Old Testament Lesson 36 – The Glory of Zion

DSC00700 This lesson covers the first six chapters in Isaiah. Chapter one I have already written about. You can find it here. The lesson has a great list of verses from the first six chapters that describe the wickedness in the world today. I will look at a couple of references from this list, but strongly suggest you go over the list with a fine-tooth comb and decide which of these items would resonate with your particular class or in your own life. To appreciate the glory of Zion we first have to see how far off track the world has gotten and how far it will go before Christ returns. The first sign of departure from the Lord I will cover is Isaiah 3:9.

The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.

Today’s society is compared in wickedness to Sodom, which is appropriate. However, today’s society has surpassed Sodom in its wickedness. This verse says that people in the last days will not hide their sin of sodomy and other crimes against God. Instead, they will be proud of their sins. The day we start to take pride in our sins is the day we reward ourselves with our own evil. In Isaiah 5:11 – 12 we have the same sin being foretold that the Romans were guilty of.

11 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!

12 And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands.

These are the people who have the “eat, drink, and be merry” life philosophy. If the only importance in this life is to have as much fun as possible before you blink out of existence, then why should they regard the Lord or his commandments? This way of thinking is prevalent in today’s society. This is the same form of excess and debauchery that history has blamed for the fall of the Roman Empire. They also lived only for the day, and took no thought to better themselves or to look to a higher source for guidance in their daily lives.

The Lord expects his children to be more careful than that. We are to focus on tomorrow, in what comes after this life, rather than on today and the moment. This moment in mortality is fleeting, but the tomorrow of eternity lasts forever. God wants us to be prepared for that eternity.

Stand in Holy Places

First, let’s look at the verses where Isaiah makes references to the holy places. This is in Isaiah 4:5 – 6.

And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.  And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.

Isaiah lists the “dwelling place” or home as a holy place, “her assemblies” which would be our wards, branches, and stakes, and “a tabernacle” or the temples. We have not one, but three holy places we can go to for refuge in the last days. It is important to note however, that a holy place is only as holy as the people who enter it.

So what is the symbolism associated with these holy places? Isaiah talks about a cloud and smoke by day, the shining of a flaming fire by night, and a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and a covert or protection from the storm and from rain. Both the pillar of fire and the cloudy pillar are symbols for the Holy Spirit. This makes for a perfect picture of both physical and spiritual protection sent by the Lord to hover over our holy places. These protections are meant to keep us safe during the storms of life.

Verse four says that upon all this glory will be a defence. How is the presence of the Holy Ghost in our lives, in our homes, wards, branches, and at the temple, a defence? From what are we being defended? We live in a world of blatant wickedness. The Lord has been dismissed as a myth, no one believes in Satan any more than they believe in God, and wickedness is celebrated and promoted from every direction. Evil things are being called good, and that which is good is being called evil. How does the presence of the Holy Ghost in our homes, in in our families protect us day and night from these evils?

Stand in Holy Places

In Doctrine and Covenants 87:8 the Lord tells us,

Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen.

How can we stand in holy places and be not moved? What moves us out of holy places? When we are obedient to the commandments, and we pray individually and as a family, as we attend Church, read scriptures, pay our tithes and offerings, and provide service to others, are we not standing fast on holy ground? To take a stand is to assume a position. To stand for something is to champion a cause. When we stand in holy places we are being obedient to the Lord in all things. We are protecting our homes, strengthening our wards, and worshiping in the temples. As long as we are doing these things we are not moved or taken away from these holy places.

Only when we abandon our commitments to the Lord, stop worshiping in the temple or become lazy in our ward service, or worse yet, lazy in our commitments to our loved ones that the world can pull us away from the holy places, and into places of danger. As long as we stay grounded, stand strong, and are not moved from our holy places and the commitments that go with that, the Lord will be able to remain as a shield and a protection to our homes, our wards, and the temples. Whether He gives us an internal flame of spiritual fire to protect us from sin or whether there is an actual pillar of fire over our homes to protect us through the night, the end result is the same. These symbols are just another way to tell us that when we stand in holy places the Lord will send us the Spirit to guide and protect us and keep us from evil.

The glory of Zion has always depended on the personal righteousness of the Saints. As long as we learn to stand in holy places and be not moved out of them, the glory of Zion will grow.

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