Thursday, September 22, 2022

With His Stripes, We Are Healed (Isaiah 50-53)

Waiting on the Lord

READ Isaiah 50:1

Why are we in bondage?

We have sold ourselves and have lost our freedom to settle a debt that we have incurred which we cannot repay.

We are in bondage to sin and death.

God did not do this to us; we both incurred the debt and sold ourselves as a result.

 

READ Isaiah 50:11

How do those who have sold themselves walk in the darkness of mortality?

We walk in the light of our own fires – our own intellect and intuition (what we think and feel to be right).

But it is like walking a treacherous mountain path at night with a “sparkler” as a guide.

 

READ Isaiah 50:5-10 and Isaiah 51:12-13

What is the difference between the last individual and one who “trusts in the Lord”?

They will not rebel and turn away from the Lord when He “opens their ears” to hear Him.

Implied is that He attempts to contact all of us by “opening our ears” but only some will not rebel at the message.

What will happen to the person who does not rebel when the Lord calls them?

They will be hated of the world.

They will be beaten.

They will be spit upon and mocked.

They will be shamed and discredited.

They will be contended with (confronted).

Who fights their battles?

The Lord God, but not before they have experienced the hatred, beating, shame and confrontation.

Who do they “fear” or respect or worship?

The Lord God – NOT MAN.

Even though they may walk in darkness for a time (i.e. the threats of the fury of their oppressors).

But they worship and respect God, regardless of the intimidating treatment they receive from worldly people. 

Who do these verses apply to?

All those who seek to follow the Lord – who “wait” for Him – who do not rebel when He calls to them.

Christ Himself, with the “Lord God” being the Father, in that case.

 

 

How Beautiful Upon the Mountains

READ Isaiah 51:1-3, 11

Where are we to look?

To the Fathers and Mothers (in heaven) as an example of what to do and what covenant to seek for.

To “the Rock” (the Lord) who will heal and comfort us.

Why must the Lord comfort Zion?

Because Zion (the people and the place) is a ruin, a wilderness, a desert.

All is NOT well in Zion.

They need to be redeemed in order to have joy.

 

READ Isaiah 52:1-3

What must those who wish to enter Zion do first?

Awake from their “deep sleep” and realize they are bound by “awful chains” but they must only be “shaken off” to be freed (see 2 Nephi 1:13, and 2 Nephi 9:47, Mosiah 2:40).

Implied is that the chains appear “awful” and they are bound by them, but they are not locked or secured, as they appear to be; all one must do is “shake” them and they will fall off. 

After they are awake, what must they do next?

Put on the “beautiful garments” which the Father gives to those who will accept His invitation – you must be made clean in the blood of the Lamb.

 

READ Isaiah 52:7

Why are the feet of those who bring good tidings beautiful?

In ancient ceremonies involving animal sacrifice, blood was shed on the ground and the feet of those doing the rites would get bloody.

The blood on the feet was a symbol of the sins of the people – of the “generation”.

Christ’s Washing of the Feet was symbolic of the cleaning of the feet of those covered in blood (see John 13:5-10).

He does the cleaning Himself – he “employs no servant there” (see 2 Nephi 9:41).

They are beautiful because they are clean from the blood of their wicked generation (see D&C 88:74-75); Christ makes them beautiful.

It is beautiful. All of it is beautiful – even the difficult climb upon the mountains is beautiful. All of it is a reflection of the purity and intelligence of God, whose ways are higher than man's ways as the heavens are higher than the earth. (see Isaiah 55: 8-9.)

It reminds me of this version of the Navajo Beauty Way Chant, which is part of a healing ceremony to restore “hozjo” or spiritual/temporal balance: “With beauty before me, may I walk; With beauty behind me, may I walk; With beauty below me, may I walk; With beauty above me, may I walk; With beauty all around me, may I walk; With beauty within me, may I walk; In beauty, it is finished. In beauty, it is finished. In beauty, it is finished… In beauty, it begins.”

What is the desire of those whose “feet” have been cleansed and sanctified by Christ?

Like Lehi, their first desire is to share this discovery (of Christ) with others – the “fruit” is “delicious” to them.

They want to “cry peace” – they don’t administer the peace but they have experienced it and know where it is found.

Why are they “upon the mountains”?

Mountains are nature’s (God’s) symbol of the ascent to Heaven.

The climb represents repentance and purification of the soul – it is difficult and can seem dangerous, even life threatening (to the natural man, it is life ending).

When a person stands upon the top of the mountain, s/he appears to be part of heaven itself and no longer earthbound. Their profile is with the sky, symbolizing the completion of the ascent back to God.

 

 

The Suffering Servant

Now we will turn to He that has made this ascent back to Heaven possible, and the depths to which He had to go to enable it.

READ Isaiah 53:1 and JSH 1:25

Why does Isaiah say “our” report if it is his testimony?

Because God authorized the message to be delivered – Isaiah’s not freelancing and he’s not just reporting on a vision he has seen – he was commanded to report what he saw.

Many others have seen the same “report” and have also been commanded by God to testify of it; Isaiah must have told or seen or sensed the fact that he was not alone in this testimony. 

Why is Isaiah doubtful that people will believe their report?

His message contradicts the ideas held by his readers – it will tell them something very different from what they thought to be true.

Most people do not seek for the truth – they are not open to the possibility that they do not have all of the truth or that what they think is true may not be.

What does the “arm of the Lord” represent?

God’s strength or might.

His glory, power, light or intelligence. 

What does it mean to have the arm of the Lord revealed to you?

Gain a knowledge of Him and His ways – which are not what men presume them to be – He has much higher and holier ends.

To know God personally; to have personal experiences of His reality which cannot be denied without lying. 

Is the arm of the Lord revealed to those who will not believe the report?

No – and He is merciful not to reveal His arm to them as it would surely damn them if He did (remember Laman and also Cain; interesting that the former say an angel and the latter heard the voice of God – implied is that neither of these is enough to constitute the “arm of the Lord”. 

Casting off the veil of unbelief (unbelief = believing things that are false) is the first step.

 

READ Isaiah 53:2-3

What does the “dry ground” represent?

The culture and religion of the day was not producing redeemed or saved souls.

Leadership was corrupt (Sadducees and scribes) and doctrine had been changed and added to (Pharisees).

How can a root grow in “dry” or essentially “dead” ground that gives no nutrient?

It must have life (and light) in itself.

It must be nourished from another source – directly from God, not dependent at all upon the “soil” or culture in which it is “planted”.

Why would Christ be described as having no “form” or “comeliness” or “beauty that we should desire him”?

Perhaps he was not handsome (he was clearly charismatic and tall, however, as people followed Him regardless).

Perhaps he was scarred or marred from his career as a carpenter.

He had no credentials or priestly status or wealth/power that Israel would be enticed to automatically follow (in fact, His lack of these things led people to doubt Him and not want to follow – He became a “rock of offense and stone of stumbling” (2 Nephi 18:14) because “can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).

Those who recognized in His message the voice of the Lord were required to overlook His obscurity (a carpenter from backward Galilee), lack of status (was not a priest – not a Levite or from priestly bloodline), and credential (lack of rabbinical education).

Why did the people who were looking forward to the coming of the Messiah “despise and reject” Him?

Because He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief – He was from humble circumstances AND he associated with the poor, sick, afflicted and sinful.

The rich and powerful “hid their faces from Him” meaning they refused to associate with Him, by and large – He had nothing to offer them (as He wasn’t going to free them from Rome) and acknowledging Him would require them to condescend.

He did not fit their (false) mental model of what a Messiah would look like or do. 

 

READ Isaiah 53:4-5

If He is bearing our grief and sorrows, why do we esteem Him smitten of God?

Because after all He did, most do not believe He was really the Son of God – for will God really afflict those that He has chosen?

Those who bear the world’s grief and sorrows ARE smitten; but “for” God (and us) not “of” or “by” God for some perceived sin. 

Was Christ’s suffering “just”?

No, His sinless life means that justice would only be served if He never suffered anything at all.   

Yet He suffered it all (infinite and eternal suffering – see Alma 34:10 and D&C 19:11).

And this is how He was able to open the gates of death and hell – it requires someone upon whom death and hell have no claim to go there – and justice itself requires Him to be released from that prison. 

Having then returned to life, because it was just for Him to do so, He acquired the keys of death and hell and can open them for all.

 

READ Isaiah 53:6 and John 10:27

How can Isaiah say that “all” have “gone astray”?

Because all are fallen and are lost (see Alma 34:9).

Because “relative righteousness” won’t save us as God cannot look upon any sin with the least degree of allowance (see D&C 1:31).

How do we find the true shepherd again?

We must know His voice to hear it – if we can’t recognize His voice in the shout and tumult of other voices (including our own), we won’t know where to walk to find Him (think of the imagery of His calling to His sheep, which means they are not with Him yet but are still lost).

After we’ve head and recognized His voice, we must choose to leave our “own way” and follow Him.

What is implied by the fact that the God has laid on Christ the iniquity of us all going astray in our own ways?

He has been there (lost and mired in the darkness of our sins and unbelief) and knows the way back to God and light.

 

READ Isaiah 53:8-9

Why did the Sanhedrin have the Romans crucify Christ?

Crucifixion was a death administered to criminals.

It was done very publicly (on the road leading to Jerusalem) as a warning to others but also to shame the individual before his death.

If He died a criminal’s death, why was He buried in an honorable tomb worthy of the rich?

Because He had done no violence and no deceit was in His mouth – He wasn’t a criminal (sinful) but was completely unjustly condemned as one – He was worthy of such a tomb.

Joseph of Arimathea begged His body from the Romans and buried it in the tomb because He believed in Christ as the Messiah; He was inspired by God to do this.

 

READ Isaiah 53:10-11 and Moses 7:47

Why were God and the Heavens pleased at Christ’s suffering?

His suffering enabled God’s work – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

His suffering was the victory that enabled our release from death and hell.

His overcoming of eternal suffering and death was triumphant – it defines or epitomizes the word.

Who are Christ’s seed?

All mankind (to whom He gives immortality).

More specifically, those who come unto Him and receive exaltation and eternal life.

What does it mean that He “prolonged His days?”

When it came to the moment in the Garden and the weight of eternal suffering began to be felt, He asked to have the Cup removed from Him (see D&C 19:15-19; John 12:27; Matt 26:37-39), as He began to sense the depth of the infinite and eternal suffering – all that a God can suffer.

But He “prolonged His days” and finished the sacrifice for our sakes (His seed)… when He saw us.

It is possible that Christ saw in vision all those who would accept His sacrifice by coming unto Him (His seed or children); if that is true, it is also possible that all of His seed who come unto Him will be shown, in vision but as if you were there, His working out of the atonement for you in the Garden and on the cross; so that you see Him and He sees you, in that exact and real moment of time in the Garden – that you actually are there with Him but unable to help as He treads the winepress alone for you – an interactive “vision” for both you and Him.

How does Christ “justify man?”

Through the knowledge He gained suffering the eternal punishment.

The great Sacrifice was the “preparation” (see D&C 19:19) but not the completion (see Alma 7:11-12) – He uses His saving knowledge to succor and tutor each soul who will permit Him to minister to them.

 

READ Isaiah 53:12

Why does Christ only retain a portion?

Because He divides His “earnings” with His seed – He merited it all but does not hoard His rightful reward.

Christ will not only willingly share with His lesser beings, but He will go further and "make intercession for the transgressors". 

He is neither jealous of their sharing in His triumph, nor resentful to "divide the spoil" of His great victory. Here is a Messiah indeed!  Here is a Redeemer indeed! 

Despise Him and His servants and He will still condescend to succor you so far as you permit Him to do. Turn your face from Him and His servants, He will still plead for you to listen. Forsake and abandon Him and He will still forgive and make intercession for your errors. Those who follow Him will be misunderstood, reviled, persecuted.  It is in the nature of things in this world.  The entire prophecy in Isaiah 53 is a description not only of the Messiah, but also of the Messiah's children.  They are His children because they walk His Way with them – learning, in a small way, what it will be like to work out an atonement for others, most of whom will reject it. 

 

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