“Unit 24: Day 1, Isaiah 1–5,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 24: Day 1,” Old Testament Study Guide
Isaiah was a prophet in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. He began his ministry about 740 B.C., several years before the people in the Northern Kingdom of Israel were carried away captive by the Assyrians. He died about 701 B.C., approximately 100 years before Lehi left Jerusalem. Through Isaiah, the Lord spoke of the apostate condition of the inhabitants of Judah and invited the people to repent and become clean. Isaiah prophesied that the house of the Lord would be established in the last days in the tops of the mountains and that the proud would be humbled at the Savior’s Second Coming. Isaiah also prophesied of consequences that those in Judah and Jerusalem would suffer for their corruption. He taught that Jerusalem would be restored after it was purged, and he prophesied of events in the last days.
“Great are the words of Isaiah.
“For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel” (3 Nephi 23:1–2).
This means that many of Isaiah’s teachings also relate to us in our day because we are the Lord’s people “of the house of Israel.”
As you study Isaiah 1–5, look for principles that will help us in our day.
Read Isaiah 1:1–2, looking for what the Lord said about the people of Judah and Jerusalem in Isaiah’s day.
Isaiah often recorded the Lord’s words in a literary form called parallelism. Parallelism occurs when a writer expresses an idea and then repeats or contrasts the idea using a similar sentence structure with different words. “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth” (Isaiah 1:2) is an example of parallelism. With these words Isaiah invited all people everywhere to listen to the words the Lord had given him.
Isaiah also used images to illustrate and help people visualize spiritual ideas. Read Isaiah 1:3–4, looking for images Isaiah used to teach about the rebelliousness of the people in Isaiah’s day.
List the images you find:
It may help to know that a crib, as used in verse 3, is a feeding trough where an animal receives food from its master. In this verse, Isaiah contrasted the ox and donkey with the rebellious Israelites, who did not know the Lord, their Master, and were not aware of the spiritual nourishment He had provided them.
What do you think the images teach about the spiritual condition of the people?
Even though the Israelites were wicked at this time, they continued to offer sacrifices at the temple and outwardly observed sacred occasions such as the Passover and other religious feasts.
In Isaiah 1:10–15 we learn that the people were giving “vain oblations” (Isaiah 1:13), or religious offerings given without real intent. In the ancient Israelite calendar, the new moon marked the beginning of each month, and the law of Moses decreed that certain sacrifices were to take place with each new moon. The “appointed feasts” (Isaiah 1:14), or annual feasts, included the Passover (or the Feast of Unleavened Bread), the Feast of Weeks (or the Feast of Pentecost), and the Feast of Tabernacles (or the Feast of Ingathering). (See Bible Dictionary, “Feasts.”) During these religious ceremonies, Isaiah observed that the people were not giving their offerings with pure hearts or genuine sincerity. Thus, he explained that the Lord does not delight in or accept the emptiness of going through the outward motions of obedience without real intent.
From these teachings we learn that our outward acts of devotion to God are more meaningful to Him when the intentions of our hearts are pure.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What are some of the outward acts of devotion we perform in the Church?
What do you think you could do to make sure you have pure intentions when you participate in those acts of devotion?
In Isaiah 1:16–31 we read that the Lord invited the Israelites to repent, and He warned them that if they did not change, they would continue to suffer and transgressors would be destroyed. (Isaiah 1:18 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way so you can locate it in the future.)
- Read Isaiah 1:18, and then complete the following assignments in your scripture study journal:
Answer the following question: What does Isaiah teach about repentance and forgiveness in this verse?
Write a few sentences describing your feelings about the opportunity the Savior has given you to be purified from your sins.
Notice the parallelism Isaiah used in Isaiah 1:18 to teach about our sins and being purified through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Try to memorize this verse, and then recite it from memory to a family member or friend.
Isaiah 2 contains a vision Isaiah received about events in the latter days, including the construction of the Lord’s house. Isaiah also prophesied that at the time of the Second Coming, the proud and the wicked would be humbled for their transgressions.
These verses teach that many people will come to the house of God, which is the temple, and desire to learn God’s commandments and walk in His ways. Why do you think Isaiah described the temple as “the mountain of the Lord”?
Ancient prophets often went to mountains to commune with the Lord and receive counsel from Him, and God revealed truths to them there. We can have similar experiences in temples today. According to Isaiah 2:3, why will people in the last days desire to go to the temple? What can you learn from these verses about what happens as we attend the temple?
During the October 2000 general conference session when the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, was dedicated, President Gordon B. Hinckley said that he believed Isaiah’s prophecy was related to that building as well as applying to the Salt Lake Temple:
“As I contemplate this marvelous structure [the Conference Center], adjacent to the temple, there comes to mind the great prophetic utterance of Isaiah [in Isaiah 2:2–3, 5]. …
“I believe that prophecy applies to the historic and wonderful Salt Lake Temple. But I believe also that it is related to this magnificent hall. For it is from this pulpit that the law of God shall go forth, together with the word and testimony of the Lord” (“This Great Millennial Year,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 69).
If you wanted to grow apples, you would not plant an orange seed. Ponder how that simple truth relates to the choices you make and the consequences that follow. As you study Isaiah 3–5, look for principles that can help you make choices that will bring you confidence, peace, and happiness.
Isaiah 3 contains a prophecy about the house of Judah in Isaiah’s day, and it also applies to people in our day. In Isaiah 3:1–7, Isaiah prophesied of the physical destruction and spiritual loss that would come upon Judah and Jerusalem. (Jerusalem was the capital of the Southern Kingdom of Judah.)
Read Isaiah 3:10–11, and complete the following principles based on what the Lord taught about choices and consequences:
If we are righteous, .
If we sin, .
How do these principles relate to seeds and the fruit they produce?
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How can remembering the consequences of righteousness and sin help you when you are faced with temptation?
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. Isaiah then described the behavior of the daughters of Zion. Although Isaiah 3:16 can have several meanings, it clearly describes the sinful condition of the daughters of Zion in the latter days. It may also have reference to the women of Zion in Isaiah’s day or even to the nation of Judah. Even though Isaiah specifically referred to “the daughters of Zion,” his words can also apply to men. Notice his description of how the daughters of Zion dressed and acted in a worldly way, like a harlot dressed in ancient Israel, and how they were cursed for their worldliness.
Remember that often in the Old Testament, Israel is represented as the bride and Jehovah as the groom. The daughters of Zion (Israel) dressing and acting in a worldly way represents the apostasy of Israel.
Read Isaiah 3:16, looking for the attitudes and actions of the daughters of Zion. If this description of the daughters of Zion were applied to individuals, what sins had the daughters of Zion committed?
Read Isaiah 3:17–26, looking for the consequences that would come to the daughters of Zion because of their sins. The following chart may be helpful as you study these verses. (This chart has been adapted from Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, 3rd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 140–41. See also C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, 10 vols. [n.d.], 7:142–48; Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, 3 vols. , 1:162–66.)
The Daughters of Zion
Isaiah used jewelry, clothing, and other symbols to describe behaviors and attitudes of the daughters of Zion and to reprove and warn them about the judgments that would come as a result of their sins.
The daughters of Zion were arrogant and vain and looked at others in a seductive way. They were fixated on their physical appearance and on drawing attention to their bodies through immodest appearance or behavior. 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.
In what ways might people be tempted to behave in such worldly and sinful ways today? What counsel about dress and appearance is given in the For Strength of Youth booklet?
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 or Liahona, Nov. 2005, 29–30).
In Isaiah 4 we read that Isaiah foresaw the Lord’s cleansing the earth of wickedness and the cleansing and redemption of His people in the millennial day. (It may be helpful to know that in the Joseph Smith Translation of the King James Bible, Isaiah 4:1 is placed at the end of Isaiah 3.)
Read Isaiah 4:5–6, looking for what the Lord will provide for the righteous.
Think about what you would say to encourage a friend to resist the temptation to turn away from the Lord.
Isaiah 5:1–7 contains the imagery of wild grapes to describe the rebellion of the people of Israel. As a result of their rebellion, the Lord took away the protections and nourishment He had provided. Isaiah then taught what would happen to them as a result of losing the Lord’s protection and help. Scan Isaiah 5:8, 11, 18, 20–22, looking for a phrase that is repeated in those verses.
Woe means intense sorrow or suffering. From these verses we learn that if we turn away from the Lord, we will lose His protection and help and experience sorrow and suffering.
- Think about someone you know who has experienced sorrow and suffering because they turned away from the Lord, and then answer the following question in your scripture study journal: Why do you think we experience sorrow and suffering when we turn away from the Lord?
Isaiah 5:11–25 contains descriptions of ways the Lord’s covenant people would turn away from Him and of the judgments that would follow. Read Isaiah 5:20, looking for what some people do to try to deceive us and convince us to turn away from the Lord. (Isaiah 5:20 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way so you can locate it in the future.)
It may help to understand that in Isaiah 5:18, Isaiah prophesied that people would be tied to their sins like animals are tied to their burdens (see Isaiah 5:18, footnote c). Isaiah 5:19 records that because the people were lacking in faith, they were sign seekers and thus demanded that God demonstrate His power (see 2 Peter 3:3–4).
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What are some examples of evil things or behaviors that are being called good in our day?
How can you tell what is really evil and what is really good?
Where can we turn to learn what is really evil and what is really good?
The remainder of Isaiah 5 contains a prophecy of the Lord’s vengeance upon the wicked, as well as a description of how He will gather Israel in the latter days.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Isaiah 1–5 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: