The purpose of lesson 39 is to:” To strengthen each class member’s testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” It covers Isaiah chapters 50-53 with a few references from other Mormon scriptures. (Unfortunately Mormons have been taught to believe that it’s impossible to truly understand the bible without the Book of Mormon. )
Before we go any further it’s important to point out what Mormons believe about the Atonement. First of all they believe Jesus suffered and took on our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Atonement was then carried over to the cross where Jesus died.
Bruce R. McConkie said:
“Where and under what circumstances was the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God made? Was it on the Cross of Calvary or in the Garden of Gethsemane? It is to the Cross of Christ that most Christians look when centering their attention upon the infinite and eternal atonement. And certainly the sacrifice of our Lord was completed when he was lifted up by men; also, that part of his life and suffering is more dramatic and, perhaps, more soul stirring. But in reality the pain and suffering, the triumph and grandeur, of the atonement took place primarily in Gethsemane,” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, vol. 1, p. 774, emphasis mine).
Even though our Savoir agonized over what was to come, and began to sweatas though it were great drops of blood while He was in the garden (Luke 22:44), it was on the cross were He took on our sin and suffer for us so that we wouldn’t have to pay the penalty for our transgressions. Over and over again the bible tells us the cross is where His sacrifice took place, not the garden.
The lesson focuses on different scripture passages and how the class can apply them in their daily lives. These principles are:
1. Isaiah speaks of messengers who bring glad tidings.
The messengers are of course those who bring the Mormon gospel to those who’ve never heard it. Isaiah 2:7 is used as the jumping off point for this application. However the “good news” doesn’t refer to a legalistic, works centered path to righteousness but to the gospel of grace that leads you to salvation after nothing you do.
2. Isaiah prophesies of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice.
Isaiah 53 is a picture of Jesus suffering for the sins of the world, and nowhere does it refer to a garden. In this chapter we learn that through His sacrifice Jesus becomes the intercessor for our sin, making Him our High Priest forever (Hebrews 7:25).
Isaiah 53:12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
Jesus can save us to the “uttermost” because He became the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2). If the Atonement occurred in the garden He couldn’t fulfill this role in our lives.
3. Isaiah describes some of our responsibilities.
One of these responsibilities is to: Awake and put on the strength of the priesthood.
Isaiah 52:1-2 is used as the premise for this thought and yet it has nothing to do with the Mormon priesthood. These verses read as follows:
Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. (2) Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
In the commentary section of the MacArthur Study Bible we read:
“A call is given for Zion to awake from drunkenness and clothe herself in garments of honor and dignity provided by the Lord. Foreign invaders will no longer control the city as the time of her final restoration.”
God is calling the Israelites back to Him in these verses.
It never ceases to amaze me how Mormons can read something out of nothing. They seem to think the bible is a story of how God’s going to save the world through Mormonism, instead of how He’s going to save the world through His son.
Melissa Grimes (firstname.lastname@example.org)