"My Soul Delighteth in the Words of Isaiah"
Lesson 9 - 2 Nephi 11-25
Read Mosiah 8:17-18. Seers are able to see past, present, and future events. Because he was a seer, Isaiah saw in vision such events as the War in Heaven, the destruction of Jerusalem after the Savior’s death, the battle of Armageddon, and the millennial reign of the Savior. Many of Isaiah’s writings seem difficult to understand because they refer to a wide range of past and future events described in symbolic language. However, you can come to understand them as you make a consistent, prayerful effort to read and study them. This lesson discusses some of Isaiah’s most significant writings. Today's lesson will help you understand how these prophecies apply in your life.
Nephi testified of Isaiah’s writings and gave keys for understanding them.
1 Nephi 19:23; 2 Nephi 11:2-6,8; 2 Nephi 25:3 These verses give us insight as to why Nephi found Isaiah’s words important for his record:
WHY NEPHI QUOTED ISAIAH
1 Nephi 19:23 To "more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord"
2 Nephi 11:2-4 To provide another witness of Jesus Christ
2 Nephi 11:5-6, 8 To help us (his readers) rejoice
2 Nephi 25:3 To reveal God’s judgments
These reasons are just as important for us today as they were for Nephi's generation.
Nephi provided several keys that can help us better understand the writings of Isaiah.
Key 1: 1 Nephi 19:23; see also 2 Nephi 11:2, 8 "Liken all scriptures unto us" . Many of Isaiah’s prophecies deal with events in the latter days. As we watch these prophecies unfold and as we participate in their fulfillment, we can better understand Isaiah’s teachings and apply them in our lives. For example, 2 Nephi 15:26 contains Isaiah’s prophecy that the Lord will "lift up an ensign to the nations" to gather Israel. This prophecy can help us better understand the importance of sharing the restored gospel...the ensign, or standard, to guide all nations to the Lord.
Key 2: 2 Nephi 25:1 "Know...concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews". Isaiah’s prophecies are written in a style that the Jews were accustomed to reading and hearing. We can better understand Isaiah’s writings if we remember that he used imagery and symbolism that would have been familiar to Jewish people in his time. For example, in 2 Nephi 12:1-3, Isaiah uses the word "mountain" to symbolize a high spiritual place, a place for revelation and closeness with God, such as the temple.
Key 3: 2 Nephi 25:3; 6 "Know the judgments of God". Isaiah foresaw how the kingdoms of Israel and Judah would suffer because of their wickedness, but he also prophesied that their blessings would be restored when they repented and followed Jesus Christ. From Isaiah’s accounts of what happened to Israel and Judah, and from his prophecies of the future restoration of the house of Israel, we can better understand how God works in our lives and how He blesses nations according to their righteousness.
Key 4: 2 Nephi 25:6 "Know concerning the regions round about [Jerusalem]" . Knowing the geography and place-names in Israel helps us better understand Isaiah’s prophecies concerning the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and the nations that threatened them. For example, in 2 Nephi 20:28-34, Isaiah named the cities the Assyrian army would pass through and how it would be stopped just as it reached Jerusalem. The events happened exactly as he prophesied.
Key 5: 2 Nephi 25:4 Be "filled with the spirit of prophecy". In Revelation 19:10 we find that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. We obtain a testimony by actively following his teachings and principles in our lives. The spirit of prophecy can help us understand Isaiah’s teachings about the Savior as the Holy Ghost enlightens our minds.
Isaiah saw the latter-day temple and the gathering of Israel.
2 Nephi 12:2-3 The Salt Lake Temple fulfills a portion of Isaiah’s prophecy recorded in these verses. Isaiah described the temple as "the mountain of the Lord" because ancient prophets often went up into the mountains to commune with the Lord and receive revelation from Him. All temples can be "mountains" for our worship if we use them as sacred places where we draw close to the spirit and seek knowledge of spiritual things. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been established in the tops of the mountains and temples are being built where people can come and learn about the Lord.
2 Nephi 14:6 Isaiah described temples as a "place of refuge" from heat and storms. Think about some "spiritual storms" that you have faced in this life and how the temple can help protect you from such storms.
2 Nephi 12:3-5 We as Latter-day Saints can help establish the kingdom of God on earth, as described in these verses. D&C 133:7-14 tells us how--by proclaiming the gospel to all corners of the earth.
2 Nephi 12:5 Isaiah exhorted the house of Jacob to "walk in the light of the Lord" instead of "all [going] astray, every one to his wicked ways" .
Idol worship and pride are specific sins mentioned in 2 Nephi 12:7-12. We can probably all agree that these sins still prevalent in one way or another today. Think about how you can avoid these pitfalls and "walk in the light".
Isaiah prophesied that the Lord would raise an ensign and gather Israel.
2 Nephi 15:26; see also 2 Nephi 21:12 Isaiah prophesied that the Lord would "lift up an ensign to the nations". An ensign is a banner or flag; a standard-bearer.
2 Nephi 15:26-29 records Isaiah's prophecy of what would happen when this ensign was raised as people would come to the standard bearer from all over the earth.
Joseph Smith-History 1:40 When the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith, he said that chapter 11 of Isaiah (quoted in 2 Nephi 21) was about to be fulfilled.
D&C 64:41-43; D&C 105:39; D&C 115:4-6 The restored gospel of Jesus Christ is an ensign to all nations as an example of the glory of the Lord, a place of peace, a light to the nations, and a refuge from the wrath of God.
2 Nephi 21:12 The prophecy that nations will be "gather[ed] together" is being fulfilled today as missionaries are going throughout the world to teach the gospel and gather people to the truth. Carefully consider what you can do to help fulfill this prophecy.
Isaiah and Nephi testified of Jesus Christ’s redeeming power.
2 Nephi 16: 1-4 contains Isaiah’s account of a vision in which he saw the Lord. Isaiah described the setting of the vision as a temple in which the Lord sat on a high throne.
2 Nephi 16:5 Isaiah felt unclean in the presence of the Lord.
2 Nephi 16:6-7 Isaiah's sins being forgiven was symbolized by the angel touching Isaiah’s lips with the burning coal.
2 Nephi 16:8 Isaiah's response when he heard the voice of the Lord asking whom He should send, was a firm "Here am I; send me". In another scriptural account, Abraham 3:27, we have seen similar language used. When we are called to serve, we need to give a similar response to the Lord.
2 Nephi 22:1-6. These verses contain Isaiah’s description of how all people will praise the Savior during the Millennium. Think about what impresses you about these verses.
2 Nephi 22:5 Reflect on what "excellent things" the Savior has done for us.
2 Nephi 25:19-30 records Nephi’s testimony of the Savior. Consider what impresses you about Nephi’s testimony.
2 Nephi 25:23; see also verse 2 Nephi 25:26 Think about how you, like Nephi, can "labor diligently" to persuade your children "to believe in Christ".
2 Nephi 25:23 Also see 2 Nephi 10:24-25; D&C 20:29-31 Nephi taught that "it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do". This statement teaches us the relationship between the grace of Jesus Christ and our works--that we must do all that we can, but it is the atonement of Christ that enables us to receive salvation and exaltation.
2 Nephi 25:29 Think about what you might do this week to comply more fully with Nephi’s exhortation to worship the Lord "with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul".
3 Nephi 23:1 The Savior gave His approval of Isaiah’s teachings in this single statement: "Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah".
Calling "evil good, and good evil" (2 Nephi 15:20)
2 Nephi 15:20 Sometimes our society, like ancient Israel, makes the mistake of calling "evil good, and good evil".
Moroni 7:12-17 teaches us how to be sure that we recognize good and evil for what they really are.
How the Book of Mormon increases our understanding of Isaiah
The Book of Mormon is one of the greatest guides to help us understand the writings of Isaiah.
a. The Book of Mormon quotes, either in their entirety or in part, 22 of the 66 chapters in the book of Isaiah, and it contains additional commentary about those chapters. Because the Book of Mormon prophets lived near the time of Isaiah, their commentaries can help us understand his teachings.
b. The writings of Isaiah that are quoted in the Book of Mormon include words, phrases, and explanations that do not appear in any other copies of the book of Isaiah.
c. The world’s oldest known copy of Isaiah was discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The "Isaiah scroll" dates back to 200 B.C. (Bible Dictionary, "Dead Sea Scrolls," 654). However, the chapters of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon date back to the time of Nephi, approximately 600 B.C. Joseph Smith’s translation of the Book of Mormon provided the world with a copy of Isaiah’s writings that predates the Dead Sea Scrolls by 400 years.
d. Because the tone of the first 33 chapters of Isaiah differs from the last 33 chapters, many people believe that the book of Isaiah was written by two different people. The Book of Mormon quotes from both the first and last half of Isaiah and identifies Isaiah as the author, thus bearing witness of and authenticating his writings.