Isaiah 48–66

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 172–76


Introduction

Latter-day Saint author Sidney B. Sperry wrote: “The general theme of [Isaiah] 40–66 is Israel’s redemption. These chapters are to be accounted the most brilliant jewels of Old Testament prophetic literature. In masterful and beautiful language, Isaiah comforts his people and points to the time when they shall be redeemed and God’s kingdom shall triumph over the earth” (The Spirit of the Old Testament, 2nd ed. [1980], 188).

This last section of the book of Isaiah contains perhaps the greatest passages on the life and mission of Jesus Christ to be found in the Old Testament. As you read chapters 48–66, look for how Isaiah more fully persuades us to believe in Christ our Redeemer (see 1 Nephi 19:23; see also the introduction to Isaiah 48–54 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, p. 191).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • Because of their wickedness, the people of ancient Israel were scattered (see Isaiah 18:2, 7). In the last days Israel will embrace righteousness and be gathered (see Isaiah 49:5–6, 11–12, 22; 51:11; 52:8; 54:7, 14).

  • Jesus Christ is our Savior and Advocate with the Father. In working out the Atonement, He suffered the afflictions and sins of all mankind and overcame death through the Resurrection. The Atonement gives us the opportunity to gain eternal life through the plan of salvation (see Isaiah 53; see also Mosiah 3:7–11; Alma 7:11–12).

  • We cannot totally comprehend the thoughts and purposes of God. We must exercise faith and trust in the Lord’s wisdom and counsel (see Isaiah 55:8–9).

  • Obeying the law of the fast gives us strength to overcome sin and receive revelation and provides resources to care for the poor (see Isaiah 58:3–12).

  • Keeping the Sabbath day holy brings happiness and prosperity (see Isaiah 58:13–14; see also D&C 59:9–16).

  • Sin separates us from God but, because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can repent and return to His presence (see Isaiah 59).

  • At the Second Coming, the Lord will destroy the wicked, save the righteous, and usher in the Millennium (see Isaiah 63:4–6; 64:1–3; 65:17–25; 66:15–23; see also D&C 101:25–31).

Suggestions for Teaching

video icon Old Testament Video presentation 22, “Wherefore Have We Fasted” (7:31), can be used in teaching Isaiah 48–66 (see Old Testament Video Guide for teaching suggestions).

Isaiah 49–54. Because of their wickedness, the people of ancient Israel were scattered. In the last days Israel will embrace righteousness and be gathered. (20–25 minutes)

Invite a student to recite the tenth article of faith (see Articles of Faith 1:10). Read Isaiah 18:2, 7 and ask:

  • What did Isaiah refer to that relates to that article of faith?

  • Why was Israel to be scattered? (see 1 Nephi 21:1).

  • If Israel was scattered because of wickedness, what will it need to do to be gathered?

List the following scriptures on the board. Have students read them and identify words and phrases that relate to being gathered.

Ask students:

  • How do those words and phrases apply to becoming righteous, as well as to a physical gathering?

  • What is Zion compared to in Isaiah 54:2–3? (A tent.)

  • What symbol is used in those verses to support the tent of Zion? (Stakes.)

Reproduce the following picture or draw it on the board to help illustrate Isaiah 54:2–3.

Ask students the following questions, listing their responses on the board:

  • How does a tent symbolize the gathering of Israel?

  • What can we do now that will help in that gathering? (For example, live gospel principles, set good examples, share the message of the gospel with our nonmember friends, and prepare to serve missions.)

Share the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“There are so many young people who wander aimlessly and walk the tragic trail of drugs, gangs, immorality, and the whole brood of ills that accompany these things. There are widows who long for friendly voices and that spirit of anxious concern which speaks of love. There are those who were once warm in the faith, but whose faith has grown cold.

Many of them wish to come back but do not know quite how to do it. They need friendly hands reaching out to them. With a little effort, many of them can be brought back to feast again at the table of the Lord.

“My brethren and sisters, I would hope, I would pray that each of us … would resolve to seek those who need help, who are in desperate and difficult circumstances, and lift them in the spirit of love into the embrace of the Church, where strong hands and loving hearts will warm them, comfort them, sustain them, and put them on the way of happy and productive lives” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 118; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 86).

weekly icon scripture mastery icon Isaiah 53 (Scripture Mastery, Isaiah 53:3–5). Jesus Christ is our Savior and Advocate with the Father. In working out the Atonement, He suffered the afflictions and sins of all mankind and overcame death through the Resurrection. The Atonement gives us the opportunity to gain eternal life through the plan of salvation. (30–40 minutes)

Have students imagine being captured by a hostile, wicked people and being sentenced to death. Ask:

  • What would your last words be?

  • What is generally believed about a person’s last words? (They reveal what is important to that person.)

Explain to students that before the Book of Mormon prophet Abinadi was killed by wicked King Noah and his priests, as part of his last words, he quoted all of Isaiah 53 (see Mosiah 14).

Have students do activity A for Isaiah 53 in their student study guides (p. 151). Ask them to share what most impressed them about the Savior as they did that activity. You may also want to share with them some of the information found in the commentaries for Isaiah 53 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi (pp. 197–99).

Read Isaiah 53:11–12; Romans 8:16–17; and Doctrine and Covenants 76:92–95. Ask students:

  • What did Jesus receive after all He suffered in mortality?

  • Who is He willing to share it with?

The class could sing or read the words of one or more hymns that reflect the spirit, tone, and message of Isaiah 53, such as “I Stand All Amazed” (Hymns, no. 193), “How Great the Wisdom and the Love” (Hymns, no. 195), or “Jesus, Once of Humble Birth” (Hymns, no. 196). Share the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

“The wondrous and glorious Atonement was the central act in all of human history. It was the hinge on which all else that finally matters turned” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1985, 93; or Ensign, May 1985, 73).

Share your feelings for the Savior and His sacrifice. Allow a few minutes for students who desire to share their feelings as well.

Isaiah 55:1–7. All who come unto Christ receive forgiveness, happiness, and peace. (15–20 minutes)

Hold up a glass of water and a piece of bread. Have students read Isaiah 55:1–3 and look for how water and bread are referred to there. (Explain that the word ho, in verse 1, can also be translated as “come.”) Have them read John 4:13–14 and 6:47–51 and identify who the water and the bread represent. Ask: Why are bread and water good symbols for the Savior?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 89:14. Ask students:

  • According to this scripture, what is the “staff of life”?

  • What is bread made from?

  • If bread and water are basics for sustaining physical life, then what do they, as symbols of Christ, teach us about the source of spiritual life?

Share the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson at the conclusion of a general conference:

“May we all go to our homes rededicated to the sacred mission of the Church as so beautifully set forth in these conference sessions—to ‘invite all to come unto Christ’ (D&C 20:59)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1988, 97; or Ensign, May 1988, 84).

Have students search Isaiah 55:3–7 and make two lists, one of how to come unto the Lord and another of blessings we receive by coming unto Him. Have them share their findings. Have them read Matthew 11:28–30; Mosiah 26:30; and Moroni 10:32–33 and identify additional blessings given to those who come unto Christ.

scripture mastery icon Isaiah 55:8–9 (Scripture Mastery). We cannot totally comprehend the thoughts and purposes of God. We must exercise faith and trust in the Lord’s wisdom and counsel. (15–20 minutes)

Before class, design an obstacle course through your classroom that winds through the rows and desks. Place books or other obstacles in the path. Blindfold one of your students and assign another student to verbally lead the blindfolded student through the obstacle course.

Have students read Isaiah 55:8–9 and look for how the obstacle course relates to those verses. Ask:

  • Why did the student who could see know which way was best for the blindfolded student?

  • How is that like God’s sight compared to ours?

  • Did the blindfolded student always know why the person leading him had him go the way he went or what dangers he missed?

  • Why did the blindfolded student follow the directions of the one who could see?

  • How do these questions apply to our relationship with the Lord?

Have students read Isaiah 55:8–9 again and mark it in their scriptures.

To demonstrate the difference between God’s ways and man’s ways, make the following chart on the board:

God’s Way

Man’s Way

Happiness

Success

Worship

Have students help you fill in the chart with God’s and mankind’s counsel for happiness, success, and worship. When you finish, ask:

  • What would happen if a blindfolded person was led through an obstacle course by another blindfolded person giving directions?

  • How might that relate to the consequences of following man’s uninspired counsel?

  • What are the consequences of following God’s counsel?

  • How do you feel knowing we follow a God who sees and knows everything?

Invite students to share an experience when they did not want to follow the counsel of a parent or Church leader but later found that the counsel was for the best.

Isaiah 58:3–14. Obeying the law of the fast gives us strength to overcome sin and receive revelation and helps provide for the poor. Keeping the Sabbath day holy brings us happiness and prosperity. (20–25 minutes)

If possible, ask one of your students’ priesthood leaders to come to class to answer questions about fasting and keeping the Sabbath day holy. Provide him with the list of questions below and tell him the students may have other questions as well. Invite him to share his testimony of these principles. (Be sure to plan ahead and give him several days to prepare.)

  • About how long should a fast normally last?

  • Is it permissible to drink water while fasting?

  • How often should a person fast?

  • What kinds of things should a person fast for?

  • How much fast offering should a person pay? How often?

  • Should you fast if you are sick?

  • At what age should children start fasting?

  • What should you do if fasting makes you irritable?

  • What is the difference between fasting and just being hungry?

  • What are some good ways to keep the Sabbath day holy?

  • What should I do if my employer wants me to work on the Sabbath?

  • Is it all right to do homework on the Sabbath?

  • Why doesn’t the Church just give us a list of things we can and can’t do on the Sabbath?

If you are unable to arrange for a priesthood leader to visit, answer some or all of the questions yourself. Gospel Principles (item no. 31110), chapters 24–25, is a good resource to use. As part of your discussion you may also want to read the section on the Sabbath from For the Strength of Youth (pp. 32–33).

Read Isaiah 58:3–14 and list and discuss the blessings the Lord promised to those who sincerely keep the law of the fast and of the Sabbath. Compare those verses with what the Lord revealed about the Sabbath day in Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–14. Encourage students to increase their spirituality by obeying those principles of the gospel.

Isaiah 59. Sin separates us from God, but because of the Atonement we can repent and return to His presence. (25–30 minutes)

Have students read Romans 8:35–39 and look for the question Paul asked. (Is there anything that can separate us from God’s love?) Have them read Isaiah 59:1–2 and look for what can separate us from Him. Help students understand that God’s love for us is as constant as Paul said, but that our sins keep us from enjoying the blessings of that love (see also D&C 95:12). You may want to use the illustration in Isaiah 59 in the student study guide (p. 153) as a way to visually demonstrate this idea.

In Isaiah 59:3, 7, Isaiah used a memorable way of telling the people that they had wholly turned themselves to sin. He named parts of the body as both literal and symbolic examples of how they violated God’s laws. That was why the Israelites were separated from the Lord. Have students identify the kind of sin Isaiah associated with each of the following: hands, fingers, lips, tongue, feet, and thoughts. Ask them what they think the Lord would say about each of those if He were describing a righteous person.

Help students understand that even our best behavior could not save us without the Atonement. Draw on the board or provide students with a copy of the following diagram. Write in the scripture references but none of the other labels.

Have students read Isaiah 59 and look for how the diagram relates to returning to God’s presence. Help them label the parts as they read. Read 2 Nephi 25:23 with the class and explain how it is a good summary of Isaiah 59. Invite them to write the cross-reference 2 Nephi 25:23 in the margin by Isaiah 59:1–2.

Isaiah 60–66. Understanding the events of the last days, the Second Coming, and the Millennium will help us prepare for those great events. (25–35 minutes)

Draw three columns on the board and label them Last Days, Second Coming, and Millennium. Explain to students that today they will study parts of Isaiah that teach us about those three events. Divide the class into three groups and assign each group one of the events and the following scriptures:

Have each group report on what they learned about their assigned event. Tell them to pay close attention to what the scriptures say will happen to the righteous and to the wicked.

Ask students what we can do to prepare for these great events. Use any insights from the commentaries for Isaiah 60–66 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi (pp. 206–10) that you feel might be helpful. Invite students to share their feelings about living in a day when some of the prophecies connected with these events are coming to pass.