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Here we see a tent, fully functional and ready for use.
Notice the stakes that hold the tent upright and together. Why does this tent need stakes? What would happen if the tent were not supported by stakes?
In in Isaiah 54:2 a tent is mentioned: 2 Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;
What does the tent represent? It represents the Church of Jesus Christ. And the Stakes what do they 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).
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 a great many stakes located throughout the world.
Our newly called Prophet President Russel M Nelson has recently been visiting many of these stakes around the world. His immediate focus is to strengthen Zion and prepare for the second coming for he has said a great many things are to come very soon. Today through the merits of Isaiah and his final chapters in the Old Testament we will learn how we personally can strengthen the stakes of Zion and prepare for the second coming even as President Nelson has set the example.
For more information on Isaiah, how to study and understand his writings click here: The Glory of Zion Will Be A Defense
For more information on Isaiah, how to study and understand his writings click here: The Glory of Zion Will Be A Defense
Isaiah 54:2 “Lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes”
This chapter of Isaiah speaks about the last days when Zion and her stakes will be established, and Israel will be gathered in mercy and tenderness. Israel will triumph.
This passage is an invitation for Zion to rejoice. Zion, who has heretofore not brought forth the desired children (54:1), will nevertheless have children "on the right hand and on the left" (54:3). The children are those who have gathered to the family of Christ as members of the Church. No longer will all the righteous fit in the existing "habitations" of Zion, so her tent will need to be enlarged (54:2). They will also "inherit the [lands of the] Gentiles" (54:3), and stakes of Zion will be established and strengthened (54:2).
The resurrected Jesus quoted this chapter during his visit to the Nephites, telling them it would come to pass after the work of the Father had commenced "among all nations" (3 Ne. 21:28). In 3 Ne. 20-21 Jesus told the Nephites some of the things that would transpire before the events recorded in Isa. 54. Among them were the following: the gospel would go forth to the Gentiles (20:27-28; 21:2), the Jews (20:29-31), the Lamanites (21:4-7), and the dispersed of Israel (20:13; 21:26-28); the remnants of Israel would gather to Zion (21:1); and the covenant people of the Lord would be restored to the lands of their inheritance (20:14, 22, 29, 33, 46; 21:26- 28).
Isaiah 54: 2 Reads as follows: 2 Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;
What do you think is the meaning of the phrase “Enlarge the place of thy tent”? 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
54:2 tent/curtains/cords/stakes. The tent is reminiscent of the tabernacle of Moses, a tent to which all Israel was invited to come. The word stakes here is the source of the latter-day ecclesiastical division of the Church called a stake. Tent stakes (or pegs) help hold up and enlarge the tent of Zion. Each stake must be strong to keep the tent stable. The five command forms in this verse—enlarge, stretch forth, spare not, lengthen, and strengthen (see also Moro. 10:31; D&C 133:9)—teach us what we should be doing to build Zion in these last days. One way that Zion will enlarge her tent and strengthen her stakes is to practice the law of consecration (D&C 82:12-15). (Understanding Isaiah Tina M Peterson)
What other counsel is given in Isaiah 54:3 regarding the tent, or Church?
3 For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.
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.
54:3 break forth on the right hand/left. Israel will grow and expand in all directions. Other versions translate the idiom break forth as "burst out" (JB), "spread out" (NIV), or "spread abroad" (RSV).
seed shall inherit the Gentiles. This passage seems to mean that the Lord's people will dispossess the Gentiles of their lands and inheritances and that Israel will then inherit what has been vacated (Deut. 2:12, 21, 22).
the desolate cities . . . inhabited. The children of Israel will inherit the cities of the gentiles, which will have become desolate and empty, most likely because of the wars and upheavals of the last days (49:19). The New International Version says, "Your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities." (Understanding Isaiah Tina M Peterson)
What can we do to strengthen the stake in which we live? 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? D&C 115:5–6.
5 Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations;
6 And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth.
President Ezra Taft Benson: "Stakes are organized to assist parents 'who have children in Zion' to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ and administer the ordinances of salvation (see D&C 68:25). Stakes are formed to perfect the Saints." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p150)
How are the stakes of Zion places of defense and refuge for us?
1. Joseph Smith: "The time is soon coming, when no man will have any peace but in Zion and her stakes." (Teachings of the Prophets Joseph Smith, p161)
2. President Ezra Taft Benson: "Stakes are a defense for the Saints from enemies both seen and unseen. The defense is provided through priesthood channels that strengthen testimony and promote family solidarity and individual righteousness." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p150)
3. Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "These stakes are part of the church structure, and all who forsake the world and who seek to be one with those of Enoch's day gather into the stakes of Zion, where they find refuge from the carnality and evils of the world." (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p333)
Isaiah 54:7 “With great mercies will I gather thee”
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
4 Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.
5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
6 For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.
7 For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.
9 For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.
10 For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.
54:4 (3 Nephi 22:4)."Shame of thy youth." This refers to her unfaithfulness in her earlier years, when she sought after false gods rather than remaining true to her covenant Husband the Lord God Jehovah. This was a time not only of shameful conduct, but also of spiritual sterility, when she was not blessed with increase. Some commentators have suggested this shame could mean her periods of captivity, such as the Egyptian bondage.
54:4 (3 Nephi 22:4)."Reproach of thy widowhood." Israel's period of exile, when she was without her Protector, her Husband.
54:5 (3 Nephi 22:5)."Thy Maker is thine husband." Five of the holy titles applied to Jehovah are mentioned in this verse. It is an emphatic emphasis that there is but one God of Israel, one Husband to whom she should be faithful.
54:6 (3 Nephi 22:6)."A woman forsaken and a wife of youth." Because of her unfaithfulness, Israel a bride chosen in her early or youthful years had become a forsaken wife. Be it remembered, however, that it was she who left the house of her Husband.
54:7 (3 Nephi 22:7)."For a small moment have I forsaken thee." Israel's barren or forsaken years will seem but a "small moment" when she considers her bright future and the extent of eternity. One is reminded of similar language being applied to the seemingly forsaken prophet of God unjustly languishing in Liberty Jail in the winter of 1838-39: "My son," declared the voice of Israel's Husband, "peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment."
The Lord then added this comforting promise, which could well apply to the repentant wife of whom Isaiah prophesied: "And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes." (D&C 121:7-8.)
54:8 (3 Nephi 22:8)."In a little wrath I hid my face from thee." While the rejected Husband had turned away from His unfaithful wife in a moment of righteous anger, He has now returned with everlasting love. Lest there be misunderstanding regarding the divine attributes of Deity, a brief explanation of God's wrath or anger is appropriate. Anger, as understood or displayed by mortals, is not a characteristic of God's conduct.
"A distinction should be made between the appropriate anger of God, which is a righteous application of the law of justice, and the unbridled anger of a fallible mortal. The Lord has consistently counseled his children against anger (Matt. 5:21-22; 3 Ne. 11:21-22); furthermore, we have been instructed that the devil 'is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another' (3 Ne. 11:29). One who is angry loses the Spirit and his love of his fellowman (Moro. 9:3-5)."In contrast, properly understood, God's anger is a divine display of his love. It is a manifestation of truth. (See 2 Ne. 1:24-27.)"
54:9 (3 Nephi 22:9)."For this is as the waters of Noah unto me." In yet another verification of the reality of the Flood, the Lord compares the oath He now makes to remain with Israel to that which He made when He swore to Noah that the great Flood would not be repeated. Zion, His covenant people, will never be cast off. Such a vow reminds us of the dream interpreted by the prophet Daniel, where he saw "the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms,and it shall stand for ever." (Daniel 2:44; see also D&C 65:2-3; 104:86; 112:30.)
54:10 (3 Nephi 22:10)."For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed." The Lord's covenant with Israel will still be in place when mountains and hills that are now so prominent are gone; or, in other words, at the time the "earth [is] renewed and receive[s] its paradisiacal glory." (A of F 1:10.) Of this time, President Joseph Fielding Smith has written: "The earth is to be renewed or restored to its primitive beauty and condition, and when that day comes the high mountains which are seen today will be debased and the valleys exalted."
(Isaiah Plain and Simple Hoyt W Brewster)
(Isaiah Plain and Simple Hoyt W Brewster)
What can we learn about the Lord in Isaiah 54:4–10?
Once again the figure of a marriage is employed. Israel is called a barren wife because of her inability or unwillingness to produce spiritual offspring for the Lord. But in the end, when she is gathered once again, there will be more children from the “desolate,” or temporarily forsaken, wife than when she enjoyed her wedded status in ancient times (Isaiah 54:1). This being true, space must be found so that the latter-day “tent” of Zion can be expanded to accommodate them all. When one wishes to make a small tent larger, one must pull up the stakes and move to a further distance from the center pole. This is what is meant by lengthening the cords and strengthening the stakes (v. 2; see also Notes and Commentary on Isaiah 33:20–24). Israel’s latter-day growth through conversion and gathering is represented as breaking “forth on the right hand and on the left” (Isaiah 54:3).
In ancient times, the inability to bear children was considered a great curse by women of the Middle East. As a gathered “wife,” Israel will forget the shame or cast-off status of her earlier years and rejoice in her new and prosperous condition. She is once again “married” to the Lord (see vv. 4–5). The barren or forsaken years, though they seemed long, were but a small moment compared to the vast eternity that lies ahead (see vv. 6–8).
When God makes promises, He keeps them. He vowed to send a flood to cleanse the earth in Noah’s day and then covenanted with Noah that He would never again destroy the earth in that manner (see Genesis 9:13–17). His promise to restore Israel in the latter days is “as the waters of Noah unto me” (Isaiah 54:9), that is, His promise to restore Israel is just as sure as His promise to Noah. Mountains may depart and “hills be removed” (v. 10), but God’s promise will still see fulfillment. (Old Testament Student Manual)
What specific blessings does the Lord promise his righteous servants? Isaiah 54:13–14, 17
13 And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
54:13 (3 Nephi 22:13)."Great shall be the peace of thy children." This verse may have specific reference to millennial conditions, when "children shall grow up without sin unto salvation." (D&C 45:58.) It may also imply that there will be some direct teaching of these blessed children by the Lord Himself. However, there may be a more immediate application. This entire verse is used by the Primary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as its general theme. The goal of the Church and righteous parents everywhere is to teach the children about their Heavenly Father and their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that the peace of righteousness might prevail in their lives.
In speaking of Isaiah's promise of peace to the children, President Spencer W. Kimball, twelfth prophet of the Lord in the latter days, said, "Surely every good parent would like this peace for his offspring. It comes from the simple life of the true Latter-day Saint as he makes his home and family supreme." (Ensign, July 1973, p. 16.)
The Savior's tender feelings for children were evident in His mortal ministry in the Holy Land (JST Matthew 19:13-15), as well as in His postmortal ministry in the Americas, where "he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them." (3 Nephi 17:21.) Furthermore, in a revelation given in 1831, He specifically charged parents with teaching their children "the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands." (D&C 68:25.)
14 In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.
54:14 (3 Nephi 22:14)."Thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear." This appears to describe millennial conditions when righteousness will prevail upon the earth. In fact, all living creatures will live together in peace.
17 ¶ No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.
54:17 (3 Nephi 22:17)."No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper." As persecution against the Lord's people and His Church continues to increase in the last days, the promise of the Lord remains sure. No matter what the weapon slander or violence it will fail. Within a short time after the restoration of the priesthood and the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a revelation was received in response to the publication of newspaper articles critical of the Church. The Prophet Joseph Smith was admonished to "confound your enemies. .Â .Â . [L]et them bring forth their strong reasons against the Lord." Then came this promise:
"Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you there is no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper;
"And if any man lift his voice against you he shall be confounded in mine own due time." (D&C 71:7-10; italics added.)
Thus, while it may appear that the efforts of some enemies of the Lord are having some success, they are ultimately doomed to fail "in [His] own due time."
Perhaps these bold words of the Lord's prophet of the Restoration, even Joseph Smith, would serve as an appropriate conclusion to the commentary on this chapter:
"No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done." (Isaiah Plain and Simple Hoyt W Brewster)
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:
Isaiah 55:1–3. (All who thirst.)1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.55:1 Ho. This interjection is an exclamation to capture attention. A modern-day equivalent might be "Hey!"thirsteth/waters. These are the living waters of the gospel (John 4:10). This promise is echoed in the Gospel of John, in which the apostle recorded Jesus as saying, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink" (John 7:37; Rev. 21:6; 22:17). The living water is also the love of God (1 Ne. 11:25). Ultimately, it is also Jesus Christ and his atonement, the only true source of life eternal. One place where the water can be found, as deep in a well, is the "mysteries of [the] kingdom" (D&C 63:23; Rev. 22:17; D&C 133:29), a key to which is given in the temple.no money/buy, and eat/without money and without price. We need pay no earthly price to receive the blessings of the gospel and the atonement of Christ. Yet there is a price that God requires: a broken heart and a contrite spirit (2 Ne. 2:7; 3 Ne. 9:20; D&C 59:8; see commentary on 52:3, redeemed without money).wine/milk. Those who are thirsty are offered living water, and wine and milk besides. "The feast is one of love and forgiveness. The abundance and freeness of the water of refreshment (44:3), the wine of joy (25:6-8) and the milk of richness (Ex. 3:8) and supremacy (60:16) is figurative of the Lord's salvation."55:2 no worth/cannot satisfy. The things of this world are transitory and, in an eternal sense, have no worth. They cannot satisfy our deepest and most vital needs.feast/delight . . . in fatness. The very choicest of foods, especially those that nourish spiritually (25:6; Ps. 36:8; 65:11).55:3 Incline your ear. This statement is an invitation to listen.your soul shall live. Those who "come unto me" and "hear" the Lord, obeying his command, shall have everlasting life. (Understanding Isaiah Tina M Peterson)What kind of thirst is referred to in these verses? A thirst for gospel knowledge, a thirst for the knowledge of Christ, of hope, of salvation.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? 2 Nephi 9:50–51; 3 Nephi 20:8.50 Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.51 Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.
Isaiah 55:6–7. (The wicked who will repent.)6 ¶ Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.55:6 Seek ye/call ye. This passage evokes the familiar and well-beloved invitation from the Lord to his children: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth" (Matt. 7:7-8).found/near. The Lord may be found, and he will be near as long as we desire to be near to him. As he said through Joseph Smith, "Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive" (D&C 88:63).55:7 thoughts. We must watch not only our words and actions but even our thoughts (Acts 8:18-24; 2 Cor. 10:5; Mosiah 4:30).return. Repent and turn from wickedness. "But if ye will repent and return unto the Lord your God I will turn away mine anger, saith the Lord; yea, thus saith the Lord, blessed are they who will repent and turn unto me" (Hel. 13:11).What promise is extended to those who repent? yea, thus saith the Lord, blessed are they who will repent and turn unto me" (Hel. 13:11).
Isaiah 56:3, 5–8. (Strangers who do not know the Lord.)3 ¶ Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.5 Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.6 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.8 The Lord God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.56:3 son of the stranger. This phrase describes a foreigner. The Gentiles who come unto Christ are promised all the blessings of faithful members of the house of Israel.the eunuch. A eunuch is a man who has been emasculated and therefore is physically unable to beget children. Under the law of Moses, eunuchs were denied full fellowship with the Israelites (Lev. 21:17-23; Deut. 23:1-2) and had no inheritance in Israel because they had no offspring. The Lord promises that they will receive full blessings in the gospel if they will receive and keep his laws. Among these blessings is the Abrahamic covenant, which includes a promise of endless seed.dry tree. A dry tree is one that cannot bear fruit. In reference to a person, a dry tree, like a eunuch, is one that cannot have children.56:5 mine house/within my walls. Such terms refer to the temple (Matt. 21:12- 13).a hand and a name better than of sons and of daughters/everlasting name. The Lord promises those who come into "mine house," or his temple, a hand and a name. Hands and names are important parts of the temple covenants (D&C 88:119-21, 130-36; 130:11). The New English Bible may help clarify the meaning of this verse when it says,["[they] shall receive from me something better than sons and daughters, . . . I will give them an everlasting name, a name imperishable for all time." The name may be the new name given to those who are exalted (D&C 130:11), or it may be the name that King Benjamin gave to his people, which "never should be blotted out" (Mosiah 5:11)—that is, the name of Christ. Compare this usage of "everlasting name, that shall not be cut off" with the usage in 55:13.56:6 polluting it. Any activity counter to the sacred and holy purposes of the Sabbath pollutes it.taketh hold of my covenant. This phrase refers to those who receive and honor the covenants of the gospel.56:7 my holy mountain. The temple (see commentary on 11:9).house of prayer. When Jesus cleansed the temple in Jerusalem for the second time, he quoted this phrase from Isaiah, saying, "It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves" (Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46).The temple has ever been a house of prayer for the faithful. The Psalmist wrote, "One thing have I desired of the Lord, . . . that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple" (Ps. 27:4). In the latter days the Lord commanded, "Organize yourselves; . . . and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, . . . a house of God" (D&C 88:119; 109:16).all people. The blessings of the covenant and the temple will be offered to everyone, regardless of race or physical imperfection (Alma 19:86; D&C 38:16).offerings/sacrifices. Offerings and sacrifices are offered to the Lord in the temple, according to his command. The sacrifices and offerings of the faithful will be effective in helping us to draw nearer to him.mine altar. The place of sacrifice in the temple is the altar.What must the stranger do to be accepted by the Lord? Repent, be baptized, live the gospel...What do these passages teach about the mercy of the Lord? It is infinite for ALL who accept him.What do they teach about how we should view all of Heavenly Father’s children? God loves ALL His children, we must also...
Isaiah wrote that God’s word can nourish our souls much like rain and snow nourish seeds (Isaiah 55:10–13)10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.55:10 bring forth and bud. This phrase means to sprout and begin to grow.seed to the sower/bread to the eater. The Lord's gifts provide for the needs both of the person who plants food (both physical and spiritual) and the person who partakes of it.55:11 word/mouth. God's word is his revelations, given from his own mouth.not return . . . void. This emptiness refers to having failed in one's purpose.that which I please. God's word helps to accomplish God's will.prosper. To prosper means to have success, or to bring to pass abundantly that which God desired.the thing whereto I sent it. God has a specific purpose in mind.55:12 go out with joy . . . peace. The Good News Bible reads "You will leave Babylon with joy." This situation greatly contrasts to the going out from Egypt at the time of the Exodus, which was in fear and turmoil (Ex. 5-14; see also Isa. 52:12).Joy and peace are two of the most desired fruits of the Spirit (Rom. 14:17; Gal. 5:22). Joy and peace also are the two primary messages of the gospel: "Whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be" (1 Ne. 13:37). Joy comes from "having received a remission of their sins" (Mosiah 4:3) peace comes from a clear conscience.mountains/hills/singing . . . trees/clap their hands. All nature will join in rejoicing at the deliverance of the Lord's people (44:23; 49:13; 1 Chr. 16:33; D&C 128:22- 23).55:13 thorn/brier/fir tree/myrtle tree. The thorn and brier are plants that grow in lands of desolation. When Zion is redeemed, they will be replaced with the vegetation of fertility: the cypress and the myrtle (7:23-25; 29:17; 32:15; 35:1-2). Likewise, in the Millennium, the long spiritual barrenness of the Lord's covenant people will be replaced with spiritual abundance.name/everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. That which the Lord does to change the conditions of the earth and his people will forever be a sign of his power.How does God’s word nourish our souls? Alma 32:28, 4128 Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.
Isaiah 58:3–12 The true law of the fast
Is there a proper way to fast? What can we learn from Isaiah 58 about fasting? The chapter heading tells us: The true law of the fast, with its purposes and attendant blessings, is set forth. The commandment to keep the Sabbath is given.
When read and studied this chapter provides a unique opportunity to study one of Isaiah's sermons to his people and to learn how the same teachings are of great value in our own time. Isaiah's teachings about fasting and the Sabbath are straightforward and easily understood.
What are the elements of a true fast? Isaiah 58:3–73 ¶ Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
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” (Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 184)
Men who truly love the Lord seek to overcome their sins and to draw nearer to the Lord in fasting and prayer. Whether Isaiah 58:1–7refers to ancient or to modern Israel, or to both, is not clear. It is certain that there is a proper way to fast and to commune with God. The guilty Israelites described in these verses seem to have been disturbed because they fasted and God seemed not to notice; they afflicted their souls and God failed to regard their sufferings (see v. 3). But the Lord pointed out that they were fasting for improper reasons. Instead of abstaining from food and the activities of the world, they continued in their labors and pleasures (see v. 3). “Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and [seek for strength] to smite with the fist of wickedness” (v. 4). That is not the kind of fast the Lord enjoined. The Lord challenged them to answer if their kind of fasting is the fast “that I have chosen” (v. 5). In other words, is it a proper fast, pleasing to Him? Does it show true humility and reliance on God? Fasting has genuine spiritual purpose: it breaks the bands of wickedness, sets free the spiritually oppressed, and provides bread for the hungry and covering for the naked (see v. 6–7). Bishop John H. Vandenberg explained:“I suppose when he speaks of ‘loosing the bands of wickedness’ of ‘undoing the heavy burdens,’ and the ‘breaking of every yoke’ that he is referring to the wickedness of people who think only of themselves in selfishness, vanity, pride, and having hearts so set upon the things of this world that the two great commandments of loving God and loving neighbor are entirely forgotten. The principles of loving thy neighbor and of loving God are encompassed in the true purpose of the fast.“Certainly, it takes no imagination to understand what is meant when he says, ‘… that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?’“He meant that in addition to taking care of the poor, that we should watch over our own kin and be responsible for our father, mother, brother, and sister when they are in need.“It is here that I would like to state that the Lord has caused a day of fasting and prayer to be set up in this day so that collectively the Church might join together to fulfil the purposes of fasting.” (Conference Report, Apr. 1963, p. 28.)What blessings for living the law of the fast are promised in Isaiah 58?We become stronger in resisting temptation (Isaiah 58:6).Our burdens are lightened (Isaiah 58:6).6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?8 ¶ Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.
We become humble and prepared to communicate with the Lord (Isaiah 58:9).9 Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
We assist the poor and the needy (Isaiah 58:10).10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
We receive continual guidance from the Lord (Isaiah 58:11).We have our souls satisfied in drought and become “like a spring of water, whose waters fail not” (Isaiah 58:11).
11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
How can we become more diligent in living the law of the fast?
Description of the Savior’s ministry Isaiah 61:1–3
Isaiah 61:1–3 is a declaration of the Savior’s calling and ministry.
1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.
What do these verses teach about the character and mission of Jesus Christ? Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1–2to the people of Nazareth in their synagogue. When He had finished, “the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him” (Luke 4:20). He then said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (v. 21; see v. 16–19). These verses in Isaiah relate to Jesus as does the rest of Isaiah 61—to Him and to the building of His Zion in the latter days. He it is who is appointed of the Father to preach the gospel unto men, to heal or provide forgiveness to the wounded soul, to preach deliverance to those captives in the spirit prison (see 1 Peter 3:18–19). Jesus Himself cited this passage as evidence of His divinity (see Matthew 11:2–5; Luke 7:19–22). (Old Testament Student Manual)
Isaiah 63:1–6 Christ’s Second Coming
The Second Coming of the Savior is described in Isaiah 63:1–6
1 Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.
2 Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?
3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.
4 For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.
5 And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me.
6 And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.
What color will the Savior’s robe be when he comes in his glory? red in thine apparel. When Christ returns, his garments will be red, as John saw: "And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood" (Rev. 19:13; D&C 133:48).
What does the red color symbolize? The blood that he shed when he suffered for our sins in Gethsemane and on the cross
The red clothing symbolizes at least three things: the blood Christ shed in performing the Atonement (Luke 22:44; D&C 19:18) the blood (or sins) of the wicked that he took upon himself (blood and sins are equated in Jacob 1:19; see also 1 Pet. 3:18; Alma 33:22; 3 Ne. 11:11) and the blood of the unrepentant wicked he has slain in his wrath (63:3; Lam. 1:15; D&C 133:48, 50-51). The blood symbolism is repeated here in the use of the words Edom, dyed garments, garments like him . . . in the winevat, winepress, blood . . . upon my garments, and stain all my raiment.
treadeth . . . winevat. The Jerusalem Bible reads, "Yahweh is represented as one who treads the grapes, his garments stained red. But what he has been treading are the nations, whose blood has spattered him, and who are represented by Edom. Some emend 'Edom' and 'Bozrah' and translate 'Who is this that comes all in red, in crimson garments like a wine-harvester?'"
Isaiah 64 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?
1 Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence,
2 As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!
3 When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence.
4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.
64:1 rend the heavens/mountains . . . flow down at thy presence. To rend the heavens is to tear open the veil, so that God can be seen. Additionally, trembling, moving, and melting of mountains are manifestations of the presence of God (Ex. 19:18; Ps. 18:6-8; D&C 133:40-41). Isaiah asks the Lord to come to the deliverance of his people, tearing open the veil and bringing the fervent heat of his glory, which will literally melt the mountains. These are images directly related to the Lord's second coming. This expression may have another meaning: The Lord has power over heaven and earth, and he has power over all other gods. In his coming, Jesus will throw down the mountains, which here may represent the temples of false gods.
64:2 melting fire. This is a fire so hot that it will melt the very elements of the earth, causing the mountains to flow down and the oceans to boil. Speaking in our dispensation, the Lord said: "Every corruptible thing, . . . that dwells upon all the face of the earth, shall be consumed; and also that of element shall melt with fervent heat" (D&C 101:24-25).
make thy name known to thine adversaries. The Lord's friends know him by covenant, by obedience, and by the stillIsaiah asks the Lord to come with his burning fire so that all nations will know him and tremble at his presence.
64:3 terrible things which we looked not for. These are things of wonder and amazement, things beyond expectation, things fearful to God's enemies, such as those seen preceding the Exodus (Deut. 10:21; 2 Sam. 7:23; Ps. 106:22).
thou camest down, the mountains flowed down. These phrases reinforce the cause-and-effect relationship between the Lord's coming and the burning of the earth (64:1).
64:4 men have not heard. The blessings the Lord will bring with him—including those of the millennial reign and celestial glory—are beyond the comprehension and imagination of man. There is no other who can save and bless as can Jehovah. His power and love can bring grace and mercy greater than we can even imagine (45:22; 43:11-12). As Paul wrote, "As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" (1 Cor. 2:9).
what he hath prepared. The Lord's blessings are already in place for the righteous, though we must endure to the end to receive many of them.
waiteth for him. Those who wait faithfully for the coming of the Lord.
How does this message increase your desire to endure to the end in serving the Lord? Record your thoughts in your journal!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. Isaiah 65:17–25,
17 ¶ For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.
19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.
24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.
What conditions will exist during the Millennium?
The Lord will create new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17).
Whatever the conditions of life on earth were earlier, they will be forgotten in the bliss of the Lord's new earth. The former conditions can refer to the physical circumstances of life or the spiritual state of the people.
Some Latter-day Saint readers assume that the Lord's promise of a new heaven and earth emphasizes the earth's final state as a celestial sphere. However, President Joseph Fielding Smith repeatedly stressed that this chapter of Isaiah does not refer to a celestialized earth. Instead, the new heavens and earth prophesied by Isaiah will come at the beginning of the Millennium. (SOT, pp. 36-37; CHMR 2:217; AGQ 1:110-11; 2:20-21.)
The changes brought about at the ushering in of the Millennium will be so drastic that the earth itself will be transformed. (See MD, p. 495.) The new earth created in the Millennium will not be organized out of new materials; our present earth will come into a state of "paradisiacal glory."
The phrase "former things will not be remembered" can refer not only to the physical transformation of the earth but to changes in social order and spirituality of the people. People reared in a millennial world will have difficulty understanding what life was like when selfishness, wickedness, wars, disease, and other problems prevailed. Likewise, it is hard for us today to appreciate what millennial life will be like. (See MD, pp. 492-501.) Isaiah attempts to describe these conditions in the rest of chapter 65. (Isaiah Prophet Seer and Poet Victor Ludlow)
The following verses in Isaiah 65 also support a millennial setting because people will continue living and dying, missionary work will go on, and man's daily labors will continue. In contrast to the cries of the wicked as they are cleansed from the earth (vs. 14-15), the righteous will rejoice in the new millennial earth (Isaiah Prophet Seer and Poet Victor Ludlow)
People will not die young; they will live to be 100 years old (Isaiah 65:20).
Isaiah promises long life on this new earth, but his words were apparently distorted later so that an inconsistency developed in verse 20: the verse says that all people will live at least one hundred years, but it also states that some people will die before they reach one hundred. Joseph Smith's Translation clarifies this verse:
20"Never again will there be in it
an infant that lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
he who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere youth;
he who fails to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed." (NIV)
20In those days there shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days; for the child shall not die, but shall live to be an hundred years old; but the sinner, living to be an hundred years old, shall be accursed. (JST)
Joseph Smith further amplifies the meaning of the verse in Doctrine and Covenants 101, in which he prophesies concerning the Millennium: "In that day an infant shall not die until he is old; and his life shall be as the age of a tree." (D&C 101:30).
The Prophet Joseph also says that when people die during the Millennium their bodies will not sleep in the earth (while their spirits are in the spirit world), but that they will die and be resurrected "in the twinkling of an eye." (D&C 101:31.)
This concept of an instantaneous resurrection helps clarify verse 20, which says that sinners in the Millennium "living to be an hundred years old, shall be accursed" (JST). Ordinarily, we all have the post-earthly period in spirit prison to pay the "uttermost farthing" or every demand of justice for our sins. (Matt. 5:25-26.) As Elder Bruce R. McConkie has stated, "According to the terms and conditions of the great plan of redemption, justice demands that a penalty be paid for every violation of the Lord's laws." (MD, p. 406; italics added.) He also said that the wicked are sent to the spirit prison, where they must satisfy every demand of justice before they can be resurrected. (MD, pp. 349-51, 755, 761-62.)
However, people living during the Millennium will not be able to satisfy the demands of justice in spirit prison; they must do it completely in the flesh before their resurrection. Most people living during the Millennium will probably repent of their sins and allow Christ's atonement to satisfy justice (see pp. 449-53), but some may exercise their free agency and choose not to repent. They will then have to personally suffer for their sins here on earth before they are resurrected. (See D&C 19:17-20.) Thus, Isaiah's promise that all people living on the new earth will live to be a hundred years old can be reconciled with his words that a sinner living to be a hundred "shall be accursed." The sinner will still live a long life, but will be "accursed" or made to suffer for his own sins before his resurrection. (D&C 63:50-51; 101:29-31; see MD, pp. 495-501.)
People will enjoy the fruits of their own labors (Isaiah 65:21–23).
Prayers will be answered immediately (Isaiah 65:24).
There will be no enmity among beasts (Isaiah 65:25).
On the whole, life during the Millennium will be more glorious than under any previous society. Isaiah beautifully describes the millennial society:
21"They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22No longer will they build houses and others live in them,
or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree,
so will be the days of my people;
my chosen ones will long enjoy
the works of their hands.
23They will not toil in vain
or bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,
they and their descendants with them.
24Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.
25The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
but dust will be the serpent's food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
in all my holy mountain," says the Lord. (NIV)
Compare these verses to Isaiah's description of Israel in Isaiah 1, in which desolation visited the land, cities and vineyards were destroyed, strangers ate the fruit of the land, and the Lord cursed the Israelites. Probably the most striking promise is in verse 24, in which the Lord covenants to answer the people's prayers even before they call to him. What a pleasant contrast to Isaiah 1:15, in which Israel's prayers were rejected. (See D&C 101:27.)
(see also Isaiah 11:6–9)
6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.
9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
What does Isaiah 63:7–9 teach about the infinite goodness and love of the Lord? Can you find words and phrases from these verses that show the Savior’s love for us.
7 ¶ I will mention the loving kindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses.
8 For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour.
9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.
In what ways has the Savior shown you “the multitude of his loving kindnesses”?
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