Understanding Isaiah

Isaiah,” by Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier, circa 1838

A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me to write some posts to help her better understand the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon. She wrote, “Whenever I see ‘Compare Isaiah. . .’ at the end of a chapter heading I have an instant feeling of dread, almost.  Maybe you could break down the Isaiah chapters and how they relate to Nephi and his family and in turn to us.”

Out of 66 chapters in Isaiah, 20 are quoted in the Book of Mormon:

IsaiahBook of Mormon
Isaiah 2-142 Nephi 12-24
Isaiah 292 Nephi 27 (paraphrased and extended)
Isaiah 48-491 Nephi 20-21
Isaiah 512 Nephi 8
Isaiah 522 Nephi 8:24-25, 3 Nephi 20:36-38, Mosiah 12:21-24, 3 Nephi 16:18-20, 3 Nephi 20:40-45
Isaiah 53Mosiah 14
Isaiah 543 Nephi 22

Furthermore, the Book of Mormon encourages us to study Isaiah:

  • Nephi wrote, “My soul delighteth in the words of Isaiah” (2 Nephi 25:5).
  • When Jesus Christ visited the American continent, He said, “A commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1).
  • Moroni urged his future readers, “Search the prophecies of Isaiah” (Mormon 8:23).

Background

Here are some blog posts I wrote to give my friend some background as she studies the Isaiah chapters:

Posts by Chapter

I’ve written a lot about the Isaiah chapters that are quoted in the Book of Mormon. Here is a list of those posts, broken down by chapter.

Isaiah 2

He Will Teach Us of His Ways

The following passage appears in the books of both Micah and Isaiah: In the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the…

The Mountain of the Lord’s House

Moses ascended a mountain to talk with the Lord. (See Exodus 19:20, Exodus 24:12, Exodus 34:4.) Elijah followed a similar pattern (1 Kings 19:8-9), as did Nephi (1 Nephi 11:1,…

Hubris, Arrogance, and Haughtiness

Ezra Taft Benson said that pride manifests itself in different ways, which he called the “faces of pride.” Some of the manifestations he identified were selfishness, contention, defensiveness, and unwillingness…

We Love Thy House

Based on: Psalm 26 Core message: We long to be in sacred spaces because we look forward to being in God’s presence. Related Book of Mormon passages: 2 Nephi 12,…

“Up, Make Us Gods”

Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made.Isaiah 2:8, 2 Nephi 12:8 When Moses delayed coming down from Mount…

A Tower to Get to Heaven

Sometime after the Great Flood, the descendants of Noah were gathered in a place called Shinar, which later became known as Babylonia. They collectively resolved to build “a city and…

How Can the Words of Isaiah Bring Us Joy?

Nephi explained why he quoted so much from Isaiah: “My soul delighteth in his words.” He introduced thirteen consecutive chapters of Isaiah by saying that he hoped the words would…

What Is Haughtiness?

I wrote yesterday that pride means thinking too highly of yourself, exaggerating your capabilities and minimizing your limitations. When pride leads you to treat other people with contempt, it is…

What Is Zion?

Six generations after Adam, there was a man named Enoch. The Bible tells us that “Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). In…

Let Us Go Up – 2 Nephi 12:2-3

2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be…


Isaiah 3


Isaiah 4

Holy Places

The prophet Isaiah foretold a time when every home would be a holy place: And the Lord will create upon every dwelling-place…


Isaiah 5

Tzedakah/Tze’akah

One of the hard things about being a parent or a teacher is when your children or students fall short…

“None Shall Slumber”

In 1837, Thomas B. Marsh was concerned about the state of the Church. In Missouri, church members had been driven…

What Is Wisdom?

Near the beginning of the Book of Mormon, the prophet Jacob gives us the following counsel: “O be wise; what…


Isaiah 6

“I Shall Be Healed”

As Jesus approached a paralyzed man lying near the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, He asked an unusual question: “Wilt…

“I Pray That He’ll Use Us”

In a video about the Church’s efforts to provide training for neonatal medical professionals in developing countries, Elder Jeffrey R.…

“Put Off Thy Shoes”

When God appeared to Moses “in the midst of a bush” on Mount Horeb, He said, “put off thy shoes from off…

“Behold the Seer”

MUSTAFA: Do you know what you would like this evening, sir?EGO: Yes, I think I do…. You know what I’m…

How Can I Be Healed?

Jesus Christ is the Master Healer. After the destruction which coincided with His death and resurrection, while the people mourned…


Isaiah 7

Emmanuel

The author of Psalm 46 wants us to know that God is not a distant and detached monarch. He is…

Unto Us a Child Is Born

Two of the most significant Old Testament prophecies of Jesus Christ focus on His birth. Both of these are in…

The Fear of the Lord

Throughout the scriptures, we are counseled to overcome our fears. God told Abraham, Hagar, and Jacob to “fear not” as…


Isaiah 8


Isaiah 9

To Give Light

Eight days after John the Baptist was born, his parents brought him to be circumcised. At that time, they named…

The Sons of Jacob

Jacob had twelve sons. Each of them was unique, with his own strengths and weaknesses. In the Genesis narrative, as…

Breaking a Yoke

A yoke is a wooden beam placed on the necks of two animals so that they can pull together. That’s…

A House of Order

I’ve been listening to Supreme Court arguments the past couple of weeks. In each case, the attorneys are seeking a…

What Is “Stoutness of Heart?”

After prophesying that the Savior will one day establish peace and justice on the earth, Isaiah contrasts God’s steady leadership…


Isaiah 10

The Abrahamic Covenant

God repeated a set of promises to Abraham over and over again. When some of the promises seemed unlikely to…

Glory

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall…

Widows and Orphans

In April 1832, the Lord provided specific instructions to the church on caring for those “who have lost their husbands…

Is It Wrong to Boast?

Near the beginning of the Book of Mormon, Nephi quotes a passage from the Book of Isaiah which warns of…

How Can I Find Peace?

The Hebrew word shalom (שָׁלוֹם) appears 237 times in the Old Testament. It is usually translated as “peace,” but it is sometimes…


Isaiah 11

The Stem, the Rod, and the Root

After prophesying that Israel would be conquered, using a metaphor of a tree being chopped down or burned, Isaiah presents…

“The Girdle of His Loins”

Immediately after prophesying of the destruction of the wicked and the gathering of Israel, Isaiah proclaims the coming of the…

A Standard for My People

Isaiah prophesied that the Lord would one day erect a standard which would attract people from all nations: Thus saith…

Knowledge and Peace

A good friend of mine says that there are only two kinds of people in the world: the people you…

What Is Meekness?

Mormon identified meekness as the foundational virtue: [A man] cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and…


Isaiah 12

The Lord Is My Light

Based on: Psalm 27 Core message: Some hymns represent a personal testimony, even though we sing them as a group.…


Isaiah 13

Babylon

Don’t get attached to temporary things. That’s the message I hear when I read about the destruction of Babylon. A…

The Star

Why is a star such a powerful symbol for the birth of the Savior? Stars represent us. The Lord referred…


Isaiah 14

The Lord Hath Founded Zion

Nephi quotes thirteen chapters in a row from the book of Isaiah (chapters 2-14). At the end of this extended…

Joshua and the Book of Mormon

This week, I reviewed the book of Joshua, summarizing the content of each chapter and identifying related Book of Mormon…

The Earth Shall Rest

Contention is exhausting. Any parent will tell you: When your children aren’t getting along with each other, it saps your…


Isaiah 29

The Poor Among Men Shall Rejoice

After identifying a severe societal problem—rampant hypocrisy—Isaiah prophesies that God will address this issue by doing a “marvellous work” which…

“Fools Mock”

Included in Alma’s list of soul-searching questions to the people of Zarahemla was the following: “Is there one among you…

No End

A few months ago, I heard a presentation by Simon Sinek, author of The Infinite Game. He explained that many…


Isaiah 48

Thy Name, My Name

I spent the day yesterday serving with some people I haven’t seen in a long time. I was gratified when…

Songs of Everlasting Joy

Isaiah associated singing with joy. For example: “Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing…

Pandemic Lessons

Behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.1 Nephi 20:10, Isaiah 48:10 Last April, President…

The Sound of Rejoicing

A few years ago, I had the responsibility to recruit some volunteers to help a family move between Christmas and…


Isaiah 49

Hunters and Fishers

The gathering of Israel is underway, and each of us can be part of it. Jeremiah said, “The days come,…

“Thou Art My Servant”

To be a servant of God is a great honor. King Benjamin reported to his people that God had preserved…

Waiting Upon the Lord

At the end of Isaiah 40, the prophet draws a sharp contrast: The strongest among us will eventually fail. “Even…

“I…Will Hold Thine Hand”

Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of acknowledging our vulnerability and recognizing God’s supremacy. While it is true that God…

Forsaken

King David opens the 22nd psalm with a desperate cry: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from…

Be a Light

Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). To His disciples on the American continent, He phrased…


Isaiah 51

Sacrifice and Thanksgiving

The book of Jonah contains a poetic prayer which the prophet offered from the belly of the fish. In that…

The Wilderness Shall Blossom

God saves us in many ways. Sometimes, He changes our environment. Sometimes, He heals us. And in some cases, He…

Thanksgiving

Many of the psalms encourage us to express our gratitude to God. For example: “I will praise the name of…

Pavilion

The Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, features the building of booths or huts, temporary structures which represent the tents the…

“Put on Thy Strength”

In the middle of a passage about the gathering of Israel, Isaiah pleads with the Lord to rescue His captive…

Endowed with Power

The Greek word enduo (ἐνδύω) means “to clothe.” In the New Testament it is sometimes used literally (Mark 1:6: “John…

Songs of Everlasting Joy

Isaiah prophesied of a time when the children of Israel would be delivered from bondage and would gather to Zion.…


Isaiah 53

“I Shall Be Turned”

Last week I wrote about Jeremiah’s striking appeal: “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed” (Jeremiah 17:14). I…

The Passover

The tenth and final plague which afflicted the Egyptians and which resulted in the liberation of the Israelites was the…

Finding Favor

Luke tells us that as a young man, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and…


Isaiah 54

“With Everlasting Kindness”

Suboptimal circumstances can create glorious opportunities. When the kingdom of Israel was scattered by the Assyrians, it was a direct…

Spare Not

The Lord told Isaiah to preach the gospel whole-heartedly, holding nothing back. “Cry aloud,” He said, “spare not, lift up…

Confounded

After prophesying of difficult days ahead, the prophet Isaiah foretold a time of prosperity and peace, when the children of…

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