“Christ in a Red Robe,” (detail) by Minerva Teichert
The book of Isaiah opens with a wake-up call and then leads us on a journey to a glorious destination. At the beginning of the book the Lord appeals to nature: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth:… I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me” (Isaiah 1:2). By the end, he is promising better things: “I create new heavens and a new earth…and I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people” (Isaiah 65:17-19). At the beginning, He starkly warns, “When ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood” (Isaiah 1:15). But by the end, His relationship with His children has been transformed: “It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24).
This week, we get to experience the end of that journey. Each of the nine chapters we are studying this week has a distinctive message. Taken together, they represent a description of what it is like to be reconciled with God, to be redeemed by Him. Here is a summary of what I have learned from each chapter, with links to relevant blog posts.
- Chapter 58 – If you focus only on what you are giving up to live the gospel, you may fail to enjoy the consequent blessings. Isaiah uses two examples to illustrate this point: fasting and keeping the Sabbath Day holy.
- Chapter 59 – Justice is important to God and should also be important to us. Jesus Christ can deliver us from every obstacle and set things right.
- Chapter 60 – When we share the light we have received from the Savior, others will be drawn to us. “Arise, shine; for thy light is come.”
- Chapter 61 – The Savior’s mission was to lighten burdens and to set people free. His disciples have the same mission.
- Chapter 62 – Jerusalem will be redeemed and will be called by different names. Instead of “Forsaken” and “Desolate,” it will be called “God’s Delight” and even “Sought Out.” Note that in the Book of Mormon, the Savior and the prophet Ether both prophesied that there will be a New Jerusalem.
- Chapter 63 – Jesus will be wearing red robes when He returns, representing not only the personal nature of His sacrifice for us but also His power to save us.
- Chapter 64 – Israel longs for the Savior’s return: “Oh that thou wouldst rend the heavens, that thou wouldst come down!” They testify that God’s promised blessings are indescribable.
- Chapters 65 and 66 – God will create a new heaven and a new earth, sanctifying our environment, and also sanctifying us.