Chapter 15 – Compare Isaiah 5
This chapter compares Israel to a well-beloved vineyard. God plants and nourishes His vineyard with loving care, but it brings forth rotten fruit. The vineyard goes its own way, and will “not be pruned or digged.” (6) God sends a drought and briars and thorns grow in it. His people reject spiritual nourishment and are in a drought, because “they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands. (12) Therefore, my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.” (13)
It seems vital to always look for God’s hand in our lives, to practice seeing with our spiritual eyes. This act of remembering or seeing helps our hearts stay humble and teachable. It keeps us from falling into a spiritual drought.
Wo unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope.”2 Nephi 15:18
This brings up the picture of us being beasts of burden, dragging our sins around with us. Sin is a heavy burden that only repentance can take away. God will grant us deliverance from what weighs us down. All we have to do is turn to Him and ask for His help.
Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put forth darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! / Wo unto the wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight.”2 Nephi 15:20-21
There is much of this happening in the world today. Just look around in the media and you will see influential people calling good bad, and evil good. All the time!
Because of this wickedness, “the anger of the Lord [is] kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them.” (25)
Yet, even when we deserve punishment, God yearns to grant us mercy.
For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.”2 Nephi 15:25
His hand is stretched out to us always. Repentance is the act that turns us toward Him so we can reach out for that saving Hand. And when we reach out, He will save us immediately.
Despite how wicked and horrible people can be (how horrible we can be!), God doesn’t hold grudges. He is quick to forgive and hand out second (third or millionth) chances. He is anxious to give us a new start. A new birth. A new life.
Am I as quick to forgive and reach out to others as my Savior is? No! None of us are perfect like Him. But we can determine to repent and do a little better each day as we seek His grace.
God’s relationship with Israel in this chapter is a great example of how to treat others. God gave everything to nourish and love Israel and give them every chance for happiness. Even when Israel rejected Him, He still loved them and kept giving them chances to repent. I think that’s why He told us to love our enemies. Others may reject us, mock us, use us badly. But God showed us that we need to keep loving them. He believes in second chances. We should, too.
Chap 16 – compare Isaiah 6
The Holy Ghost’s role in the Atonement
This chapter is a vision Isaiah saw of the Lord. He proclaims his unworthiness (as we all would do, most likely).
Wo is unto me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips. / Then flew one of the seraphim (fiery beings) unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar; / And he laid it upon my mouth and said; Lo, this has touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.”2 Nephi 16:5-7
To me, this symbolizes how the Holy Ghost burns away sin and sanctifies us. The seraphim represents how the Holy Ghost brings the Atonement of Jesus Christ (the live coal) directly into our lives, enabling us to be purged and cleansed of our sins. He is the vehicle with the power to bring the atoning power of Jesus Christ directly into our lives.
Do I seek to be worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost in order to be sanctified by the Atonement of Jesus Christ?
After being cleansed of sin, Isaiah volunteers to go unto the people to preach for the Lord. “Here am I; send me.” (8)
The cleansing power of repentance makes us want to serve God and our fellowmen. How quickly do I volunteer to serve others? The answer is a good way to gauge my spiritual health.
Chapter 17 – compare Isaiah 7
Take heed, Be quiet, & Trust in God
This chapter goes into how Ephraim and Syria are threatening Judah. Isaiah told the king not to fear those two powers.
Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be faint-hearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.”2 Nephi 17:4
The steps God declared for the king of Israel are ones we can use when feel threatened (spiritually, physically, mentally, or socially).
- Take heed, and be quiet. Take heed suggests preparation to stand against our enemies. We don’t ignore our enemies. That would be a mistake. We must know their goals and agenda in order to stand against it and not be caught off guard. But the 2nd part of this counsel brings the most comfort. Be quiet. That suggests we shouldn’t rage against our enemies when their fierce anger is lit against us. Don’t retaliate. Be quiet conjures up the image of strength. We have taken heed, which makes us careful. We understand what we are up against and don’t have to throw a fit back, because we are prepared.
- Fear not, neither be faint-hearted. Just as those countries could have destroyed Judah back then, some forces in our life might seem stronger than us. But God is more powerful than any enemy. We do not need to fear—even when bad things happen. Fear is the opposite of faith and can lead us away from God. Fear magnifies weaknesses and blinds us to our strengths. It blinds us to God’s strength and makes us cower. Knowing God is in charge should make us strong and brave.
- Trust in God. He told Isaiah and the king of Judah that “It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.” (7) They just needed to trust Him instead of being afraid and giving into the enemy. When we truly come to trust God, it becomes natural to take heed, be quiet, fear not, and know that all will turn out all right in the end.
He goes on to say that in “three score and five years” (65 years) their enemy will “be broken that it be not a people.” (8) God didn’t want Judah to make pacts and unite with those two smoking firebrands. He wanted Judah to stand on its own and rely on God’s might. We shouldn’t rely upon the world either. It will always let us down, no matter how strong it seems. Nothing is more powerful than our God.
The Lord gives this promise. “If ye will not believe surely ye shall not be established.” (9)
If the king wouldn’t have faith in God’s counsel, his people wouldn’t be saved. Same for us. If we don’t have faith to heed our living prophet when he counsels us, we won’t be saved either.
But remember, God is all about second chances. No one is ever too far gone that He cannot reach out and save them. But we must want His saving and show that by turning to Him in repentance.