The other day, my wife asked me, “Can you teach my Sunday School class this Sunday?” She was out of town and there wasn’t a substitute for the 14-15 year old class she teaches. I told her (reluctantly at first) that I would then asked “what’s the lesson on?” She said “Isaiah.” My desire to teach dropped like a rock in water. Isaiah? How am I supposed to teach something I have no concept about? I have been avoiding Isaiah for years. Sure, I know he has some great poetic verses about the Savior, but to teach? I started back-pedaling and asking her if there was someone else who could teach instead or if we could combine her class with someone elses. She has a good, soft heart for the kids she teaches and she told me she didn’t want them to have to be combined into a room with others. She felt they needed and deserved a personal teacher who would give them the best treatment. I told her I’d find someone for her.
After we finished chatting I looked at the names of people who could substitute for her. I was about ready to call a substitute but I realized the love she has for these kids and the effort she puts into her lessons. As I thought of this, I realized that no one else would be able to simulate in a sense what she does except for me, as I watch her and hear her stories of each of them. I at least wanted to show up to the class and let them know of the love she has for them. I decided to put the phone down and call on the Good Lord for help instead. I was going to give the lesson.
I shouldn’t have been suprised to get an answer to prayer so quickly, but not long after I prayed I received an email in my inbox from Meridian Magazine. There was an article by John Bytheway headlining the magazine called “Leafing through the Chapters of Isaiah” (I encourage anyone interested in familiarizing themselves with Isaiah to read this article in conjuction with Isaiah). I clicked on it and started reading and the first paragraph started describing how I felt as I thought of teaching Isaiah. However, after reading the article and studying the “Isaiah Chapters” of the Book of Mormon, I started getting excited to teach the class. The article discusses the four guides to look for in any of Isaiah’s writings as being those of Covenants, Christ, Current Events, and Coming Events. In addition, it discusses some keys (spirit of prophecy, geographical knowledge of Jews, living in latter-days, knowledge of God’s judgements) needed to interpret Isaiah. As I started reading the chapters with the guide and keys I started finding things in Isaiah I’ve never been able to comprehend or appreciate.
I only studied for a few hours, so I barely was able to scratch the surface of Isaiah. However, some things that stuck out to me were: prophesies of temples, the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (see also Isaiah 11), Isaiah’s call as a prophet from the voice of the Lord, descriptions of the Millenium, Jesus’ personal approval of Isaiah, and much more.
As I went to church, I pictured in my mind teaching the kids the best I could and taking care of them like my wife (and of course the Lord) wanted them to be taken care of. However, the opportunity to teach didn’t come because our normally scheduled one hour meeting lasted almost 2 hours and the bishop told us we would cancel Sunday School.
Although I didn’t get to teach “Isaiah 101”, I’m grateful for the chance I had to learn and study and even if there were not many students in our church today learning about Isaiah, there was at least one student who learned something and that student was me.