Week 41 is scheduled for study Oct. 3-9, 2022. Isaiah goes out with a bang! This week he teaches us why we should rejoice in the Lord, find joy in fasting, and how the Lord lights our daily path.

Day 1

As you study Isaiah 58-66, consider how Isaiah’s words bring you joy and hope for the future.

Isaiah 58:3-12 – Fasting brings blessings.

For starters, I suggest you read an article I wrote on paying tithing and fasting. The bulk of the article focuses on the purpose and practice of fasting. I wrote it when we were studying the Doctrine and Covenants. But the principles of fasting still hold true for the Old Testament study.

In Isaiah 58 the first five verses describe the attitude with which ancient Israel largely approached the act of fasting. They treated fasting as an act of making oneself miserable. They treated fasting like they needed to adorn themselves for mourning, like wearing sackcloth and wallowing in ashes. This is the furthest thing from what the Lord intended when He gave Israel the principle of fasting.

The Lord describes fasting as follows in Isaiah 58:6-7.

The purpose of fasting is to

  1. “loose the bands of wickedness”
  2. “undo the heavy burdens”
  3. “let the oppressed go free”
  4. “break every yoke” (think of forced servitude or of a burden in life you are forced to carry)
  5. “deal thy bread to the hungry”
  6. “bring the poor that are cast out to thy house”
  7. “when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him”
  8. “hide not thyself from thine own flesh” (In other words, spend time with your loved ones and family.)

If we seek to fulfill the purposes of the fast the Lord then lists a number of ways in which we will find joy and blessings in our life for having made the effort to properly fast (Isaiah 58:8-12). This is why He refers to fasting and prayer as rejoicing and prayer (see the article I linked to above). Fasting is a form of rejoicing. If we have missed that fact then we have missed the point of fasting.

Day 2

As you study Isaiah 58-66, consider how Isaiah’s words bring you joy and hope for the future.

Isaiah 59:9-21; 61:1-3; 63:1-9 – Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer.

Over and over again the manual encourages us to write what is revealed to us as we read the scriptures, whether it is emotional, spiritual, or a physical insight. Today’s lesson has some really good questions that I will leave up to you to answer, since that is not where my insights have taken me. I would like to share, instead, what keeps coming into my head and heart each week we read Isaiah.

The following article is “off topic” only in that it isn’t exactly what the manual encourages us to consider in today’s lesson. But it is what the Spirit helped me to understand through today’s lesson. You can either follow this link or set about answering the questions proposed by the manual. Either course will hopefully give you a sense that you have seen something today with a new perspective.

Compassion and Justice Require Judgment

Day 3

As you study Isaiah 58-66, consider how Isaiah’s words bring you joy and hope for the future.

Isaiah 60; 62 – The Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light.

I invite you to take a moment and consider how the scriptures treat images of light. Almost all references to light versus darkness are used scripturally as a metaphor to talk about spiritual knowledge compared with spiritual ignorance. Enlighten, bright, shining, dawning, day, glory, these are all descriptions use by the prophets to describe spiritual understanding. Each descriptor has its own uses and ways of describing how knowledge is gained and used. And each are worth taking the time to consider within the context it is presented in in the scriptures.

Here is Isaiah 60:1.

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

There are actually five references to light in just this short verse: arise, shine, light, glory, and risen. Let’s look at possible explanations of each use.

Arise can refer to the rising sun or it can refer to us getting up from a recumbent position. We are told in numerous places in the scriptures to arise. In the last days Israel will become an example (a light) to the world. In other words, even though the world will not believe as Israel believes, Israel will stand out and be unique among the nations of the earth. They will be noteworthy as a people. In this way they will arise out of obscurity and come to the attention of all the nations of the earth.

Shine refers to the example they will set for others. The nation of Israel right now is special. They still do not believe in Christ, but God is prospering them, protecting them, and promoting their cause among the children of men. And we as covenant Israel are shining as an example of how to find happiness and joy in this life, and are able to show others where to come for peace in life. So the word shine can be applied equally well to either Israel.

Light. When the Lord says “thy light is come” He can be referring to Israel as coming into its own as a nation, to covenant Israel being a beacon of light, shining the light of truth to all people. There are numerous ways this one little statement could be equally applied.

Glory can be defined in several ways. We glorify God by duplicating His works and living as He lives. We glorify God by praising Him and showing our gratitude for His many blessings. This is also how we exalt Him. God’s glory is also a physical presence of light, for He is a being of light. Truth, light, and intelligence are used interchangeably in the scriptures, so we can factor that into this definition of glory as well.

Risen is a reference to the sun and how it rises each day. When we talk about the Restoration of the gospel we are also including the rising of God’s glory upon the world. The world was steeped in thick darkness, or spiritual ignorance and wickedness until the Restoration. Now the earth is being bathed in the light of truth, just as the sun rises each morning gradually increasing the amount of light upon a darkened world. This is the same image we are given when this verse tells us that “the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”

Wow! Even I never thought I would be able to say that much about verse 1 of chapter 60. When we take the time to try to talk about how the words in the verses are used, and how they are used in other verses in holy writ, we can learn many new things. For example, look at verse 2 of this chapter.

For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

I always wondered when I listened to Handel’s Messiah what the line meant to “gross darkness the people.” I always thought, “How does one gross darkness a person?” It was years later that I finally realized that Isaiah was saying that the people were covered in spiritual darkness, and not just darkness, but gross or extreme darkness. He was trying to paint a picture of a real absence of light and truth among the people of earth. It wasn’t just shady, but genuinely dark. No wonder the people are described as blind and needing to feel their way in the dark like a blind man. When God would once again give man His truth, His light would once again give us vision and sight that doesn’t exist without God.

Now that I have beaten the first two verses of chapter 60 to death, I turn you loose to beat the rest of the verses in today’s lesson into submission. I especially encourage you to consider how the Lord can be to us “an everlasting light.”

Day 4

As you study Isaiah 58-66, consider how Isaiah’s words bring you joy and hope for the future.

Isaiah 64:1-5; 65:17-25; 66 – Christ will reign on earth during the Millennium.

This is my personal take on what makes Christ’s Millennial reign so worthy of rejoicing and gladness.

The hallmark of the last days is that Satan has been turned loose upon the nations of the earth. Yes, happiness is to be found in these last days, but only within the restored church of Jesus Christ can lasting and real happiness endure. The rest of the world is sliding into perpetual sin and corruption. This means, by definition, into suffering and sorrow. That suffering and sorrow will continue to increase until men’s hearts shall fail them and many will look up, curse God, and wish to die. Also in the last days we are told that besides all the wars, plagues, pestilences, etc., one third of the population of the earth will die, one third of the fishes in the sea, and one third of the plants and animals.

There isn’t anything worth looking forward to except that at long last, when the Father finally says it is time, Jesus will return to the earth and purge it of all that is wicked and evil. The whole earth will be filled with Christ’s true glory, which will purge everything and consume all that is not holy or righteous. I don’t know what it means to have the earth wrap together like a scroll, nor can I imagine all the mountains melting and running down in His presence. All I know is that the righteous will be changed by the Holy Ghost and caught up to be with Christ at his coming. They will see his coming as a momentous occasion for joy, for all that has caused us to suffer will be cleansed from the earth.

At Christ’s coming the graves will open and the beginning of the first resurrection will launch into full steam. Many of those being resurrected at that time will be us and our family members. What a glorious day! Christ will take control of all the nations of the earth and will personally reign as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. People will still be governing the nations, but Christ will have the final say and directing influence in all the governments on earth. All who govern us will be righteous, loving, and kind people.

In the reign of Christ our peace will be so great that the sorrows we experience before his reign will be forgotten. He will wipe away our tears, and we will finally find rest from the turmoil that is the mark of the latter days. Should we be looking forward to his coming? Yes! Should we be doing something to prepare ourselves and others for his return? Yes! What will set us apart from the rest of the world at his coming is that we will have been preparing ourselves spiritually to be ready to live in the society he will rule over. We want to be worthy and ready to shoulder greater spiritual roles. And just as important, we want to bring all our loved ones and neighbors with us. It should break our heart to think of anyone having to be burned at his coming. Christ’s long looked for return should be the greatest and happiest event in the history of the world since Christ’s own resurrection, and the restoration of his gospel once again on the earth.

FHE/Personal Study

Prepare your surroundings

This idea is worth considering. What does your surroundings have to do with your ability to be spiritual? Which environment will most likely invite the Spirit to speak to my soul, the TV room in the dorms with a game on, or a quiet couch or seat in the library? If I am in my own room, do you think He will be happier visiting me in a clean and tidy room, no matter how poor, or a pigpen, no matter how richly furnished?

We sometimes forget that the Spirit is an individual just like we are. He has a personality and preferences. For example, how often do the scriptures talk about the Spirit screaming, yelling, or speaking loudly? I can’t think of a single reference. The Holy Ghost whispers. He deals in the realms of peace, since He is representing Christ and the Father. His goal is enlightenment, not bravado.

To communicate with the infinite, we need to calm our self, quiet our mind, and rid our self of distractions. This can be difficult to do, depending on your living circumstances. Sometimes the only quiet space we can manage might be between our own ears, and that can be tricky. But there is always a way to do it. Did you know that the Brethren usually keep paper and pen by their bedside so if they awaken in the middle of the night with instructions being given to them they can write it down as quickly as possible before it vanishes? Even the Brethren need to clear their heads before they can be reached by the Spirit sometimes.

So how do we prepare ourselves for communication with the Spirit? Some things that help are to find a quiet place, whether indoors or outdoors. Find a way to be physically comfortable, which may not always be easy. If you are younger you might be able to kneel when you contemplate and pray. Some of us older people would consider that a singularly tortuous exercise, so sitting quietly in a more comfortable chair is preferred. The sounds in the room also make a difference. For example, I can’t focus on anything else if there is music with words, spoken or implied, in the background. So if I put on music it must be quiet, and without any lyrics.

The important point here is that we need to be able to focus, without distractions if possible. Reading the scriptures, searching for answers or meaning, having a prayer in our heart, and possibly even writing down what it is we want to ask or get an answer to helps us stay on task when seeking the Spirit’s guidance. Our environment does indeed make a big difference. It isn’t everything, but it does influence our ability to seek Him out and to hear what He has to say to us.

Click the link below to

print a PDF copy of the article.

OT41-2022 – The Redeemer Shall Come to Zion

Week 41