Great are the Words of Isaiah
Several years ago, during our morning family prayer and reading time from
the Book of Mormon, I felt a strong prompting from the Spirit to heed the Savior's command to
"...search...diligently...the words of Isaiah." (3 Ne. 23:1-3) I found at that time the
writings of Isaiah were a mystery to most members. I was then serving as Stake President and had
little time for personal study. But being determined, I set aside an hour a day -- at 5:00 each
morning -- to find the quiet and peace of the Spirit as I undertook to fulfill this command. Over
the next three years, with intensity, I plowed this tough and very challenging turf. I have been
plowing the field ever since, but not with the same intensity. It is a big field -- and with
incredibly rewarding fruit.
This initial plowing was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. I read every
commentary I could get my hands on. I learned that the best commentary in the world on the book of
Isaiah is the Book of Mormon, and that the best guide is the Spirit.
Isaiah knew more about our day than we do. To be learning from him what the Lord had revealed was
a wonderful and enlightening experience for me. I came to appreciate that the command to study
Isaiah was more for us than for the Book of Mormon people.
The Book of Mormon not only gives the Lord's interpretations of vitally important sections of
Isaiah, but also some guidelines for understanding this unique book. Some of these guidelines are:
1) He prophesied after the manner of the Jews; (2 Ne. 25:1-5)
2) When the prophecies would come to pass, we would know of a surety of their fulfillment; (2
3) Isaiah speaks in types and patterns; one prophecy can refer to several similar events; and
past prophecies can be likened unto current events; (3 Ne. 23:1-3)
4) Searching diligently leads to understanding; (3 Ne. 23:1 & D&C 82:9-10)
5) Isaiah "spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of
Israel;" (3 Nephi 23:2)
6) His words are, also, to all gentile nations; (3 Nephi 23:2) and will be of "great
worth... in the last days;" (2 Nephi 25:8)
7) The scattering and gathering of Israel is backbone to the history of the earth as the Father
brings about the work of the covenants; and
8) Isaiah's words are "plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of
prophecy." (2 Nephi 25:4)
By training I am a physicist, having worked with the atomic clock in Boulder, Colorado. Over the
years, I have learned that prophets don't write or think like modern physicists, who tend to be too
amazed with their own knowledge and forget the greatest Physicist of all. Fortunately, I have had a
deep love of the scriptures since my late teens. The study of Isaiah's writings has led me to a more
vivid realization of the foolishness of man's wisdom, when compared to the majesty of God so
brilliantly reflected in Isaiah's writings. In addition, the harmony and complementary aspect of
Isaiah's writings with those of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and our modern prophets
is a great inspiration to me. I have come to believe that the writings of Isaiah found in the Book
of Mormon along with commentary by the Book of Mormon prophets and the Savior will be more important
to us in understanding the day and time in which we live than the rest of the Book. This study has
helped me to see why the church is under condemnation as President Benson has clearly told us.
The rapidly moving events in the Slavic nations, in Russia, in Israel, in the Americas and
throughout the world are indeed a beginning of the fulfillment of the Lord's promise "that I
may set my hand again the second time to recover my people, which are of the house of Israel;"
(Isa.11:11; 2 Nep.25:17; 29:1; Jacob 6:2;). As the Lord hastens His work in His day, and we witness
World events unfolding in fulfilling ancient prophecies, we can "know of things to come;"
by "feasting upon the word of Christ..."
However, the scriptural commentary on those events usually sets forth drastically different
conclusions. While modern mass media propagates deception, Isaiah exposes it. President Benson said,
"To often we bask in comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic
disaster, famine and earthquake cannot happen here. Those who believe this are either not acquainted
with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them. Those who smugly think these
calamities will be set aside because of the righteousness of the Saints are deceived and will rue
the day they harbored such a delusion." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 1988)
Perhaps the most obvious difference between scriptural and contemporary commentary is the
perspective of how world peace, equality, and prosperity is going to come about. Modern news
analysts depict us as being on the verge of arriving at the hope sought throughout the ages.
Isaiah's portrayal of the berthing pangs of peace is much different. He describes the millennial
society, which will arise after the Lord has purified his people and cleansed the world of
corruption. Isaiah's portrayal of the coming redemption after much tribulation is much more glorious
than the one promised by contemporary writers. Fortunately, Isaiah knows the truth.
How incredibly important are the scriptures, the words of our modern prophets, and the Spirit,
which gives us guidelines for living, to help us to not be deceived and to lead us to light and
truth, which forsaketh the evil one. As we follow Christ, we will know the light. Isaiah knew the
Savior, and knows what we must do to prepare for his glorious millennial reign. I pray that we may
all follow the command of the Savior: to search with the Spirit and to be prepared in all things for
the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
David W. Allan
click here for index of Spiritual Writings by D.W.A.