Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Keys To Understanding Isaiah

There are four keys to understanding Isaiah:

1.  Spirit of prophecy.
In 2 Nephi 25:4, Nephi explains, "...for because the words of Isaiah are not plain unto you, nevertheless they are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy."  What is the spirit of prophecy?  Revelations 19:10 tells us that "...the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."  In 1 Corinthians 2:11, Paul tells us that the things of God can only be known through the spirit of God.  In verse 10 he says, "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."  We must search and be led by the spirit to gain understanding.  When we do, it will be as it was for Jacob who said, "Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope; and our faith becometh unshaken..."  If we will seek to have the spirit as we search these deep things of God, great will be our reward.

2.  Know the things of the Jews
In 2 Nephi 25:5, Nephi continues, "Yea, and my soul delighteth in the words of Isaiah, for I came out from Jerusalem, and mine eyes hath beheld the things of the Jews, and I know that the Jews do understand the things of the prophets, and there is none other people that understand the things which were spoken unto the Jews like unto them, save it be that they are taught after the manner of the things of the Jews."  It is helpful to know Jewish law, culture, traditions, geography, history, symbolism, etc. to fully understand Isaiah.  For example, references to numbers are often not meant to be quantitative, rather they are meant to be a connotation of their symbolic meaning.  The number seven, for example, can mean whole or perfect, and not necessarily mean the literal value of seven.

3.  Search
Because there can be multiple meanings to the words of Isaiah, we must search and "read between the lines."   We must search the context and have the spirit of prophecy to understand.  When Christ appeared to the Nephites, he said, "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.  For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles.  And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake." (3 Nephi 23:1-3)

4.  Types
Jacob taught, "Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him." (2 Nephi 11:4)  There are many types in Isaiah.  The prophets themselves are types of Christ.  We should also realize as we read that what has happened in the past is a type for what will happen in the future.  Thus the line quoted above "...all things that he spake have been and shall be..."  What was prophesied would happen to the Jews will also happen in the last days.  Thus we truly can "liken the scriptures unto ourselves."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Learning Isaiah

My mother has a deep love for the scriptures.  Growing up people would often make comments about the depth of her knowledge and how much she knows.  Someone even once made the comment that when my mom died, they wanted her scriptures.  In fact, I think there are a few people vying for that honor.  My mom has been a forever student and her scriptures reflect that.  There are no pristine white pages.   They are filled with references, quotes, explanations and highlights of every color.  They are well-used and well-loved.

I decided awhile ago, that I didn't just want her scriptures when she died, I wanted her to share her knowledge with me now.  And she has been kind enough to come to my home every week to teach me and help me come to know and love the scriptures as she does.  We are starting in Isaiah, one of her favorite books.  I feel like I understand Nephi's sentiment more when he said, "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)  Reading Isaiah, with my mom's help to understand what I read, truly has given me a deeper love and testimony of the Lord our Redeemer. 

For this reason, I would like to share with you the things she teaches me.  It will not necessarily be a comprehensive review of everything she teaches me.  (There's a lot!)  She's been studying it for years, and this is my first time.  But I'd like to write down the things that I find of particular interest or importance.  I hope this will help me to remember all I am learning and I hope maybe there are others who would also like to learn what I've been learning.  I'd like to pass on this gift that I feel my mom is giving me.  Together may we come to a greater knowledge and love of the Savior and of the scriptures.