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Why are the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon so important? Why did Nephi decide to engrave them in the plates, and why did Mormon feel that we in our modern day setting needed to hear these words?
For one, Nephi understood the importance of the gathering of Israel, the coming of Christ, and the blessings that are promised to those who keep the commandments. To Nephi, these are lessons that we should be excited about and want to learn and understand more of! 2 Nephi 11:8 says:
"And now I write some of the words of Isaiah, that whoso of my people shall see these words may lift up their hearts and rejoice for all men."
So while you're reading the Isaiah portion in the Book of Mormon and struggling, know that Nephi wrote what he did out of excitement and joy for what he was learning. Isaiah throughout his words, was teaching about the coming of the Savior and the importance of believing in Christ. Nephi, knowing that the Son of God would appear to God's children "600 years from the time" that he had left Jerusalem (2 Nephi 25:19) he felt that it was imperative for him to persuade his children and future posterity to "believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God" (2 Nephi 25:23).
What is something that YOU learned the most out of reading the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon? Here are some things that author David Ridges has learned as he's read the first handful of versus from 2 Nephi 11.
2 NEPHI 11
Nephi’s younger brother, Jacob, has been teaching us, in 2 Nephi chapters 6 through 10. Now Nephi will take over again. Because of his great love and appreciation for Isaiah’s teachings, Nephi will quote Isaiah in chapters 12–24 and 27. As he introduces these next 13 chapters quoting Isaiah (plus one more when we get to 2 Nephi 27), he will explain why he is going to quote so many chapters of Isaiah to us. You will see some of his reasons for reading Isaiah to us, especially in verses 2, 4, 5, 6, and 8.
Many members of the Church find these chapters of Isaiah very difficult to understand. Some skip them in their reading of the Book of Mormon, while others read every word without getting much out of them. Yet others see some beautiful teachings and gain some understanding but still miss much.
If you will study these Isaiah chapters of the Book of Mormon along with the notes provided, praying for help each time you read, it is quite likely that you will be ahead of many members of the Church in understanding and appreciating the important messages in the writings of Isaiah.
Also, be patient with yourself if you don’t understand it all. As you read and study the Book of Mormon throughout your life, remember that the Holy Ghost is your main teacher, and He often teaches us more each time we read it.
1 AND now, Jacob spake [spoke] many more things to my people at that time; nevertheless only these things have I caused to be written, for the things which I have written sufficeth me [are suficient as far as my purposes are concerned].
2 And now I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words [I love the teachings of Isaiah]. For I will liken his words unto my people [the words of Isaiah apply to my people], and I will send them forth unto all my children, for he [Isaiah] verily [absolutely, truly] saw my Redeemer [the Savior], even as I have seen him [Nephi has seen the Savior also].
3 And my brother, Jacob, also has seen him as I have seen him; wherefore [this is why], I will send their words [the words of Isaiah and Jacob] forth unto my children to prove unto them that my words are true. Wherefore, by the words of three [the law of witnesses], God hath said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more witnesses, and he proveth all his words.
Next, we see some reasons Nephi wants his people to study Isaiah.
4 Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end [purpose] hath the law of Moses been given [this is the reason the Lord gave the law of Moses to the children of Israel was to teach them about Christ]; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him [“typifying of” means “symbolic of,” in other words, everything God has told us, from Adam and Eve to now, teaches us about Christ].
5 And also my soul delighteth in the covenants [promises, including things we agree to do, like at baptism] of the Lord which he hath made to our fathers [ancestors]; yea, my soul delighteth in his grace [his kindness in using His power to help us], and in his justice [the law of justice], and power, and mercy [the law of mercy] in the great and eternal plan of deliverance from death.
6 And my soul delighteth in proving unto my people that save Christ should come all men must perish [if it were not for Christ, we would all be destroyed]. Sometimes we shy away from logic in gospel discussions and gospel teaching because shallow logic, based on falsehoods or half truths, has been used by so many people to try to prove that there is no God, etc. However, when logic is based on truth, it has tremendous power. Watch Nephi’s powerful “true logic” in verse 7, next.
7 For if there be no Christ there be no God; and if there be no God we are not [we do not exist], for there could have been no creation. But there is a God, and he is Christ, and he cometh in the fulness of his own time [He will come to live on earth when the time is right].
8 And now I write some of the words of Isaiah, that whoso of my people shall see these words may lift up their hearts and rejoice for all men. Now these are the words, and ye may liken them unto you and unto all men [they apply to you and to everyone].
No wonder Nephi invites us to “lift up [our] hearts and rejoice for all men.” And no wonder he wants us to read and understand Isaiah’s great message, because it shows how effective and far-reaching Christ’s Atonement is.