“Unit 26: Day 3, Isaiah 54–57,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 26: Day 3,” Old Testament Study Guide
Throughout Isaiah 54–57, the Lord spoke of the gathering of Israel and of His mercy. The Lord also spoke against the wickedness of the Israelites.
- Read the following scenario. In your scripture study journal, write how you would respond to this young man:
A friend of yours has committed some serious sins over the past several months and has stopped attending Church meetings. After several weeks, you tell him he is missed and needed at church. He says, “There is no way the Lord would want me back after what I have done.”
As you study Isaiah 54–55, look for truths that can help individuals who question whether they can return to the Lord after they have sinned.
To provide context for Isaiah 54–57, you may want to refer to the chart “The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah at a Glance” in the Unit 21: Day 1 lesson. During his life, Isaiah witnessed the scattering of the Northern Kingdom of Israel because of the wickedness of its people. He also prophesied that because of the wickedness of the people in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, it too would be conquered. In Isaiah 54:1–3, the Lord spoke of the growth of the house of Israel in the last days. He compared Zion to a tent that would be enlarged and strengthened. This growth would occur as the children of Israel were gathered from their scattered condition.
Read Isaiah 54:4–5, looking for what the Lord said gathered Israel would forget.
It may help to know that “the shame of thy youth” and “the reproach of thy widowhood” (Isaiah 54:4) describe the condition of the Israelites after being separated from their close, covenant relationship with the Lord. In this relationship the Lord is often symbolized by a husband whose wife is Israel. The term “widowhood” refers to the times when Israel turned away from the Lord.
Did you notice how the Lord described His relationship with Israel? Think about why this analogy of a marriage relationship would be comforting for the Israelites, knowing that the “husband” is the Redeemer and God of the whole earth.
Read Isaiah 54:7–10, looking for a truth that would give the Israelites hope while they experienced the consequences of their sins. Consider marking words that reflect the Lord’s goodness.
From these verses we learn that the Lord is merciful and seeks to gather back to Him those who have sinned.
Think for a moment about why the Lord would be merciful and seek to gather those who sin back to Him. As you do so, picture a piece of paper money that is wrinkled and dirty, and consider the following questions:
What was this money like when it was first printed?
Would you still be interested in having this money even though it is wrinkled and dirty? Why?
How can this money be likened to us?
Why would the Lord still be merciful to us and seek to gather us back to Him when we sin?
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about God’s merciful nature: “Surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to those who don’t expect it and often feel they don’t deserve it” (“The Laborers in the Vineyard,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 33).
- Review the scenario presented at the beginning of the lesson and the response you wrote in your scripture study journal. Then answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How could it help the young man in the scenario to understand that, with everlasting kindness, the Lord is merciful and seeks to gather those who sin back to Him?
Read Isaiah 55:1–3, looking for the invitations the Lord extended. It may help to know that wine and milk were symbols of abundance.
In these verses the Lord invited His people to come unto Him to enjoy the eternal blessings He freely offers rather than wasting their effort pursuing worldly things that do not provide true satisfaction.
In Isaiah 55:4–5 we learn that after being gathered, the house of Israel would lead others, and other nations would come to it because the Lord had glorified it.
Complete the following truth based on what you learn from these verses: If we return to the Lord, then .
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about what it means to return to the Lord when we sin:
“When we sin, we turn away from God. When we repent, we turn back toward God.
“The invitation to repent is rarely a voice of chastisement but rather a loving appeal to turn around and to ‘re-turn’ toward God” (“Repent … That I May Heal You,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 40).
- Think about times when you have repented and experienced the Lord’s mercy. On a separate piece of paper, write a goal of one thing you will do to return or come closer to the Lord. Place this piece of paper somewhere that you will remind you of this goal. In your scripture study journal, write that you have completed this assignment.
To prepare to identify an additional doctrine taught in Isaiah 55, think about the unique ways the Lord accomplished His purposes through the following events:
The Israelites crossing the Red Sea to be delivered from Egyptian bondage.
The walls of Jericho falling down and the inhabitants being conquered by Israel.
Gideon’s army defeating the Midianite army.
What are some ways the Israelites who participated in these events could have tried to bring about the same outcomes on their own? Have you ever wondered why the Lord directs His children to do things in a certain way?
Read Isaiah 55:8–9, looking for what the Lord taught about His ways compared to our ways.
What do you think it means that the Lord’s thoughts and ways are higher than our thoughts and ways?
One reason for the Lord’s thoughts and ways being higher than ours is that the Lord is all-knowing and His ways are perfect. Consider writing this truth in the margin of your scriptures.
Look back at the list of the three events from the scriptures. How do these events show that the Lord is all-knowing and that His ways are perfect?
- Copy the following chart in your scripture study journal. List the Lord’s ways and man’s ways for each of the three topics.
The Lord’s Ways
Choosing entertainment and media
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How can we use the knowledge that the Lord is all-knowing and His ways are perfect to help us when we must decide between the Lord’s ways and our ways in these and other situations in our lives?
What blessings come from trusting and following the Lord’s ways in these situations?
What experiences in your life have helped teach you that the Lord is all-knowing and that His ways are perfect?
In Isaiah 55:10–56:8, the Lord assured His people that His words would be fulfilled. He promised that He would also gather and bless individuals who were not members of the house of Israel but who would love and serve the Lord and “take hold of [His] covenant” (Isaiah 56:4; see also Isaiah 56:6).
In Isaiah 56:9–57:21, the Lord condemned the wickedness of the people. He also taught about blessings the righteous would receive.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Isaiah 54–57 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: