The prophet Isaiah lived approximately 100 years before the time of Nephi. (Isaiah started prophesying sometime previous to 740 B.C. and continued prophesying for over 40 years, until 701 B.C.; see Bible Dictionary, “Isaiah.”) In many ways, Nephi may have had the same feelings of admiration and love for Isaiah that we have today for the Prophet Joseph Smith. We know from Nephi’s writings that he “delighted” in Isaiah’s words (see 2 Nephi 11:2). As recorded in 2 Nephi 12–16, Nephi quoted from Isaiah’s writings, which were found on the brass plates. These writings described ancient Israel’s pride and wickedness and the judgments that awaited them. Isaiah also recounted his vision of the Lord, in which he was cleansed of his sins.
Think about a time when you were impressed with someone’s testimony of the Savior. Read 2 Nephi 11:2–3, and identify what experience Nephi, Jacob, and Isaiah each had with Jesus Christ.
The Lord calls prophets to bear witness of Him. By studying the testimonies of witnesses of Jesus Christ, we can strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ and rejoice in Him.
In your scripture study journal, write your thoughts about why you think it is important to have a witness of Jesus Christ from multiple prophets.
Find the four times Nephi said “my soul delighteth” in 2 Nephi 11:4–6. You might want to mark these in your scriptures.
To “delight” in something suggests that one takes great pleasure in it and that the thing brings great joy.
Write in your scripture study journal three or more “my soul delighteth” statements that represent elements of the gospel you delight in. Explain why each of these brings you joy.
Read 2 Nephi 11:8, and write what Nephi hoped would result from your study of the writings of Isaiah.
Imagine a large mountain. Can you think of any comparisons that can be drawn between a mountain and a temple?
Read 2 Nephi 12:2–3, 5, looking for what God promised to establish in the last days. The term “mountain of the Lord’s house” means a temple of the Lord. According to these verses, what blessings will come from the Lord’s house in the last days?
You may want to write in your scriptures something like this: God has established temples to teach us of His ways and to help us walk in His paths (see 2 Nephi 12:3).
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How do temples help us walk in the Lord’s paths?
How can you prepare yourself to enter the temple?
This lesson will not provide detailed helps for understanding 2 Nephi 12–15. However, as you read and ponder these chapters in your personal reading of the Book of Mormon, look for the consequences of pride and sin. The following commentary, or explanation, will also help you in your reading:
2 Nephi 12:6–18. Take special notice of all the references to the worshipping of idols, as well as words and images that indicate pride—for instance, lofty, haughtiness, proud, lifted up, and high. This will help you understand why such severe judgments awaited these people.
2 Nephi 12:9–11. The “mean man” (verse 9) refers to the ordinary or common man. Both the “mean man” and the “great man,” if they are proud, will be humbled at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (see verse 11).
2 Nephi 12:12–13. “The day of the Lord” is a phrase that refers to a time of judgment. The Second Coming of Christ will be a “day of the Lord” when the wicked will be destroyed.
2 Nephi 13–14. In 2 Nephi 13 is the continuation of Isaiah’s discussion of what will happen if the Israelites persist in their wickedness. Isaiah called the Israelite women the “daughters of Zion” (verse 16), suggesting that they are children of the covenant. Isaiah likened them to a prideful woman who is cursed by the Lord, and all her jewelry and other physical adornments are taken away (see 2 Nephi 13:16–26). In contrast, 2 Nephi 14 includes Isaiah’s description of what will happen if the daughters of Zion humble themselves, repent, and turn to the Lord. If you have access to an LDS edition of the Bible, use the footnotes for Isaiah 3 to help you understand 2 Nephi 13:16–26.
2 Nephi 15:8–22. The word wo refers to a condition of deep sadness. Isaiah used it six times in these verses as he identified the sins of the Israelites. Isaiah knew that if the Israelites did not repent, the consequences of their sins would bring deep sadness—especially at the time of judgment. If Isaiah were a prophet on earth today, would he find the same kinds of sins that he saw among the Israelites?
Read 2 Nephi 15:20. Write in your scripture study journal some ways in which people today call good things evil, or evil things good.
Isaiah’s writings are rich in symbolism. Symbols are one way the Lord teaches us about gospel principles. As recorded in 2 Nephi 16, Isaiah described his experience of seeing the Lord. As you read 2 Nephi 16, keep in mind the following symbols and their possible meanings:
Seraphim: Angels who reside in the presence of God. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “an angel of God never has wings” (History of the Church, 3:392). The angels’ wings symbolized their power to move and to act.
Smoke: May indicate the presence of the Lord (see Revelation 15:8).
Unclean lips: Unworthiness.
Live coal (fire): Purifying agent, like the cleansing power of the Holy Ghost.
Altar: Literally, an altar was the place where sacrifices were made. It may refer here to the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ on our behalf—the Atonement.
Read 2 Nephi 16:1–7, and record in your scripture study journal your answers to the following questions:
What did one of the seraphim say about the Lord of Hosts?
What do you think Isaiah meant when he said, “Wo is unto me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips”? What made him suddenly feel this way? (3 Nephi 27:19 may offer a suggestion.)
What happened to change Isaiah’s feelings of unworthiness?
How would this experience prepare Isaiah to go out among the people and teach repentance?
One of the great truths taught in the calling of Isaiah is that we can be cleansed of our unworthiness through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Ponder about a time when you felt the cleansing power of the Atonement in your life.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied 2 Nephi 11–16 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: