2 Nephi 16: Isaiah Sees the Lord

Book of Mormon Student Study Guide, (2000), 47–48


Nephi said that Isaiah had seen the Lord (see 2 Nephi 11:2 ). Isaiah’s account of his vision and his calling to be a prophet is quoted in 2 Nephi 16. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 365).

Understanding the Scriptures

2 Nephi 16

Train (v. 1)The edge of his robe; the description of it filling the temple is symbolic and represents the greatness of the Lord
Seraphim (vv. 2, 6)Heavenly beings, angels
Undone (v. 5)Ruined, destroyed
Purged (v. 7)Cleansed, purified
Perceived not (v. 9)Did not recognize or understand
Forsaking (v. 12)Leaving, deserting

2 Nephi 16:2—Why Did the Seraphim Have Wings?

The wings represented their power to move, to act, and to do other things (see D&C 77:4).

2 Nephi 16:8—Isaiah Followed the Savior’s Example

Isaiah’s response to the call to serve was similar to the way Jesus Christ responded in the premortal life (see Moses 4:1; Abraham 3:27).

2 Nephi 16:9–11—What Was Isaiah Supposed to Do When He Preached?

Verse 9 explains that although Isaiah would make the truth known to his people, they would reject it. The tone of verse 10 is therefore ironic or sarcastic. The Lord said that the more Isaiah taught the truth, the more the people would close their eyes and ears to it. Therefore, Isaiah’s calling was to teach and testify until the people’s ears were entirely shut and their eyes entirely closed or, as verse 11 says, until there is no one to preach to. Mormon and Moroni were given a similar calling later in the Book of Mormon (see Moroni 9:6).

Isaiah preaching

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A as you study 2 Nephi 16.

Activity A iconWhat Is the Lesson?

  1. 1.

    How did Isaiah feel in the presence of the Lord? (see v. 5).

  2. 2.

    What changed the way he felt? (see vv. 6–7).

  3. 3.

    What does this teach us about what we must do in order to stand in the presence of the Lord with confidence?