My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to Isaiah 13-35 with a lesson title of “A Marvellous Work and a Wonder.” This lesson was introduced by this statement from President Bonnie H. Cordon: “Scriptures enlighten our minds, nourish our spirits, answer our questions, increase our trust in the Lord, and help us center our lives on Him” (“Trust in the Lord and Lean Not,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 7). The lesson was further introduced by the following introduction:
One of the things the Lord asks prophets to do is to warn about the consequences of sin. In the case of Old Testament prophets, this often meant telling the powerful rulers of mighty kingdoms that they must repent or be destroyed. It was a dangerous task, but Isaiah was fearless, and his warnings to the kingdoms of his day – including Israel, Judah, and surrounding nations – were bold (see Isaiah 13-23).
However, Isaiah also had a message of hope. Even though the prophesied destructions eventually did come upon these kingdoms, Isaiah foresaw a chance for restoration and renewal. The Lord would invite His people to return to Him. He would make “the parched ground … become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water” (Isaiah 35:7). He would perform “a marvellous work and a wonder” (Isaiah 29:14), restoring to Israel the blessings He had promised them. Neither Isaiah nor anyone else alive at that time lived to see this marvelous work. But we are seeing its ultimate fulfillment today. In fact, we are part of it!
As with all scripture blocks, Israel 13-35 teaches numerous principles. This essay will focus on the following principle: “Apostasy means turning away from the Lord and His prophets.” The information will come from several chapters in Isaiah. Isaiah used a variety of metaphors to warn about the consequences of turning away from the Lord and rejecting His prophets. Some of the metaphors used in this scripture block are an empty earth (Isaiah 24:1-12), drunkenness (Isaiah 28:7-8), hunger and thirst (Isaiah 29:7-10), and a broken wall or vessel (Isaiah 30:8-14).
1 Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.
7 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of win, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.
8 For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.
7 And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, even all that fight against her and her munition, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision.
8 It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion.
9 Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.
8 Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:
9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord:
10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.
12 Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon:
13 Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.
14 And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters’ vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.
The above verses show the importance of keeping the covenants made with God. God sets the conditions for the covenants, and His children decide whether or not to make and keep the covenants. When His children keep the covenants that they make with Him, Heavenly Father sends blessings to them. However, when His children rebel, He can no longer bless them, and they are left to the consequences of their decisions. President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave the following counsel to help us stay faithful to the Lord and His Church.
We need to experience a continuing conversion by increasing our faith in Jesus Christ and our faithfulness to His gospel throughout our lives – not just once but regularly [see Alma 5:26]….
… The words of the Lord are found in the scriptures and the teachings of the apostles and prophets. They provide us counsel and direction that, when followed, will act like a spiritual life jacket, and will help us know how to hold on with both hands….
In addition to developing the habit of personal scripture reading, we need to be like the sons of Mosiah and give ourselves “to much prayer, and fasting” [Alma 17:3] (“Stay in the Boat and Hold On!” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 90-91).
President Ballard gave us counsel on hold to avoid apostasy. He said that we need to continuously be renewing our faith in Jesus Christ by “much prayer and fasting” and by developing a habit of studying the scriptures. I know that President Ballard’s counsel works because I practice it. We can maintain and strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ and in the words of His prophets by doing the simple things, such as prayer, scripture study, and fasting.