“Lesson 124: Isaiah 36–41,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Lesson 124,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
During the reign of Hezekiah, king of Judah, the Lord miraculously delivered Jerusalem from the Assyrian army. However, Isaiah prophesied that the kingdom of Judah would be conquered by the Babylonians, a prophecy that was fulfilled many years later. Isaiah also prophesied of the coming of Jesus Christ and testified of His power and desire to strengthen His people.
Before class, write the following question on the board: What are some situations you might face in which you will need to know that you can trust in the Lord?
You may want to invite students to record their answers in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Or you could divide the class into groups and ask students to discuss the question within their groups. After students have had time to ponder or discuss this question, you may want to invite several students to report their answers to the entire class. Consider listing their responses on the board.
Invite students as they study Isaiah 36–41 to look for truths that can build their confidence and trust in the Lord.
Explain that Isaiah 36–39 includes another record of the material students have already studied in 2 Kings 18:13–20:19. Summarize chapters 36–39 by explaining that Isaiah told the people of Judah that if they trusted in the Lord, they would be saved from the Assyrian army. The people followed Isaiah’s counsel and were spared. However, Isaiah then prophesied that the Babylonians would eventually capture and plunder Jerusalem.
Invite a student to read Isaiah 40:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for the purpose of Isaiah’s words to the people of Judah after he prophesied that they would be conquered by the Babylonians.
What was the purpose of Isaiah’s words in these verses? (To comfort the Lord’s people.)
Explain that Isaiah comforted the people by prophesying of the coming of Jesus Christ. Ask a student to read Isaiah 40:3–5 aloud. Invite the class to follow along and look for what these verses teach about the coming of Jesus Christ.
What do verses 3–5 teach about the coming of Jesus Christ?
You may want to explain that the phrase “the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord” in verse 3 can refer to John the Baptist, who was sent to prepare the way for the mortal ministry of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 3:1–6). In the latter days, the Lord used a variation of this phrase to refer to His own voice (see D&C 88:66; 128:20). This phrase can also refer to those called by the Lord to preach the restored gospel (see D&C 33:10).
Explain that throughout the remainder of Isaiah 40, we read that Isaiah continued to comfort Israel by teaching about the greatness of the Lord. Isaiah used many images to emphasize how the Lord is different from man.
Write the following scripture references and questions on the board:
Divide the class into four groups, and assign each group to read one of the scripture passages referenced on the board. Ask students to then discuss the accompanying questions within their groups. After sufficient time, you may want to ask one representative from each group to share with the class what his or her group learned.
What did you learn about the difference between God and man? (Students may identify a variety of principles, but make sure they identify the following truth: God is far greater than man. Consider writing this truth on the board.)
Point out that some people falsely believe that God does not care about them. Ask a student to read aloud Isaiah 40:26–27 and footnote a of verse 27. Invite the class to follow along and look for phrases that indicate that some Israelites in Isaiah’s time did not believe God noticed them. Ask students to report what they find.
Explain that Isaiah 40:28–31 contains Isaiah’s answer to those who failed to see and understand God’s incomparable power and great concern for each of His children. Ask several students to take turns reading aloud from these verses. Invite students to follow along and look for what the Lord will do for us.
What phrases indicate what the Lord will do for His people?
According to verse 31, what must we do to receive these blessings?
What do you think it means to “wait upon the Lord”?
Add to the truth you wrote on the board so it reads as follows: Because God is far greater than man, He can … Invite students to complete the statement based on what they learned from Isaiah 40:28–31. After students respond, use students’ words to complete the statement so it conveys the following principle: Because God is far greater than man, He can strengthen those who trust in Him. You may want to suggest that students write this principle in their scriptures next to Isaiah 40:31.
Summarize Isaiah 41 by explaining that this chapter can help us understand the Lord’s desire to help and strengthen His people and the blessings we can receive as we place our trust in Him. Write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we place our trust in the Lord, then …
Invite students to consider how they might complete this statement as they continue to study Isaiah’s words.
Explain that some of the Lord’s words in Isaiah 41 were set to music in the hymn “How Firm a Foundation” (Hymns, no. 85). As a class, sing or read together verses one, two, three, and seven of this hymn, and invite students to look for words or phrases that indicate what the Lord will do for us as we trust in Him. Then invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Isaiah 41:10–14, 17. Ask the class to look for words or phrases in these verses that are similar to those of the hymn. (You may want to explain that the word worm in verse 14 refers to someone who is meek and humble [see footnote a].) Ask students to report what they find.
Invite students to complete the statement on the board based on what they learned from Isaiah 41:10–14, 17. Using students’ answers, finish the statement so it conveys a principle similar to the following: If we place our trust in the Lord, then we need not fear.
To help students understand this principle and feel its truth and importance, refer to the situations you discussed at the beginning of class.
What are some examples of how the Lord can help us in these situations?
When have you chosen to place your trust in the Lord and felt Him help you?
To further illustrate the principles on the board, you may want to briefly review again the events recorded in Isaiah 36–39. Explain that Isaiah 36–37 relates that King Hezekiah and the people of Judah trusted in the Lord as the Assyrian army was marching toward Jerusalem and threatening them with destruction. Hezekiah and the people of Judah hearkened to Isaiah’s counsel to not surrender to the Assyrians, and a large part of the Assyrian army was destroyed by an angel in one night. Isaiah 38 records that Hezekiah’s life was miraculously prolonged for 15 years. Isaiah 39 contains Isaiah’s prophecy that the Babylonians would eventually capture and plunder Jerusalem.
How do the events recorded in Isaiah 36–39 relate to the principles on the board?
You may want to share your testimony that the Lord can help us as we place our trust in Him. You may also want to share a personal experience that illustrates how the Lord has helped you in your life as you have trusted in Him.
Invite students to ponder what they can do to more fully trust in God. Invite them to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals any impressions they receive from the Spirit, and encourage them to act on these impressions.
Note: The following review activity could be used at the beginning or end of this lesson or on another day when you have extra time:
In this seminary course, students have studied 17 scripture mastery passages so far. To help review the content of these passages, write each of the 17 references on the board. Divide the class into two teams (or invite the class to compete against you). One student from each team (or you and a student) should stand facing the references on the board. Ask another student in the class to choose one of the scripture mastery passages and read aloud several words from the scripture mastery bookmark or from the text of the passage itself. The students standing at the board (or you and a student) then race to touch the correct reference. Ask the class to check the answer(s) and award a point to the first team to touch the correct reference. Rotate participants. At the end of the activity, ask each team to recite one of the passages from memory.
Hint: To help this activity be beneficial and engaging for everyone, minimize the competitive element of the activity, and encourage teamwork and good sportsmanship.