The book of Isaiah was the only book of the ancient prophets the resurrected Savior specifically commanded the Nephites to search.
The Savior said, "Ye remember that I spake unto you, and said that when the words of Isaiah should be fulfilled - behold they are written, ye have them before you, therefore search them. . . . " (3 Ne. 20:11.) Further, He declared, "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." (3 Ne. 23:1.)Monte S. Nyman, in his book, Great Are the Words of Isaiah, wrote: "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 His 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.)
Dr. Nyman noted that Jesus further declared that those who would hearken to His words which included the commandment to search IsaiahT - and would repent and be baptized - would be saved. (3 Ne. 23:5.)
"Jewish tradition regards Isaiah as the chief prophet of his period," Dr. Nyman wrote.
"The Nephite prophets also considered Isaiah to be an extremely important prophet. They included over 30 pages of Isaiah's writings in the current 522-page edition of the Book of Mormon, despite the difficulty of engraving on metal plates (see Jacob 4:1) and the restriction of including even less than `a hundredth part' of the available material in their abridgment. (See Jacob 3:13.)"
Dr. Nyman pointed out that the Book of Mormon contains three basic reasons for searching the prophecies of Isaiah.
"The first one was that `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.' (3 Ne. 23:2.) While the Savior was among the Nephites, He declared that much of what Isaiah and the other prophets had written concerning the house of Israel was yet to be fulfilled. . . .
"The Savior provided a second justification for His declaration concerning the greatness of Isaiah's words: `And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake.' " (3 Ne. 23:3.)
The third reason given in the Book of Mormon for searching the words of Isaiah is that he bore testimony of Christ.
Dr. Nyman wrote: "As stated on its title page, the purpose of the Book of Mormon is to convince `the Jew and the Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.' Of the 425 separate verses of Isaiah which are quoted in the Book of Mormon, 391 say something about the attributes or mission of Jesus Christ. While many of the other passages in Isaiah also testify of Christ, those used by the Book of Mormon prophets exemplify why they and the Savior quoted freely from Isaiah in support of their overall objective. These passages also demonstrate a major reason why we should search the prophecies of Isaiah - so that they can testify to us of Jesus Christ.
"Thus, the words of Isaiah should be studied today because the Lord has commanded us to search them diligently."
Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the Gospel Doctrine course of study.
Information compiled by Gerry Avant
Sources: Jesus the Christ, by Elder James E. Talmage; Great Are the Words of Isaiah, by Monte S. Nyman; and October 1981 general conference report.