When it comes to the scriptures, we love the stories because they make the scriptures easier to understand. The Book of Mormon, for example, is filled with stories of epic proportion covering more than two thousand years. They tell of cycles of war and peace, of conflicts between prophets and anti-Christs, and of consequences of good and evil.
But when it comes to the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament—even though it is filled with far-reaching prophecies, such as those regarding the mortal ministry of Jesus Christ and His Second Coming—its lack of a story line, coupled with Isaiah’s use of symbolism and his poetic writing style, leaves many readers struggling to understand it.
There is, however, a way to give structure to Isaiah’s writings and make them easier to understand—mark the verses you feel fit within a specific theme in one color. Once you have done this, you will have created a thread of color linking verses on one topic into a unit. For example, you could highlight prophecies about Jesus Christ’s mortal ministry in a color of your choosing—perhaps red. Don’t worry about finding all of the verses that may contain this theme. This is a gradual process, and in later readings of Isaiah you may discover other verses you feel are about Christ’s mortal ministry. Simply mark the verses you find in red. Now as you read the thread of verses marked in red, your understanding of Christ’s mortal ministry will blossom. Repeating this pattern will continue to give structure to the book of Isaiah.
Next, highlight prophecies of Christ’s Second Coming in a different color from the one you used in marking Christ’s mortal ministry—for example, blue. Read through Isaiah again, looking for verses you feel are about Christ’s Second Coming. Don’t worry about understanding all of the verses you read as you search for this theme. You are simply reading to create a thread of color that links Isaiah’s words about Christ’s Second Coming together in a unit.
Two other prominent themes in Isaiah are the gathering of Israel and the Restoration of the gospel. Using different colors, follow the same process to mark these two themes that you used for Christ’s mortal ministry and the Second Coming. As you progress in your “precept upon precept” study of Isaiah (see Isaiah 28:10), you may discover additional themes you would like to mark.
You will be blessed as you take the time to immerse yourself in the writings of Isaiah, but it requires commitment. Gradually you will become comfortable with Isaiah’s poetic Hebrew writing style. You will begin to see order and structure within this great book of scripture. You will feel the witness of the Holy Ghost bearing testimony to you that Isaiah’s words are true (see 1 Nephi 15:11).