Explain that Isaiah 30–31 contains Isaiah’s message of warning to the people of Judah, who were considering making an alliance with Egypt to protect themselves from the Assyrian army.

Invite a student to read Isaiah 30:1–3, 7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the people of Judah rebelled against the Lord when they were under threat of attack.

  • How did the people rebel against the Lord?

  • Why do you think forming an alliance with Egypt would have been considered rebellion against the Lord?

  • According to verse 7, what did Isaiah say would happen if the people of Judah sought help from the Egyptians?

Point out the phrase “their strength is to sit still” in verse 7, and explain that this phrase means that the Jews would have received the strength they needed by depending on the Lord.

Explain that Isaiah 30:8 records the Lord’s commandment to Isaiah to write in a book the Lord’s words regarding the people’s rebellion. Invite a student to read Isaiah 30:9–11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord commanded Isaiah to write. Explain that the phrase “smooth things” in verse 10 refers to false doctrine and flattering words.

  • In what additional ways were the people being rebellious?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for how Elder Holland likened the people of our day to the people in Isaiah’s day.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“Unfortunately, messengers of divinely mandated commandments are often no more popular today than they were anciently. …

“Sadly enough, … it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds” (“The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 7).

  • According to Elder Holland, how are some people of our day like the people of Isaiah’s day?

Invite a student to read Isaiah 30:12–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Judah’s rebellion against the Lord would lead to.

  • According to verse 13, how did Isaiah describe the iniquity of the people?

Explain that a breach is a fracture or an opening in a wall. In Isaiah’s day people often built walls to protect themselves from their enemies.

  • What happens structurally to a wall when it has a fracture or a crack? (It is weakened.)

  • Why is a crack or fracture in a wall an appropriate metaphor for sin?

  • Based on this metaphor, what happens to us if we sin by rejecting the words of the prophets? (Students may give a variety of answers, but make sure it is clear that if we rebel against God by rejecting the words of the prophets, then we will be weakened. Write this principle on the board.)

  • In what ways are we weakened when we reject the words of the prophets?

Invite students to think about how they have seen people rebel against God by rejecting the words of the prophets.

  • According to verse 14, what will happen if the fracture or crack is not fixed?

  • Based on verse 14, what will happen to those who continue to reject the words of the prophets? (After students respond, add the following words to the principle on the board: … and if we continue to reject the words of the prophets, we will suffer spiritual destruction.)

Point out that sometimes negative consequences do not immediately follow sin. In some cases, these consequences may not come until the next life.

Invite a student to read Isaiah 30:15 aloud. Ask the class to look for what the Lord promised the people if they repented and depended on Him for protection.

  • What did the Lord promise the people if they repented and depended on Him for protection?

Summarize the rest of Isaiah 30 by explaining that the people of Judah refused to repent. Isaiah prophesied that they would be defeated by the Assyrians. He also prophesied that Israel would be gathered in the latter days and would be blessed both temporally and spiritually. Isaiah 31 records that the Lord reproved Israel for depending on Egypt for help instead of relying on Him for divine protection and assistance. The chapter also contains a comforting prophecy that in the last days the Lord will defend the righteous inhabitants of Zion.

Isaiah 32–34

Isaiah prophesies of the Restoration and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ

Write the following questions on the board: If I were to stand in God’s presence, would I feel worthy to be in His presence? Why or why not?

Ask students to ponder how they would answer these questions.

Invite students as they study Isaiah 32–34 to look for a principle that teaches us what we can do to be worthy to dwell in the presence of God.

Summarize Isaiah 32 by explaining that Isaiah prophesied of the Restoration of the gospel and the Millennial reign of the Savior. Isaiah 33:1–9 records that Isaiah prophesied of the wickedness of the world before the Savior’s Second Coming.

Invite a student to read Isaiah 33:10–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Isaiah described the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Invite students to report what they find.

Explain that the phrase “shall they be burned in the fire” in verse 12 means that the wicked will be destroyed by the brightness of the glory of the Savior when He comes again (see D&C 5:19).

Invite a student to read the first sentence of Isaiah 33:14 aloud. Point out that Isaiah is talking about the “sinners in Zion,” meaning certain members of the Church.

  • How will these people react to the Savior’s Second Coming?

Invite a student to read aloud the questions found in Isaiah 33:14, and ask:

  • What do you think those questions mean?

Explain that Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that these questions are asking who will be worthy to inherit the celestial kingdom (see “Think on These Things,” Ensign, Jan. 1974, 47).

Invite students to read Isaiah 33:15–16 silently, looking for who will be worthy to receive eternal life.

  • According to verse 15, what will we need to do in order to be worthy to receive eternal life? (List students’ responses on the board.)

To help students understand verse 15, ask them to explain what each of the responses listed on the board might mean and how we can live those standards in our day.

  • Based on verses 15–16, what principle can we learn about being worthy to dwell in the presence of God? (Students should identify something similar to the following principle: If we walk righteously, speak uprightly, and do not participate in evil, we will be worthy to dwell in the presence of God.)

Help students understand this principle by explaining that as we walk righteously, speak uprightly, and do not participate in evil, we become more like God. As we strive to become more like God every day, we become worthy to return to His presence.

Invite students to look at the responses written on the board, and ask them to consider what they need to do to become more like God so they will be worthy to dwell in His presence. Invite them to select one of the items listed on the board and write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals a goal for how to improve in that area.

Summarize Isaiah 33:17–24 by explaining that Isaiah prophesied of the Millennial glory of Zion. Explain that Isaiah 34 contains Isaiah’s prophecies of the Lord’s Second Coming and the destruction of the wicked.

Isaiah 35

Isaiah prophesies that the Lord will come again to save His people

Invite students to imagine that a family member or friend is tired of trying to be righteous. Ask students what they would do to help that individual.

Invite students to look for a principle as they study Isaiah 35 that can help them know how to help that family member or friend.

Explain that Isaiah 35 contains Isaiah’s prophecies of the latter-day gathering of Israel. Invite a student to read Isaiah 35:3–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord commanded.

  • What does it mean to “strengthen … the weak hands” and “confirm the feeble knees”? (Isaiah 35:3). (Strengthen the faith of those who are exhausted, discouraged, or fearful.)

  • According to verse 4, what can we do to strengthen the faith of others?

  • What principle can we learn from these verses about strengthening the faith of others? (Students may use different words, but make sure it is clear that as we testify that the Lord will come to save and heal us, we can strengthen the faith of others.)

  • How can bearing your testimony of the Lord help strengthen the faith of others?

Invite students to share about a time when they received strength because of someone else’s testimony. Challenge them to strengthen the faith of the people around them by sharing their testimonies.

Summarize Isaiah 35:7–10 by explaining that Isaiah prophesied of the great blessings that will come to the faithful in the latter days.

Commentary and Background Information

Isaiah 30–31. Contextual background

“Judah’s leaders sought an alliance with Egypt against Assyria, contrary to the counsel of the Lord ([Isaiah] 30:1–2). Now Isaiah promises that their reliance on Egypt will be unfruitful and will cause their downfall (30:3). Because of Judah’s wickedness and her rebellion against God, her destruction will come ‘suddenly at an instant’ (30:13). …

“Judah refused to follow the counsel of the Lord concerning her relationship with Assyria, which brought Judah under Assyrian vassalage. Judah’s people then sought to free themselves from the shadow of Assyria by forming an alliance with Egypt, again ignoring the Lord’s counsel, thus adding ‘sin to sin’ (Jer. 2:18). Likewise, we add sin to sin by first rejecting the voice of the Lord and then walking in our own way contrary to His” (Donald W. Parry, Jay A. Parry, and Tina M. Peterson, Understanding Isaiah [1998], 275, 277).

Isaiah 30:9–11. “Speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits”

President Ezra Taft Benson explained the following:

“How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness” (“Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet” [Brigham Young University devotional, Feb. 26, 1980], 28; speeches.byu.edu).

Isaiah 33:14–15. “Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?”

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the phrase “dwell with everlasting burnings” refers to the environment in which God lives (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 224).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles quoted Isaiah 33:14–16 and then described how we can apply Isaiah’s words:

“Now if I may, I shall take these words of Isaiah, spoken by the power of the Holy Ghost in the first instance, and give some indication as to how they apply to us and our circumstances.

“First, ‘He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly.’ That is, building on the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must keep the commandments. We must speak the truth and work the works of righteousness. We shall be judged by our thoughts, our words and our deeds.

“Second, ‘… he that despiseth the gain of oppressions.’ That is, we must act with equity and justice toward our fellowmen. It is the Lord himself who said that he, at the day of his coming, will be a swift witness against those that oppress the hireling in his wages.

“Third, ‘… he that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes.’ That is, we must reject every effort to buy influence, and instead deal fairly and impartially with our fellowmen. God is no respecter of persons. He esteemeth all flesh alike; and those only who keep his commandments find special favor with him. Salvation is free; it cannot be purchased with money; and those only are saved who abide the law upon which its receipt is predicated. Bribery is of the world.

“Fourth, he ‘… that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil.’ That is, we must not center our attention on evil and wickedness. We must cease to find fault and look for good in government and in the world. We must take an affirmative, wholesome approach to all things” (“Think on These Things,” Ensign, Jan. 1974, 55–56).

Isaiah 35:1. “The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose”

“Several General Authorities have seen the settlement of the mountain valleys of the Rockies by the Latter-day Saints as a fulfillment of these verses in Isaiah (see Milton R. Hunter, in Conference Report, Oct. 1965, p. 81; LeGrand Richards, in Conference Report, Oct. 1966, p. 42; Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:346–47; Orson Pratt, in Journal of Discourses, 18:145). When the Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847, it could be described as a ‘wilderness’ and a ‘solitary place’ (Isaiah 35:1). The Saints went to work immediately, and soon the desert valleys of Utah began to ‘blossom as the rose’ (v. 1). But this prophecy may also be fulfilled by the settlement of modern Jews in the Holy Land, where similar things are taking place” (Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, 3rd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 168).