Week Forty-One: Isaiah 58-66
When we studied Isaiah Chapter one, I mentioned that the beginning of Isaiah and the conclusion of Isaiah had many similarities. As you read the end of the Book of Isaiah, compare these verses with Isaiah Chapter one and find common themes and specific counsel that is most important for you to follow as you review the words of this mighty prophet of God.
A major theme that Isaiah emphasized at the beginning and the ending of his book is the healing power of the Atonement for those who have strayed from Him.
At the Savior’s Second Coming, the world will ask: “Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?”[i]
The Lord shall answer the world: “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me; for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart and the year of my redeemed is come.”[ii]
In Isaiah chapter 63, the Lord reviewed His loving kindnesses to Israel;[iii] His love in redeeming them, even though they rebelled against his Holy Spirit and turned against Him.[iv]
In chapter 1, Isaiah spoke the word of the Lord pleading with Israel to hear and give ear to His words, since Israel had rebelled against Him.[v] The Lord is warning the Children of Israel that they must return to him to be saved from the destruction that is to come. The Kingdom of Judah will be destroyed by the Babylonians, but the Children of Israel have become captives to their own sins.
“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters; they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.”[vi]
Throughout his words, Isaiah is a voice of warning to Israel of their impending destruction as a nation, but also their personal destruction because of their uncleanliness and unwillingness to repent.
The Lord always gives hope for the righteous and those who return to Him. In Chapter 1, The Lord looks forward to the redemption of Zion and the righteous converts who will live there.[vii]
The themes of destruction for the wicked and salvation for the repentant are themes found in both the first chapter and the final chapters of Isaiah. Destruction will happen at the time of the Babylonian invasion, but destruction will also happen to the wicked at the time of judgment at the Lord’s Second Coming.
In Chapter 66, Isaiah described the Lord’s Second Coming thus: “For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.”[viii]
Judgement will be the Lord’s. The future for the wicked will be the following:
“…[L]ook upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.”[ix]
In contrast, the righteous will become his priests and priestesses and the children of Israel who bring their offerings in a clean vessel unto the house of the Lord shall experience a new heaven and a new earth and an eternal reward:
“For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that form one new moon to another, and form one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.”[x]
The Lord described an actual rebirth of the earth and a rebirth of Jerusalem as a newborn, suckling babe, pure and sinless. “For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children….Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her…That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations…”
Those who are worthy to be a part of this new earth and new Jerusalem will experience peace “like a river”[xi] and the comforting feelings of a mother holding and caring for a newborn baby: “Then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees, as one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”[xii]
The temple is the key place where we can prepare ourselves for this holy day and rebirth. Our prophet has told us: “Positive spiritual momentum increases as we worship in the temple and grow in our understanding of the magnificent breadth and depth of the blessings we receive there. I plead with you to counter worldly ways by focusing on the eternal blessings of the temple. Your time there brings blessings for eternity.”[xiii]
As we review the words of Isaiah, what are other practical lessons we can follow as we prepare for the new heavens and the new earth that shall come.
In Chapter 1, the Lord counseled us:
“Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.”[xiv]
At the end and beginning of the book of Isaiah, we are told:
“Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word: your brethren that hated you, said, Let the Lord be glorified, but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.”[xv]
As we hear the word of the Lord, we become submissive to His will. Isaiah used the analogy of a potter with a lump of clay. If the Lord is our potter and we are His clay, then we become the workmanship of His hands:
“But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”[xvi]
Elder Heber C. Kimball was a potter by trade and often used this analogy of the potter and the clay to teach the saints the importance of obedience and allowing the Master Potter to shape and form us.
“Now suppose I subject myself enough, in the hands of the potter, to be shaped according as he was dictated by the Great Master potter, that rules over all things in heaven and on earth, He would make me into a vessel of honor. There are many vessels that are destroyed after they have been molded and shaped. Why? Because they are not contented with the shape the potter has given them, but straightway put themselves into a shape to please themselves; therefore they are beyond understanding what God designs, and they destroy themselves by the power of their own agency, for this is given to every man and woman, to do just as they please. … That man or woman who will not learn the principle of subjection, and become like clay in the hands of the potter, will be led astray. …”[xvii]
The major theme of the Book of Isaiah is a plea to repent, to turn away from our rebellious acts, and to humbly submit our will to the Lord’s will. As we do this, our future will be glorious as we prepare for the Second Coming of the Lord.
May we find joy in the Lord this week as we follow the words of Isaiah and humbly allow the Lord to shape us into His priests and priestesses in preparation for His return.
[i] Isaiah 63:2
[ii] Isaiah 63:3-4
[iii] Isaiah 63:7
[iv] Isaiah 63:9
[v] Isaiah 1:2
[vi] Isaiah 1:4
[vii] Isaiah 1:27
[viii] Isaiah 66:15
[ix] Isaiah 66:24
[x] Isaiah 66:22-23
[xi] Isaiah 66:12
[xii] Isaiah 66:12-13
[xiii] Russell M. Nelson, “Now is the Time,” GC April 2022.
[xiv] Isaiah 1:17
[xv] Isaiah 66:5
[xvi] Isaiah 64:8
[xvii] Heber C. Kimball, “The Potter and the Clay: Gospel Classics,” Ensign, January 2011.