Old Testament Lesson 38 – “Beside Me There Is No Saviour”

1. Isaiah teaches that the Savior is incomparable.

Isaiah 40:18 To whom then will ye liken God?

‘God is incomparably great, especially compared to idols made by human hands. It seems that, over the ages, those who refused to trust in God Almighty tried to insure some sense of permanence or immortality for themselves by creating stone and metal images that live on after them. Do we try to amass wealth or any kind of earthly possessions or ‘accomplishments’ that may live on after us? These may be our idols, and they do for us what gold and silver idols did for the ancients – nothing.’ (Andrew C Skinner and D Kelly Ogden, Verse by Verse, The Old Testament)

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Isaiah 44:8 Fear ye not

‘Israel need not fear that they will be forgotten or forsaken. God has told them from that time, or, from the beginning (Isaiah 48:3, 7), and declared to them, what he is about to do – viz, destroy Babylon, and give them deliverance. He will assuredly do as he has said. ‘ (Pulpit Commentary)

Isaiah 46:5 To whom will ye liken me?

‘The design of this and the following verses is to show the folly of idolatry, and the vanity of trusting in idols. This is a subject that the prophet often dwells on. The argument here is derived from the fact that the idols of Babylon were unable to defend the city, and were themselves carried away in triumph (Isaiah 46:1-2). If so, how vain was it to rely on them! how foolish to suppose that the living and true God could resemble such weak and defenseless blocks!’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Isaiah 43:11 Beside me there is no Saviour

‘From the premortal council in heaven to the eternities yet ahead, we will always hold him dear as our only Saviour, the only God with whom we have to deal for the salvation of our souls. All this, of course, under the direction of the Father and as guided by the Holy Ghost.’ (Andrew C Skinner and D Kelly Ogden, Verse by Verse, The Old Testament)

Image result for Isaiah teaches that the Savior is incomparable.

Isaiah 44:6 I am the first, and I am the last

‘The phrase ‘I am’ is an eternal statement of being. It implies no beginning, for to have a beginning means there was a time when he was not. There never was such a time, for, he says, I AM, and always have been.’ (Andrew C Skinner and D Kelly Ogden, Verse by Verse, The Old Testament)

Isaiah 46:9 There is none like me

‘Whether descriptively designated as Creator, Only Begotten Son, Prince of Peace, Advocate, Mediator, Son of God, Savior, Messiah, Author and Finisher of Salvation, King of Kings—I witness that Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven whereby one can be saved! (See  D&C 18:23)

I testify that He is utterly incomparable in what He is, what He knows, what He has accomplished, and what He has experienced. Yet, movingly, He calls us His friends. (See  John 15:15)

We can trust, worship, and even adore Him without any reservation! As the only Perfect Person to sojourn on this planet, there is none like Him! (See Isa 46:9)’ (Neal A Maxwell, General Conference, October 1981)

2. Isaiah describes the Savior’s incomparable qualities.

Isaiah 40:13-14 With whom took he counsel…?

‘Is there anything any man can teach God?’ (Andrew C Skinner and D Kelly Ogden, Verse by Verse, The Old Testament)

Isaiah 40:28-31 Hast thou not known?

‘Much of the world today does not have this knowledge of God, and even in latter-day Israel there are those who have not perfected their understanding of that glorious being who is our Eternal Father. To those without this knowledge we might well say: “Why dost thou limit the glory of God? Or why should ye suppose that he is less than he is? Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, is infinite and eternal; that he has all power, all might, and all dominion; that he knows all things, and that all things are present before his face?”

In section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which directed the Prophet Joseph Smith to organize the Church again in this dispensation, we have a revealed summary of some of the basic doctrines of salvation. As to Diety the revelation says: “… there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them.” (D&C 20:17.)

And in section 93 we are taught that Christ received not of the fullness of the Father while in mortality, but went from grace to grace until, after the resurrection, he received all power both in heaven and on earth. Then this revelation says that Christ, like his Father before him, “… received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth.” (D&C 93:26.) The revelation also announced the doctrine that all men who keep the commandments shall receive truth and light until they are glorified in truth and know all things.

God is our Father; he is the being in whose image man is created. He has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s (D&C 130:22), and he is the literal and personal father of the spirits of all men. He is omnipotent and omniscient; he has all power and all wisdom; and his perfections consist in the possession of all knowledge, all faith or power, all justice, all judgment, all mercy, all truth, and the fullness of all godly attributes. This the Prophet Joseph Smith taught in the Lectures on Faith. The Prophet also taught that if we are to have that perfect faith by which we can lay hold upon eternal life, we must believe in God as the possessor of the fullness of all these characteristics and attributes. I say also that he is an infinite and eternal being, and as an unchangeable being, he possesses these perfected powers and attributes from everlasting to everlasting, which means from eternity to eternity.

I am grateful that the knowledge of God and his laws has been restored in our day and that we who are members of the Church know he is a personal being and not, as some sectarians have said, “a congeries of laws floating like a fog in the universe.” I am grateful that we know he is our Father in heaven, the Father of our spirits, and that he ordained the laws whereby we can advance and progress until we become like him. And I am grateful that we know he is an infinite and eternal being who knows all things and has all power and whose progression consists not in gaining more knowledge or power, not in further perfecting his godly attributes, but in the increase and multiplying of his kingdoms.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, “The Most Important Knowledge,”Ensign, May 1971, 3)

Isaiah 40:12. What Is the Significance of “Measured” Waters and “Comprehended” Dust?

‘Verse 12 is Isaiah’s poetic way of saying that God knows the world so intimately that He knows even the measure of the waters of the ocean and the dust of the earth. (See Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses,7:141.)’ (Institute Old Testament Manual)

 Isaiah 45:12. What Is the Lord’s and What Is Man’s Own?

‘People and organizations often deal with the things of the earth in terms of ownership. “I own a large home,” one might say, or “I built this business up through my own labors; therefore it is mine.” If these statements were really true, then one could understand their reluctance to share it with others or to pay the Lord His required tenth. But people cannot speak of ownership. Through Isaiah, the Lord reminded Israel that He is the creator of the earth and therefore only He can properly refer to it in terms of ownership. In language similar to Isaiah’s, the Lord reminded the Latter-day Saints that He created the earth and that we are only stewards over His property (see D&C 104:13–14, 54–57). Then He gave this reminder: “And let not any among you say that it is his own; for it shall not be called his, nor any part of it” (D&C 104:70).

Elder Spencer W. Kimball asked some pointed questions concerning this subject:

“‘Do you feel generous when you pay your tithes? Boastful when the amount is large? Has the child been generous to his parents when he washes the car, makes his bed? Are you liberal when you pay your rent, or pay off notes at banks? You are not generous, liberal, but merely honest when you pay your tithes.’ [Isaiah 45:12.]

“Perhaps your attitudes are the product of your misconceptions.

“Would you steal a dollar from your friend? A tire from your neighbor’s car? Would you borrow a widow’s insurance money with no intent to pay? Do you rob banks? You are shocked at such suggestions. Then, would you rob your God, your Lord, who has made such generous arrangements with you?

“Do you have a right to appropriate the funds of your employer with which to pay your debts, to buy a car, to clothe your family, to feed your children, to build your home?

“Would you take from your neighbor’s funds to send your children to college, or on a mission? Would you help relatives or friends with funds not your own? Some people get their standards mixed, their ideals out of line. … Would you supply gifts to the poor with someone else’s money? The Lord’s money?” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1968, p. 77.)

Honestly answering these questions may reveal to modern Saints how dangerously close they are to walking the same foolish path chosen by ancient Israel.’ (Institute Old Testament Manual)

Isaiah 41:18 I will open rivers in high places and fountains in the midst of the valleys

‘Is there anything said about this desert in prophecy? Yes. You can find many prophecies in Isaiah, David’s psalms, and other Prophets, predicting that, about or near the time of the coming of the Lord, “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be made glad for them.” (Isa. 35:1) That the “desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing.” (Isa. 35:1-2) Isaiah further says that “the Lord shall comfort Zion: he shall comfort all her waste places; he shall make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” (Isa. 51:3) Also that he would “cause springs of water to break out in the desert. And that the parched ground should become pools of living water.” (Isa. 41:18 D&C 133:29)

How is it brethren? I appeal to you who are acquainted and were here in 1847? Many of you know that, in places where there would be a little spring then, about sufficient to water half an acre, now there is water enough to water land sufficient to sustain several hundred families. This is a literal fulfillment of the prophecy which says that, “the parched ground shall become pools of living water.” (D&C 133:29) (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 17:317)

Isaiah 42:1–4. Who Is the Servant?

‘Only one servant was given power of judgment (see v. 1; compare Romans 14:102 Nephi 9:41), and that is He upon whose law the isles shall wait (see Isaiah 42:451:560:9), the Mediator of Israel and the Savior of the Gentiles. He did not cry or lift up His voice in the streets, that is, raise a great tumult and boast in His own ways. Matthew cited this passage in Isaiah after noting that the Savior charged the multitudes not to make His healings known (see Matthew 12:15–21), for His was not an earthly kingdom wherein His voice and His works and wonders were to be heralded abroad; rather, His was a heavenly kingdom (see John 18:33–37). Thus, He withdrew from multitudes and avoided the honors of men, and He ministered with meekness and gentleness. The spirit of judgment was to be withheld until the Day of Judgment, at which time Christ will claim victory as “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15).

The imagery of the bruised reed and smoking flax (see v. 3) means that even though He comes in judgment, it is not to destroy souls but to save them. The phrase “smoking flax” was translated by C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch as a “glimmering wick.” They explained its use as follows: “In the statement that in such a case as this He does not completely break or extinguish, there is more implied than is really expressed. Not only will He not destroy the life that is dying out, but He will actually save it; His course is not to destroy, but to save.” (Commentary on the Old Testament, 7:2:176.)

The phrase “he shall bring forth judgment unto truth” that immediately follows the reference to the reed and the flax was interpreted by Keil and Delitzsch “as denoting such a knowledge, and acknowledgment of the true facts in the complicated affairs of men, as will promote both equity and kindness” (Commentary,7:2:176).’ (Old Testament Institute Manual)

3. The world (Babylon) competes with the Savior for our devotion.

Isaiah 47:1 Come down and sit in the dust

‘Babylon itself, personified as till now unconquered, is called to leave her throne and sit in the dust as a menial slave. The epithets “tender” (better, perhaps, wanton) and “delicate” point to the luxury which had been identified with Babylon, and which was now to cease.’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Isaiah 47:7-9 Thou sayest, I shall be a lady forever

‘I shall always be the chief city and mistress of the world, and shall never know any change of condition in this respect. If we consider that the city of Babylon had no less than one hundred gates made of solid brass; that its walls were two hundred feet high, and fifty broad, according to the lowest account given of them by historians, and, according to some, three hundred and fifty feet in height, and eighty-seven in thickness, so that six chariots could go abreast upon them; that it was defended by the river Euphrates, and supplied with provisions for many years; it might well be deemed impregnable.’ (Benson Commentary)

Isaiah 47:10 For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness

‘The word ‘wickedness’ here refers doubtless to the pride, arrogance, ambition, and oppressions of Babylon. It means, that she had supposed that she was able by these to maintain the ascendancy over other nations, and perpetuate her dominion. She supposed that by her great power, her natural advantages, and her wealth, she could resist the causes which had operated to destroy other nations. Men often confide in their own wickedness – their cunning, their artifices, their frauds, their acts of oppression and cruelty, and suppose that they are secure against the judgments of God.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

4. Isaiah describes the mission of latter-day Israel.

Isaiah 49:1 The Lord hath called me from the womb

‘The concept of a chosen and favored people, a concept scarcely known in the world and but little understood even by the saints of God, is one of the most marvelous systems ever devised for administering salvation to all men in all nations in all ages. Israel, the Lord’s chosen people, were a congregation set apart in preexistence. In large measure, the spirit children of the Father who acquired a talent for spirituality, who chose to heed the divine word then given, and who sought, above their fellows, to do good and work righteousness-all these were foreordained to be born in the house of Israel. They were chosen before they were born. This is the doctrine of election. They were true and faithful in the premortal life, and they earned the right to be born as the Lord’s people and to have the privilege, on a preferential basis, of believing and obeying the word of truth. Believing blood, the blood of Abraham, flows in their veins. They are the ones of whom Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28.)’ (Bruce R McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 182)

Isaiah 49:2 In the shadow of his hand hath he hid me

‘It was decreed in the counsels of eternity, long before the foundations of the earth were laid, that he, Joseph Smith, should be the man, in the last dispensation of this world, to bring forth the word of God to the people, and receive the fulness of the keys and power of the Priesthood of the Son of God. The Lord had his eyes upon him, and upon his father, and upon his father’s father, and upon their progenitors clear back to Abraham, and from Abraham to the flood, from the flood to Enoch, and from Enoch to Adam. He has watched that family and that blood as it has circulated from its fountain to the birth of that man. He was fore-ordained in eternity to preside over this last dispensation. ‘(Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 108)

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Isaiah 49:6 A light to the Gentiles

‘Nephi and others taught how the great blessings of the last days would be made available not only to the house of Israel, but to the Gentiles as well (see 1 Ne. 22:8-11). Indeed, the gospel is to be taken by Ephraim and his brethren in the dispensation of the fulness of times to all people (see JS-M 1:31; D&C 42:58). Once again, the tribe of Ephraim and Joseph Smith stand out as the main participants in this work. In the fullest sense, Jesus Christ is the ‘light’-not only to the Gentiles, but to all nations. The Church today has a commission to bear his message; thus it reflects his light.’ (Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 1: The Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 328-330)

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