Nephi regarded Isaiah as important prophet of own time and of future

And now I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words. (2 Ne. 11:2.)

Isaiah, a leading prophet of Israel, lived near Jerusalem approximately 760-700 B.C. He wrote not only of the events of his own day, but also of events beyond his time.The bulk of his prophecies were about the coming of the Redeemer, including His birth and His rule as the Great King at the last day.

"Jewish tradition regards Isaiah as the chief prophet of his period," wrote Monte S. Nyman in one of his books, Great Are the Words of Isaiah. Brother Nyman, director of Book of Mormon Research at BYU's Religious Studies Center, noted that the Nephite prophets considered Isaiah to be an extremely important prophet.

Brother Nyman presented some calculations pertaining to the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament and the words of Isaiah that appear in the Book of Mormon:

"There are 66 chapters in the Book of Isaiah, containing a total of 1,292 verses in the present King James Version text of Isaiah. Nineteen of the 66 chapters are quoted in their entirety in the Book of Mormon, and two other chapters are quoted in their entirety, except for two verses. The first two verses of one other chapter are quoted in the Book of Mormon, and one verse [is quotedT from each of two other chapters.

"Eight chapters of Isaiah have verses quoted from them more than once, either completely or partially. Not counting these duplications, 425 of the 1,292 verses of Isaiah are quoted in the Book of Mormon. Of these 425 verses, 229 are quoted differently from those in the King James text, while 196 are identical."

According to Brother Nyman's calculations, one-third of the biblical writings of Isaiah are quoted in the Book of Mormon.

He also pointed out that on two different occasions, the resurrected Savior admonished the Nephites to search the prophecies of Isaiah that they had before them. On the first occasion, He said the words of Isaiah "should be fulfilled . . . therefore search them." (3 Ne. 20:11.)

"On the second occasion," wrote Brother Nyman, "He made it a commandment unto them to `search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.' " (3 Ne. 23:1.)

Brother Nyman further wrote: "The significance of this commandment is highlighted by the fact that, as far as the record goes, Isaiah was the only book among the writings of the ancient prophets which the Savior specifically [by nameT commanded the Nephites to search.

"That the commandment was to be extended to the latter days, and especially to the readers of the Book of Mormon, is shown by the Savior's charge to the Nephites to record [Isaiah'sT words so that they could go forth unto the Gentiles: `Therefore give heed to my words; write the things which I have told you; and according to the time and the will of the Father they shall go forth unto the Gentiles.' " (3 Ne. 23:4.)

In the introduction to another book, Isaiah and the Prophets, Brother Nyman wrote: "One of our major reasons for our searching the book of Isaiah is that we may study the testimony which it bears of Jesus Christ. Nephi quoted Isaiah that he `might more fully persuade [his peopleT to believe in the Lord their Redeemer.' (1 Ne. 19:23.)

"Of the 425 separate verses of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon, 391 or 92 percent, say something about Christ. This illustrates the importance of the message of Isaiah."

(Additional information)

Nephi, others saw visions of Savior's birth and mission

Prophecies of the Savior's birth and mission were recorded almost from the beginning chapters of the Book of Mormon.

For example, Nephi saw in a vision "a virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins . . . the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh . . . bearing a child in her arms." (1 Ne. 11:16, 18, 20.)

Later, Nephi recorded that his brother Jacob "also has seen him [the SaviorT . . . " (2 Ne. 11:3), and much of the book of Second Nephi contains reflections of Isaiah's speaking of the coming Messiah and His atoning sacrifice. (See chapters 6-25.) Numerous other references are contained throughout the remainder of the Book of Mormon.

When Nephi saw the vision of the Savior in His mother's arms, an angel of the Lord asked, "Knowest thou the condescension of God?" (1 Ne. 11:16.)

Of this passage, President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency said in the April 1978 general conference:

"I suppose none of us can fully understand that - how the great Jehovah should come among men, His birth in a manger, among a hated people, in a vassal state."

Many harden hearts against prophets

Prophets have always had to contend with the hardened hearts of the very people whom they try to serve. In an

April 1978 general conference address, President Spencer W. Kimball said:

"Various excuses have been used over the centuries to dismiss these divine messengers. . . .

"We wonder how often hearers first rejected the prophets because they despised them, and finally despised the prophets even more because they had rejected them. Even so, why else is the record of rejection so complete? The cares of the world are so many and so entangling, even very good people are diverted from following the truth because they care too much for the things of the world. . . .

"Simple truths are often rejected in favor of much less demanding philosophies of men."

President Kimball added, "Of course, rejection of the holy prophets comes because the hearts of people are hardened, as people are shaped by their society."

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