OLD TESTAMENT - LESSON 40
Isaiah 54-56; 63-65
- "Lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes" (Isaiah 54:2).
- "With great mercies will I gather thee" (Isaiah 54:7).
- The Millennium will be a time of peace and joy.
A study of this lesson should encourage us to strengthen the stakes
of Zion and prepare for the Second Coming and the Millennium.
Strengthen The Stakes Of Zion
- Chapter 54 begins by talking about the children of Israel. The "children
of the desolate" represent the large number of people from the
tribes of Israel who will gather to Zion following the building of the
- READ ISAIAH 54:2. Enlarge the place of thy tent
and strengthen thy stakes.
- Brother Monte S. Nyman: "The concept of a tent with its cords
and stakes comes from the tent or tabernacle of Moses, and all Israel is
being invited to seek shelter under it." (Great Are The Words
Of Isaiah, p211)
- WHAT DOES THE TENT DESCRIBED BY ISAIAH REPRESENT?
- Zion or The Church of Jesus Christ.
- WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE PHRASE "ENLARGE THE PLACE OF THY TENT"?
- It is the call of the Lord for Church members to share the gospel and
to expand the Church throughout the earth.
- WHY DOES A TENT NEED STAKES?
- The stakes hold a tent up and keep it from collapsing.
- Stakes also hold a tent in place.
- Many modern tents have internal frames that do not require stakes in
order for the tent to stand. But stakes are still often necessary to hold
the tent in place. Several years ago my son and I were on a bicycle trip.
We stopped one evening in Idaho and made camp. We had a tent with an internal
frame. We put the tent up, threw our sleeping bags and gear in the tent,
and rode up to the nearest town in search of supper. When we returned,
the tent had been blown several yards by a strong evening wind. We should
have staked the tent down.
- WHAT DO THE STAKES IN THIS VERSE REPRESENT?
- President Ezra Taft Benson: "To members, the term stake is
a symbolic expression. Picture in your mind a great tent held up by cords
extended to many stakes that are firmly secured in the ground. The prophet
Isaiah likened latter-day Zion to a great tent encompassing the earth.
That tent was supported by cords fastened to stakes. (See 3 Nephi 22:2;
Isaiah 54:2.) Those stakes, of course, are various geographical organizations
spread out over the earth. Presently Israel is being gathered to the various
stakes of Zion." (Teachings of ETB, p149)
- As we consider a tent, the stakes are fundamental in the stability
of a tent. Also, as we "enlarge" the tent, more stakes are necessary
to hold the tent up and keep it stable. One year when I attended Scout
camp, our troop took a huge tent that would sleep 15 to 20 kids. It was
a big square tent. One stake at each corner was not sufficient to hold
the tent up. We put several large stakes along each side of the tent. So
it is with the Church. As the Church expands, more and stronger stakes
- WHAT CAN WE DO TO STRENGTHEN THE STAKE IN WHICH WE LIVE?
- Do our duty which includes the development of personal spiritual strength,
influencing our families and friends to do the same, service to our member
and nonmember neighbors, and accepting and fulfilling calls from priesthood
- HOW CAN STAKES BLESS PEOPLE'S LIVES?
- President Ezra Taft Benson: "Stakes are organized to assist
parents 'who have children in Zion' to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ
and administer the ordinances of salvation (see D&C 68:25). Stakes
are formed to perfect the Saints." (Teachings of ETB, p150)
- HOW ARE THE STAKES OF ZION PLACES OF DEFENSE AND REFUGE FOR US?
- "And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and
upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm,
and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole
earth" (D&C 115:6)
- Joseph Smith: "The time is soon coming, when no man will have
any peace but in Zion and her stakes." (TPJS, p161)
- President Ezra Taft Benson: "Stakes are a defense for the Saints
from enemies both seen and unseen. The defense is provided through priesthood
channels that strengthen testimony and promote family solidarity and individual
righteousness." (Teachings of ETB, p150)
- Bruce R. McConkie: "These stakes are part of the church structure,
and all who forsake the world and who seek to be one with those of Enoch's
day gather into the stakes of Zion, where they find refuge from the carnality
and evils of the world." ( A New Witness for the Articles of Faith,
The Gathering Of Israel
- READ ISAIAH 54:4-10. With great mercies will I
WHO IS INVITED TO FIND REFUGE BY GATHERING WITH THE SAINTS?
- WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THESE VERSES?
- The Lord is the symbolic husband of Israel.
- Verses 7-10 speaks of the latter-day gathering of Israel, "For
a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather
The concept of gathering, as taught by Isaiah and other prophets, is
an exciting thing to contemplate. We are living in the day when these prophecies
are being fulfilled. We can have a role in this gathering as we send our
children on missions and live the gospel faithfully as an example to our
- All of Heavenly Father's children.
- "...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" (55:1).
- WHAT IS THIS THIRST THAT ISAIAH MAKES REFERENCE TO?
- A spiritual thirst, a desire for things of eternity.
- HOW IS THIS THIRST QUENCHED?
- By coming to the "waters", accepting the gospel, and gathering
to the stakes of Zion.
- HOW DO SOME ATTEMPT TO QUENCH THIS THIRST?
- Isaiah 55:2: "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
- Rather than coming to the living waters, many spend their time, money,
and efforts in pursuit of the pleasures and things of the world, but they
- "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his
thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon
him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon" (55:7).
- Those who repent. And if they repent the Lord "will have mercy"
- READ ISAIAH 56:3, 5-8. The stranger.
- Brother Monte S. Nyman: "These verses seem to clearly describe
the times of the Gentiles when those who are not of Israel will be given
the opportunity to come and be numbered with Israel. The strangers are
those not of Israel who represent the gentile nations where the gospel
is restored. The eunuchs, literally those who could not produce offspring,
may refer to those who have no posterity in the Church and no other relatives
who will join; yet they will become the sons or daughters of Jesus Christ."
Consider the results of gathering the righteous and strengthening the
stakes of Zion.
- Isaiah said, "For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from
heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it
bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the
eater" (Isaiah 55:10).
- We have the privilege, opportunity, and duty to share the gospel with
those around us. As we do so, we enable this rain and snow to fall upon
the parched land of many souls. When the Saints first arrived in the Salt
Lake Valley, the land was almost a desert. Almost immediately, they damned
City Creek and turned the water upon the land. It wasn't long until the
land was green and producing "bread" for the Saints. So it is
when we share the message of the gospel. We are turning living waters upon
the soul. As they seeds of truth grow, they flourish and change lives for
the better and lead souls to eternal happiness.
- READ ISAIAH 60:1-3. Glory of the Lord to be upon
- Orson Pratt: "The Zion that is here spoken of is called to
'arise and shine, for the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.' There
is no one thing more fully revealed in the Scriptures of eternal truth,
than the rise of Zion of our God in the latter days, clothed upon with
the glory of God from the heavens--a Zion that will attract the attention
of all the nations and kindreds of the whole earth. It will not be something
that takes place in a corner on some distant island of the sea, or away
among some obscure people; but it will be something that will call forth
the attention of all people and nations upon the face of the whole earth."
The Millennium - A Time Of Peace & Joy
- Isaiah testified throughout his writings that there would be struggles,
temptations, and suffering in this world, and that good would overcome
evil in the end. He said that for the righteous, the future would be full
- READ ISAIAH 64:1-4. The coming of the Lord.
Isaiah describes the conditions that will exist during the Millennium?
- WHAT ARE THESE VERSE SPEAKING OF?
- WHAT IS THE MESSAGE OF HOPE FOUND HERE?
- In verse 4 it makes reference to what the Lord has prepared for those
"that waiteth for him."
- This will be the beginning of a grand new era, when truth shall reign
and righteousness shall abound upon the earth. Those who have prepared
and looked for this time will be blessed by living in this marvelous society.
Additional Quotations on the Millennium.
- "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the
former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind" (65:17).
- Bruce R. McConkie: "The millennium is the age of renewal and
regeneration when the Lord will 'create new heavens and a new earth.' So
sweeping will be the changes, so radical the differences in the order of
things, that the former heavens and earth 'shall not be remembered, nor
come into mind.' (Isa. 65:17.) It will be a 'day of transfiguration,' a
day 'when the earth shall be transfigured' (D. & C. 63:20-21), a day
when the continents and islands shall again 'become one land,' when the
mountains and valleys will no longer be found (D. & C. 133:22-24),
when all things will return to their state of paradisiacal glory."
(Mormon Doctrine, p495)
- Bruce R. McConkie: "...conditions which prevailed in the Edenic
day forecast similar conditions that will again prevail during the millennial
era; and a revealed knowledge of millennial conditions gives an understanding
of analogous conditions that prevailed when the earth enjoyed its first
paradisiacal status. The same conditions will not prevail in every detail,
but certain basic things will be similarly arranged." (Mormon
- "But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create:
for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And
I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping
shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying" (65:18-19).
- "There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old
man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years
- "And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall
plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another
inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree
are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of
their hands.They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble;
for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with
- This will be a day of great prosperity. Imagine how well society can
function when selfishness and greed are removed.
- "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer;
and while they are yet speaking, I will hear" (65:24).
- The Lord will answer the prayers of the people.
- "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall
eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They
shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD"
A concluding thought on Isaiah:
- Joseph Fielding Smith: "The gospel will be taught far more
intensely and with greater power during the millennium, until all the inhabitants
of the earth shall embrace it. Satan shall be bound so that he cannot tempt
any man. Should any man refuse to repent and accept the gospel under those
conditions then he would be accursed. Through the revelations given to
the prophets, we learn that during the reign of Jesus Christ for a thousand
years eventually all people will embrace the truth." (Doctrines
of Salvation, 3:64)
- Joseph Fielding Smith: "The Lord has said through his servants
that during the millennium those who have passed beyond and have attained
the resurrection will reveal in person to those who are still in mortality
all the information which is required to complete the work of these who
have passed from this life. Then the dead will have the privilege of making
known the things they desire and are entitled to receive. In this way no
soul will be neglected and the work of the Lord will be perfected."
(Doctrines of Salvation, 3:65)
- Bruce R. McConkie: "When we speak of the binding of Satan in
connection with the millennium, we mean that he will be bound during that
era, that his powers will be limited after that day commences, and not
that men will turn to righteousness so as to tie the hands of Satan, thereby
bringing millennial conditions to pass. The plan does not call for men
to turn voluntarily to righteousness thereby causing the thousand year
era of peace to commence. Rather, the millennium will be brought about
by power; the wicked will be destroyed; and those only will remain on earth
who are sufficiently righteous to abide the day of the Lord's coming."
(Mormon Doctrine, p495)
- It is interesting how much Isaiah focused on the latter days.
- WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE HE DID THIS?
- Isaiah, like many other righteous persons through the ages, longed
for the time when there would be peace and the Lord would reign upon the
earth. I believe that his righteous desires were rewarded with extensive
visions of the future, most especially the latter days.
- As with many of the prophets, he was not writing or prophesying to
the people of his time alone, but to people throughout the ages. Most certainly
the righteous of all ages long also for the time when real peace will be
established upon the earth.
We are blessed to live in this day of prophetic fulfillment as we see
the gathering of Israel and prepare for the second coming of the Lord.
Let us be a participant in the great events of this day by working to strengthen
the stakes of Zion by increasing our own spirituality and by reaching out
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