obey the Lord
Week 38 is scheduled for study Sept. 12-18, 2022. The scriptures teach us of Christ, his gospel, and point us to his prophets. When we obey the Lord He protects and blesses us with His love, grace, and mercy.

Day 1

President Bonnie H. Cordon taught, “Scriptures enlighten our minds, nourish our spirits, answer our questions, increase our trust in the Lord, and help us center our lives on Him.”

Isaiah 13:1-11, 19-22; 14:1-20 – The wicked kingdoms of the world and their rulers will fall.

Today I plead for your patience and tolerance. The verses we are given to read in today’s lesson are the same verses that I had back in seminary many decades ago. I didn’t understand them then, and until today, I was just as clueless. As I read and reread these verses, this time I took it slow and was careful to include the footnotes with each reading. I think I am finally getting the big picture of what Isaiah is trying to say. I only ask for your patience here, because you probably knew all this back in your high school days. Some of us are just slower to catch on than others. ūüėČ

Chapter 13

In both chapters the Lord is referring simultaneously to the king of Babylon, and also to the world or Satan. Babylon represented the source of sophistries and wickedness of men. In a very real way, Babylon acts in the scriptures like the prophets act, but for the opposing camp. Babylon promotes all things intellectual and mystical for Satan and his minions, while the prophets promote all things spiritual and righteous for the Lord. So to compare Babylon to Satan is almost a completely redundant statement, for they both represent the same interests in the grand scheme of things.

Isaiah’s description of the destruction of the physical kingdom of Babylon, and at the same time the physical presence of the wicked throughout the world in the end time, is graphic. The destruction of anything is never a pretty picture. What I find interesting is the seeming surprise the world’s destruction is to the wicked. It is something they never imagined could happen to them. Here are some verses that demonstrate the shock their destruction will cause them when the Lord comes to destroy the wicked from the earth.

6 ¶ Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.

7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt:

8 And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.

I love the imagery of verse eight. Sometimes a woman, the first time she goes into labor, is shocked at how much the labor hurts. There is a transition period where the pain becomes exceedingly intense. It is usually at this point of the labor she might start to say (or do) rather unsavory things about her husband who helped get her to her present condition. Pain can make people say and do amazing things, so most people don’t repeat what was said or done during transition. It’s just safer that way.

Isaiah is saying that the wicked will be shocked by the destruction and misery they are experiencing when the Lord begins to exercise His vengeance on the world. When he says the faces of the wicked “shall be as flames,” he is saying they will be embarrassed or red in the face. This is a great description of that moment of realization that comes when someone who is proud and arrogant realizes they were totally wrong about something, and they can’t figure out how they could have gotten so mixed up to have gotten things so terribly wrong.

The prophets have been promising that the destruction of the world will come since the beginning of time. They have even provided many specific things that would happen along the way to show that the destruction is approaching. Yet for all these road signs, Satan has convinced those of the world that it can’t be true. There will be a lot of surprised faces in that day.

Chapter 14

At the time of the Babylonian supremacy, there was no one more powerful on earth to the people of the Mediterranean area than the king of Babylon. He rewrote the maps of the known world, took what he wanted, and wreaked havoc where he pleased. He seemed invincible. We view Satan much the same way as Isaiah’s people viewed the king of Babylon.

In the verses of chapter 14 Isaiah is comparing the high minded thinking of the king of Babylon with the high minded ways of Lucifer. For all their grandeur and puffed up presence, the Lord will make us all see that what they had was really nothing more than the proverbial dog and pony show – all visuals that impress, but no substance.

Here is a short running commentary on some of the verses of this chapter. I include it only because it paints such a sublime picture of the vanity of worldliness and the ambitions of those who think they have personal power during mortality. When the Lord cleanses the earth, all will be shocked to see that those who wielded such power during their life on earth are actually of so little consequence.

These verses begin with the recognition of the kings of the earth who bowed before the king of Babylon. This also applies to all those who follow the teachings of the world during their time in mortality because they believe the lies Lucifer feeds the people of the earth.

9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.

10¬†All they [the kings of the earth] shall speak and say unto thee [Lucifer], Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? [In other words, ‘we died and were buried, just like all other mortals who have ever lived.’]

11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. [Emphasis added]

People will see that the king of Babylon and Lucifer are no better or more powerful than they were. All the show of power demonstrated by Satan and those who represent him (like the king of Babylon) are just full of air. There is no real power or substance, for they are “brought down to the grave” just like everyone else.

12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

The footnotes tell us what the “mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north” refers to. This is a reference to Babylonian mythology. This is the location of the king of their gods. In these verses Isaiah is showing us of Lucifer’s aspirations. He actually thought he was powerful enough to challenge and beat the God of heaven and earth and get away with it. Isaiah follows the show of Lucifer’s arrogance with the comment that Lucifer will yet be “brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”

In the last few verses we are taught that the powerful of the earth will look upon Satan, narrow their eyes as they consider this icon of power and wonder to themselves, “Really? Is this all there is to the man who “made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof?”

16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;

17 That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?

18 All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.

19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.

Isaiah’s one last dig to Lucifer here is to say that all the kings of the earth at least lie in state in their family tombs. They have the reverence of their descendants for their glory. But where is Satan’s glory? He is going to be cut off like an unwanted limb of a tree and cast into the fire to be consumed. No one will ever again give him so much as a second thought. Satan will be “as a carcass trodden under feet.” [modern spelling added]

Lesson to be learned

All too often we give way too much credit and glory to those who have neither earned, nor deserve such credit, for their ways have been wickedness all the days of their lives. Isaiah makes a point in describing that those who live lives of wickedness will be punished in the end by the Lord. They may have gotten away with a lot during mortality, but when the rest of eternity begins with the Lord’s destruction of the wicked, all those who patted themselves on the back and felt quite smug about what they accomplished by pushing others around in this life, will learn all too quickly that they no longer matter in the least, for God only rewards the righteous with good things.

Day 2

President Bonnie H. Cordon taught, “Scriptures enlighten our minds, nourish our spirits, answer our questions, increase our trust in the Lord, and help us center our lives on Him.”

Isaiah 24:21-23; 25:6-8; 26:19; 28:16 – The writings of Isaiah point me to Jesus Christ.

Lest anyone consider Isaiah to be singing a “one-note melody,” like someone who, no matter what the assignment given, still manages to talk about their favorite topic, I would point out that Isaiah’s love for the topic of Christ is completely justifiable. Christ is, after all, the center of the entire plan of salvation. No topic or event can even approach his central position to everything that happens in the plan.

What is the most basic tenet of Christianity if not that Jesus atoned for our sins and is risen from the dead, providing a resurrection and a path back to God, our Eternal Father? Anything besides this doctrine is secondary. So as Isaiah tried to get the family of Jacob, all of Israel to repent and return to the Lord, it is completely appropriate that the mission of Christ, in every dispensation of time, would and should take center stage in his discourse. All things come from Christ and point back to Christ. As we continue reading the words of Isaiah, Christ should always be in the forefront of our thinking.

Day 3

President Bonnie H. Cordon taught, “Scriptures enlighten our minds, nourish our spirits, answer our questions, increase our trust in the Lord, and help us center our lives on Him.”

Isaiah 24:1-12; 28:7-8; 29:7-10; 30:8-14 – Apostasy means turning away from the Lord and His prophets.

Isaiah graphically uses drunkenness to illustrate apostacy from the truth. In verse 12 he says that the Lord offered them the rest that is refreshing, but because they were focused on their own pursuits, which Isaiah compares to the consumption of wine, the people would not hear the Lord’s invitation.

12 To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.

In verse seven Isaiah tells them that the people have turned out of the way (of the Lord) like those who pursue drink at all hours of the day. They have lost their way, both the people and the priests. I’m not sure what Isaiah means when he refers to “the priest and the prophet.” Perhaps he is referring to the teachers of the people collectively, for Isaiah, himself, certainly hasn’t lost his way. Isaiah tells the people that like a drunkard, their vision has become faulty, and they stumble in judgment like drunks stumbles when they try to walk.

7 ¶ But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.

Verse eight graphically demonstrates the results of following after the philosophies of the world. Like drunkards who vomit wherever they are, and are not able to clean up after themselves, so too do those who leave the purifying standards of the Lord leave traces of filthiness wherever they go and wherever they are. It cannot be helped, for it is the natural result of turning away from God’s truths.

8 For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.

The generations of adults who follow after other gods and traditions than that which God has given them cannot be saved at this point. Isaiah tells them that the Lord will have to teach the young, a new generation, of His ways and of His doctrines.

9 ¶ Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.

10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.

It is my conviction that we, either collectively or individually, cannot remain true to the covenants we have made with God if we are not first true to the mouthpiece of God, His prophet. Once someone turns away from God’s mouthpiece, denying his calling or his worthiness to be called a prophet, how is it even possible to remain true to the covenants that person has made with God? God has told us very plainly that what the Prophet tells us is the same as if God, Himself has told us. To deny the virtue of one is to deny the virtue of both of them. That is a very basic principle of the gospel.

Apostacy is the opposite of conversion. As conversion can happen little by little as we become more and more committed to the Lord’s agenda, so too can apostacy happen little by little as we justify sin, accept the teachings of the world, or begin to resist the urgings of the Spirit. Satan will attempt to make it seem that by following his counsel we are actually freeing ourselves from the bondage he paints of our commitment to our covenants. But reality demonstrates that our only safety and lasting joy is found in keeping our covenants and obeying the counsel of God and His prophets.

Day 4

President Bonnie H. Cordon taught, “Scriptures enlighten our minds, nourish our spirits, answer our questions, increase our trust in the Lord, and help us center our lives on Him.”

Isaiah 29; 30:18-26; 35 – The Lord can restore things that are lost or broken.

Today’s reading assignment opened my eyes to something I hadn’t considered before. I have always known that the children of Israel weren’t scattered by the Lord until they had abandoned their covenants. What I hadn’t considered was that they were not scattered until they had completely and totally turned their back on their God. In other words, they were past the point of being able to be redeemed. Their complete refusal to repent meant that they could no longer receive any of the mercies and grace of God. The scattering was their punishment for the abandonment of their covenant position as the Lord’s people. And as we all know, the greater the rejection of blessings, the greater the extent of our punishment. Israel didn’t wander off course, they willfully rebelled and rejected the greater light they had enjoyed.

The second thing I learned was that God’s punishment to Israel for their abandonment of their covenant relationship with Him needed to last until the Restoration of all things, when the spirits of Israel’s descendants were reserved to come to earth. Those spirits would begin to accept the covenants their forefathers abandoned. With their acceptance of their covenant position with God, He would be able to bless them as His people once again.

Here is a little bit of the pathway of my thinking. First the Lord tells us in chapter 29 that the people have rejected Him, and as such will be punished in the most severe terms possible, with destructions, lightning, storms, earthquakes, etc. This whole chapter describes the events of the Book of Mormon, as well as its coming forth in the day of the Restoration of Christ’s gospel to the earth. Because of Israel’s ultimate rejection of all the blessings of their covenant status with God, the Lord removed their ability to comprehend spiritual things. This is referred to as a deep sleep and as the loss of vision. He also says He would cover or hide His prophets from them so they would have to struggle on their own until the day of the Restoration.

10 For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.

When the posterity of ancient Israel is finally willing to listen to God’s counsel, to His prophets, and to the Spirit, He will open their eyes. At long last they will be able to see what He has been trying to share with Israel all along, and those who are meek and obedient will “increase their joy in the Lord.”

18 ¶ And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.

19 The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

What became more obvious to me than ever before is the plain truth that those who reject the Lord’s covenants and direction must live with chaos and pain in their lives. There is no way to avoid it. Those who humble themselves and repent, thus exalting the Lord by living like Him, are blessed with His grace and mercy. Here is Isaiah 30:18 with the notations and substitutions inserted from the footnotes.

18 ¶ And therefore will the Lord wait [until the day of restoration to bless Israel with His presence], that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of [justice]: blessed are all they that wait for him.

You may read and think through verse 18 differently than me, but this is how I think through this verse – When the day comes that God will finally reveal Himself in the day of Restoration, He will finally be able to be gracious to Israel. Why? Because they will listen to Him, repent of their sins, which exalts Him. And because they have repented and are living lives of goodness, becoming holy people (which is the same thing), He will be able to finally show Israel mercy, something He couldn’t do when they were rebelling against Him. The Lord is a God of justice, and those who believe Him and wait upon His word will be blessed. And being blessed by God always means their lives will be filled with happiness, despite their outward circumstances.

All of these chapters and verses tell us plainly that in the last days God’s Saints will be obedient, and hence blessed. He will be able to wipe away their tears, and their sorrows will be no more. Why? Because of their faith in Christ, because of their obedience to the prophets, and to their living lives of goodness. Ancient Israel could have had all these same blessings, but they chose other gods and ways of living. They cherished the ways of the world more than the ways of God. They may have gone through the motions of attending the temple and offering sacrifices, but they had completely turned their hearts from the Lord and no longer wanted anything to do with Him.

Is anything too difficult for the Lord? No. In order for Him to bless His people it required many centuries of leaving them to mix their posterity with the posterity of the world. In the last days He knew that those who learn of Him through the Book of Mormon would feel a sense of coming home. They would accept His covenants once again, and He could do what He has always wanted to do for the posterity of Abraham, bless them with all the covenants that lead to exaltation.

Such foresight is difficult for us to comprehend at times. God made a covenant, and it doesn’t matter how we individually treat our half of the covenant, He will always keep His half. We can exclude ourselves from the blessings of exaltation, but because He has made the promise, and He is eternal in His course, He will continue to offer those promises to anyone who is willing to accept them and live by the commandments that produce an exalted life. It doesn’t matter how broken we are, His covenants can fix our souls in any dispensation of time. His promises are sure, and His love unchanging from generation to generation.

FHE/Personal Study

Isaiah 25:4-9 – The Lord’s protection

This week’s lessons demonstrate over and over again the difference between those who reject God and His ways/covenants, and those who accept Him and are willing to live according to His commandments. Verse 9 gives us a good example of the attitude of those who follow Christ and live his gospel. If you go back and read chapter 29 about the destruction of the people in the Book of Mormon, it becomes quite obvious that there is a distinct difference in how people live their lives based on what they choose to believe in and how they act. In chapter 29 the Book of Mormon people rejected their God. In Isaiah 25:9 the Lord says this of those who will live in the last days.

9 ¶ And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

In Isaiah 25:6 I was puzzled by the phrase “wines on the lees,” so I looked it up. I learned a lot! The lees are the cellular residue from the yeast that gives wine its bubbles.

6 ¶ And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.

Evidently, if the wine is left to sit in its barrel or vat for months on end with the lees at the bottom, its flavors change in subtle ways, and the wine takes on a smoother and more substantial flavor. And if you stir the lees within the barrel or vat the effect and taste is heightened even more. The best Champaigns are left to sit in the lees for a good five years! This would explain why the Lord, in His description of prosperity, would include “a feast of wines on the lees.”

In verses 4-5 Isaiah makes reference to protective shadows from the heat of the day. If you recall the children of Israel were given a protective cloud to cover them from the heat of the sun for forty years. At night the cloud would change to a pillar of fire that rested over the temple so all the people had light to see by at night. This was a physical demonstration of the blessings God promises to those who obey Him. These manifestations represent His ever watchful eye and care over His people.

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OT38-2022 – A Marvelous Work and a Wonder

Week 38