“September 19–25. Isaiah 40–49: ‘Comfort Ye My People,’” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Old Testament 2022 (2021)
“September 19–25. Isaiah 40–49,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: 2022
Record Your Impressions
“Comfort” is the first word of Isaiah chapter 40. It marks the beginning of a different tone, a different emphasis in the prophet’s message. Where Isaiah’s earlier writings warned Israel and Judah about destruction and captivity that would come because of their sins, these later prophecies were meant to comfort the Jews over 150 years in the future—after Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple was desecrated, and the people were taken captive by Babylon. But these prophecies reach even further into the future than to the defeated, disheartened Israelites. They speak to us, who also sometimes feel defeated, disheartened, and even lost.
Isaiah’s message to them and to us is simple: “Fear not” (Isaiah 43:1). All is not lost. The Lord has not forgotten you, and He has power over situations that seem out of your control. Isn’t the Lord “he that created the heavens, and … he that spread forth the earth, and … he that giveth breath unto the people upon it”? (Isaiah 42:5). Isn’t He more powerful than Babylon, than sin, than whatever is holding you captive? “Return unto me,” He pleads, “for I have redeemed thee” (Isaiah 44:22). He can heal, restore, strengthen, forgive, and comfort—whatever is needed for you, in your case, to be redeemed.
It must have been discouraging, even devastating, for the Israelites to find themselves captive in Babylon. Many may have wondered if they had forever lost their place as God’s chosen, covenant people. As you read Isaiah 40–49, look for passages that might have provided comfort and hope. For each passage you find, ponder and record what the Lord might be saying to you in these verses. Here are a few verses you might start with:
How could you share these messages with someone who needs encouragement or hope? (see Isaiah 40:1–2).
See also Jeffrey R. Holland, “A Perfect Brightness of Hope,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2020, 81–84.
Isaiah repeatedly reminded his people of God’s matchless power, even compared to the oppressive worldly power that surrounded them. Look for this message as you read Isaiah 40:3–8, 15–23; 42:15–16; and 47:7–11 (note that chapter 47 is addressed to Israel’s captor, Babylon). What do these passages teach you about worldly things? What do they teach you about God? Ponder why this message might have been valuable to the Jews in captivity. Why is it valuable to you?
See also “Abide with Me!” Hymns, no. 166.
Throughout Isaiah 40–49 the Lord speaks of His “servant” and His “witnesses.” In some passages these words seem to refer to Jesus Christ (see Isaiah 42:1–7), others refer to the house of Israel (see Isaiah 45:4), and yet others refer to King Cyrus, who allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple (see 44:26–45:4). In each case, though, you might also consider how the passages apply to you as a servant and a witness of the Lord. For example, ponder questions like these:
Isaiah 41:8–13; 42:6; 44:21. What has the Lord called you to do? Consider formal Church callings as well as other covenant responsibilities to serve Him. How does He support you and “hold [your] hand” (Isaiah 42:6) as you serve? How has He “formed” you to become His servant? (see also Isaiah 48:10).
Isaiah 43:9–12. In what sense are you a witness of Jesus Christ? What experiences in your life have shown you that He is the Savior?
Isaiah 40:3–4.To explore what it might mean to “prepare … the way of the Lord,” your family could straighten something that’s crooked, clear a cluttered floor, or make a clear path in rocky ground. You could also show pictures of John the Baptist and Joseph Smith (see Gospel Art Book, nos. 35, 87). How did they prepare the way for the Lord’s coming? (see Luke 3:2–18; Doctrine and Covenants 135:3). How do we help prepare the way for Him? (for example, see Doctrine and Covenants 33:10).
Isaiah 41:10; 43:2–5; 46:4.These verses are reflected in the hymn “How Firm a Foundation” (Hymns, no. 85). Your family might enjoy singing the hymn together and finding phrases in it that are similar to phrases in these verses. What do these phrases teach us about Jesus Christ?
Isaiah 44:3–4; 45:8.After reading these verses, your family could water a plant as you talk about blessings the Lord has poured out on them. What happens to a plant when we water it? What does the Lord expect from us as He blesses us?
Isaiah 48:17–18.Consider showing pictures or videos of rivers and ocean waves. How can peace be like a river? How can righteousness be like waves?
For more ideas for teaching children, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.
Suggested song: “How Firm a Foundation,” Hymns, no. 85.