Book Of Isaiah

LDS scholar Avraham Gileadi presents four keys for our understanding of Isaiah. This article is one of a series that will explain his understanding of the great prophet. The text given here is retyped exactly from the book. I have placed ellipses (…) to show interruptions between text flow.

In 2 Nephi 25:1, Nephi says, “Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand, for they know not concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews.” Nephi adds that he did not teach his people many things concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews, because their works were “works of darkness,” their doings “abominations” (2Ne 25:2). Nephi’s comments reflect the inscrutable nature of Isaiah’s prophecies. Isaiah hid the meaning of his words from the wicked, using the Jewish manner. His subtlety in doing so was equal to that of the wicked of his people (compare Jacob 4:14).

Those who had ears to hear would nonetheless understand his words; Isaiah did not write them in vain. Nephi then gives the first key: “Because the words of Isaiah are not plain unto you, nevertheless they are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy.” (2Nephi 25:4). The spirit of prophecy – specifically, being filled with the spirit of prophecy – makes Isaiah’s words plain to the reader or listener. When we possess the power of this spirit, it aids us in understanding Isaiah’s words.

But what is the spirit of prophecy? The angel speaking in Revelation 19:10 equates the spirit of prophecy with the testimony of Jesus. Having a testimony that Jesus is the Christ, that he atoned for the sins of mankind, comes, of course, by the Holy Ghost. Only the Holy Ghost can reveal this to the hearts and minds of men so they will know that it is true. Thus it is with the spirit or operation of prophecy. According to Peter, “prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2Peter 1:21). Paul, too, notes that “the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11).

In other words, we cannot truly understand the revelations the Lord gave through the prophets except by that same Spirit which gave the prophets utterance. That, of course, makes good sense.But possessing the spirit of prophecy, or the gift of prophecy, depends on personal worthiness: when we continually exercise faith and repentance, when we receive baptism by one having authority and take upon ourselves the name of Christ, renewing this covenant often, bearing this identity valiantly before the world, we qualify for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

We then equip ourselves to understand Isaiah. The first key, therefore, depends on how we relate to God. We qualify for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and it fills our souls, when we show ourselves righteous by God’s standards, when we live his law. (Emphasis added by transcriber) There is no getting around this key. We see its first importance, because without it we cannot become enlightened – we cannot understand Isaiah plainly. Built into this key is a vertical dimension (how we relate to God) that guarantees our understanding or ensures our lack of it, depending on our worthiness.

From: The Book of Isaiah, A New Translation with interpretive keys from the Book of Mormon, by Avraham Gileadi, c 1988 by Deseret Book. Selection: Introduction, pages 3,4


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