At the Lord Jesus Christ’s recommendation, learn to understand the lessons, prophesies, and beauty of Isaiah’s writings by using these strategies.
In the Ensign article “Ten Keys to Understanding Isaiah,” Elder Bruce R. McConkie explains that Isaiah was “known [for] the abundance, beauty, and perfection of his prophetic utterances.” Yet Elder McConkie also admits that “many people find Isaiah hard to understand.… Even in the true church, among those who should be enlightened by the gift of the Holy Ghost, there are those who skip the Isaiah chapters.” Elder McConkie was troubled by this lack of understanding because it was the Lord Jesus Christ himself who praised Isaiah’s words and asked his people to diligently study them. As a result, Elder McConkie shares these tips in order to help earnest scripture readers.
“Gain an Over-All Knowledge of the Plan of Salvation and of God’s Dealings with His Earthly Children.” Isaiah wrote to already knowledgeable believers, so you will need prior knowledge to fully understand his writing. For example, “It takes a prior knowledge of preexistence and the war in heaven to recognize in Isaiah 14 the account of Lucifer and his hosts being cast down to earth without ever gaining mortal bodies.” To get started, you can read about God’s plan in True to the Faith.
“Use Latter-Day Revelation.” As you read Isaiah, look to the recent words of prophets and apostles for insights and keep a prayer in your heart so that you may receive personal revelation. As Elder McConkie taught, “The Lord by direct revelation has also taken occasion in our day to interpret, approve, clarify, and enlarge upon the writings of Isaiah,” demonstrating that “it truly takes revelation to understand revelation.” To get started, consider reviewing Stephen W. Liddle’s and Richard C. Galbraith’s Scripture Citation Index that links verses from Isaiah to the addresses of latter-day prophets and apostles who quote him.
Although implementing these strategies is likely to take time, effort, and great faith, Elder McConkie assures us that our efforts will be worthwhile. He bears his witness that “the glories and wonders [Isaiah] promised for our day will surely come to pass” and that “if we are true and faithful we will participate in them.”
Discover the other eight strategies Elder McConkie recommends to better understand Isaiah in the rest of his Ensign article “Ten Keys to Understanding Isaiah.”
—Abby Forrest, Latter-day Saint Insights
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Find more insights
Explore how the Book of Mormon can aid your understanding of the words of Isaiah by reading “Book of Mormon Commentary on Isaiah” by Garold N. Davis.
Check out the chapter “Understanding Isaiah” in the Church’s Old Testament Student Manual for more study strategies.
Read Ryan S. Gardner and David A. Edwards’s New Era article “How Can I Understand Isaiah?” that is written for younger audiences.