Friday, April 19, 2013

Great are the Words of Isaiah

"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 Nephi 23:1

Who was Isaiah? Why did the Lord give the commandment to diligently search the words of Isaiah?

The Hebrew name Isaiah (Yesha'yahu) means "the Lord (YAHWEH) is salvation".  The LDS Bible Dictionary describes Isaiah as "a prophet in Jerusalem during 40 years, 740-701 B.C." who had "great religious and political influence during the reign of Hezekiah, whose chief advisor he was".  He was a martyr and the most quoted of all the prophets. The Lord promised that all of Isaiah's prophecies, whether concerning events of his day or of future events (or both), would be fulfilled. (3 Ne. 23:1-3)  Many of Isaiah's prophecies have yet to be fulfilled.

Isaiah prophesied of Christ and taught of the universal need for repentance and obedience to God's law.  Among other things, he also prophesied of the restoration of the house of Israel.  The LDS Bible Dictionary explains that "A major difficulty in understanding the book of Isaiah is his extensive use of symbolism, as well as his prophetic foresight and literary style; these take many local themes (which begin in his own day) and extend them to a latter-day fulfillment or application. Consequently, some prophecies are probably fulfilled more than one time and have more than one application."

There have been many books written, and many commentaries made on the Book of Isaiah, including Elder Bruce R. McConkie's "10 Keys to Understanding Isaiah", Victor Ludlow's Isaiah: Prophet, Seer & Poet, and Avraham Gileadi's New Translation of the Book of Isaiah, complete with Apocalyptic commentary, but the greatest key to understanding Isaiah is the Holy Ghost or the Spirit of Prophecy (2 Ne. 25:4-5).  The prophet Nephi declared that "in the days that the prophecies of Isaiah shall be fulfilled men shall know of a surety, at the times when they shall come to pass." (2 Ne. 25:7)  Nephi also declared that Isaiah's words were recorded specifically for our time and for our benefit. (2 Ne. 25:8).

In his day, Nephi rehearsed (1 Ne. 15:20) and read (1 Ne. 19:23the words of Isaiah to his people in order to "more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer".  The LDS Bible Dictionary entry on Isaiah concludes with this promise and invitation: "The reader today has no greater written commentary and guide to understanding Isaiah than the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. As one understands these works better he will understand Isaiah better, and as one understands Isaiah better, he more fully comprehends the mission of the Savior and the meaning of the covenant that was placed upon Abraham and his seed by which all the families of the earth would be blessed."

Monday, April 15, 2013

Seek the Lord: A Scripture Chain

"And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen." (Ether 12:41) 

"Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." (D&C 88:63)

"Now, after the Lord had withdrawn from speaking to me, and withdrawn his face from me, I said in my heart: Thy servant has sought thee earnestly; now I have found thee;" (Abraham 2:12)

"And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life." (D&C 101:38)

"Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him." (Ps. 37:7)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The World is Too Much With Us

Since it is national poetry month, let me take this opportunity to share a poem that came to mind today.  This poem, "The World is Too Much with Us; Late and Soon" by William Wordsworth, may still have something to teach us after more than 200 years:



          THE world is too much with us; late and soon,
          Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
          Little we see in Nature that is ours;
          We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
          The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
          The winds that will be howling at all hours,
          And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
          For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
          It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
          A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;                         
          So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
          Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
          Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
          Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Why Freedom Matters

There is much more at stake in the push to redefine marriage than is popularly assumed.  For those who wish to understand a sincere, powerful and well reasoned argument for why it matters that marriage retain it's true definition, and why religious freedom is vital, not just for people of faith, but for all people, please consider or reconsider Elder Dallin H. Oaks' speech at Chapman University's school of law.  A few gems of wisdom that can be discovered in this speech include the following statements of some of America's founding fathers: 

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other." -John Adams

"Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people, by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations: but, on a candid examination of history, we shall find that turbulence, violence, and abuse of power, by the majority trampling on the rights of the minority have produced factions and commotions, which, in republics, have more frequently than any other cause, produced despotism. If we go over the whole history of ancient and modern republics, we shall find their destruction to have generally resulted from those causes. If we consider the peculiar situation of the United States, and what are the sources of that diversity of sentiment which pervades its inhabitants, we shall find great danger to fear, that the same causes may terminate here, in the same fatal effects, which they produced in those republics. This danger ought to be wisely guarded against."  -James Madison (Va. Ratifying Convention, 1788)

There is a direct correlation between the decline in faith and the augmentation of governments, as this doctrinal diamond from Elder Neal A. Maxwell so clearly indicates:

"Decrease the belief in God, and you increase the numbers of those who wish to play at being God by being 'society's supervisors.' Such 'supervisors' deny the existence of divine standards, but are very serious about imposing their own standards on society." 

It is no accident that the lessening, or loss, of belief in certain absolute truths, such as the existence of God and the reality of immortality, has occurred at the same time there has been a sharp gain in the size and power of governments in many portions of the world."

These are the kinds of insights that offend mortal pride and see through the intellectual and political fads of the moment.  With time Elder Oaks' speech will prove to be nothing short of prophetic.