The Glory of Zion Will Be a Defense

Lesson 36 – Isaiah 1-6

 

Introduction

The Lord often repeats the same idea many times throughout the scriptures.  Counsel the Lord has given to help us endure the trials of the last days is found in D&C 45:32; 87:8, and 101:22.  “Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved.”  This phrase means being worthy at all times, desiring to be in holy places frequently, choosing not to go into unholy places, having confidence that God will guide you, and taking a stand for truth and holiness.  Today’s lesson reminds us that the Lord has commanded us to stand in holy places and tells us what these holy places are.  We may also draw strength from Isaiah’s example of willingness to serve.

 

Background: “Great are the words of Isaiah,” the Savior proclaimed as he commanded the Nephites to search Isaiah’s prophecies (3 Nephi 23:1). Isaiah’s prophecies are quoted more often in the New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants than the words of any other prophet. He prophesied many things about the earthly mission of the Savior, about the destruction that would follow Israel’s wickedness, and about the mission and destiny of latter-day Israel.

 

Making our religious observances acceptable to the Lord

Isaiah 1:11, 16-17 - The Israelites’ sacrifices were unacceptable to the Lord. Although the Israelites tried to be outwardly religious, their hearts were far from God.

Some people—then and now—try to be outwardly religious even though their hearts are far from God.  That kind of hypocrisy offends God because it is a form of mockery and dishonors him.

 

Isaiah described the condition of the world in the last days.

Many of Isaiah’s warnings and prophecies apply both to his time, which was a time of great wickedness, and to our time.  The conditions described in the following scriptures are evident in the world today:

Isaiah 1:3-5 - Rebellion against the Lord

Isaiah 1:11-15 - Religious ceremonies without meaning or faith

Isaiah 2:7-8 - Worship of worldly things and military security instead of the Lord; note that horses and chariots were used as instruments of war in ancient times

Isaiah 2:11-12 - Pride

Isaiah 3:5 - Oppression of other people and failing to honor older people

Isaiah 3:9 - No shame for sin

Isaiah 3:14-15 - Taking advantage of the poor and failing to care for them

Isaiah 3:16-24 - Emphasis on outward physical beauty at the expense of righteousness and good character

Isaiah 5:8 - Greedy desires to own more and more material things

Isaiah 5:11-12 - Constantly seeking worldly pleasures instead of seeking the Lord and his work

Isaiah 5:20 - Saying that evil things are good and good things are evil

Isaiah 5:21 - Trusting in oneself instead of in God

Isaiah 5:24 - Despising the commandments and word of God

These prophecies are being fulfilled today as we see in the following:

Calling evil good and good evil

Israel’s ability to distinguish between good and evil was impaired because they did not have the spirit of the Lord in their lives.  

People today also call evil good and good evil, such as proclaiming that it is good to give women “choice” and control over their own bodies when abortion as a form of birth control is clearly evil in the Lord’s eyes.  Evil is called good in the entertainment industry when “stars” are promoted as role models when their behavior is anything but model behavior.

2 Nephi 32:5; D&C 45:57 - We can ensure that we recognize the difference between good and evil by living according to the commandments and maintaining the companionship of the Spirit.

 

Isaiah counseled the faithful to stand in holy places.

Isaiah 4:5-6 - Certain places offer safety from the worldly conditions mentioned by Isaiah. Three holy places are mentioned in this verse.

·         Every dwelling place of mount Zion (homes)

·         Assemblies (stakes, wards, and branches; see also D&C 115:5-6)

·         Tabernacle (temples)

Our homes can be holy places offering refuge from the wickedness of the world if we maintain high standards of behavior there, speak kind words, and observe the commandments at all times.

Stakes, wards, and branches can be holy places and refuges as we assemble there to worship, discuss the scriptures, uplift each other in good fellowship, and render service to each other.

A temple is a holy place and refuge as we go there to make sacred covenants, serve our dead by assuring that their ordinances are completed, and bind our families together through sealings.

These three holy places provide a defense for you against the evils of the world only when you stand in righteousness there and maintain or enhance the holiness that is there.

Isaiah 4:5-6 - Expressions used to describe how these holy places will protect us include the following:

·         “A shadow in the daytime from the heat”

·         “A place of refuge”

·         “A covert [a hiding place or shelter] from storm and from rain”

 

Many of Isaiah’s writings are also included in the Book of Mormon.

2 Nephi 14:5 – The words of Zion are added to Isaiah 4:5 in the Book of Mormon.

Isaiah 2:2-3 – A prophecy about temples in the last days is included in this verse, stating that many people will come to the house of God and desire to learn God’s commandments and walk in his ways.

Isaiah described the temple as a “mountain of the Lord” because ancient prophets often went to mountains to commune with the Lord and receive counsel from him. He revealed his instructions and other sacred things to them there.  Of course, we can have similar experiences in the temple today.

 

Isaiah described the gathering of Israel in the latter days.

Isaiah 5:26-29 – Here, Isaiah describes the latter-day gathering of Israel. The ensign that is being lifted up is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To “hiss” is to whistle or summon, which represents the invitation to the nations of the earth to gather to the Church. This gathering will be swift and powerful.

The prophecy that nations will be gathered to the Church is being fulfilled today as missionaries are going throughout the world to teach the gospel and gather people to the truth.

Each of us can help fulfill this prophecy by following the prophetic counsel, “Every member a Missionary.”

 

Isaiah responded willingly to his call to be a prophet.

The Lord called Isaiah to be a prophet through a vision in which Isaiah saw the Lord in his glory. This vision is recorded in Isaiah 6.

Isaiah 6:1-4 - Isaiah described the glory of the Lord.

Isaiah 6:5 - Isaiah’s response when he saw the Lord was to feel unworthy to be in the Lord’s presence.

Isaiah 6:6-7 - The Lord symbolically showed that Isaiah was clean before him by having a seraphim place a live coal upon his lips.

Isaiah 6:8 - When the Lord called for a prophet, Isaiah answered the call.

Abraham 3:27 - In accepting his call, Isaiah used the same words as the Savior did when He accepted the responsibility to carry out the plan of our Father in Heaven for the salvation of his children.

Some situations in which we may also need to answer the Lord with similar words include:  when we are called to serve missions, when we are asked to serve in the Church, and when we are asked to endure difficult trials or endure tribulation.

 

Many chapters of Isaiah are recorded in the Book of Mormon, including chapters 2 through 6.

2 Nephi 11:8 - The prophet Nephi gave some of his reasons for including Isaiah’s writings in his record, indicating that Isaiah’s message should cause rejoicing and it could be applied to Nephi’s people.

 

Conclusion

The words of Isaiah teach us many things about the latter days. By studying Isaiah’s counsel, we can learn how to stand in holy places and avoid the evils of the world. By following his example, we can be more willing servants of our Father in Heaven.

 

These lessons are posted on the Internet at http://www.geocities.com/jeninstitute/