There Is No Peace… to the Wicked

Isaiah 57

This chapter starts with a consideration of the state of the righteous at the point of death. Isaiah points out that none really give the demise of the righteous much thought. But the blessings that follow the righteous, this is the end of it all, or in other words, this is the point of life: To be prepare for death and what lies beyond!

There was a quote somewhere in a recent General Conference talk that said something to the effect of the reason why he lived so long was because he was so prepared to die. (*add reference)

Joseph Smith received of the Lord some additional insight into this thought:

Behold, blessed, saith the Lord, are they who have come up unto this land with an eye single to my glory, according to my commandments.

For those that live shall inherit the earth, and those that die shall rest from all their labors, and their works shall follow them; and they shall receive a crown in the mansions of my Father, which I have prepared for them.

Doctrine and Covenants 59:1-2

There is clearly something more that we ought to be preparing for.

Verses 3 – 9 are a clear set of accusations against a group of people who are lost in sin. Sin, such as the grievous claims that were laid against this people (sacrificing their own children to dumb idols), put a clear stop to personal progress. Fortunately, things are different today. But are there other dumb idols to which we voluntarily sacrifice our children to?

This is instructive on several different fronts though. Learning to judge between right and wrong, what actually is sin, and what is only facade/personal preference, is extremely important.

To understand that there is another Being who is more keenly interested in our success and well being, even more so that we ourselves could ever be, this is to begin to comprehend the greatness of our Eternal Father. And this is the ironic state in which the wicked find themselves: seeking their own self-conceived definition of personal interests, utterly alone. Strangely though, these efforts of self definition seldom scratch the surface of our true identity or understanding of those things that would bring us the greatest joys. And the painful reality is that we choose to walk alone, unaided by the divine, when He is willing and able and ready to assist all those who are of a contrite and humble heart.

My House Shall Be… For All People

Isaiah 56

The chapter starts with a call to righteousness. It doesn’t expressly say to “keep the commandments”. Rather it says to keep judgment, and do justice. Then there is the reminder that the Salvation of the Lord is near at hand. There is a second distinguishing characteristic of those who would do righteousness: they keep the sabbath day from polluting it. What would pollute the Sabbath day? The commandment for the Sabbath day is to “keep it holy”.

This is a chapter of inclusion. Isaiah identifies two different case scenarios of people who might feel excluded from the fold of God: eunuchs and the sons of the stranger. Clearly we are not dealing with children of the House of Israel in either case. Verses 4 & 5 explains that eunuchs that 1) keep the sabbath, 2) do the will of God, and 3) make covenants with God, these shall receive a place and name within the temple (mine house).

A similar scenario is repeated with the sons of the stranger in verses 6 & 7:

  • they join themselves to the Lord
  • they serve Him
  • they love the name of the Lord
  • they are His servants
  • they (everyone of them) keep the Sabbath day from polluting it
  • and finally, they make covenants with Him.

These are then promised to be brought into his holy mountain, and to made joyful in his house of prayer.

There is a powerful prophecy at the end of this verse 7: “for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.”

Near the end of the chapter is an observation of those that are called to be “watchmen”. Isaiah calls them blind and dumb dogs. He also calls them greedy dogs, shepherds that cannot understand. These are harsh words of accusation and a reminder to not be found sitting on my laurels.

Neither Are Your Ways My Ways

Isaiah 55

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me this morning, as is also memories of the “Glory” soundtrack from my youth. This points me to the African nation and peoples of African descent, while also considering the words of this chapter that invite all to come and buy freely.

God is not a transactional God. Neither are the creations which are under his control. Governments and the transactional systems that are setup to maintain such are of temporal concern. There will be no stock markets in the Millennium. It’s not a miracle to overload the nets of a fisherman and more than it is that an apple tree can set enough fruit and more to sustain a household for an entire year. In a moment, God can offset and counterbalance any established system, with abundance or drought.

Peace, peace is being taken from the earth. You are in possession of peace, that peace which comes through Christ.

The conditions that were imposed upon the earth at the Fall of Adam and Eve are reversed or rescinded by the incorporation of the Word of God into one’s life. This may be as true in temporal affairs as it is in spiritual matters.

This chapter is then a set of strong arguments for why one should turn from their wicked ways back unto the Lord.

Peace, No More?

In thoughts that have been impressed upon my mind this morning, and from comments that I’ve been listening to over the past few days, it seems to me that we are or have already entered into a period in which peace, generally speaking, has been taken from among us.

Now I don’t know where you are at–what your circumstances look like, what challenges lie dauntingly before you. I don’t know what you’re quietly carrying, or maybe it’s not so quiet or hidden. Maybe you’ve been carrying this burden for so long, the hope that anything will change is gone.

What I know, simply, is that the Prince of Peace (Jesus Christ) will triumph individually as soon as we will let Him. In this regard, He waits patiently “at the door” for us to let Him in to our lives. He will triumph universally at the end of this unique period of universal unrest and re-establish peace, Millennial peace!

Let’s return just for a moment to the individual act of letting Christ in to my life. I can only speak by way of personal experience as to how this works for me. The real efforts that I made to let Christ into my life today, included getting on my knees this morning and praying for understanding about feelings and impressions that I had had for the last couple of days. I got up off my knees prematurely, so after a few minutes I returned to my knees again to make sure I was where the Father needed me to be.

Then I did some listening. I could hear something of the truth as I tried to figure out what to pen in my journal about the day that had passed. I then turned to the scriptures which I accessed through a web browser. Taking notes in a blog format, I recorded the feelings of my heart. At the end of this hour of communion, this morning, I found myself in a state of quiet reflection. After struggling to keep the space in my mind uncluttered for several moments, I felt the words “publish peace”. Immediately the words from Isaiah came back to me, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him… that publisheth peace.” (Isaiah 52:7)

Lettuce, gone to seed, in the garden.

Do I feel like I am in a state of despair or devoid of peace? I am not. Can I relate with those that feel that they are in such dark spots? Maybe for a moment, I can recall these feelings (because I have come and gone from such spaces, even recently). My hope though is in Christ, that “man of sorrows… acquainted with grieve” who also is known as the Prince of Peace! He’s been in the darkest of dark spots. He knows the way out.

Truly, he does.

Can you come with me and sit under the shade of His peaceful protection? What do you have to do to be here? Are you going to take the time to answer these questions, especially if you need to answer these question?

In Righteousness Shalt Thou Be Established

Isaiah 54, See also 3 Nephi 22

(Unlike other chapters of Isaiah, referenced elsewhere in the Book of Mormon, I have not made a detailed study of chapter 54 yet.)

This chapter starts with this premise: “more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife.” The meaning that I give to this is that greater in number (and spiritual power) are the children of Christ by adoption than those that were prepared through the house of Israel.

Unexpected growth is a theme here at the beginning of the chapter. We see growth from places and in ways that were not anticipated. Enlarging the tents borders, spreading forth the curtains, extending the stake further out, inheritances being claimed that once belonged to the Gentiles, and desolate cities being occupied.

There is a comparing and contrasting of scope between Israel and the world. The Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He shall also be called the God of the whole earth.

My wife, through the commentary of others, has presented to me this truth: God is not a transactional God. Yes, justice must be satisfied. But blessings, kindness, long-suffering, mercy, peace, these are all constant realities, or characteristics of our God.

Verses 6-10 talk about God’s wrath for “a small moment” and then his kindness as “everlasting”. His mercy, contrasted to his wrath, is anything but balanced!

There are promises found in this chapter. Some are easier to believe than others:

  • thou shalt be far from oppression;
  • terror… shall not come near thee.
  • All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.

This last promise is harder for me to fathom than others, but perhaps easier to believe now than a few years ago, because of what I have experienced.

The chapter ends with additional promises:

  • No weapon formed against thee shall prosper.
  • Every tongue that shall against thee in judgment shall thou condemn.

As I conclude this chapter, memories of years past in service to the kingdom of God have come back to my mind. Is now the time to return, to recommit myself and do better?

Lessons Learned from the Pandemic: What We Are Learning and Will Never Forget

“What We Are Learning and Will Never Forget,” President Russel M. Nelson, April 2021 General Conference – Priesthood Session

God is optimistic about my future? And He has ever and always been that way? How? How can one be optimistic and then been saddened when we don’t choose right? Or what does God know about our potential to progress that we cannot see. Events do not define us.

The first two paragraph’s of Pres. Nelson’s remarks give me pause for reflection. On the one hand, not much has changed in the past two years of my life. There was no major losses incurred. We are among the smaller minority that has inadvertently improved our position in the past two years as a result of COVID. I gained family moving closer to me. No one has died in my family in I don’t know how long! It it strange being on the far side of such suffering, so removed, so isolated from it all.

“Great changes are easier than small ones.” Sir France Bacon

“I know the Lord has great and marvelous plans for us—individually and collectively.” What does this mean for me? Then the reminder that the Lord has greater blessings in store for us, and he also knows that we cannot bear all things now. The timing of the Lord is not our own.

My feeling this morning is that there is another significant step forward that we need to take to be put in a position of greater advantage, what that step is, I don’t know? It took the pioneers 17 years to get to where they needed to be geographically, 5 more to start building a temple, and then 40 years after that to see it through to completion. Eek! What a time table?

Lessons Learned from the Last 2 Years

“What have you learned in the past two years that you always want to remember?”

Or better said to maintain focus in attempting to answer this question: what have I learned in the past two years personally about Jesus Christ that I always want to remember?

  • Look to Christ in every thought, doubt not, fear not. When I am overcome with darkness because I have dwelt on the poor decisions of family members that have led to greater suffering, Christ will pull me out of those sinking waters.
  • Christ is serious about honoring my temple covenants and empowering me to do the same to bless my family.
  • Because of elective personal hardship which we choose to follow the Spirit in 2011, we have sailed through the 2020 pandemic where everyone else was faced with hardship.
  • Strengthening my marriage to Rachel and my family are the most important responsibilities that I have.

Lesson 1: The Home Is the Center of Faith and Worship

My initial response to making home the center of faith and worship has to do with the physical appearance of my home, but President Nelson doesn’t point to the appearance of my home as the key to making it a holy place:

Attitudes and actions that invite the Spirit will increase the holiness of your home.

Now, I am just sitting with this thought for a moment. How can I change my attitude towards the members of my family enough to invite the Spirit into my home? What actions would encourage the Spirit to be in my home?

Lesson 2: We Need Each Other

The problem with the pandemic is that I enjoyed the excuse that it gave me to be more focused on myself and my family. I am sitting with myself asking if this is wrong? Balance is the answer, and it has never been requisite to run faster than we should.

No one needs to feel alone. “If you know of anyone who is alone, reach out—even if you feel alone too! You do not need to have a reason or a message or business to transact. Just say hello and show your love.”

Personal Lessons Learned from the Pandemic

  • (See list from above.)
  • The power of temple covenants exists outside the temple.
  • God’s work never stops. The pandemic taught us ways to be more efficient in doing his work. We learned how to use technology to hold meetings and be more effective.

  • Response from pandemic has been what has defined us as a people.
  • Disease doesn’t scare us as a family.
  • We chose to home school before before everyone was compelled to homeschool.
  • Our oddities have become the norm: work from home, online education, home school.

A Man of Sorrows… Acquainted with Grief

Isaiah 53, See also Mosiah 14

(I am including the entirety of my study from Mosiah 14 made almost 10 years ago at the end of this post.)

The first thing that stands out to me loudly this morning (21 Jun 2021), is that Christ is termed a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (vs. 3). I can connect with that. What makes me connect with and appreciate the Savior even more is the reality that Isaiah then illustrates in verse 4: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.” So it was me. I was part of his grief.

Second day of study (22 Jun 2021), Isaiah starts the chapter with two questions:

  • “Who hath believed our report?”
    This question invites faith on statements of fact or reality. “Our report” suggests that we are being asked to believe not a myth, but rather in eye-witness accounts of things that actually happened. Thus faith is belief things that are true, but simply can not be readily seen.
  • “and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”
    Coupled with this first question, this follow-up question adds an important insight that further qualifies how we are to receive this report. The question expects that the recipient receives knowledge or truth through revelation.

Sub-Study: Receiving Truth via Revelation

Gospel Topic: Revelation

JST, Matthew 7:12-17 – In teaching about revelation and understanding its importance, Christ was even encouraging of the ruling class to point them to seek revelation of the Father.

Another day of study (25 Jun 2021), I have felt that judgment is a tool that the Lord uses for our progression. Isaiah says, “by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” When we talk in terms of redemption of the sinner, the Lord employs two tools which seem to be in opposition to each other: judgment and mercy. I don’t necessarily see them as being in opposition to each other. Judgment is a measuring stick. How can we know what we are to do with out judgment. We talk about “the demands of justice.” Mercy is what takes hold when those demands have been fully satisfied, and if we are being honest with ourselves, it always seems to be much more forgiving than we feel we deserve.

“Because he did no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.”

(26 Jun 2021) Is violence sin? Violence, the shortcut of a short-fused individual, an attempt at forcing one’s will upon a situation in such a way that others are limited in how they respond. There is more to consider here. I am going to do a breakout study on the topic of violence.

(28 Jun 2021) Perhaps there is no other chapter of scripture that captures the significance of Christ’s Atonement like this chapter. This is what makes Christ a God, that he was capable of bearing our sins and burdens, and that he accepted this humiliation upon himself. If he were mortal, imperfect like the rest of us, this would be beyond praiseworthy. Why then, being just slightly above the angels, and choosing to descend below the dignity of mortal suffering to bear our transgressions, our mortal rebellions against truth, do we count this of lesser value?

I am not capable of comprehending this Atonement, yet it is real. This mortal frame that I possess, this is the only thing that I can fully steer or control to bring into submission with this unfathomable reality.

(Study from December 2011)

I am memorizing this entire chapter. I already had it committed to memory at one point in my past. Having done so, has made it very familiar to me as I read through it again. As I have read though the chapter again those feelings of familiarity seem to also be reminders of Savior’s friendship and concern for each of us.

It is an interesting thing to contemplate that in the equity of the Lord’s plan, relatively very few ever had the opportunity to know Christ during His mortal ministry. Perhaps a lie of the adversary is that thought that had we been alive and know Christ personally, intimately, then we would believe and have as much conviction as the apostles of Christ did.

However, I wonder how I would have responded to Christ if my first interaction with Him would have been to meet him personally in mortality. Without any knowledge of the plan of God, or being subject wholly to the tendencies of the natural man, I fear that I would (as would probably many others) discount him and just walk away. If salvation were based on just a one time personal encounter with the Savior of the world, how miserable would be my performance and fate.

The contemplation of the pain and suffering that Christ had to bear is beyond comprehension. Yet what is curious to note is that Christ himself does say “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”(Matt 11:30) How can  he say that something  “which suffering caused… , even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit”(Doctrine and Covenants 19:16) is easy and light? Again, it is beyond comprehension. Perhaps, the power of true love, Christ-like love, which is unconditional and without end, is the best explanation to an otherwise irrational paradox.

The use of  different tenses, some times even within the same verse can at first be very disconcerting. Isaiah goes from future tense to present tense to past tense and then back and forth freely throughout the chapter. Clearly, in Isaiah’s day this was a forward looking prophecy. But then when he says things like “we hid as it were our faces from him”(vs 3), the accusation is personally applicable, and I find within myself truth in my own life experiences of times when I indeed have tried to hid my face from Him. The reminder is powerful and poignant.

I love the words of Isaiah!

Verse 7 talks about the Savior as a lamb or a dumb(as in unable to speak) sheep. I am asking myself why did he take this role upon him. “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter.” It is as if He went knowing, yet he did not know, for He had not experienced. Yet what a great example: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth.” Too often I am found complaining when acute trial gets to be very difficult.

In verse 9, as I review the definitive statements about Christ’s innocence, the reality of this truth makes everything else possible. “because he had done no evil, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” That statement alone causes me to conclude that this was a great man, a being beyond mortal capacity. Indeed, He was and is a God. Yet knowing that he was here and that he experienced it makes it all the more admirable what he has done for me. Indeed admiration perhaps is a weak word, when really it causes me to want to worship Him, and love Him with all my heart.

Christ was triumphant over the grave! He has obtained the same rank and stature as great as any wicked, self serving ruler in this world, because of his righteousness. It was different than any other who lived and aspired to greatness and wealth and power and prominence

Verse 11 is a reminder of the disciples burden that the Savior willingly carries. This reminder, if I truly reflected upon it frequently would keep me in check and cause me to not transgress as frequently as I find myself doing.

Here is the other thing that can be truly confusing about Isaiah: the use of pronouns without a given understanding of whom the pronoun is being attributed to. For example, verse 9: “And he made his grave with the wicked.” The question is: Who made who’s grave? What is the proper Spirit in which this verse is to be understood. If it is God the Father who is making the grave for the Savior Jesus Christ, the explanation given for doing so seem much more logical: “Because [Christ] had done no evil, neither was any deceit in his mouth.”

This morning’s study (the entire study has now spanned over two weeks – today is 3 December 2011) began with a simple thought: what price did Isaiah have to pay to merit receipt of these revelations. I have been deeply moved by the words of Isaiah here and elsewhere, but what do we know of his history and ministry. What were his challenges?

I just found my answer to the above questions, or at least a couple of good starting points:

One more time this morning (7 December 2011), the Spirit of the Lord bids me to give pause on the line in verse 3, “and we hid as it were our faces from him.” Perhaps it is the reason for the hiding that the Lord would have me to consider. “He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” We don’t like to be associated with sorrow and grief. We don’t like to watch it in movies. Much less do we like to have to deal with it in real life. Or perhaps we find ourselves too much engulfed in our own sorrows and griefs. At any rate, I think it must be because we don’t frequently know how to remedy these griefs and the pain that comes for whatever reason, and so we shy away from the challenges that such present. This brings to mind the scriptures from the New Testament that talk about the poor and the needy when the Lord says “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt 25:40)

For the hungry, the thirsty, the estranged, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned, Christ has born their griefs and sorrows. Among them, ought we also to be found.

Redeemed without Money

Isaiah 52

I don’t know why this chapter or rather many of the passages in this chapter are familiar to me. I am very much acquainted with the words of these prophecies. Beyond this, I feel the Spirit of the Lord so strongly testifying of the reality of these statements found throughout this chapter, especially as it pertains to NOW.

The answer, at least in part, to the above musing is because this chapter is quoted in other parts of the scriptures. It is not found in its entirety, but in groups of verses, notably in 3 Nephi 20, starting in verse 36.

“My People Shall Know My Name”

This is a key in the Gathering of Israel in the last days. Those that are gathered will be gathered by the name of Christ. (See verse 6) Isaiah doesn’t mention Christ by name, but Christ points to Isaiah as speaking of Him. 3 Nephi 20 gives greater clarity in the significance of this prophecy (see verse 31).

“Sold for Nought… Redeemed without Price”

Presently, I am tempted to do this (sell myself for nought) in contemplation of a newer car purchase. Not really, but the option of financing a vehicle is a reminder of an unnecessary debt, which limits the freedoms that I have to do as I please with my time. Redeemed without price, the scripture says, this is true, but not without work.

Side tangent: The Sabbath Day is the Lord’s Day

(I’m enjoying a clarity of thought this morning – 14 Jun 2021 – which is allowing a lot of puzzle pieces to fall into place in rather rapid succession.)

The key to keeping the Sabbath Day holy is to to turn from doing what we want on this one day of the week, to do doing what the Lord would want us to do on this day. But this only works if we want to be doing what the Lord wants us to do. A Sabbath Day observance cannot be compelled upon anyone. It cannot be forced. So if you or I don’t want to keep the Sabbath day Holy, or if I don’t want to do what the Lord would have me to do on His Holy Day, then I am lost. It is in the desire that the first steps towards observance are found.

The blessing of the Sabbath Day are abundantly documented in the scriptures. Peace, temporal prosperity in the land, increased light or understanding. These things are withheld from those who do not honor the Sabbath Day.

Beyond words, I’ve re-read verse 1, and have seen in my mind’s eye and felt in my heart deep things: Zion was and Zion will return. Jerusalem has a place of glory at the end of times. When that day comes, there will be no unclean thing to come there in. There is a glory that defies description that will rest there, not a superficial presence, but a power that is both deep and real.

This is the way things are. However unfair, or at whatever disadvantage the unbelieving have because they will not believe what they cannot see, it doesn’t change the reality of truth, the reality of how things really are.

I have jumped ahead to chapter 53. The path of the righteous is not an easy path. I’m suddenly looking at those whose lives were cut short in the service of the Lord as being perhaps a bit more in harmony with the Lord, bearing that cross with Him.

Redeemed without money, yes, but oh the work required to bring to pass the salvation promised. This is where Chapter 53 is going.

I am sitting just a little longer with Chapter 52. What do we have in chapter 52? It is a collection of brief statements of truth and prophecy pertaining to the reestablishment of Zion and the salvation offered of the Savior. The two topics are of intertwined correlation. Without an atonement and the Savior’s sufferings and sacrifice, there could be no Zion. So while the world grapples with what form of government is best: capitalism or socialism, kings will be brought to consider what they hadn’t before, that the key component of any government equation, especially in establishing a people able of self-government, is Christ as a redeemer at the center of the organization.

In Whose Heart Is My Law

Isaiah 51, See also 2 Nephi 8

The audience for this chapter is defined in verse 1: Those who follow after righteous, who seek the Lord. (This picks up where the last chapter left us, that if we are trying to do what’s right and we still in darkness, then place your trust in the Lord and turn your thoughts, feelings, energy and actions towards Him. It will be impossible to remain in darkness with our faces towards His light.)

(What’s more, I need the Spirit of the Lord to understand these verses better.) Zion spoken of in verse 3 represents a people who are willing to bear one another’s burdens. They shall be comforted. The inhabitants of Zion are not land owners, but rather are stewards, possessors of an endowment that they have covenanted to maintain and improve upon. They may “own” land, but for what purpose or intent do they possess it?

New day, I’ve been glossing over verse 2, where the Lord invites us (inhabitants of Zion) to consider our foundation: Abraham and Sarah. But then the Lord says look at how I blessed him, and gave him increase. The Lord is asking us to consider the man as a model for our emulation.

What are the themes that we are discussing in this chapter? Fearing God or rather trusting in His righteousness and salvation verses fearing the oppression of men. Men and their dominions are of such short duration. Understanding the nature of God and his power over all the earth. There is so much more going on in my head right now, from this study and parallel studies of Zion and stewardship and inheritances and the such. Temporal possessions are only a small part of the purpose of this life, but they can also constitute our stewardship given to us of the Lord.

A new day, and I am now honing in on the purpose of this chapter: The Lord has a law, his way of doing things, which are the eternal principles upon which all of life and the universe hangs in the balance. This law constitutes His righteousness and His salvation. Man, or the world, stands in contrast to this law. Their opposition is both real, vocal, and attempts to be enforced through fear.

The Lord’s judgment is upon those that insist that the ways of man are right. Yet, in these verses it feels like the Lord’s judgment is actually a tool to aid those that do right:

…and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people… mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.

Verses 4 -5

(Maybe a better way of saying this is that the Lord’s judgment is against those that oppose His law.) This is a significant shift, because there will be judgment, the righteous have wherewith to hope for something better. This is not a tool to restrain the wicked in their deeds of unrighteousness. No, the arms of the Lord will judge the people… that same arm is in whom the righteous also trust and put their confidence. In the arm of God we trust, in God’s judgment we trust. God’s judgment is against the wicked because it upholds the principles of the righteous, validating the way of life and light.

Given the history of Israel and Jerusalem, it is understandable how the Jews could be fearful of their oppressors. Fury is the word that is used at 5 times in this chapter: the fury of the oppressor….

There is a significant prophecy in these verses about two “things” that come to the Jews.

And then there is a promise at the end of this chapter: the cup of fury that the Lord had given to the house of Israel will eventually be given to those that oppressed them. Their oppression will end.

A footnote on verse 13 has caused me to consider apathy this morning. I am concerned that in my own efforts I have been too apathetic towards others. (Yet, I know that this is not truly the case.) Apathy also describes the state at Jerusalem when the two prophets referred to in verse 19 will come forth.

(This study –on June 7th– ended with the Spirit of the Lord stating, “I need you.” I don’t know what this means, but I am willing to search this one out.)

I am still in this chapter (it’s been a couple of weeks), but this morning I was brought back to 3 Nephi 23, which is where I started my study of the book of Isaiah a season or two ago. I have had no problems, with the assistance of the Spirit of the Lord, in understanding clearly what the first 50 chapter of Isaiah have meant. My understanding has been expanded, or rather deepened, on the many things that Isaiah has discussed as it pertains to the house of Israel, but more particularly, the work of the Lord. There are great promises and blessings associated with the covenants of the Lord with his people. Some events only have context in consideration of these covenants.

Trust in the Name of the Lord

Isaiah 50, see also 2 Nephi 7

Side details tell stories in themselves: the heavens are clothed with sackcloth? (See verse 3) We travel in space now. We send rovers to Mars. Yet what, if we could see it, is really being kept from our view?

How do I “encompass myself about in sparks” instead of relying on the true source of light? (see verse 11) That light is so much brighter. It is real light, not pretended sparks. Do I believe that I am following Jesus Christ and yet still am walking in darkness? (see verse 10)

I am not sure if this next line of thought pertains to this chapter particularly, but a residue of Sunday impressions and other thoughts are crowding into me head presently, petitioning my consideration: We have recently acquired an art print of the story of the woman taken in adultery to be judged of Christ. In it she is surrounded by the symbol of those who would judge and condemn her to death. I find it interesting that of those found committing the most serious of transgressions, the thing that they are surrounded with, or maybe even the thing that they are most worried about themselves are the judgments of others. Why are these two things (false judgment and serious sin) coupled together?

There is another thought, not unrelated (that I don’t recall from where it originated yesterday), that bids me to consider who’s praise do I seek.

The Lord God Hath Given Me the Tongue of the Learned

This statement found in verse 4 is footnoted to several other statements given to disciples wherein they instructed to “take not thought” beforehand as to what we should say when we are brought to bear testimony of the truth before men. The Doctrine and Covenants gives the added instruction to treasure up the words of life and then it will be given to us, in the moment that we need it, that part of the word that we are to share.

Near the end of the chapter, Isaiah makes this wise observation: If you have feared God and obeyed the counsel of His servants (the prophets), do you still walk in darkness and without light? If this be so, the remedy is sure: trust in the name of the Lord (who is Jesus Christ) and be supported, held up, sustained or whatever makes sense in your head, by your God. (See verse 10)

You cannot follow Christ and remain in darkness.

In matters of developing a relationship with Christ, and understanding Him and His nature there are key insights here that I’m overlooking. I will spend one more day here.

Here is that “one more day”:

So much of this chapter is written in the first person, with Christ being He whom Isaiah is writing for. Christ is bold in the face of opposition, but its more than this. As I think about Christ understanding his purpose in establishing peace, the requirement to face opposition is essential, because the opposite of peace is contention. Therefore, I should not hide from that which may produce a contentious response, if I understand that my purpose is with Christ to establish peace.

To bridge the chasm between life and death, to establish the order of peace where there is chaos and contention, requires being willing to do as Christ did:

I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.

Verses 6 & 7