*Scripture references have been highlighted in red and are hyperlinked to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window. Please click to read! Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end of the blog.
How do you consider the words spoken by the Savior? Do you regard them, do you hold them sacred, dear and of utmost improtance? Words spoken directly by the Savior Himself either as the premortal and postmortal Jehovah or as the mortal Jesus should carry great weight and importance. They should even command our attention. But what about words Jesus quotes from another? Should they not have a similar impact?
Jesus Christ himself stated to the Nephites in Ancient America, when he appeared to them following his resurrection: “And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.” (3 Nephi 23:1).
The ancient American prophet Nephi, from the Book of Mormon, tells us that Isaiah's words are "of great worth" to those of the last days; which we are living in now. He states he has written them for "our good" 2 Nephi 25:8.
Similarly Elder Bruce R McConkie from our latter-days stated the following: If our eternal salvation depends upon our ability to understand the writings of Isaiah as fully and truly as Nephi understood them and who shall say such is not the case, how shall we fare in that great day when with Nephi we shall stand before the pleasing bar of Him who said: "Great are the words of Isaih" It just may be that my salvation and yours also does in fact depend upon our ability to understand the writings of Isaiah as fully and truly as Nephi understood them. For the matter that God who is no respecter of persons treat all his children alike? Has he not given us his promise and recited to us the terms and condition of his law pursuant to which he will reveal to us what he has revealed to them? (Ensign October 1973)
Thus we must surely accept that yes, the words of Isaiah should have a magnificent impact in our lives; and so we continue our study of his writings in the Old Testament, that we may be fully prepared in all ways to gain eternal salvation.
Isaiah's writings focus on the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, in fact, if you are familiar with the Book of Mormon, then you know that of the 425 separate verses of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon, 391 say something about the attributes or mission of Jesus Christ.
However, Isaiah did much of his teaching in symbolic language using descriptions such as a key or a stone. This language does not teach directly and can be hard for us to understand, so we must examine and ponder Isaiah’s words continually to discover the truths they teach. Isaiah's words are important to us for many reasons but in large, as stated, because some of his most beautiful and profound symbolic language is about the Savior.
To learn more about the details and life of Isaiah click here The Glory of Zion will be a defense
Why is Isaiah So Difficult to Understand?
One major reason why the people of our day have such difficulty with Isaiah is that over sixty percent of the book is written in poetic form. Translating this type of style is difficult at best so the text we have been given in the King James Version of the Bible can be accompanied with error and misunderstanding.
Also, as stated above, the prophet Isaiah used extensive symbolism. Words, geographical locations, historical events, people and animals that were familiar to his day but foreign to us. The prophet Nephi from the Book of Mormon teaches us that; we know not concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews, we are not filled with the spirit of prophecy as Isaiah was when writing his words, and we have not been taught the manner of the things of the Jews thus understanding the words of Isaiah can be difficult in our day. 2 Nephi 25:1-5
Victor Ludlow, Professor of Ancient Scripture Brigham Young University suggested that: "Isaiah, when facing a difficult teaching situation, did not use the parable as a tool, instead he veiled his message in clouds of symbolism, poetry and complex terminology. In other words, instead of speaking at a simple level and letting his listeners build upon that foundation, Isaiah spoke at a high intellectual and spiritual level, thus challenging or even forcing his listeners to attain that level before they could begin to understand his words. Isaiah was not only difficult he was deliberately difficult."
We must study his words, wrestle with them, and ponder them at great length before his powerful sublime teachings begin to emerge and inspire us. Because of this, it is easy to become discouraged and give up before we begin to understand his message. However, through serious and prayerful study, when we finally grasp the language and ideas of a particular chapter until they not only make sense, but enlighten and inspire as well, we realize that we have arrived at a profound level of understanding.
Suggestions for Understanding Isaiah
The key to understanding the writings and prophecies of Isaiah, or any other prophet, is to receive the guidance of the spirit. The apostle Peter cautioned, "No prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" Peter 1:20-21.
In the end one must be guided by the Spirit, being filled with the spirit of prophecy in order to grasp the spiritual insights of the scriptures. Modern day revelation gives counsel on this: "For they that are wise have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide...and have not been deceived." D&C 45:57
We do however have council from our present day to help us in attaining this. Elder Bruce R McConkie, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ upon this earth from 1972 until his death in 1985, gave keys to understanding Isaiah:
1. Gain an overall knowledge of the plan of salvation and of God's dealings with his earthly children.
2. Learn the position and destiny of the house of Israel in the Lord's eternal scheme of things
3. Know the chief doctrines about which Isaiah chose to write. These include: (a) restoration of the gospel in latter days through Joseph Smith, (b) latter-day gathering of Israel and her final triumph and glory, (c) coming forth of the Book of Mormon as a new witness for Christ and the total revolution it will eventually bring in the doctrinal understanding of men, (d) apostate conditions in the nations of the world in the latter days, (e) messianic prophecies relative to our Lord's first coming, (f) second coming of Christ and the millennial reign, and (g) historical data and prophetic utterances relative to his own day
4. Use the Book of Mormon
5. Use latter-day revelation
6. Learn how the New Testament interprets Isaiah
7. Study Isaiah in its Old Testament context
8. Learn the manner of prophesying used among the Jews in Isaiah's day
9. Have the spirit of prophecy
10. Devote yourself to hard, conscientious study
The King James Version of the Bible printed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints includes the following statement: The reader today has no greater written commentary and guide to understanding Isaiah than the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. As one understands these works better he will understand Isaiah better, and as one understands Isaiah better, he more fully comprehends the mission of the Savior, and the meaning of the covenant that was placed upon Abraham and his seed by which all the families of the earth would be blessed."
The Prophesies of Isaiah Concerning Jesus Christ
Following are prophesies dealing with Jesus Christ seen and written by Isaiah that give us a most important insight and knowledge needed for our eternal progression.
1. The Savior opens the door to Heavenly Father’s presence Isaiah 22:22
Beginning with Isaiah 22:22 we are taught prophesies concerning the Savior. As previously discussed, Isaiah uses rich symbolism to describe his visions and revelations. Isaiah 22:22 says that the Messiah has the "key of the house of David." This is a symbolic way of saying the Savior has the power to admit or exclude any person from Heavenly Father's presence.
And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.
Also see Revelation 3:7–8; 2 Nephi 9:41.