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Ten Keys to Understanding Isaiah

LDS Scripture Teachings

Elder Bruce R. McConkie Elder Bruce R. McConkie

Elder McConkie shared 10 keys to understanding Isaiah, and I wanted to share them here. I am grateful to him for his work in teaching the scriptures to all of us!

1. Gain an overall knowledge of the plan of salvation and of God’s dealings with his earthly children. The book of Isaiah is not a definitive work that outlines and explains the doctrines of salvation, as do 2 Nephi and Moroni in the Book of Mormon, for instance. Rather, it is written to people who already know among other things, that Jesus is the Lord through whose atoning blood salvation comes, and that faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and righteous works are essential to an inheritance in his Father’s kingdom. To illustrate, it takes a prior knowledge of preexistence and the War in Heaven to recognize in Isaiah 14 the account…

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2 Nephi

2 Nephi 25

All done with Isaiah chapters!  2 Nephi 25 is Nephi speaking about the things which Isaiah wrote.  Nephi says in verse 1 “For behold, Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand; for they know not concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews.”  I say Nephi is right, the words that Isaiah spoke are hard to understand, I look forward to reading and studying this chapter, and I hope that you do too.

As I turn to this chapter, I know for sure that there is a scripture mastery verse here, and as I found my scripture mastery card, I discover there are actually two different mastery verses in this chapter.  So rather than making lists for this chapter, as I have been doing, I’m going to go ahead and cluster.  I worked on clustering last week and really understand how and why I should cluster around scripture mastery, you really do learn a lot!  Ok, so the two verse for mastery are verses 23 and 26.

Verse 23 reads: “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

Okay, a-clustering I go!

First phrase: “persuade our children” we are told to go to the topical guide and look up “Family, Children, Responsibilities towards,” this heading also sends us to go look up children; family; marriage, fatherhood and marriage, motherhood.  Where we can find 40 separate verses that can teach us about persuading our children. Ephesians 6:4 reads: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” 1 Nephi 1 reads in part: “having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught.”  Mosiah 4:15 reads “But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.” Doctrine and Covenants 93:40 sates: “But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.”  These are but a few.  I think we’re getting a good picture of what we, as parents, are expected to do on behalf of our children.  We must remember that while we are leading them in this life of mortality, they were Heavenly Father’s children long before they were ours.

Second word: “grace.”  We know that by now we will be sent to the topical guide, but let’s save that for later.  First verse is Psalms 130:4-5 which says:”But there is a forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.  I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.”  Next verse is Romans 3:20: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Followed by Romans 7:5 “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.” And then 2 Nephi 2:5 “And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil.  And the law is given unto men.  And by the law no flesh is justified; or by the law men are cut off.  Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.” And there are four more verse listed as well.  The topical guide for the word grace is very lengthy. Here we are directed to read about benevolence, favor, the mercy of God, good works, man may fall from grace, gracious, and mercy.  I love this definition given by Merriam-Webster “unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.” I like the first part of the definition best.. unmerited divine assistance.  Assistance that Jesus Christ gives us that we don’t warrant and sometimes, perhaps, that we don’t even deserve.  He is wonderful and full of love.

To finish up this verse and the third word that we should cluster here is the word “do.”  We are again sent to the topical guide to look up “good works” and also to read James 2:24.  James 2:24 reads “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith alone.”  Good works in the topical guide sends us to read the will of God, good, grace, justice, righteous and works.  Furthermore, we can read 79 additional scriptures on good works.  Suffice it to say that our deeds here on this earth are of importance and I am well aware that we must not only be faithful to Jesus Christ, but we must do good while we are here on this earth.

Verse 26 reads: “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”

Some more clustering… it’s almost addictive. I am, however, going to leave verse 26 un-clustered at the moment and get this published.  I will come back to cluster this in my personal journal so that I have it.  2 Nephi 25:26 means so very much to me, as this was the verse that was assigned to me to give as a talk in sacrament when I first became active again in the church.  I love the Book of Mormon and I love the Pathway program from BYU-I.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn to study the scriptures.

I write this, humbly in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

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2 Nephi

2 Nephi 24

2 Nephi 24 can be compared to Isaiah 14.  I do pray that you take a moment to compare the two as you study.  I will admit that this is not one of my favorite Isaiah chapters, but it still has a strong message to share.  The beginning of the chapter tells that those that are gathered with Christ will have rest from the hard things that they experienced during their mortal lives.  Starting in verse 4 and continuing through the end of the chapter, there are many words spoke of how Lucifer will be cast away along with those who followed him.  The verse that really caught my attention though is verse 14 which reads: “I will ascend about the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.” This verse is Jesus Christ speaking to Lucifer and then Christ tells his brother that he will be brought down to hell.  I am so glad that I am on the right side of the line.

Here are the lists that I found in 2 Nephi 24:

Verse 3: rest from sorry, fear, hard bondage- blessings to Christ’s disciples in the millennium

Verse 11: pomp is brought down, noise is not heard, worm under thee, worms cover thee- promises to Satan’s followers in the millennium

Verse 13-14: ascend into heaven, exalt my throne, sit upon the mount, ascend above the heights, be like the Most High- What Jesus Christ will do

Verse 15-16: be brought down to hell, narrowly look upon thee- What will happen to Lucifer

Verse 22: the name, remnant, son, nephew-those that follow Lucifer will be cut off from the presence of God

I like these lists, they are simple and easy to understand. I write this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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2 Nephi

2 Nephi 23

Isaiah 13 or 2 Nephi 23 that is the question….  no, I’m just kidding.  But they can be compared to one another and it is here that we learn of the pending destruction of the world at the time of the Second Coming.

We have a total of 22 verses, let’s see how many lists that I can find here and taker a gander at what they mean for us in our lives or in our future.

I really think that verse 22 by itself sums up this chapter very nicely, it reads: “And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces; and her time is near to come, and her day shall not be prolonged.  For I will destroy her speedily; yea, for I will be merciful unto my people, but the wicked shall perish.”  Jesus Christ will cleanse the earth, and His unto his disciples will he be merciful, and to those who are not, they shall perish into everlasting torment.

There are a few lists in this chapter.  Here is what I found:

Verses 7-8: all hands be faint, every man’s heart shall melt, they shall be afraid, pangs of sorrows, amazed at one another, faces shall be as flames

Verses 9-11: with wrath and fierce anger, desolate, destroy, not give their light, sun shall be darkened, moon shall not shine, punish for evil and iniquity, arrogancy to cease, lay down haughtiness

Verses 13-19: shake the heavens, earth remove out of her place, wrath, fierce anger, as the chased roe, sheep that no man taketh, turn to his own people, flee every one, proud shall be thrust, wicked shall fall, children dashed to pieces, houses spoiled, wives ravished, bows dash young men, no pity on the fruit of thy womb, no glory

I find each of these lists are warnings to the wicked.  If your read these lists by themselves, they are not what I would consider a good time.  I can not imagine myself here on earth amid the death and destruction, but I can certainly feel myself drawn to His presence and working my way towards Him.  I am, by no means, a perfect being.  I have sins a plenty and those that I am painfully aware of, I am working on.  One day, I wish to return to His presence and I know that by His grace and mercifulness, that I have that chance.  I pray that each of you are striving towards bettering yourselves in a Christ-like manner and strive for the Celestial Kingdom to be reunited with your Heavenly parents.

I write this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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2 Nephi

2 Nephi 22

2 Nephi 22 can be compared to Isaiah 12 and this is where we know that all men that are with Jesus Christ will praise Him in the millennium.

I love the last line of verse 6 which reads “for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.”  Won’t it be great to be in His presence?

Most of this chapter is a glorious list, but really, I think there are two, so I will separate them.

Verse 1-2: I will praise thee, thine anger is turned away, thou comfortedest me, God is my salvation, I will trust, not be afraid, He is my strength, He is my song, He has become my salvation

Verses 3-6 : with joy, praise the Lord, declare his doings, mention that His name is exalted, sing unto Him, cry out and shot

Jesus Christ will reign again on the earth and we shall sing his praises and be ever thankful for the blessings and comfort that he provided and continues to provide for us.  He is the perfect older brother to whom we can turn in our time of need and he will always be there.  He is our Savior and Redeemer and through Him, all things are possible.  And I write this in His glorious name, even Jesus Christ, Amen.

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2 Nephi

2 Nephi 21

Do you ever turn the page in your scriptures and get excited that you can see two entire chapters on the open pages?  It’s the small things in life, right?  As my previous post said, we have a lot of material to get through this week, so having two short chapters should help me along my quest of getting this accomplished.

2 Nephi 21 can be compared to Isaiah 11 and I am happy to have a better understanding and blessed to have my heart and mind open so that I can build on my foundation of learning.  As I look upon these pages, I have a lot of information already marked, so this peaks my interest in seeing what I have marked in the past and what significance it held for me then, compared to now.  I’ll still be making lists though.

As I read verses 1-11, my heart was full, and my eyes wet.  I love this chapter and the promises it holds for the righteous children of God. Even though there are only 16 verses, there are several lists, here is what I found:

Verses 2-3: Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, spirit of wisdom, spirit of understanding, spirit of counsel and might, spirit of knowledge, fear of the Lord, quick understanding of fear, not judge after the sight of his eyes, not reprove after the hearing of his ears

Verses 4-5: with righteousness shall he judge, reprove with equity for the meek, smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, slay the wicked, righteousness shall be girdle of his loins and faithfulness the girdle of his reins

Verse 6-8: wolf, lamb, leopard, kid, calf, young lion, fatling, little child, cow, bear, lion, on, sucking child, asp, cocatrice

These lists are of great worth to me.  The first list shares with us attributes that Jesus Christ will use during the Second Coming to gather his children.  This shows us that he will be patient, kind, understanding, a counselor to his people, knowledgeable and most of all (at least to me) that he will not judge based only on what he sees and hears.

The second list works off of the first explaining how it is that we will be judged.

And I simply love verses 6-8 where I get teary eyed thinking of all of these creatures of God playing together without anyone getting hurt.  I love to visualize the peace that will be here on our earth compared to the turmoil that is there as soon as I leave the door of my home.  Can you imagine letting your toddler curl up to sleep with a lion cub or have an asp slither over to be held?  What peace we will have when He reigns.

I write this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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2 Nephi

2 Nephi 20

I am still working on lists this week, we still have this chapter and seven more to get through before Saturday (Halloween) which is going to be a full day of combined ward activity, chili cooking, picture taking and trunk or treat preparation and family fun.  So, that pretty much means, I need to get through these chapters before Saturday ever gets here.  If you feel bombarded by my frequent posts at the beginning of this week, I do apologize.

2 Nephi 20 can be compared to Isaiah 10.  Please remember that Nephi is sharing these Isaiah chapters with us because the things that Isaiah has to share delight his soul.  I know that they are often times hard to understand, but I testify that as you read and study them out in your mind, they make more sense and we can liken these scriptures unto ourselves.

Verses 1-2: decree unrighteous decrees, write grievousness, turn away the needy, take away the right from the poor, rob the fatherless

Verse 4: bow down under the prisoners, fall under the slain

Verse 5: rod of mine anger, staff in their hand

Verse 6: charge to take the spoil, the pray, tread them down

Verse 13: strength of my hand, wisdom, prudent, moved borders of people, robbed of treasure, put down inhabitants

Verse 17: fir a fire, for a flame, shall burn, shall devour thorns and briers, consume forest and field, soul and body,

Verse 24: smite with a rod, lift up staff against thee

Verse 27: burden taken, yoke removed, yoke destroyed

Verse 33: lop the boughs, high ones hewn down, haughty shall be humbled

What do these lists tell us?  They certainly don’t seem to be friendly lists.  Let’s remember that even though some of these words aren’t modern-day words, that when Isaiah was writing this, it made perfect sense to the people he was writing for.  Our day has changed and so these analogies don’t always resonate with us well.  We can see as we read 2 Nephi 20, that Isaiah is writing about the destruction of the land and that Jesus Christ will come again and he will gather His children which is the seed of Jacob. This chapter really does give great hope to the children of God and we can know from Isaiah that Jesus Christ, the Lord of Hosts will pave the way for his disciples to reach Him in Zion without harm.

I am so grateful for the ability to understand this chapter in just a small way.  I know before, that I read the words, but didn’t understand.  And I know from this, that Heavenly Father allows us to learn line upon line and precept upon precept.  I know that I am His child and that He is teaching me.

I write this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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