“Unit 26: Day 2, Isaiah 51–53,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 26: Day 2,” Old Testament Study Guide
The Lord invited His people to take comfort in His salvation and to awake and remove themselves from the bands of their captivity. Isaiah then prophesied that the Lord would deliver captive Israel.
Do you sometimes feel that it is hard to be righteous? Write a few of the challenges that can make it seem difficult for us to be righteous.
In Isaiah 51 we read the Lord’s words, through Isaiah, to people who were trying to be righteous. As you study this chapter, look for principles that can help you in your efforts to be righteous.
Read Isaiah 51:1–2, looking for what the Lord counseled those who are trying to be righteous to do. You may recall that Isaiah often repeated the same concept in different ways, as he did in these verses.
When the Lord said to look to Abraham and Sarah, He was calling on the people of Israel to remember and keep the covenants that He had established with Abraham and Sarah. Do you remember what covenants or promises the Lord made with Abraham and Sarah? If needed, review what you learned in Genesis 17 (see also Bible Dictionary, “Abraham, covenant of”; Guide to the Scriptures, “Abrahamic Covenant”; scriptures.lds.org).
- Write the following incomplete principle in your scripture study journal: As we remember our covenants and keep them …
Read the first line of Isaiah 51:3, looking for what the Lord would do when the children of Israel remember and keep their covenants.
As you read the rest of Isaiah 51:3, it may be helpful to understand that Isaiah’s description of the land of Zion also applies to the people of Zion.
What did the Lord say He would do for those who follow after righteousness and remember and keep the covenants He had made with Abraham and with them?
You may want to mark the words and phrases the Lord used in verse 3 to describe how His people would be comforted.
Based on what you learned from verse 3, complete the principle you wrote in your scripture study journal.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How has the Lord comforted you during challenging times as you were faithful to Him and your covenants? Or, how has the Lord comforted people you know who were faithful and kept their covenants during challenging times?
Ponder a time when you were worried about what others thought of you when you were trying to be righteous. How has or how can fearing others’ mockery or opinions affect our desire and efforts to be righteous?
Read Isaiah 51:7–8, looking for who the Lord said did not need to fear the mockery or negative opinion of others. The words reproach and revilings refer to rebukes or mockery.
From verse 7 we learn that those who have the Lord’s law in their hearts need not fear the mockery of others. In verses 7–8 the Lord taught that the righteous do not need to fear the mockery of others because such things will pass away, but His righteousness and salvation endure forever.
In verse 7 we also learn that the Lord described the righteous as those people who have God’s law written in their hearts. How do you think we can have God’s law written in our hearts? (See Jeremiah 31:33.)
The Lord wants to put His law in our hearts, but we must choose to love God’s laws and sincerely desire to live them. We must prayerfully open our hearts to God’s law and live the gospel with real intent.
Why do some people set an alarm before they go to sleep?
Look at Isaiah 51:9, and notice the first two words. In Isaiah 51:9–10, Isaiah wrote that the Lord’s people were pleading with the Lord to awake (or use His power) to help them as He did in the past and to fulfill His promises.
However, in Isaiah 51:11–23 we read that the Lord indicated that it was His people who needed to awake.
Read Isaiah 52:1–2, looking for what the Lord invited Israel to do to awake from their spiritual sleep. (You may want to mark what you find.)
What do you think the phrase “put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments” (Isaiah 52:1) means?
President Ezra Taft Benson explained:
“The phrase ‘put on her beautiful garments’ refers, of course, to the inner sanctity that must be attained by every member who calls himself or herself a Saint. Zion is ‘the pure in heart’ (D&C 97:21).
“Stakes in Zion are strengthened … as members reflect the standard of holiness that the Lord expects of His chosen people.
“‘Put on thy strength, O Zion’ is an expression of prophets through the ages. This was interpreted by the Prophet Joseph Smith in this manner:
“‘[This has] reference to those whom God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel; and to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion, has a right by lineage.’ (D&C 113:8; italics added.)” (“Strengthen Thy Stakes,” Ensign, Jan. 1991, 2).
To “put on thy beautiful garments” could be understood figuratively to mean that they should remove the clothes of their captivity to sin and instead wear clothes of righteousness and priesthood authority (see D&C 113:7–8).
Imagine what it would look like if someone were to “shake [themselves] from the dust” (Isaiah 52:2). Spiritually, this action represents ridding ourselves of the filth of sin and the influence of the world. Think about what we need to do to rid ourselves from the effects of our sins.
In Isaiah 52:1–3, we learn that the Lord’s people had figuratively sold themselves when they turned away from Him and embraced the wickedness of the world. Read Isaiah 52:3, looking for what the children of Israel received when they sold themselves through sin.
The word nought means “nothing.” What do those who turn away from the Lord by sinning receive?
What do you think the phrase “ye shall be redeemed without money” (Isaiah 52:3) means?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: “All salvation is free; all comes by the merits and mercy and grace of the Holy Messiah; there is no salvation of any kind, nature, or degree that is not bound to Christ and his atonement” (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ , 346–47).
It is important to know that although salvation is free, we are expected to receive this marvelous gift through faith, repentance, and dedicated discipleship. We must be willing to sacrifice and put forth great effort to repent.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What principle does Isaiah 52:1–3 teach us concerning what we must do to be redeemed from our sins?
Ponder in what ways you may be spiritually asleep and what you need to do to awake, repent, and come to the Lord. Set a goal to act on any promptings you received as you pondered.
Anciently during times of war, people would anxiously await news from the battlefield. This news would have been brought by runners traveling on foot.
How do you think you would have felt if a messenger brought news that a battle had been won and peace had been established? How would you feel about the messenger who brought this news?
In Isaiah 52:7–8, Isaiah compared these battlefield messengers with the message of salvation that Jesus Christ Himself gave and would give. Jesus Christ, the long-awaited Messiah of Old Testament times, is the true messenger who declares the good news of salvation and publishes peace. Isaiah’s description of the messengers also includes those who share the gospel message of peace and salvation and spread the joyful news that Jesus Christ has won the battle against sin and evil.
Read Isaiah 52:7–8, looking for how those who share the message of salvation with others are described. Publish means to proclaim or tell, and the “watchmen” mentioned in verse 8 are those who initially publish the message of salvation to the people.
What do you think it means that those who share the messages of the gospel with others are considered to have beautiful feet (see verse 7) by those who receive their message?
This description is an expression of gratitude for those who bring them the gospel message, which fills them with joy and peace.
One truth we learn from these verses is that when we share the message of the gospel, we offer joy to others. You may want to write this principle in your scriptures.
Think about what tools and methods are available for us today to publish the gospel and share it with our friends and family. You may have thought about tools and methods such as text messages, social media, verbally sharing your testimony, and pass-along cards.
Have you ever used one of these tools or methods to share the gospel with others? How did your sharing the gospel bring joy to them?
- In you scripture study journal, write the names of those whom you have felt prompted to share the gospel with. You may want to say a prayer, asking Heavenly Father whom He would have you share the gospel with. Next to each name, write how you can use the methods or tools you thought of to share the gospel with those people so they can experience joy.
Isaiah 51–52 contains Isaiah’s words to the Lord’s covenant people who had been asleep spiritually. He taught them that they needed to awake by repenting and coming unto the Lord to be redeemed from their sins. Read Isaiah 52:11–12, looking for how these verses help us understand what we need to do to awake, repent, and come to the Lord.
The call to “depart ye” and “go ye out” (Isaiah 52:11) was a call to leave or not associate with the wickedness of the world.
In verse 12, the phrases “the Lord will go before you” and “the God of Israel will be your rearward” mean that our Heavenly Father will be in front of us and behind us; He stands ready to guard us from evil.
Isaiah 52:13–15 contains an important prophecy about Jesus Christ and His role as our Redeemer.
Isaiah 53 contains perhaps the greatest messianic prophecy in scripture. It contains many details concerning the Savior’s atoning sufferings and death. Read this chapter, looking for words or phrases that describe what the Savior has done to bring about your salvation. (Isaiah 53:3–5 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way so you can locate it in the future.)
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, ‘No one knows what it is like. No one understands.’ But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (see Alma 34:14), He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power” (“Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 90).
- In your scripture study journal, list phrases from Isaiah 53:3–5 that describe what Jesus Christ endured as part of His Atonement. Write a paragraph explaining why you are grateful that Jesus Christ (the Messiah) was willing to experience that for you.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Isaiah 51–53 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: