Many of Isaiah’s prophecies in the Book of Mormon are about the last days. He prophesied about the Restoration of the gospel, the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Second Coming, and the destruction of the wicked. He foresaw that the Lord would “set up an ensign for the nations” to gather His people in the last days (see 2 Nephi 21:11–12). Isaiah also testified that the Lord would triumph over Satan and usher in the Millennium, an era of peace and joy.
Pause for a moment, and imagine a light beginning to appear before you. The light becomes brighter and brighter. Suddenly a messenger sent from the presence of God is standing in front of you. He tells you that ancient prophecies are about to be fulfilled and that you will help in their fulfillment. What would be your initial reactions, thoughts, and questions?
On the night Moroni first appeared to Joseph Smith—September 21, 1823—he quoted Isaiah 11, which is also found in 2 Nephi 21. Moroni told Joseph Smith that the prophecies in that chapter were about “to be fulfilled” (Joseph Smith—History 1:40). As you study these prophecies from Isaiah, reflect upon why Nephi would record them on the small plates and also why Moroni would quote them to Joseph Smith.
The Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation that clarified the meaning of the prophecies recorded in 2 Nephi 21. Scholars have long been fascinated with trying to understand the meaning of the symbols used in this chapter. The Book of Mormon and modern prophets have helped us better understand the meaning. For example, Isaiah used the imagery of a tree or plant. Read 2 Nephi 21:1, 10, and identify the specific parts of the tree or plant Isaiah mentioned. Then read Doctrine and Covenants 113:1–6 to help you understand what these symbols mean. It may be helpful to write the interpretations of the symbols in your scriptures.
Stem of Jesse—Jesus Christ
Rod out of the stem of Jesse—A servant of Jesus Christ
Root of Jesse—An individual who holds priesthood keys
Consider the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who explained that the “root of Jesse” and the “rod out of the stem of Jesse” both refer to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Are we amiss in saying that the prophet here mentioned [in D&C 113:5–6] is Joseph Smith, to whom the priesthood came, who received the keys of the kingdom, and who raised the ensign for the gathering of the Lord’s people in our dispensation? And is he not also the ‘servant in the hands of Christ, who is partly a descendant of Jesse as well as of Ephraim, or of the house of Joseph, on whom there is laid much power’? [D&C 113:3–4]” (Millennial Messiah , 339–40).
Read 2 Nephi 21:10, 12, and look for what Isaiah prophesied the Lord would do through the “root of Jesse” (Joseph Smith). The word ensign refers to a “standard” to which people gather.
These verses teach the following truth: The Lord has restored His gospel and His Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith and is now gathering His people in the last days.
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints an ensign to the world?
One of the most discussed subjects among Christians is the Savior’s millennial reign. Have you ever thought much about it? Imagine that a friend asked you what you believe about the Millennium. What would you say?
Isaiah prophesied that after the Savior’s Second Coming, there would be changes on the earth that would last for a thousand years. We call this period of peace the Millennium. Read 2 Nephi 21:6–9, looking for what conditions will be like on the earth during the Millennium.
According to 2 Nephi 21:9, one prophecy about the Millennium is that “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.” Ponder how the fulfillment of this prophecy will affect people around the world. Read 2 Nephi 22:1–6, and notice the spirit of worship that people will have during the Millennium. How can we develop that same attitude today?
The verses you have studied teach this truth: During the Millennium, the earth will be a place of peace because it will be full of the knowledge of the Lord. Which aspects of the Millennium would you like to have in your life right now? Ponder for a moment what you could do to receive some of these blessings.
You may wish to sing, listen to, or read “The Lord Is My Light” (Hymns, no. 89) to complement your study of 2 Nephi 22.
As recorded in 2 Nephi 23–24, Isaiah condemned the wickedness of the house of Israel and compared the destruction of the wicked in the last days to the destruction of ancient Babylon. Babylon was a very wicked nation in Isaiah’s day and has since come to symbolize the wickedness of the world (see D&C 133:14).
Study what Isaiah prophesied would happen to the wicked in the last days by reading 2 Nephi 23:1, 4–9, 11, 15, 19, and 22.
Isaiah also compared the destruction of ancient Babylon to Lucifer’s (Satan’s) fall from heaven. He spoke of Lucifer as the symbolic king of Babylon, meaning the whole wicked world. Isaiah used the fall of Lucifer in the premortal world as an illustration of how the wicked would fail and fall. Study 2 Nephi 24:12–14, and mark the phrases that highlight the arrogance and pride of Satan.
Do you notice the use of the word I in these verses? You may want to circle the I’s in your scriptures. President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency once said that Satan “was more concerned with credit than with results; glory and praise were the end in themselves” (“For They Loved the Praise of Men More Than the Praise of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1975, 76).
Search 2 Nephi 24:15–16 for what will ultimately happen to Satan and how people will feel about him when they see him for what he is.
Read the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson: “In the premortal council, it was pride that felled Lucifer, ‘a son of the morning.’ (2 Ne. 24:12–15; see also D&C 76:25–27; Moses 4:3.). … Lucifer placed his proposal in competition with the Father’s plan as advocated by Jesus Christ. (See Moses 4:1–3.) He wished to be honored above all others. (See 2 Ne. 24:13.) In short, his prideful desire was to dethrone God. (See D&C 29:36; 76:28.)” (“Beware of Pride,” Ensign, May 1989, 4–5).
In 2 Nephi 23:22, we learn that you can take comfort if you are righteous. God will be merciful to you, but the wicked will perish.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What can I change in my life today to be more obedient?
How can I resolve to stay obedient?
Pray for opportunities to share your testimony about the truths you learned in 2 Nephi 23.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied 2 Nephi 21–24 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: