Isaiah is a prophet of great significance to one who seeks knowledge from the Book of Mormon. Approximately one-third of Isaiah's writings are quoted in the Book of Mormon, with many of the verses reading slightly different than the King James Version of Isaiah. After quoting a lengthy section of Isaiah, Nephi listed several keys to assist the reader in understanding Isaiah's writings (2 Ne. 25:1-8); Jesus commanded Church members to search Isaiah's writings (3 Ne. 20:11; 3 Ne. 23:1), followed by a similar command from Moroni. (Morm. 8.23.)
In addition, many of the Book of Mormon prophets provided reasons for us to study Isaiah. For example, we study Isaiah because:- He spoke concerning the scattering and gathering of the Jews in the house of Israel. (1 Ne. 15:20.)
- He wrote many great things pertaining to the future. (2 Ne. 6:4.)
- His writings cause us to lift up our hearts and rejoice. (2 Ne. 11:8.) I want to make a personal comment or testimony regarding this. As I study Isaiah, and as I have studied Isaiah more and more the past three years, I still feel like rejoicing. I feel happier, I have the Spirit with me. I feel joy. I feel more love for my family and community members.
- His writings persuade us to "learn and glorify the name of your God." (2 Ne. 6:4.)
- His writings are of "great worth unto them in the last days." (2 Ne. 25:8); Christ taught, "For great are the words of Isaiah." (3 Nephi 23:1.)
- His writings may be likened unto members of the house of Israel. Nephi explained: "Wherefore, they
Isaiah's wordsT may be likened unto you, for ye are of the house of Israel. And there are many things which have been spoken by Isaiah which may be likened unto you, because ye are of the house of Israel." (2 Ne. 6:5; 11:2, 8.)
- He saw the Redeemer. (2 Ne. 11:2.) In doing so, the prophet becomes a prominent witness for Jesus Christ, one who testified mightily of Jesus Christ, and who stands with other witnesses (for example, Nephi and Jacob) of the Lord in the Book of Mormon.
Below I will explain that Isaiah's words were centered upon Jesus.
- His writings are designed to "be for our profit and learning." (1 Ne. 19:23.)
- "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; 2 Ne. 6:5.) In my view, the second most prominent topic in the book of Isaiah, after the theme of Jesus Christ and his atonement, is the scattering and gathering of the house of Israel.
- He taught many aspects pertaining to the judgments of God. Nephi wrote: "I have made mention unto my children concerning the judgments of God, which hath come to pass among the Jews, unto my children, according to all that which Isaiah hath spoken." (2 Ne. 25.6.) Several chapters of Isaiah are dedicated to explaining God's judgments upon peoples and nations. (i.e., chapts. 13-17, 23.)
- His prophecies are true and will be fulfilled. Jesus testified, "All things that he
IsaiahT spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake." (3 Ne. 23:3.)
The Man Named Isaiah
Many scholars believe that Isaiah ministered between the year 740 B.C. and 700, or perhaps 699, B.C. He prophesied in Jerusalem, as a contemporary with "Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah." (Isa. 1:1.)
Isaiah's name is prophetic, possessing the meaning "Jehovah is salvation." In addition to his symbolic name, the very lives of Isaiah, his wife and children served as signs or types of sacred events. (See, for instance, 8:18; 8:1-4;, and ch. 20.) "Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts." (8:18.)
Jesus Christ - the focus of Isaiah's message
The writings of Isaiah are centered upon Jesus Christ; the Lord is the major focus of Isaiah's 66 chapters; the prophet places Jesus Christ squarely in the center of his message. He speaks of the first coming of Jesus. He writes in detail and with great clarity on the subject of the atonement of Jesus. Isaiah speaks concerning the second coming of Jesus. He prophesies concerning the Millennial Messiah. Nephi stated, "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." (1 Ne. 19:23.) A count of the different names and titles of God in the writings of Isaiah reveals that there are some 61 different denominations (including Almighty, Beloved, Counselor, Everlasting Father, Everlasting God, Everlasting Light, First and Last, God, Husband, King, Law Giver, Light, Lord of Hosts, Maker, Shepherd, Savior and Redeemer). These names are attested some 708 times in Isaiah's book, on average of once every 1.9 verses. This computation is very significant because it shows that Isaiah's book truly is about Jesus Christ.
Isaiah uttered scores of prophecies about Jesus Christ. The following prophecies represent a glimpse only into Isaiah's understanding of Jesus, the Messiah. As a loving parent (49:13-15), Jesus Christ is the Messiah who nourishes (1:2) and provides both physical and spiritual protection for His children (25:4). As the Husband and Redeemer (50:1; 54:5; 63:16; compare 63:9; 49:13-15), Jesus Christ supports and sustains Israel (40:29-31; 41:10) with the power of His hand (42:6-9); He will hold Israel's hand (41:13-14) and engrave their names into His palms (49:16). He shows great kindness upon His people (54:8) and prepares a feast of many blessings (25:6-8). He loves His people as a Shepherd cares for his sheep (40:10-11).
Isaiah prophesied concerning Jesus Christ (Immanuel), the mortal Messiah who was born of a virgin (7:14-17), the childhood of Christ (53:2), the Servant (42:1) who suffered physical injustices shortly before His death (50:5-7), the "Man of Sorrows" who was rejected of men (53:23).
Isaiah speaks in great clarity when he identifies the God of Israel as the Savior.
"And he shall send them a savior, and a great one, and he
the SaviorT shall deliver them" (19:20). Isaiah also speaks of "O God of Israel, the Savior" (45:15). He says, "A just God and a Saviour, there is none beside me" (45:21). Elsewhere, "Thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Savior and thy Redeemer (60:16; compare 49:26). Finally, "So he
GodT was their Saviour" (63:8).
Elsewhere, Isaiah calls Jehovah the Redeemer: "For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel" (54:5). "Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel" (41:14). "As for our redeemer, the Lord of hosts is his name" (47:4). "Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel" (48:17), who will redeem His people without money" (52:3, 6).
Isaiah's prophecies concerning the Atonement of the Savior and Redeemer are clear to those who have the spirit of prophecy. Jesus Christ "hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows" (53:4); "he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities" and with "his stripes we are healed!' '(53:5). He carried the iniquity of us all. . . . was oppressed and he was afflicted (53:6-7) and "for the transgression of my people was he stricken" (53:8). At the end of His mortal ministry, Jesus was "brought as a lamb to the slaughter" and finally "cut off out of the land of the living" (53:7-8).
Jehovah the Messiah is the Savior and Deliverer (19:20), He is the Resurrection who will "swallow up death in victory' (25:8; 33: 10), who blesses mankind with a resurrection ("My dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise" (26:19).
The Latter-day Messiah will come shortly before the millennium to the earth as the Great Forester (10:33-34) who will cut down the nations (the World) with a mighty ax; the Messiah will devour them with fire (10:15-17; 30:27-28); He will come with wrath to destroy the sinners, (13:9-11; 34:2-10) He will punish the wicked (24:21-22); He will judge and work "His strange act." (28:17, 21.)
The righteous need not fear, for Christ will save them at His Second Coming (35:4).
Isaiah prophesied of the millennial Messiah who will usher in the millennium (11:6-10) and establish a new kingdom and rule and reign (11:1-4). The Messiah will be coronated, enthroned (9:3-7), and sit as the exalted King upon His throne and rule and reign from on high (6:5; 9:3-7; 32:1-2; 42:23).
Isaiah taught numerous truths concerning the divine mission and eternal plan of Jesus Christ. The exalted Christ is the Sure Foundation and Salvation (3:5-6), the Omnipotent Creator (40:12, 28; 42:5; 44:24) who controls the cosmos (50:2-3). He is the First and the Last (41:4, 44:6 48:12) who will gather the elect with great power (43:5-6, 8:10-11, 14-19). Jesus Christ, Isaiah taught, is the Light of the World (22:5), the "Light of Israel" (10: 17), the Light that dispels darkness (60:1-3), the Everlasting Light (60:19). He is both the bread and waters of life (3:1; 55: 1), available for those who desire to drink deeply from the wells of Salvation. Jesus the Messiah is the Advocate, Mediator, and Judge (3:13-14), Lawgiver, King, and Savior (33:22), Stone, Precious Cornerstone, and the Sure Foundation (28:16). Those who accept Christ may rely upon Him as their foundation and may build upon Him.
Zion Versus Babylon
One prominent theme of Isaiah pertains to the invitation for the inhabitants of the world to leave Babylon, or the world, and flee to Zion (48:20-2 1; 52:11-12), or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with its prophets and temples standing at Zion's center. This theme is prominent in the Book of Mormon, both in the quoted texts of Isaiah as well as in Nephite commentaries on Isaiah.
Both Zion and Babylon are portrayed as women in the prophecies of Isaiah (47: 1; 54:1-6;52.6).* Lady Babylon is referred to as the "virgin daughter of Babylon" (47.-1), Lady Zion is also called "virgin" and "the daughter of Zion" (37:22). Lady Babylon possesses land and a kingdom with the king of Babylon represented to be Lucifer himself (14:4-24). At the last day, Zion will also own land and possess a kingdom (the kingdom of God), with Christ serving as the King of Zion (43:15; 52:7).
After God punishes Babylon for her wickedness, she is portrayed as a slave, naked, sitting in the dust (47:1-2, 5), and widowed (47:8-9). Contrary to this, Zion ("as a bride") is commanded to arise and "shake thyself from the dust" and "put on thy beautiful garments" (52:1, representative of the holy priesthood, see D&C 113). During this same time period Babylon will lose her children (47:8-9), but Zion will be clothed with many children "as with an ornament" (49:18-22). The nakedness and shame of Babylon "will be seen" (47:3) as she sits in silence in the dust in contrast to Zion who will not "be ashamed" (54-4; 45:17), but will lift up her voice and sing songs of everlasting joy (14:7; 35: 10; 52:9).
As mentioned above, Babylon shall become a widow (47:9) and have no warrior to champion her causes; therefore, evil, mischief, and desolation comes upon her (47:1 1). Meanwhile, Zion prepares herself for marriage to the Bride groom who is Jesus Christ (54:5) - He promises protection for her - "thus, saith the LORD . . . I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children!" (49:25.) Certainly as the arm of the Lord destroys Babylon (48:14), the same "arm of the Lord protects and saves His bride (51:9-11; 62:8), assuring her that "no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper" (54:17).
Both Zion and Babylon are affiliated with religious institutions that are centered around high mountain temples (57:7; 56:7) having ritualistic tendencies (57:5; 56:7). Babylon, however, worships idols (44:9, 12-15; 45:20; 46:1-2), and relies upon sorceries and enchantments (47:9) for divine guidance. Contrast this with Zion who worships the living God (52:6; 54:1-6) and seeks revelation from ordained prophets. Babylon is full of wickedness (47: 10), blasphemes the name of the living God (52:5), and places her trust and confidence in wickedness (47:10). Once again, standing opposite to this position is Zion, whose household is righteous ("thy people also shall be all righteous"
60-21; 62:11T), who knows the Lord's name (52:6), and who places all of her faith and trust in the living God ("my God shall be my strength"
Indeed, in her time of trouble Babylon will find no peace (48:22). Her gods will not help her in times of trouble, rather she will pack up and bind her gods on her beasts of burden, some of them she will carry on her shoulders (46:1-7) and wander aimlessly seeking help during her distress. Zion will not suffer the same consequences. She will be given peace from the Lord - I will extend peace to her" (66:12; 60:18; 54:13), will be comforted in times of trouble (66:13), and will be carried and delivered by God Himself even as she grows old and possesses grey hairs (46:3-4).
At the time of the very end, Babylon will be "as stubble, the fire shall burn" her and she will not be able to deliver herself "from the power of the flame" (47:14), "neither shall
herT fire be quenched" (66:24, compare vs. 17). While Babylon is burning, Zion shall be lifted unto the "holy mountain Jerusalem and there will "bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord" (66:20). Babylon will not find salvation ("none shall save thee," 47:15), is doomed to darkness (47:5), and her "worm shall not die" (66:24); Zion will experience salvation from the Lord (62:1 1) who will be "unto (her) an everlasting light (60:2,3, 20) and her "bones shall flourish like an herb' " (66:14).
The righteous, then, are commanded to flee from Babylon and gather to Zion "Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say ye, The, LORD hath redeemed His servant Jacob" (48:20-21). Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean that bear the vessels of the LORD"' (52:1 1; see also 49:18 20; 60:3-9).
"I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no Savior." (43:11.) With Isaiah - this great prophet who was so respected by Christ and the Nephite prophets - I testify with him that Jesus is the Savior, He is the Redeemer. By studying the writings of Isaiah, we will come to know, love and understand Jesus Christ.
*Further, see various third person feminine pronouns throughout Isaiah that have reference to Zion and Babylon.