“Lesson 117: Isaiah 3–5,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Lesson 117,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
Isaiah prophesied of consequences, including woes and judgments, that Judah and Jerusalem would suffer for their corruption. He also prophesied that Jerusalem would be restored after it was purged, and he prophesied of events in the last days.
Suggestions for Teaching
Isaiah prophesies of the consequences that will come from disobeying the Lord
Show students seeds from different fruits, and invite them to guess the fruit each seed will produce. Ask the following questions, replacing apples with the name of a fruit that may come from one of the seeds you show your students.
If you wanted apples, which seed would you need to plant and nourish? Why would you not expect an orange seed to produce apples?
Invite students to ponder how this simple object lesson relates to the choices they make and the consequences that follow. Ask them to look for principles as they study Isaiah 3–5 that can help them make choices that will bring them confidence, peace, and happiness.
Explain that Isaiah 3 contains a prophecy about the house of Judah in Isaiah’s day and that this prophecy also applies to people in our day. Summarize Isaiah 3:1–7 by explaining that Isaiah prophesied of the physical destruction and spiritual loss that would come upon Judah and Jerusalem.
Invite a student to read Isaiah 3:8–9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what would bring these consequences upon the people.
What would cause Jerusalem to be ruined and Judah to fall?
What do you think the phrase “they have rewarded evil unto themselves” (Isaiah 3:9) means? (They have brought evil, trouble, or disaster upon themselves.)
Invite a student to read Isaiah 3:10–11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord taught about choices and consequences.
What do you think the statement that the righteous “shall eat the fruit of their doings” (verse 10) means?
What principles can we learn about choices and consequences from these verses? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principles: If we are righteous, we will enjoy the blessings of our choices. If we sin, we will suffer the negative consequences of our choices.)
How do these principles relate to seeds and the fruit they produce?
To help students understand these principles, read the following scenario aloud:
A young man wants to feel confident, happy, and worthy to attend the temple with his ward on Saturday morning. On Friday night, he is tempted to view pornography.
What fruit will come from planting the seed of sin by viewing pornography? What “seed” must this young man plant to obtain the “fruit” he desires?
How can remembering the consequences of righteousness and sin help us as we make choices?
Explain that from Isaiah 3:12–24 we can gain a greater understanding of the negative consequences of sinful choices. Explain that Isaiah 3:12–15 includes a description of how the leaders of the people had caused them to go astray and had oppressed the poor. These leaders were men but are described in verse 12 as having acted in childish and weak ways. Isaiah then described the behavior of the daughters of Zion. Explain that although verse 16 can have several meanings, it clearly describes the sinful condition of the daughters of Zion in the latter days. It may also refer to the women of Zion in Isaiah’s day or even the nation of Judah. Even though Isaiah specifically referred to “the daughters of Zion,” his words can also apply to men.
Invite a student to read Isaiah 3:16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the attitudes and actions of the daughters of Zion.
What sins had the daughters of Zion committed? (They were arrogant, vain, and looked at others in a seductive way. You might explain that their vanity was influenced by their preoccupation with wealth and fashion [see verses 18–23].)
Summarize Isaiah 3:17–26 by explaining that Isaiah described the consequences of the sins of the daughters of Zion. They would be humbled, lose their possessions, and suffer from war, destruction, and desolation.
Isaiah prophesies of events in the last days
Summarize Isaiah 4 by explaining that Isaiah foresaw the Lord’s cleansing of the earth of wickedness and the cleansing and redemption of His people in the millennial day. Point out that in the Joseph Smith Translation, Isaiah 4:1 is moved to become the last verse of Isaiah 3.
Invite students to read Isaiah 4:5–6 silently, looking for what the Lord will provide for the righteous.
What blessings will the Lord provide for the righteous?
Isaiah prophesies of woes and judgments that will come upon the house of Israel
Read the following scenario aloud:
One of your friends wants to stop attending church meetings and activities and living the Lord’s standards.
What would you say to encourage this friend to not turn away from the Lord?
Invite students to look for a principle in Isaiah 5 that can help them resist the temptation to turn away from the Lord and can help them encourage others to follow Him as well.
Explain that Isaiah 5:1–7 compares the house of Israel to a vineyard. Invite a student to read Isaiah 5:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord did for His vineyard.
What did the Lord do for His vineyard?
What kind of fruit did the vineyard produce? Why are wild grapes not desirable? (They can be sour or bitter.)
How is the vineyard producing sour grapes symbolic of the house of Israel? (Israel had turned away from, or rebelled against, the Lord.)
Write the following phrase on the board: If we turn away from the Lord, …
Explain that in Isaiah 5:3–4, we read that the Lord asked what more He could have done for the vineyard. He then explained what would happen to the vineyard because it had brought forth poor fruit. Invite a student to read Isaiah 5:5–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord would do to the vineyard.
What would be the effects of taking away the hedge and breaking down the wall?
What would happen to the vineyard if it were not worked in or rained upon?
How are these results similar to the natural consequences that come from disobeying the Lord’s commandments?
Add the following clause to the statement on the board: we will lose His protection and help …
Explain that Isaiah then taught what would happen to Israel as a result of losing the Lord’s protection and help. Invite students to search for a word that is repeated in Isaiah 5:8, 11, 18, 20, 21, and 22. Ask students to report what they find.
Explain that woe means intense sorrow or suffering. Complete the statement on the board by adding the phrase and experience sorrow and suffering. (The statement should read: If we turn away from the Lord, we will lose His protection and help and experience sorrow and suffering.)
If possible, provide students with copies of the following handout. At the top of each handout, write one of the following references: Isaiah 5:11–12, Isaiah 5:18–19, Isaiah 5:20–21, or Isaiah 5:22–23. Invite students to complete the activities on the handout.
You may need to provide the following explanation to students who read Isaiah 5:18–19:
In Isaiah 5:18 we read that Isaiah foresaw that the people would be tied to their sins like animals are tied to their burdens (see footnote c). Isaiah 5:19 records that because the people were lacking in faith, they were sign seekers who demanded that God demonstrate His power (see 2 Peter 3:3–4).
After students have completed their handouts, assign them to work in groups of four (one student for each assigned reference). Invite them to share with their groups what they wrote. After sufficient time, invite some students to share with the class what they learned.
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Isaiah 5:13–15, 24–25. Ask the class to follow along, looking for additional consequences that would come from turning away from the Lord.
What consequences would come from turning away from the Lord? (You may need to explain that one meaning of the phrase “his hand is stretched out still” [Isaiah 5:25] is that despite all these judgments, justice would not yet be satisfied and the Lord would continue to punish the rebellious.)
When have you seen someone experience sorrow and suffering because he or she turned away from the Lord? (Remind students that they should not share experiences that are private or too personal.)
Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals a goal to do one thing they feel could help them turn more fully to the Lord so they can enjoy His protection and help and avoid unnecessary sorrow and suffering.
Summarize the remainder of Isaiah 5 by explaining that Isaiah included a prophecy with multiple meanings: one interpretation teaches about how nations would gather against the Israelites in his day, and the other teaches about how the Lord would gather Israel in the latter days.
Scripture Mastery—Isaiah 5:20
Help students understand this scripture by inviting a few students to come to the front of the class to sample bitter foods (for example, uncured olives, horseradish, citrus peel, or kale). Ask them to describe the taste.
How would you respond if someone tried to convince you that what you just tasted was sweet?
How can this example relate to how people in our day might perceive and explain good and evil?
Why do you think people might call “evil good, and good evil”? (You may need to point out that verse 20 describes people who have lost the ability to distinguish right from wrong, as well as people who are knowingly trying to deceive.)
How can we tell the difference between what is truly good or evil, light or darkness, and bitter or sweet?
Encourage students to try to recite this scripture three times each day for the next week so they can commit it to memory.
Commentary and Background Information
Isaiah 3:10–11. The consequences of obedience and disobedience
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reiterated the consequences of obedience and disobedience when he said:
“Keeping divine commandments brings blessings, every time! Breaking divine commandments brings a loss of blessings, every time!” (“Let Your Faith Show,” Ensign, May 2014, 30).
Isaiah 3:16–24. The sins of the daughters of Zion
Although Isaiah specifically addressed the “daughters of Zion” in Isaiah 3:16–24, his words can also apply to men. The sins of the daughters of Zion involved immodesty, which is an attitude of pride. This prideful attitude can be reflected in the way a person behaves and dresses, such as in ways to flaunt their wealth or physical body. Modesty, on the other hand, “is an attitude of humility and decency in dress, grooming, language, and behavior. If you are modest, you do not draw undue attention to yourself. Instead, you seek to ‘glorify God in your body, and in your spirit’ (1 Corinthians 6:20; see also verse 19)” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 106).
Isaiah 3:16–24 is a good example of passages in the scriptures having multiple meanings:
“Isaiah shows that the wickedness prevailing in Israel and Judah included the women, who were proud, arrogant, and more concerned with their clothing, jewels, and personal appearance than with righteousness. But these verses can also be applied in the latter days, when women will once more lose sight of proper priorities. President Joseph Fielding Smith said of this passage:
“‘Isaiah, one of the great prophets of early times, saw our day, and he described the conditions that would prevail among the “daughters of Zion” in these latter days. …
“‘Now, in this modern day, Isaiah’s prophecy has been and is being fulfilled. …
“‘The standards expressed by the General Authorities of the Church are that women, as well as men, should dress modestly. They are taught proper deportment and modesty at all times. It is, in my judgment, a sad reflection on the ‘daughters of Zion’ when they dress immodestly. Moreover, this remark pertains to the men as well as to the women. The Lord gave commandments to ancient Israel that both men and women should cover their bodies and observe the law of chastity at all times.’ [Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. (1957–66), 5:172–74.]” (Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, 3rd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 140).
Directly related to the immodesty of the daughters of Zion was their vanity, which involves being excessively preoccupied with and prideful about one’s physical appearance. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught of the modern-day temptations and harmful consequences of vanity:
“You are bombarded in movies, television, fashion magazines, and advertisements with the message that looks are everything! The pitch is, ‘If your looks are good enough, your life will be glamorous and you will be happy and popular.’ That kind of pressure is immense in the teenage years. …
“In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world. … In secular society both vanity and imagination run wild. One would truly need a great and spacious makeup kit to compete with beauty as portrayed in media all around us” (“To Young Women,” Ensign, Nov. 2005, 29–30).
Isaiah 5:18. The effects of sin
President Harold B. Lee described how sin is like a burden:
“If I were to ask you what is the heaviest burden one may have to bear in this life, what would you answer? The heaviest burden that one has to bear in this life is the burden of sin” (“Stand Ye in Holy Places,” Ensign, July 1973, 122).
Isaiah 5:20. Calling “evil good, and good evil”
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught of the way people would be influenced to call “evil good, and good evil” in our day:
“Political campaigns and marketing strategies widely employ public opinion polls to shape their plans. Results of those polls are informative. But they could hardly be used as grounds to justify disobedience to God’s commandments! Even if ‘everyone is doing it,’ wrong is never right. Evil, error, and darkness will never be truth, even if popular” (“Let Your Faith Show,” Ensign, May 2014, 30–31).
Isaiah 5:25 (2 Nephi 15:25). “His hand is stretched out still”
The phrase “his hand is stretched out still” can represent both the justice and mercy of God—justice (destruction and punishment) for the wicked and mercy for the repentant if they will turn to God. From the context of the surrounding verses, the reader can often determine which meaning was intended by the scripture author.
Passages with “his hand is stretched out still” that likely refer to God’s justice:
Passages with “his hand is stretched out still” that likely refer to God’s mercy:
Isaiah 9:12,* 17, 21 (2 Nephi 19:12, 17, 21)
Isaiah 10:13–14 (2 Nephi 20:13–14)
Isaiah 14:26–27 (2 Nephi 24:26–27)
* Isaiah 9:12, footnote d, indicates that the phrase in this verse can refer to both justice and mercy.
Isaiah 5:26–30. Isaiah describes our day
Elder LeGrand Richards of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles suggested how the symbols in Isaiah 5:26–29 can be understood in relation to the gathering of Israel in our day:
“In fixing the time of the great gathering, Isaiah seemed to indicate that it would take place in the day of the railroad train and the airplane. …
“Since there were neither trains nor airplanes in that day, Isaiah could hardly have mentioned them by name. However, he seems to have described them in unmistakable words. How better could ‘their horses’ hoofs be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind’ than in the modern train? How better could ‘their roaring … be like a lion’ than in the roar of the airplane? Trains and airplanes do not stop for night. Therefore, was not Isaiah justified in saying: ‘none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken’? With this manner of transportation the Lord can really ‘hiss unto them from the end of the earth,’ that ‘they shall come with speed swiftly.’ Indicating that Isaiah must have foreseen the airplane, he stated: ‘Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?’ (Isaiah 60:8.)” (Israel! Do You Know? , 182).