Often, one of the hardest parts of the Book of Mormon for many people to read is 2 Nephi. I can’t say that I haven’t had problems with this portion of the Book of Mormon. For most people, what makes 2 Nephi most intimidating is the collection of “Isaiah Chapters”.
I used to read these chapters as fast as possible. I put a little bit of thought into them, but I’m not well versed in Jewish history. So I read them quickly. I have to admit, this is not a technique that is particularly helpful.
When I was in college, I took an institute class all about understanding Isaiah by this teacher named Brother Chadwick. It was a good class, but I wish I was a little bit more spiritually mature. I remember learning a few things in there, though. Mostly, I was completely overwhelmed by how little I understood about Jewish culture, and, I realized that this was probably hampering a bit of my ability to understand Isaiah.
After I took the course (I actually took parts one and two), I felt a little bit more confident about the Isaiah chapters, but I still wasn’t in any way proficient. The worst part was that I didn’t know how they applied specifically to me.
I tried making it work. I knew the scripture in 1 Nephi 19:23
“23 And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.” – 1 Nephi 19:23
Knowing this, however, wasn’t really helping that much. I still didn’t know how to liken Isaiah’s words to me.
A few years ago, I was reading the Book of Mormon. The Isaiah chapters were approaching, and I was becoming filled with trepidation. I prayed to have more understanding. Incidentally, while I was reading the Book of Mormon, I was looking – specifically – for the prophecies of Christ.
While reading 2 Nephi 11, I figured out the key to understanding Isaiah. There are actually four of them. In 2 Nephi 11:4-6, Nephi tells us a few of His favorite things. They include:
- Proving unto his people the truth of the coming of Christ. (2 Nephi 11:4).
- Note: another little clue: all things, including the Law of Moses, were given to us for the typifying of Christ.
- The covenants of the Lord – especially the ones made to “our fathers”. (2 Nephi 11:5)
- The grace, justice, power, and mercy of God. (2 Nephi 11:5)
- Proving that unless Christ should (did) come, all men must die (Spiritually and Physically). (2 Nephi 11:6)
These four things that Nephi lists are the framework in his inclusion of the Isaiah Chapters. If we look for these things while reading Isaiah, we will begin to understand why Nephi loves Isaiah so much.
As we read Isaiah, we will
- Find countless examples of the coming of Christ.
- Learn more about the covenants made between the Lord and our “Fathers” (as in Father Abraham, Isaac, Jacob…)
- Learn of the grace, justice, power, and mercy of God. We get to know Christ and His attributes.
- Be taught that Christ is our Redeemer. This is always the central message of every scripture!
After approaching the Isaiah chapters with these four points in mind, I have learned so much. I would still love to understand more about the history and geography of Israel. I’m sure that this would give an added richness to the “Isaiah” chapters. But, for now, being able to study the “Isaiah” chapters with these four points in mind will enable you to really apply what Isaiah is teaching.
You will grow closer to Heavenly Father and Christ, and maybe even begin to love Isaiah more, too.