“He Comes Again to Rule and Reign,” by Mary R. Sauer
The contrast between fragile earthly kingdoms and God’s eternal reign is on full display in this week’s reading. We will cover about 40% of the book of Isaiah this week—chapters 13-39—although we will only read 10 of those 27 chapters.
Two of those chapters (13 and 14: the burden of Babylon) are directly quoted in the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 23 and 24). Additionally, chapter 29, which prophesies about the Book of Mormon (a sealed book read by an unlearned man) is paraphrased and elaborated on in 2 Nephi 27.
Here is an overview of the topics covered in these chapters, with links to relevant blog posts:
Chapters 13 through 24 contain a series of “burdens,” or prophecies of difficult days ahead, for various nations: Babylon (13-14), Moab (15-16), Syria (17-18), Egypt (19-20), Babylon (again), Dumah (possibly Edom), and Arabia (21), Judah (called the valley of vision) (22), and Tyre (23).
But sprinkled throughout these prophecies of destruction are messages of hope. “The Lord shall give thee rest,” the prophet promised (Isaiah 14:3, 2 Nephi 24:3), speaking of the slaves who would be freed with the fall of the Babylonian Empire. And in the midst of destruction in Egypt, the Lord “shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them” (Isaiah 19:20).
These chapters also contain practical advice. Don’t fall into the trap of myopic thinking, such as, “Let us eat and drink, for to morrow we shall die” (Isaiah 22:13, see also 2 Nephi 28:7-9). And if you live in Babylon, don’t let its worldly culture pull you away from God. (See Isaiah 21:9, 1 Nephi 20:20.)
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ
Chapters 25 through 35, in no particular order, foretell events leading up to the millennial reign of Jesus Christ and describe the happiness we will feel during that reign. Here are some highlights from those chapters:
- Chapter 25 – God will organize a feast for all people. He will swallow up death in victory, and He will wipe away tears from all faces.
- Chapter 26 – Those that seek God early will find Him.
- Chapter 27 – Israel shall be gathered “one by one.”
- Chapter 28 – God will teach His people “precept upon precept; line upon line.” He will lay “a precious corner stone” to serve as our foundation.
- Chapter 29 – In response to widespread unbelief, God will do “a marvelous work and a wonder,” including bringing forth a book which will be rejected by the learned but valuable to the teachable.
- Chapter 30 – Some people will refuse to listen to the prophets.
- Chapter 31 – God reminds Israel to rely on Him, not on the powerful kingdom of Egypt. “The Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit.”
- Chapter 32 – “A king shall reign in righteousness….and the work of righteousness shall be peace.”
- Chapter 33 – Speaking of the destruction which will precede the Savior’s Second Coming, Isaiah asks, “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” Then, he provides an answer: “He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly.”
- Chapter 34 – Isaiah prophesies that the heavens will be “rolled together as a scroll,” an image which was later echoed by Mormon and Moroni. (See 3 Nephi 26:3, Mormon 5:23, Mormon 9:2.)
- Chapter 35 – The wilderness will “blossom as the rose,” people will be healed, and Israel will gather to Zion “with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads.”
Chapters 36-39 tell several stories from the reign of King Hezekiah, including Isaiah promising that his life would be lengthened by fifteen years. These stories also appear (with some variation) in 2 Kings 18-20.