Old Testament Lesson 40 -“Enlarge the Place of Thy Tent”

1. “Lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes”

Isaiah 54:2 Enlarge the place of thy tent

‘The gathering of Israel’s posterity will necessitate enlarging the family tent, lengthening the cords, and strengthening the stakes. The tent signifies refuge from storms. Stakes (this is the  origin of the name of our Church unit), must be strong to stabilise the whole tent, which is the Church and kingdom of God on earth, made up of families.’ (Andrew C Skinner, D Kelly Ogden, Verse by verse, The Old Testament)

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2. “With great mercies will I gather thee”

Isaiah 54:7 With great mercies will I gather thee

‘Compassion and mercy always return and prevail in a most reassuring way. The mountains and the hills may disappear. The water of the great seas may dry up. The least likely things in the world may happen, but the Lord’s kindness and peace will never be taken from his covenant people. He has sworn with a heavenly oath that he will not be wroth with them forever.’ (Jeffrey R Holland, Christ And The New Covenant, p. 290)

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Isaiah 54:13 All thy children shall be taught of the Lord

“All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isaiah 54:13). You mothers, read to your children. Read the scriptures to your children. You may not think they understand. They won’t understand everything you read. But they will develop within themselves a feeling, an attitude, a spirit that will be wonderful. And I don’t hesitate to promise you that the day will come, if you nurture your children and love and teach in righteousness, you will get on your knees with tears in your eyes and thank the Lord for His blessing to you. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, “Motherhood”)

Isaiah 55:1 Everyone that thirsteth

‘The word ‘thirst’ often indicates intense desire, and is thus applied to the sense of want which sinners often have, and to their anxious wishes for salvation. It is not improbable that the Savior had this passage in his eye when he pronounced the blessing on those who hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6). No needs are so keen, none so imperiously demand supply, as those of hunger and thirst. They occur daily; and when long continued, as in the case of those who are shipwrecked, and doomed to wander months or years over burning sands with scarcely any drink or food, nothing is more distressing. Hence, the figure is often used to denote any intense desire for anything, and especially an ardent desire for salvation (see Psalm 42:2; Psalm 63:1; Psalm 143:6; John 7:37). ‘ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Isaiah 55:6-7 Return unto the Lord

‘This counsel is as important for us today as it was in those ancient times. Worsening, frustrating world problems, aggravated by a general departure from true Christian teachings and ethical practices, give warning of impending dangers and much sorrow unless man forsakes sin and turns to God in sincere repentance. Only by avoiding the pitfalls of evil and following Isaiah’s counsel can we expect to receive God’s mercy and his abundant pardon.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only sure basis for a righteous life. No other plan, moral code, or creed can match or supplant its teachings. The gospel is a wise and guiding set of laws, principles, and ordinances for all men to live by.

The weakness and foolishness of many today cause them to be more interested in the teachings of man than in the teachings of God, as found in both ancient and modern scriptures. Unfortunately, for the most part, the thoughts of mortal men are centered in this temporal life and not on the eternal life. The philosophies of men cannot replace nor transcend gospel philosophy as given in the revelations of God, nor can the science of man replace the truths revealed by God through his prophets.’ (Delbert L Stapley, General Conference, April 1973)

Isaiah 56:3 The son of the stranger

‘Strangers (foreigners) and eunuchs (emasculated males) were considered ritually unfit for Temple worship, but Israelites were obligated to treat all strangers or foreigners with civility and kindness (Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:34). They, too, are children of our Heavenly Father and are invited to be faithful to him, and merit eternal blessings’. (Andrew C Skinner, D Kelly Ogden, Verse by verse, The Old Testament)

Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain cometh down

‘The meaning of this verse and the following is plain. This refers evidently, as the whole passage does, to the times which should succeed the coming of the Messiah. The hearts of people by nature are what the earth would be without the rains of heaven – barren and sterile. But God says that his truth shall certainly accomplish an effect similar to that produced by descending showers. The rain never descends in vain. It makes the earth fertile, beautiful, and lovely. So would it be with his truth in the moral world.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

3. The Millennium will be a time of peace and joy.

Isaiah 64:4 since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived… what he hath prepared

‘This glorious time of blessings, as well as judgment, was also described in the words of the ancient prophet Isaiah: “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” (Isaiah 64:4.)

The words of the apostle Paul are parallel: “. . . it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9.)

The best mortal music we have heard will be surpassed by the sounds of celestial chords we shall hear there. The most beautiful art and scenery experienced in the here and now of this earth will have scarcely prepared us for the beauties we shall see then and there.

The pain of the judgment will be followed by the overwhelming blessings the living and loving Father has prepared for us. Those who hear the words “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, . . . enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21), will be filled with unspeakable joy. Those so adjudged can say of their own tiny trek, “It is finished,” and yet so much will have just begun!

We will be home, and the promise to us is that God will land our souls, yea, our immortal souls, “at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.” (Helaman 3:30.) Never again will we be really away from Him!’ (Neal A Maxwell, Things As They Really Are [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 118-119)

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Isaiah 65:17 New heavens and a new earth

‘The new heavens and new earth spoken of by Isaiah and in [D&C] section 101, have no reference to the new heavens and earths which will come after the close of the Millennium when the earth shall become as a sea of glass. The new heavens and earth here spoken of will come at the beginning of the Millennium. It is the change spoken of in the tenth Article of Faith. The Lord definitely fixes the time when this change will come and all corruptible things be removed. It is in the day when enmity shall cease on the earth and love shall take the place of hate even among the beasts and fowl as well as with mankind. It shall be a day when there shall be no sorrow for there shall be no death. Men on the earth will still be mortal, but a change shall come over them so that they will have power over sickness, disease and death. Death shall all but be banished from the earth, for men shall live until they are the age of a tree or one hundred years old, (See Sec. 63:50-51), and then shall die at the age of man, but this death shall come in the twinkling of an eye and mortality shall give way to immortality suddenly. There shall be no graves, and the righteous shall be caught up to a glorious resurrection. In that day the resurrected Saints will work hand in hand with the mortal Saints on the earth. It is the purpose of the Lord during that thousand years to have the ordinance work performed for all the dead who are entitled to receive it. It is the time of restoration and perfection, when all things pertaining to the Salvation of man will be fulfilled. Mortals must perform in the Temples the ordinance work which pertains to this mortal life. All who are raised in the resurrection also belong to another life, and therefore cannot be baptized, confirmed, ordained, endowed, or sealed for themselves, since all of these ordinances belong to this mortal sphere. Those who have passed through the resurrection will come with the needed records so that those in the flesh, or mortality, can perform the work for their dead.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 2: 216 – 217)

Isaiah 65:17–25. To What Period of Time Do These Verses Refer?

‘Isaiah 65:17–25refers to the Millennium. People living then will have no desire for things to be as they once were. The old earth, in fact, “shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (v. 17). Everything will be gloriously new, sorrow will cease (see v. 19), children will not die in infancy (see v. 20), homes will be built, and fruit trees and gardens planted and enjoyed. No one will drive others from their lands, as the Saints were driven in the early days of this dispensation (see v. 21–22).

In summarizing conditions in this glorious day, Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “Great and marvelous though the changes will be incident to life during the millennial era, yet mortality as such will continue. Children will be born, grow up, marry, advance to old age, and pass through the equivalent of death. Crops will be planted, harvested, and eaten; industries will be expanded, cities built, and education fostered; men will continue to care for their own needs, handle their own affairs, and enjoy the full endowment of free agency. Speaking a pure language (Zeph. 3:9), dwelling in peace, living without disease, and progressing as the Holy Spirit will guide, the advancement and perfection of society during the millennium will exceed anything men have supposed or expected.” (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 496–97.)

A great deal of information about the Millennium has been revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 101:23–31.’ (Institute Old Testament Manual)

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