Author: Jim F.

NT Sunday School Lesson 16: John 9-10

Ms

Chapter 9 Verse 1: Chapter 8 ends with the phrase “passed by” and chapter 9 begins with those words. Did the events of chapters 9-10 happen as Jesus was leaving the temple precincts, or did they occur later? (See verse 14 for a clue.) Why is it important that the man has been blind since birth? As you read the story, ask yourself, How we are like the blind man: in what ways are we or have we been blind from birth? How do we come to see? What do we see when we have been healed? Verses 2-5: How could the disciples believe that the man’s sins could be responsible for his blindness since he was born blind? What do you make of the fact that over and over again we see Jesus ignoring general, hypothetical, and legal questions such as the question that the disciples ask? (See also, e.g., Luke 10:25ff. and John 8:3ff.) What does he deal…

NT Sunday School Lesson 15: John 7-8

Ms

WARNING: Longer than usual notes. I agree with the generally accepted scholarly conclusion that John 7:53-8:11 is a later insertion into the original text. So I will deal with John 7:1-42 and John 8:12-59 as one narrative, the story of what Jesus does at the feast of the tabernacles. Then I will deal with the story of the woman taken in adultery separately. Chapter 7 Verses 1-5: In verse 1, to what is John referring with the phrase “these things”? Refer to the end of chapter 6 (e.g., John 6:66) to recall what things happened that caused him to be in danger. A more accurate translation of the word Jewry is “Judea.” in other words Jerusalem: Jesus left Judea and returned to Galilee. Nevertheless, the theme of Jewish opposition to Jesus is frequent in these chapters (John 7:1, 13, 19, 25, 30, 32, and 44; and 8:37, 40, and 59). John is setting the stage for Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem…

NT Sunday School Lesson 14: Matthew 18; Luke 10

Ms

Matthew 18 Verses 1-4: Why do the disciples ask the question that they pose in verse 1? What does it suggest about their understanding of Jesus’ message? What do you make of the fact that they are arguing about who shall be first so shortly after Jesus has talked about his coming death (Matthew 17:22)? In verse 3, the verb “be converted” translates a Greek verb that means “turn.” To be converted, to repent, is to turn back, to return. In what sense is repentance a return? Christ says that no one can even enter the kingdom (or reign) of heaven without becoming like a child. Then in verse 4 he says that if a person humbles himself and becomes as a child, then he or she is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. A logical conclusion from the two claims (though rhetoric may trump logic here) is that everyone who enters the kingdom of heaven is the greatest…

NT Sunday School Lesson 13: Matthew 15:21-17:13

Ms

There are a number of stories in this reading, and they appear not to be given to us in a haphazard way. There is a natural progression from one to the other: (1) Jesus heals the Canaanite woman’s daughter (Matthew 15:21-28). (2) He heals many and multitudes come to him (Matthew 15: 29-31). (3) He not only heals them, he feeds 4,000 (Matthew 15:32-39). (4) Having just given a miraculous sign, he warns the Pharisees and Saducees against sign seeking (Matthew 16:1-4); (5) He tells the disciples to beware the leaven, the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 16:5-12). (6) He asks the disciples who he is and Peter testifies that Jesus is the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20). (7) However, when Jesus tells the disciples that he will be killed and resurrected, Peter denies that teaching and is rebuked (Matthew 16:21-23). (8) Following that rebuke, Jesus teaches the disciples what it means to be a disciple (Matthew 16:24-28). (9) Taking…

NT Sunday School Lesson 12: John 5-6; Mark 6:30-44; Matthew:14:22-33

Ms

As is almost always the case, there is far more here than we can cover in one lesson. These materials will focus on John 5, but I will also include some  questions on John 6. John 5 Some have suggested that the gospel of John is partially constructed around seven wondrous works or miracles. (I believe I got this from Art Bassett, but I’m not sure.) With each, Jesus gives a sermon that illustrates the significance of what he has done. The seven are: Turning water into wine at the wedding feast and the discourse on being born again (John 2:1-12; 3:1-21) Raising the nobleman’s son to life and a discourse on Jesus as the living water (John 4:43-51; 4:1-42) Healing the man by the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath and explaining that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (John 5:1-14; 5:19-47) Feeding the five thousand and teaching that Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:1-15; 6:22-66) Walking…

NT Sunday School Lesson 11: Matthew 13

Ms

A reminder that I post regularly for those who are new to these notes: These are study notes for the lesson material, not notes for creating lessons. I assume that a person would use these over several days, perhaps a week, of study. Of course someone studying the lessons will also be able to create a lesson, but the purpose of these notes is primarily for the students in Gospel Doctrine class and only secondarily for teachers of the class. This is a chapter of parables. We get the word parable from a Greek word (parabol?) meaning “to set by the side” or “to compare.” It is a translation of a Hebrew word (mashal) that we usually translate “proverb,” but we might better translate that word as “wise saying.” The Hebrew word covers a wide range of things, from what we call proverbs to what we call parables, to what we might call a sermon. Jesus’ hearers probably wouldn’t have…

NT Sunday School Lesson 10 (JF) : Matthew 11:28-30; 12:1-13; Luke 7:36-50; 13:10-17

Ms

Matthew 11 Verse 28: What does it mean to come to Christ? Has he already told us how we can do that in readings from some of the previous lessons? The word translated “labor” means “wearying labor.” The phrase “heavy laden” translates a Greek word that means “weighed down.” What wearying, taxing work does Christ have in mind here? From what does he offer relief? Why is that described as something that wears us out? As something that burdens us? Can we understand sin as a kind of difficult work? The word translated “rest” literally means “cessation.” It is used to mean “refreshment,” “ease,” or “rest.” How does the Savior offer cessation from taxing labor? Verse 29: The word translated “take” means literally “lift up.” The Greek word translated “yoke” could also have been translated “scales” (the kind of scales one sees in statues representing justice). Do you agree with the King James version’s decision to translate the term as…

NT Sunday School Lesson 9: Matthew 6-7

Ms

As is usually the case, there is a lot of material to cover in this lesson, but the material in these chapters is so important that it would be a shame to focus on only part of it. So I will focus on the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:5-15), but I will also provide notes for the rest of both chapters. Notice that in 2007 Robert C and Cheryl M provided excellent materials on these chapters, and Karl D will almost certainly provide current notes on the lesson materials. Chapter 6 Jesus continues to teach about true righteousness, a righteousness that goes beyond mere obedience. He first discusses three basic acts of piety in first-century Judaism: almsgiving, prayer, and fasting (verses 1-18). Then he teaches us where we will find our treasure (verses 19-23), and he teaches that we ought to serve God without taking thought for ourselves (verses 24-34). Verses 1-4: In verse 1, the Greek word translated “to be…

NT Sunday School Lesson 8: Matthew 5

Ms

The lesson this week picks out the first part of a longer sermon. Matthew 5-7 give us Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Even if preparing for only the Sunday School lesson, it is probably best to read the entire sermon to see the context of this part. At the time of Jesus there seems to have been considerable controversy over who was “in” and who was “out” when it came to being the children of God. This controversy had been on-going for some time, at least since the time of the return from exile. The Samaritan community was one of the earliest to be excluded, but they were not the only ones. We know of other groups, such as the Essenes who lived in Qumran and who left us the Dead Sea Scrolls. They thought of themselves as “in,” in other words as true to Israel’s covenant, and of everyone else as “out.” The controversy centered on a number of…

NT Sunday School Lesson 7: Mark 1-2; 4:35-41; 5; Luke 7:1-17

Ms

For purposes of this lesson, I take Luke 7:1-17 to be a supplement to the miracle stories we read in the material from Mark. So I will make my notes and questions on Mark, assuming that reading and thinking about Luke will be appropriate to them. As usual, I offer the reminder that these are study notes for the reading, not notes for preparing a lesson. Presumably study notes could help a person prepare a lesson, but these go beyond what one might expect in notes for a lesson. Mark’s Gospel This is the first lesson this year to use the book of Mark, so some review may be in order. Most non-LDS scholars believe that Mark was the gospel written first and that the other two synoptic writers used his gospel as a kind of first draft. In contrast, most LDS scholars believe that Matthew was written first because Matthew’s version of things is what we find in Christ’s…

NT Sunday School Lesson 6: Luke 4:14-32; 5; 6:12-16; Matthew 10

Ms

Before we look at some individual verses from this lesson, consider the overall structure of Luke’s narrative and think about how Luke’s story of the calling of the Twelve compares to Matthew’s. I have put in bold the parts that the lesson focuses on, but I have outlined all four chapters so that you can think about how Luke tells the story as a whole. Because of the length of the materials, I have created study questions only for the first part of the lesson, Luke 4:14-32. Luke’s story: • John’s preaching and message (Luke 3:1-20) • Jesus’s baptism (Luke 3:21-22) • His genealogy (Luke 3:23-38) • The forty-day sojourn in the desert and the temptation of Christ (Luke 4:1-13) • Jesus’s first recorded sermon, on Isaiah 61:1-2, and its reception in Nazareth (Luke 4:14-32) • Jesus casts a devil out of a man in the synagogue (Luke 4:33-37) • He cures Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever (Luke 4:38-39) • He…

NT Sunday School Lesson 5: John 3-4

Ms

There is a tremendous amount of material in this lesson, more than I can deal with in a few pages. So I have shortened my study questions by focusing on John 3:1-10. Verse 1: The name “Nicodemus” means “conqueror,” and it was a common name. We know little about Nicodemus. We know that he was a Pharisee because this verse tells that he was. We know that he was some kind of ruler, though we don’t know what kind, because this verse tell us that he was. Many have speculated that Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, but we have little evidence for that speculation and we know little about the Sanhedrin. If he was a member of the Sanhedrin, then he was a member of the ruling body of Jerusalem, a Pharisee, and a teacher (scribe). He was the height of what most people would have taken to be a good Jew, and he probably would be one…

NT Sunday School Lesson 4: Matthew 3-4; John 1:35-51

Ms

Matthew 3 Verses 1-2: What function did the herald of a king serve in ancient times? Why did kings need heralds? Is John the herald of a king? Why does this King need a herald? Compare John’s message to Jesus’s message in Matthew 4:17. Why do you think Matthew uses almost exactly the same words in each case? What is he teaching? Given Matthew’s focus on Jesus’ royal birth, how are we to understand “the kingdom of heaven is at hand”? How many ways can you think of understanding that the kingdom of heaven is soon to come or is nearby? Does it help to know that the word “kingdom” might better be translated “reign”? Verse 3: Matthew (like the other three synoptic Gospel writers) quotes from Isaiah 40:3 to describe John’s mission. (Matthew quotes from the Greek version rather than the Hebrew, which explains why there are differences between what he says and our version of Isaiah 40:3.) How…

NT Sunday School Lesson 3: Luke 2; Matthew 2

Ms

Matthew 2 Verse 1: Who were the wise men? The phrase “wise men” is a somewhat odd translation of the Greek word magoi, “astrologers.” It is because of this word that sometimes we refer to the wise men as “magi.” We get the word “magician” from magoi. “The east” may refer to Mesopotamia, the center of astronomical studies at the time. Compare Numbers 24:17, Psalms 72:10-11, and Isaiah 60:1-7. What do such verses suggest to us about the wise men? Why does Matthew tell us about the homage paid to Jesus by the wise men, but Luke tells us about the homage paid to him by shepherds? Why does each story emphasize what it does? For an interesting recent piece on the wise men, see: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705364024/Ancient-manuscript-tells-of-journey-of-the-3-wise-men-text-has-ideas-Mormons-will-relate-to-BYU.html?s_cid=Email-4. Are these visitors Gentiles or might they have been members of the Jewish diaspora? What is the reaction of Herod’s advisors to the news of this birth? What might that foreshadow? Given that foreshadowing,…

NT Sunday School Lesson 2: Luke 1, Matthew 1

Ms

We are all familiar with these chapters, so familiar that I suspect we often read them or hear them read without paying a lot of attention—if we read these chapters at all. It is as if we go on automatic pilot when we they come up. However, there is a great deal going on in them. Matthew 1 Verses 1-16: It is clear that Matthew is not giving an exact genealogy. For example, he tells us that there were fourteen generations between each of the three important events in Israel’s history—from Abraham, to David, to the Babylonian captivity, to the coming of Christ: three groups of fourteen generations each, culminating in the birth of Jesus. But if we compare this genealogy to the other genealogies in the Old Testament we can see that they disagree. Why would Matthew knowingly give us a genealogy that differs from what we find in other scripture? (Notice that Ezra does something similar: he omits…

NT Sunday School Lesson 1: Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 3:4-11 (Joseph Smith Translation); John 1:1-14; John 20:31

Ms

Before I offer the study questions for this lesson, let me voice my objection to the format of our lesson manuals. They treat the Gospels as if the best way to understand them is to harmonize them, as if they are each histories of the life of Jesus rather than four different testimonies—for different audiences and for different purposes—of who Jesus is, the Messiah. That’s a little bit like taking a particular version of President Monson’s testimony, and one of President Eyring’s, and one of President Uchtdorf’s and pasting them together where they speak of similar things to make one new testimony. The result would be a misrepresentation of what they said. Individually their testimonies are much more likely to get us to the truth of which they speak than they will when shuffled together that way. The same is true of the Gospels. We are interested in the chronological history of Jesus’ life only secondarily. Our primary interest is…

NT Sunday School Lessons: Between the Testaments

Ms

This is a sketch of the history between the fall of Israel and the New Testament. It may be helpful for understanding what is going on in the New Testament confrontations between Jesus and others and in understanding the tensions in Israelite society in Jesus’ day. Jewish history between the Old and New Testaments 606 The fall of Nineveh, capital of Assyria. Babylon becomes the major power. Daniel and others are taken to Babylon from Israel. 604 Nebuchadnezzar is king of Babylon. 598 Judah’s king, Jehoiachin, and the prophet Ezekiel (with thousands of others) are carried captive into Babylon. Lehi leaves Jerusalem. 587 The fall of Jerusalem; the leaders of Judah are taken captive into Babylon. Some, including Jeremiah (who is a hostage) escape to Egypt. Mulek leaves Jerusalem. 562 The death of Nebuchadnezzar and the beginning of the decline of Babylon. 538 Babylon (in modern-day Iraq) falls to Cyrus, king of Persia (in modern-day Iran). 535 Zerubbabel and Jeshua…

Sunday School Lesson 48: Zechariah 10-14, Malachi

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Zechariah 1:7-6:8: We may be able to read the first six chapters of Zechariah as having a roughly chiastic structure. As with many chiasmi, however, deciding whether this is a chiasmus is a matter of judgment rather than fact. A 1:7-17: The Lord’s omniscience B 1:18-21: Judah and the empires C 2:1-5: Jerusalem’s territory [2:6-13: Reiterates the first three parts] D 3:1-10: Joshua the high priest D’ 4:1-14: The temple itself C’ 5:1-4: Jerusalem’s self-rule (the scroll of the law?) C’ 5:5-11: Judah and Persia (? perhaps a “counter-temple”?) A’ 6:1-8: The Lord’s omnipotence If this analysis is correct, the chiastic structure helps us understand better some of the more difficult parts of Zechariah’s vision. Earlier parts of the chiasm help “define” later, more obscure parts. Notice that each step in the chiasm narrows the scope: from the widest scope, that of the Lord; to the next widest, the international; to Jerusalem; and to Joshua (Jeshua) and the temple. The…

Sunday School Lesson 47: Ezra 1-8; Nehemiah 1-2, 4, 6, 8

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Note that the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were considered one book until well after the time of Christ. The rough chronology below will help place this week’s material in its historical context. 606 The fall of Nineveh, capital of Assyria. Babylon becomes the major power. Daniel and others are taken to Babylon from Israel 604 Nebuchadnezzar is king of Babylon 598 Judah’s king, Jehoiachin, and the prophet Ezekiel (with thousands of others) are carried captive into Babylon. Lehi leaves Jerusalem. Habakkuk and Ezekiel prophesy 587 The fall of Jerusalem; much of the population of Judah is taken captive into Babylon. Some, including Jeremiah (who is a hostage), escape to Egypt. Mulek leaves Jerusalem 562 The death of Nebuchadnezzar and the beginning of the decline of Babylon 538 Babylon (in modern-day Iraq) falls to Cyrus, king of Persia (in modern-day Iran). Cyrus reads the Hebrew scriptures and encourages the Jews to return to Jerusalem 535 Zerubbabel and Jeshua lead approximately…

Sunday School Lesson 46: Daniel 2

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Verses 4-5: Why does the king make this demand on his wise men? Verses 10-12: What did it mean to be a wise man in Babylon? Why was the king angry? Why do you think that the gods of Babylon are never mentioned in this story, not even negatively? Verse 24: Why does Daniel save the other wise men of Babylon?  Verse 28: Why would a king living hundreds of years before Christ’s birth be interested in what would happen at the age when the end of the world would come? (“Latter days” is probably better translated “at the end of days.”) Why should anyone but those who live in the latter days care about them? Books about the last days and prophecies of them were not uncommon during the time after the Jewish exile in Babylon, but why? Why are they important to us? Verse 32: The Greek poet Hesiod uses the image of world history as having four…

Sunday School Lesson 45: Daniel 1, 3, and 6; Esther 3-5, 7-8

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Let me begin, once again, with a reminder that these are not intended for notes to help teachers, though they may also serve that purpose. I write them for people who want to study the lesson materials more thoroughly. So you’ll find explanatory notes and study questions (fewer for this lesson than for most), but few answers. There is considerable material in the readings for this lesson, so I am going to focus the study questions on the book of Esther (the entire book rather than only the parts assigned for Sunday School). I want to focus on Esther because it is one of the books of the Old Testament with which I believe Latter-day Saints are least familiar. That lack of familiarity is ironic, given that Esther is perhaps the Old Testament book best known among the Jews outside the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. Esther is the only book that is still usually read…

Sunday School Lesson 44: Ezekiel 43-44, 47

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Ezekiel’s book goes back and forth between telling of the literal return from Babylon to Jerusalem in ways that we can also read to refer to the last days to speaking directly of the last days. (But when he thinks of the last days, is he thinking of the same event or events that we are thinking of?) Beginning in chapter 40, he has a vision of the temple in Jerusalem and of the order of temple worship there. What kind of vision do you think this is? In Ezekiel 37:26-28, the Lord promised the temple as part of the covenant of peace that he will make with Israel. You may wish to review those verses to prepare for this lesson. What is the covenant of peace and why does the Lord call it specifically a covenant of peace? What kind of peace? Peace with whom? For whom? How is the temple relevant to that covenant? What do the end…

Lesson 43: Ezekiel 18, 34, and 37

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Chronologically we turn backwards at this point. Jeremiah was the prophet in 597 B.C. when Jerusalem was finally captured and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and its people were carried into Babylon. Like Lehi, Ezekiel was a contemporary of Jeremiah, but Ezekiel did not prophesy with them. Instead, like Daniel, Ezekiel was with the large group from Judah taken captive into Babylon earlier. He began to prophesy only after arriving in Babylon, so prophets in Jerualem, like Lehi and Jeremiah, may not even have known about Ezekiel. Tradition has it that he died and was buried in Babylon. With that in mind, as you read Ezekiel, ask yourself what difference the absence of the Temple makes to his preaching and teaching. Chapter 18 Verses 1-4: The people of Israel seem to have used the proverb of verse 2 against the Lord. Can you explain how the proverb works as a complaint? Why might that complaint have arisen in Babylon? Why does the…

Sunday School Lesson 42: Jeremiah 16, 23, 29, 31

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As you read Jeremiah, you should do what the lesson materials for Isaiah suggested: ask how those to whom Jeremiah was speaking would have understood his prophecies, how those in the Book of Mormon (who had a record of part of his prophecies with them) would have understood them, how the members of the Church in New Testament times would have understood them, how we can understand them today, and how they may teach us of things yet to come.

Sunday School Lesson 41: Jeremiah 1-2, 15, 20, 26, 36-38

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Historical Background Like Isaiah, the book of Jeremiah is a collection of prophecies edited into a book after the fact rather than one, extended prophecy. It describes itself as a history rather than as a prophecy, though obviously it contains a number of prophecies. But the word history doesn’t mean the same for ancient Israel as it means today. It is closer to our word “story” or “account.” Much of the background for Jeremiah is covered in the last chapters of 2 Kings and the last chapters of 2 Chronicles. Understanding a rough outline of the history behind the readings in Jeremiah should help make it more understandable. Remember that for a while we have not been studying materials that are chronologically ordered. Below is a chronology cobbled together from various sources. It covers the period from the time of Solomon to the time of Jeremiah. Perhaps it will help you understand better how the things we have been reading…

Sunday School Lesson 40: Isaiah 54-56, 63-65

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As was true of the preceding several chapters, such as chapters 52-53, it is easier in these chapters for us to see their symbolic meaning than it is to see it in many of the early chapters in Isaiah. Nevertheless, I think it helps, even in a case like this, to begin by understanding the literal meaning of the chapters—what the people of Jerusalem might have heard and understood. Doing so will often add depth to our understanding of the symbolism. Speaking of scripture study, Brigham Young asked, “Do you read the Scriptures, my brethren and sisters, as though you were writing them a thousand, two thousand, or five thousand years ago? Do you read them as though you stood in the place of the men who wrote them?” His questions suggest that this should be our starting place. Then, when we are reading writings such as those of Isaiah, we should ask ourselves “What else could this represent or…

Sunday School Lesson 39: Isaiah 50-53

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These chapters are among the most beautiful in the Bible; they are an important part of Western literary culture, even for non-believers. Many scholars see the chapters as part of larger dramatic structure, a larger dramatic script as it were. In contemporary scripts the various parts would be marked clearly: “Chorus,” “Yahweh,” “Earth,” “Heavens,” “Armies,” etc. The fact that we must infer these from what is said makes reading Isaiah more difficult. As I have done with the previous chapters of Isaiah, I’ll outline how the people of Jerusalem might have understood these prophecies. Doing that will help us understand better the ways in which those prophecies are also about later events. As you read the outline, ask yourself how to understand the verses in question as applying to us—first individually and then as a church? It seems reasonable to assume that the chapter had meaning for the Israelites at the time it was given, as well as it has…

Sunday School Lesson 38: Isaiah 40-49

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These chapters begin a new section of Isaiah. The first 39 chapters focused on Judah and Israel before the exile in Babylon: the sin and iniquity of Judah and Israel. This section, chapters 40-56, focuses on Judah and Israel during the exile: the promise of return. And the last chapters, 57-66, will focus on Judah and Israel after the exile: life after the return. If we think of these times in Israel’s history as shadows of eternal types, what might we see as their type? Are there other ways of reading the same material, ways of seeing other shadows of the eternal types? For example, what might they mean to Nephi? to Matthew or Paul? to Joseph Smith? to you as an individual? Overview If you are having trouble reading Isaiah, this overview may help you see how things are connected to each other. I’ve tried to avoid interpretation in this overview, sticking merely to restatement and description as much…

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

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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:   22:1-14 What will happen to Jerusalem when Nebuchadnezzar invades.   22:14-25 The condemnation and exile of Shebna, a high official in Hezekiah’s government, and…

Sunday School Lesson 36: Isaiah 1-6

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Scriptural Background The Savior tells us, “great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1), and he commands us to search them diligently. (Towards the end of Book of Mormon history, Mormon repeats that command: Mormon 8:23.) Nephi tells us that his soul delights in Isaiah (2 Nephi 11:2), but he also tells us that many of his people did not share his experience: “Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand” (2 Nephi 25:1). A good number of us have had the experience of Nephi’s people rather than of Nephi. Nephi explains why his people don’t understand Isaiah: First, he says, “They know not concerning the manner of prophesying of the Jews” (2 Nephi 25:1). Then he adds, “The words of Isaiah are not plain unto you, nevertheless they are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy” (2 Nephi 25:4). We need two things to understand Isaiah: we…