“Balm of Gilead” (detail), by Ann Adele Henrie
You are not forsaken. God is mindful of you whether you are aware of it or not. That is the message of this portion of the book of Isaiah, and the prophet gives us this message in a variety of ways. Here are some of the forms that his message takes:
- He tells us to be comforted. A voice in the wilderness will invite us to prepare the way of the Lord (Isaiah 40:1-3).
- He promises that those who wait upon the Lord will have miraculous strength and endurance. “They shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
- He prophesies that those who fight against God will be confounded, and he invites them to bring their strongest arguments against Him, with confidence that their criticisms lack a meaningful basis (Isaiah 41:21-29).
- He speaks of a servant of God who will heal us. This servant will “open the blind eyes, [and] bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house” (Isaiah 42:7).
- He reminds us that God is our Savior, our Redeemer, our Holy One, our King. He promises that God will gather Israel and blot out our sins (Isaiah 43).
- He prophesies that a future king named Cyrus will direct the Israelites to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple (Isaiah 44:24, 28, 45:1, 4-5).
- He proclaims that one day we will all recognize God’s supremacy. Every knee will bow to Him, and every tongue will swear that He is just (Isaiah 45:23).
- He invites us to remember all that God has done for us, including the promises He has made to us that have already been fulfilled (Isaiah 46:8-9, Isaiah 48:3-8).
- He prophesies that Israel will be delivered from Babylon (Isaiah 47, 48:14-22, 2 Nephi 20:14-22).
- He testifies that God’s love for us is stronger than the love of a mother for her baby (Isaiah 49:14-16, 1 Nephi 21:14-16).
- He promises that kings and queens will carry His people in their arms and upon their shoulders (Isaiah 49:22-23, 2 Nephi 21:22-23).
All of these declarations and promises were reassuring to Nephi, who had traveled far from his home in Jerusalem with his family to a new promised land. After arriving, he quoted chapters 48 and 49 in full to his brothers, so that they could “have hope as well as [the people] from whom [they had] been broken off” (1 Nephi 19:24). (See 1 Nephi 20, 1 Nephi 21.)
We have also inherited these blessings, and we can also take hope and comfort from these promises, just as Nephi did.