God's love
Week 40 is scheduled for study Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2022. In each of this week’s lessons we see showcased God’s love for all who are willing to come to Him.

Day 1

Ponder the insights from Isaiah 50-57 that help you draw closer to the Savior. Record the impressions you receive.

Isaiah 50-52 – The future is bright for the Lord’s people.

One of the characteristics of God that never ceases to amaze me is His ability to work in small increments over long periods of time. I have written about this before (Where Is the Greatness in Small Things?). In this instance, the punishment for His covenant people lasted nearly three thousand years. Note that at no time did the Lord ever tell the people how long their captivity and dispersion would last, just that it would last until the Restoration of all things, which includes the gathering in of dispersed Israel.

In the time Israel was dispersed among the nations of the earth, dozens of generations were left to struggle on their own without the guidance of prophets or the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is similar to the fate of the Lamanites who were taught by their rebellious fathers to hate all truth and righteousness. What the Lord sees that we don’t see is that these choices take time to rectify. God knew all that His children would do before the world was even created, so He reserved the majority of His most faithful children to come to earth to repair the damage some of their ancestors made and had to live with because of the choices of those forefathers. They rejected His gospel, but the generations He is sending today are accepting that gospel, and because they are the gospel covenants are once again being offered to those who lived and died without the opportunity to experience them while in this part of mortality.

We may look at Israel’s dispersion and mourn for the losses they created for themselves and for their posterity. But our Father planned ahead to offer to all what a few had rejected while at the head of their family trees. As their families grew, multiplied, and spread across the earth, without the gospel in their lives, the Lord was already preparing for the day His chosen children who would accept His gospel plan and would offer those covenants to those who had gone without them in mortality. This is why the last dispensation, though coming at the end of the world, is a time of great rejoicing. All the saving ordinances are available, along with the technology that allows us to reach back many generations to offer those ordinances to those who came before us.

When the Savior returns, the way will be opened to permit us to offer those same saving ordinances to all the generations who ever lived on earth. This is why Isaiah talks about the looked forward to day when the Lord’s hand would once again open the way to salvation for His lost covenant people. When the Savior returns all of God’s children will be given the opportunity to accept the gospel message we now enjoy.


Our participation in this day of gladness and time of rejoicing doesn’t come without requirements. I suggest you reread Isaiah 51-52 and take everything he says very personally. For example, in verse 1 of chapter 51 we read this –

Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.

We are the followers of righteousness. We are the ones who seek the Lord. Isn’t that what making and keeping covenants is all about? So what is the Lord’s counsel? He says we need to look to our source, the place from whence we came. The comparison is to look to the rock from whence we were hewn or chiseled out, or to the hole from whence we were digged. It is in verse 2 that he gives us a more useful and specific directive.

Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.

He is saying, ‘Look to your covenants I gave to your first father in the covenant, Abraham. He and Sarah are your parents, your examples. Live like them and I will bless you and increase you as I did them.’ We can take these verses seriously, because the covenants God made with Abraham and Sarah are the same ones He has made with us, and the promises are the same. This is why the prophets are constantly telling us to walk in the covenant path. To walk in the covenant path is to honor our covenants like Abraham and Sarah did.

The manual gives a number of other examples of directives the Lord gives to covenant Israel that will lead them to be prospered and blessed in these last days. And interestingly, living by our covenants also leads to the salvation of our kindred dead, for today’s covenant path includes working in holy Temples for our ancestor’s  salvation. As a study project for today’s lesson, take some time and dig through these two chapters to see what else the Lord wants you to do in order to gain the blessings He has to offer to all of Israel.

Day 2

Ponder the insights from Isaiah 50-57 that help you draw closer to the Savior. Record the impressions you receive.

Isaiah 53 – Jesus Christ took upon Himself my sins and sorrows.

In 2019 when we started the Come, Follow Me curriculum, we began with the New Testament. I would like you to go back to my commentary on today’s subject to read my description of what a whipping boy is. Click on the following link then scroll down to Day 2 and read all that day’s lesson. It is instructive. What is a whipping boy?

I am so impressed with some comments made in the manual’s introduction to this week’s lessons that I would like to quote them here.

Jesus Christ frees us, not by just opening the prison but by taking our place there. He relieves us from our chains of grief and sorrow by bearing them Himself (see Isaiah 53:4-5, 12). He does not save us from a distance. He suffers with us, in an act of “everlasting kindness” that “shall not depart from thee” (Isaiah 54:8, 10).

I have never read a more personalized description of the Savior’s actions as Redeemer and Savior than this quote. It has made all the other scriptures about what he did for me come alive in a new way with a new perspective.

Too often Jesus, as a man and as the Savior, becomes impersonal. He becomes just a name we refer to. If we momentarily forget how personal his sacrifices were on our behalf, we risk ranking Jesus of Nazareth with all the other historical figures in the scriptures, like Moses, Abraham, and Noah. None of those other men did anything that would personally impact my salvation. Jesus did. I believe that when we say the name of Jesus, or mention him by title, like the Christ, we should have an emotional reaction to that statement. There should be a connection of gratitude with all that Jesus did that should be more intense than with the mention of any other prophet.

As you read chapter 53, I hope you will try to make it personal, for to Jesus it was very personal. He volunteered to be our whipping boy because of his love for us and for our Father. His willingness to suffer for someone who wouldn’t appreciate the level of his suffering speaks volumes about his own character and the level of his own love.

Day 3

Ponder the insights from Isaiah 50-57 that help you draw closer to the Savior. Record the impressions you receive.

Isaiah 54; 57:15-19 – Jesus Christ wants me to return to Him.

I don’t know if you had the same reaction to the verses of today’s assignment that I had. My first thought was, “Well, the Isaiah 57:15-19 verses aren’t exactly sweeping me off my feet with promises of blessings. Chapter 54 holds more promises, but I’m missing the invitations to return to him. Hmmm.” It was then that I realized that the invitations to return to the Lord were the subject of yesterday’s lesson. Today’s lesson seems to be more about the Lord’s promises to those who turn to him and obey him, but mostly in the last days.

The Lord has always blessed and prospered His people when they are obedient to His commandments. But the promise that He will never again become wroth with them is reserved for the last days alone. I know of no other place in the scriptures where that promise is made referring to a different period of time. Even when the Savior came to visit the Nephites the promise was that by the fourth generation they would have turned away from Him and He would have to destroy the Nephites and scatter the Lamanites.

Whether He goes by the name of Jehovah, God, Christ, or any other name, His love for those who make and keep covenants with Him is always a constant. Once God delivered the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt he worked with them tirelessly for thousands of years until they completely turned their backs on Him and His covenants. They retained the form of the religion He had given them, but they had lost all the spirit and purpose of that religion. The last straw was when He personally came among them as a mortal to give them salvation through the higher law He offered. Instead of rejoicing that the God of their fathers was now in their midst, they were offended by Him, vilified him then crucified Him.

And for all their mistreatment of their God, and their inability to be trusted to keep His commandments, as simple as they were, He promised that when their days of punishment were over for the covenants they had violated that He would bless them beyond measure. Why? Because their descendants wouldn’t reject His word, but embrace it. They would build temples to their God and worship worthily in them. They would be a covenant making and covenant keeping people. And they would listen to the voice of the Spirit and become, over time, a holy people, sanctified and justified before God. They would grow in wisdom and strength until they receive their Lord as worthy recipients, and not a people whose God would only find condemnation among them.

The promises of today’s verses talk of these people who have accepted Christ as their Messiah and God. They are obedient to Him and strive to walk in His ways. The joys described are not just our joys, but the joy of the Lord to have His brothers and sisters accept Him for who He is, and who are willing to come to Him for healing and forgiveness of sin on their path home to our common Father. These verses describe Christ’s joy in being able to bless us for having returned to Him. These are the blessings He has been trying to give to all of God’s family from the very beginning. It is only now that more and more of God’s children are accepting Him for the Savior He has always been.

Day 4

Ponder the insights from Isaiah 50-57 that help you draw closer to the Savior. Record the impressions you receive.

Isaiah 55-56 – The Lord invites all to “take hold of my covenant.”

Amos, who comes after Isaiah, gives the question to Isaiah’s answer. Here is what Amos prophesied of the last days. These are the spiritual conditions that existed in Joseph Smith’s days, and today outside of the Lord’s kingdom (Amos 8:11-13).

11 ¶ Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:

12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.

13 In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.

Amos is describing the lack of truth among the children of men. Amos indicates that all people have a natural need for guidance outside of themselves, they long for it. Unfortunately, because of the rejection of truth in prior generations, there will be a general dearth of truth to be had on the earth. The people will, in effect, be starving to death (spiritual death) for wont of God’s true words.

If you recall the story of Jesus at the well in Samaria, he told the woman there that he could provide her with living water that would make it so she would never thirst again. He was referring to the gospel he brought, for the truths of the gospel fill our souls and satisfy our most inmost cravings for truth and goodness.

This brings us to the answer or contents of Isaiah 55-56. Here are the first three verses of Isaiah 55.

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

In the first two verses the Lord is inviting “every one that thirsteth” to fill themselves, at no cost to them. In fact, they can come to God and be filled with wine and milk, the two liquid standards of prosperity. He also asks why we spend our money on things that are not bread, or in other words, for that which does not satisfy the soul. If we come to the Lord we can eat and drink to our heart’s content at no cost to us. We can delight our soul in the fatness His gospel provides.

My question was, “But what is it that God gives us that provides us with such a bounty that our souls will be satisfied and we will find joy and contentment?” The answer is in verse 3. If we will listen to the Lord and come to Him, He will make an “everlasting covenant” with us, and our soul will live.

Verse 7 tells us that the person who comes to the Lord “he will have mercy upon him; … for he will abundantly pardon.” Not only will the soul that comes to Christ find truth, but peace and rest from the guilt and sorrow that is caused by our sins. So what is this “fatness” God promises those who turn to Him? “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace.” This is the contentment of the soul that accompanies those who repent and live a gospel-centered life. This is the fatness or plenty that God promises those who accept His covenants and live them, contentment of the soul, with joy and peace.

To take hold of God’s covenants is to grab onto them with both hands, with no intention of letting go. This is the attitude required to receive the promises found in these two chapters. The Lord assures us that His words never come back voided, for they are always fulfilled. His covenants are powerful enough that even someone who feels like a eunuch, and who feels cut off from the possibility of eternal increase can have a greater inheritance with God than someone with sons and daughters. Now there is a promise worth pondering.

FHE/Personal Study

Isaiah 55:8-9 – My ways are not your ways.

¶ For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

First, let’s try to get a visual on what happens to our perception when we are physically higher and look down on where we were just standing. What I perceive while standing on the ground is my whole world, for it is all I see. But lift me up a mile or more in the air, and my views change considerably. What concerned me a few moments prior now looks insignificant as I look out over the vastness around me. Spiritually speaking, this is the kind of difference that exists between our views on life and the Lord’s view. He sees forever in all directions. We see, basically, our hand in front of our face. Our perspective is shortsighted and narrow.

Have you ever noticed that God’s ways are counter intuitive? The world around us tells us to take what we can, while we can, for there is only so much to go around. If we don’t do this we will find ourselves completely without what counts most in this world, money, fame, and power. The Lord, on the other hand, tells us that giving and serving others will provide for all in plentiful amounts. He claims that there is “enough and to spare” in the earth. There is no shortage according to He who made the world. And according to the Lord our happiness and security won’t be found in money, fame, and power, but in loving others, repenting, and keeping our covenants with God.

Yes, His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. So, do we depend on our views within the latest hole we have dug for ourselves, or do we rely on the views of He who sees all and understands all?

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OT40-2022 – He Hath Borne Our Griefs

Week 40