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Sunday School Lesson 37: Isaiah 22, 23, 24-26, 27, 28-30

Posted by Jim F. on September 11, 2010

Chapters 23 and 27 are not assigned for the lesson. Nevertheless, I have included them because I will refer to them.

This week, rather than giving a list of questions to answer, I will suggest some exercises in reading that seem to me to be particularly appropriate to reading Isaiah, exercises in understanding in terms of types and shadows.

Before studying how these chapters can apply to us, consider a literal, historical interpretation of these chapters. You may need to consult the maps in your scriptures to understand the references to countries and kingdoms. Looking at a literal interpretation may help us understand it better when we try to think of it as a type of something else.

This is how I think the people of Isaiah’s time would have understood what he was saying:

What will happen to Jerusalem when Nebuchadnezzar invades.
The condemnation and exile of Shebna, a high official in Hezekiah’s government, and his replacement by someone more worthy, Eliakim. One tradition says that he was the steward of the king’s household, another that he was in charge of the Temple treasury. Tradition also says that he plotted to turn Hezekiah over to the Assyrians, but verse 16 seems to suggest that he has tried to give himself a high status, perhaps by embezzlement.
The prophet foretells that Tyre and Sidon, the most important cities in Phoenicia, will be destroyed.
A set of prophecies of God’s judgment of the world, his overcoming of Satan, his blessing of Israel, and the overcoming of death and suffering
A preview of the judgment day.
A hymn of thanksgiving for God’s deliverance of Israel and for the defeat of Israel’s enemies. Which deliverance and which enemies is left unstated.
A song of rejoicing and thanksgiving for the protection of Jerusalem as a city for the righteous and for the humiliation of Jerusalem’s enemies. Again, the time to which this hymn refers is not given, though it seems to be the prophecy of something to come rather than praise for what has already happened.
Three prayers: a prayer expressing trust in God (1-6) and one asking him to destroy his adversaries (7-12); a prayer for Israel’s ultimate deliverance and for the resurrection (13-19).
Isaiah’s call to Israel to go into seclusion until God’s indignation, or anger, at the inhabitants of the earth is past.
A prophecy that the Lord will overcome three monsters, two serpents and a dragon. These seem to represent the three great powers of Isaiah’s day, Assyria, Edom, and Egypt. This chapter expands on Isaiah 26:21, describing God’s anger against the inhabitants of the earth.
Isaiah’s warning about what will happen if Judah makes an alliance with Egypt.
What happened or will happen to Israel, the Northern Kingdom.
The coming of the Messiah.
A description of Judah, showing that they are no better than was Israel.
A question: How can one teach such a people? An answer: Not easily. It will sound to them as if the teacher were stammering or speaking in a foreign language.
Isaiah answers those who scoff at his advice not to make an alliance with Egypt: in response to their scoffing, in the end the Lord will establish his justice and righteousness, and they will overcome the scoffers’ injustice and unrighteousness.
Isaiah invites the scoffers to listen to a parable about farming: the farmer plows, breaking up the soil, but he doesn’t do so just to plow. He has a purpose, namely the eventual harvest. He threshes each seed of his harvest with the appropriate equipment.
Though Jerusalem is, at the moment of the prophecy, celebrating its feast (in other words, in charge of itself rather than subservient to another power), it will be attacked and brought down.
Nevertheless, the Lord will destroy Jerusalem’s enemies.
Isaiah inveighs against Judah for not listening to his warning.
He condemns them for a worship that merely goes through the motions.
He prophesies of the restoration of Israel and the destruction of the wicked, particularly those who use words to cause sin, try to trick those who preach repentance, and ignore those who are just.
The restoration will remove Israel’s shame and they will subject themselves to the true God.
A denunciation of those who recommend the alliance with Egypt.
The consequences of that disobedience: Pharaoh will welcome Judah’s representatives, but that welcome will redound to Judah’s shame.
A description of the trip to Egypt and its outcome. Notice that verses 3 and 4 are parallel to verse 6 and verse 5 is parallel to verse 7.
A command to Isaiah to write down his prophecy.
Why the written book is needed: because Judah will lie and pretend they have not been told these things; they will deny prophesy and demand that the prophets not prophesy.
How the Lord will respond to those lies and demands: Jerusalem will be destroyed.
The Lord promised them that they could be tranquil and safe, but they refused his offer.
The result of their refusal: Judah will be isolated and alone.
But the Lord will wait for Judah’s repentance and he will save them from the destruction in which they will find themselves, showering them with blessings.
A prophecy of the destruction of the Assyrians when they attack Jerusalem.
After you’ve understood this as Isaiah’s listeners would have understood it, look back to see what kinds of things in these prophecies could be understood as shadows of the coming of Christ as a mortal (the type of all scripture: 2 Nephi 11:4). Then reread these chapters looking for things that describe the latter-day Restoration (a shadow of the type). Also look for things that apply to the Second Coming. Finally, look for things that you can apply to your own, individual and family experience (another shadow of the type). Each of these is a legitimate reading of Isaiah, and he is such an important prophet because his writings can profitably be read in so many ways.

An Example: Isaiah 22:15-22

Here’s an example of how you might find two levels for reading a passage. (These are not the only levels of reading, but they are good ones to start with.)

First consider the literal reading:

Shebna is proud and haughty and perhaps commits fraud or treason. (15-16).
Therefore, the Lord will send Shebna into exile and remove him from his post (17-19, 25).
Eliakim, the son of the high priest, Hilkiah, will be appointed in his stead (19-24).
He will be clothed with the official clothing that Shebna wore (21).
He will be in charge of the government, and his relation to the inhabitants of Jerusalem (and Israel!) will be like that of a father (21).
He will have the key of the house of David on his shoulder, in other words, as a sign of his rank, and his authority will be final (22).
He will be “a nail in a sure place” and he will bring honor to his father’s house (23).
His whole family will depend on him (24), which presumably means he will be able to provide for them all.

Now try to understand the same material as a shadow of something eternal:

Footnote 20a tells us that we can understand Eliakim as a type of the Savior. His name means “God shall cause to arise.”
Note: Though the footnotes don’t say so, Shebna means “vigor.” Does that add anything to your understanding?
If Eliakim is a type of the Savior, who might Shebna be a type of? What makes you think what you do?
What might the exile of Shebna represent (17-18)?
What might we understand by the Lord’s declaration that Shebna will be driven from his high position and pulled down from his station (19)?
How might we understand the clothing that is put on Eliakim? What might we understand by the government being put in his hands, by him being a father to all of Israel (21)?
What might we understand by “the key of the house of David” (22)? How about “he shall open and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open”?
How might we understand this person being fastened as “a nail in a sure place” (23)? Bringing honor to his father’s house?
What could it mean to say that his whole family will depend on him (24)?

 Can you see more than one way of applying this to events in the Church or your own life?

Here are other passages that you might want to look at. How can you understand them as revealing things of the Restoration, of the Second Coming, and of our individual lives?

Isaiah 22:22
Isaiah 24:21-22
Isaiah 25:1-4 (compare 32:1-2)
Isaiah 25:6-9
Isaiah 26:19
Isaiah 28:16
Isaiah 29:4, 9-14, 18, 24
Isaiah 30:19-21

(My apologies for some of the formatting weirdness of this post. I’m pleased that it is formatted at all!)

5 Responses to “Sunday School Lesson 37: Isaiah 22, 23, 24-26, 27, 28-30”

  1. […] comment on the post, go to Feast Upon the Word. 0 people like this […]

  2. Sam MB said

    Glad to see you’re active on this. This is very useful material. Best as ever.

  3. Isa 22:21-22 – and I especially love v23-24… Imagine a shelf that has been put up on a wall, but it isn’t mounted correctly and when weight is put on it, everything comes crashing down because the nail has been pounded in an unsure place.

    Jesus Christ is the opposite of this. Since He is like a nail in a sure place, we can place all of our trust and assurance and hopes in Him, knowing He will never let us fall. From the smallest child (cups, in v24) in primary nursery all the way up to the Thomas S. Monsons of the world (the flagons!)… we all may hang our hopes in Him.

    The “nail in a sure place” is also a political image full of incredible power. . Anciently, if you were a king and were defeated by another king, not only would YOU lose your kingdom and position, but your entire family and household staff would fall with you. THEY depended upon YOU to remain on your throne so that THEY, too, might remain in their respective stations. Think about it. If you and I are in a position of trust, everyone else near us is hanging on our nail… they are relying on US… hanging all of their hopes on US! We want to stay in that position of trust and not let them down! Spiritually speaking, there is Someone holding up the weight of the “whole family and household,” and our entire exaltation and eternity is hanging in the balance. If I look to others to be my “nail in a sure place,” I will be doomed to disappointment, for inevitably I will find that my hopes are in the wrong person! If I am go to hang MY hopes on anybody, I want to pin my hopes on that Someone who is sure to be reliable and won’t let me down… Jehovah… Jesus Christ! Only HE is in the position of holding the keys of opening the door leading us back to the High King. In fact, in the scriptures He is known as the Doorkeeper, or Keeper of the Gate (see 2 Nephi 9:41), who will let me back in to the presence of the Father. I don’t ever need to worry that He will eventually be removed. Not only that, but I’ve pinned my hopes on the Someone who has an “in” with the High King! Christ will use all of His influence to get me through the door back into Heavenly Father’s presence! He’s going to make everything good for us, and will even allow me bring my entire family with me if possible… Truly in Him hangs all the glory and hope of His people!

    I just love that name (“nail in a sure place,”) for the Savior!!! S. Michael Wilcox taught a CES class about this 10 years or so ago and that’s where I learned about this particular passage. Ever since that time, I’ve had this image in my mind when I go to the Temple! When you think about it, it adds a whole lot more meaning to what we learn within those sacred walls.

    Laura Clayton

    • Jim F. said

      Laura, Thank you for your contribution. It is always helpful to have readers who are willing not only to read the stuff I post but to add to it!

      • Thanks for the encouragement… I’m always hesitant to post, since I feel so ignorant compared to the likes of all of the regular contributers here on this blog. I feel as if I’m sitting at your feet as I lap all of these posts up!

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