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 will cause “the wisdom of [the] wise men [to] perish” (Isaiah 29:13-14, 2 Nephi 27:25-26). Included in this marvelous work will be the arrival of a “sealed book,” which will be rejected by the learned. (See Isaiah 29:11, 2 Nephi 27:15-20.) According to Isaiah, here are some of the positive outcomes this book will generate:

In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.

The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 29:18-19, see also 2 Nephi 27:29-30

This book will not appeal to the elite. They will have no interest in reading it and learning from it. Its benefits will therefore accrue to the downtrodden, the unlearned, and the poor. Why? Because they are teachable. God doesn’t withhold these blessings from the proud; the proud are unwilling to receive them.

Alma was delighted to teach the poor among the Zoramites, because “he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word” (Alma 32:6). Not everyone responds to afflictions in that way. Some people become more hardened and bitter. But this group of people had, and they were receptive to the word of God.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5, 3 Nephi 12:5), a paraphrase of Psalm 37:11. He also said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3, 3 Nephi 12:3).

President Russell M. Nelson has taught that worldly formulas to achieve happiness are empty and useless:

The world teaches that the purchase of things will bring joy. And if that doesn’t work, buy more! It also teaches that you can sin your way to joy. And if that doesn’t work, sin more! The promise is that at the end of every hedonistic rainbow is a pot of joy. Not true!

Joy and Spiritual Survival,” General Conference, October 2016, footnote 27

In contrast, he said, “Joy is…the gift that comes from intentionally trying to live a righteous life, as taught by Jesus Christ.” As an example, he referenced the Isaiah passage quoted above.

So God won’t simply increase the joy of the poor. He will provide blessings which only the poor (and the meek) are willing to accept. Because they are “in a preparation” to receive those blessings, their joy will increase as they learn truth and align their lives to it.

Today, I will strive to be receptive to messages from God. I will remember that meekness and humility are essential prerequisites to receiving the increased joy which Heavenly Father offers to us through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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