Sabbath School Lesson for March 13-19, 2021

For daily videos about the lesson, see

Overview of Lesson 12 (Isaiah 59-61)

These three chapters help us see God’s overall purpose in sending the Messiah…

  • Sunday: Who’s fault is it [our separation from God]?
  • Monday: What good are works?
  • Tuesday: Who are we responsible for?
  • Wednesday: When is the acceptable year of the Lord?
  • Thursday: When is the day of God’s vengeance?

The expression, the “Desire of All Nations” only appears once, in Haggai 2:7. Isaiah strongly suggests why this name is appropriate in the chapters studied this week. All nations will one day be blessed through God’s covenant relationship with His people.

The prophecies here in Isaiah have a dual meaning. They not only cover the return of the exiles from their long Babylonian captivity, but refer to the Messiah, and our future experience in the New Jerusalem.

Memory Text: “The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” Isaiah 60:3 NKJV

The presence of God has always been associated with light and brightness. Exodus 34:29 tells us that Moses’ face shone after speaking with God. They were even led by a pillar of fire which gave them light on their wilderness journey (Exodus 13:21).

God’s glorious light will once again bless the world when His Son appears in clouds of glory. He will warm us with His love and guide us on the way to the heavenly Kingdom. In the meantime, we are told to reflect His light to the world (Matthew 5:14).

Sunday: The Effects of Sin (Isaiah 59:1-8)

Isaiah 59 shows us the effects of sin. The chapter begins with the question of why God doesn’t hear us and come to our rescue (Isaiah 59:1). Isaiah explained to them that God’s silence was the result of their own failures and shortcomings (Isaiah 59:2).

Adam and Eve hid from God in the Garden of Eden. After their disobedience, THEY hid from God. He was the One who was calling and looking for THEM (Genesis 3:8, 9).

Many times the separation, or feeling left out and unheard by God, is actually due to our own sin. Simply put, sin separates us from God. It is so alien to our Creator, that they cannot co-exist. No wonder we feel alienated at times from God. It isn’t His fault–it’s ours!

This helps us develop a better understanding of sin that so easily slips into our lives. Sin is basically the rejection of God. It happens whenever we turn away from Him. But the good news is, God continues to call for us, just like He did in the Garden.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Isaiah 59:1, 2

  • Why were they not able to hear God calling to them?

Isaiah 59:3-8

  • What were some of the sins they had committed?
  • How important are peace and justice? How are they related?

Monday: Who Is Forgiven? (Isaiah 59:15-21)

When people say the Suffering Servant died for the world, it isn’t an exaggeration. If He died for the sinner, we are all included. Isaiah 53:6 says we have all strayed, like sheep. And the apostle Paul recognized that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Recognizing that forgiving the whole world would hardly seem like justice, we naturally want to know, who is forgiven then? We find later in Romans that “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).

Having the Spirit of Christ in our hearts enables us to obey Him. Our sins are covered by His righteousness when we believe and accept Him as our Lord and Savior. Our carnal bodies will always struggle with sin, but He enables us to grow more and more like Him, when we surrender our lives to the Father.

God alone judges who is sincere and humble enough to be with Him in His heavenly Kingdom. We may not understand everything equally well in this world, but there must be a connection with the Higher Power, some kind of trusting faith to empower us to reflect His light to the world.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Isaiah 53:6 and Romans 3:23

  • How many of us need God’s forgiveness?
  • How does God judge who will be saved?

Jeremiah 31:34

  • How important is forgiveness in changing the situation of being sinners?

Tuesday: Universal Appeal (Isaiah 60:1-3)

Just prior to the beginning of chapter 60, Isaiah 59:20 mentions Zion. We, therefore, understand that Isaiah 60:1-3 is still referring to God’s people. The Lord’s glory shines upon them.

This prophecy was first meant to refer to the return of the exiles and the rebuilding of Jerusalem, following their 70-year captivity in Babylon. Their city would once again, for a time, shine for all the nations around them to notice.

However, we can also apply the prophecy to later times. After Christ’s death, the gospel went to the Gentile world. And we know that as we near the end of time, it will once again be preached to all the world. And finally, His glory will be seen by all, when He comes again in clouds of glory.

God promised Abraham that the world would be blessed through his family lineage. We know that Jesus was one of his descendants, so that promise was kept when the Messiah was born. The phrase “all the nations (or families) of the earth would be blessed” was repeated several times to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, 18:18, 22:18.

As God’s representatives, their responsibility was to bless the world. As God’s spiritual Israel (Galatians 3:29), we, too, are called to reflect God’s light and bless those around us. God’s love has universal appeal when we bravely step out in faith and share it.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Isaiah 59:20 and Isaiah 60:1-3

  • How has God’s light shone for you? In what ways have you seen it?
  • What are some of the ways we can share that light with others?

Wednesday: “The Year of the Lord’s Favor” (Isaiah 61:2)

The description of this anointed Servant in Isaiah 61 is similar to the one in Isaiah 42:1-7. The phrase “the acceptable year of the Lord”, or “the year of the Lord’s favor”, in Isaiah 61:2, may refer to the jubilee year. Every fiftieth year was a year that those in Israel could reclaim their land and be set free from bondage. It was a year of restoration and freedom, and the cause of much jubilation, or rejoicing (Leviticus 25:10).

Jesus mentioned this prophecy in Nazareth when He began His earthly ministry. See Luke 4:16-21. Therefore, we must conclude that the presence of the Messiah fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy and His time had come. It was the acceptable year of the Lord, the year of the Lord’s favor.

It was also a time of consolation, when those who mourned would be comforted. And beginning with verse 3, these comforted ones would be those who would glorify the Lord and become His servants once again, helping to “rebuild the old ruins” (Isaiah 61:4).

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Isaiah 61:1, 42:7, and Leviticus 25:10

  • Why is liberty so important to God, and to us?
  • How have you been liberated? What things held you in bondage, and perhaps still do?

Isaiah 61:2-4, Matthew 5:4, and John 15:8

  • What will this comfort mean for God’s people?
  • How should we respond to this blessing of comfort?

Thursday: “The Day of Vengeance of Our God” (Isaiah 61:2)

Verse 2 in Isaiah 61 not only mentions the year of the Lord’s favor, but also the day of vengeance of our God (Isaiah 61:2). One sounds so hopeful, the other more depressing.

You may have noticed that when Jesus quoted this verse during His first sermon at Nazareth, He left out the last phrase that spoke of God’s vengeance (Luke 4:18, 21). His appearance only signaled the first part of Isaiah’s prophecy. The vengeance would come at a later time.

Human vengeance is never perfect, because we are so imperfect. We’ve been trying to produce fair, equitable treatment of people in our justice systems for generations, but always have, and always will, fall short of the justice we need for this planet. We have too many human faults and frailties to make it work consistently.

But God has a plan that will meet our need for justice. Along with mercy, we long for records to be made right and fairness to prevail. God’s love must include justice, or it wouldn’t feel like love. And it wouldn’t bring lasting peace to the universe.

The time designations of a day and a year might give us some comfort. Although probably symbolic, a year of God’s favor sounds longer than a day of vengeance. This day has also been called the day of judgment. 2 Peter 2:9 says, “the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment”.

The vengeance of God will be complete and final, bringing peace to the universe throughout eternity. Revelation 20:14 and 21:8 call it the “second death”.  Malachi saw this day and described it well in Malachi 4:1-3.

How could we see God as loving and merciful if evil was not totally eradicated in this way. God is not in the business of torture that lasts forever. He just wants a safe, comfortable universe for His children to enjoy.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Isaiah 61:2, 2 Peter 2:9, and Malachi 4:1-3

  • What will God’s vengeance be like?
  • How long will God’s rewards for both the righteous and unrighteous last?
  • What’s the difference in being destroyed for eternity and being tortured for eternity?

Friday: Final Thoughts

As we near the close of Isaiah’s writings, let’s keep in mind the mission of God’s Servant. His glory was to impact the whole world. All nations were to be blessed by His presence. Our heavenly Father wants to reach all of us, not an exclusive few.

We can touch others through acts of kindness and good works that uplift even the most marginalized among us. They don’t have to become baptized members of our chosen church. Perhaps they never even visit our house of worship. Regardless of their response to our efforts, we must show them the love of God and pray that God will draw them closer to Him.

As we widen our doors and welcome people into our church family, no matter what trials they are facing, we will be models of the style of ministry that Jesus endorsed. Let’s remember that the Desire of Nations was meant to be shared with the whole world, not just a tight-knit circle of self-seeking believers.

Next Week: Sabbath: Desire of Nations

To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to