Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Isaiah: "Barrier" in the Book of Mormon

For the record, I DON'T understand Isaiah.

Oh, how I wish I did.

Most of the time I trudge through the imagery, the symbolism, the culture and the history, wishing my brain would just figure things out!

But normally, it doesn't.

However, I do enjoy reading Isaiah . . .

And here is what I DO know about Isaiah (as taught by President Boyd K. Packer):
          “The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture. It is another testament of Jesus Christ. It is written in biblical language, the language of the prophets.
          “For the most part, it is in easy-flowing New Testament language, with such words as spake for spoke, unto for to, with and it came to pass, with thus and thou and thine. 
          “You will not read many pages into it until you catch the cadence of that language and the narrative will be easy to understand. As a matter of fact, most teenagers readily understand the narrative of the Book of Mormon.
          “Then, just as you settle in to move comfortably along, you will meet a barrier. The style of the language changes to Old Testament prophecy style. For, interspersed in the narrative, are chapters reciting the prophecies of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. They loom as a barrier, like a roadblock or a checkpoint beyond which the casual reader, one with idle curiosity, generally will not go.
          "You, too, may be tempted to stop there, but do not do it! Do not stop reading! Move forward through those difficult-to-understand chapters of Old Testament prophecy, even if you understand very little of it. Move on, if all you do is skim and merely glean an impression here and there. Move on, if all you do is look at the words. … 
          “… The Lord had a purpose in preserving the prophecies of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, notwithstanding they become a barrier to the casual reader.
          “Those who never move beyond the Isaiah chapters miss the personal treasures to be gathered along the way” (Ensign, May 1986, 61).
So, everytime I come to those Isaiah sections in the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi, Mosiah and 3 Nephi) I read on with a prayer that maybe, MAYBE, something will penetrate me heart and make me do more than squint my eyes and tilt my head and whisper a faint, "Huh??" 

I just move on.  Move on.  Just like President Packer told me to do.

Well, this week, while I am studying Isaiah (Isaiah from the Old Testament, in the Old Testament), I came across verses. . .

Verses which felt so poetic to me.

But it was more than poetic verses.

They were words which moved me with such emotion to the filling of my heart with adoring thankgiving for a Savior who knows and loves me:

Hast thou not known?
Hast thou not heard,
that the everlasting God,
the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not,
neither is weary?
There is no searching of His understanding.
He giveth power to the faint;
and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
and the young men shall utterly fall:
But they that await upon the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint.
 - Isaiah 40:28-31

President Packer, Thank you for the promise!

1 comment:

  1. that has LONG been one of the most meaningful and favorite scriptures for me. it was an answer given to me very shortly (within an hour) after hearing that one of my dearest friends had been run over by a car and wasn't expected to live due to the extreme nature of his injuries. it was like these verses were written about him...and they all came true.

    meanwhile, i love how in 1st Nephi, when Laman and Lemuel are being SO rebellious and thick-skulled (like I am sometimes), Nephi uses the teachings of Isaih to draw them back to a remembrance of the truth. It kind of cracks me up how even those (numskull) guys were savvy enough that having Isaiah preached to them by their little brother softened them up (at least temporarily) so they repented. Isaiah is a powerful elixir, apparently. But I, like you, struggle with it. in fact, we're on 1st Nephi 18 right now, and i read ahead when i was at the temple yesterday and realize that we're almost to the first of the "compare Isaiah" chapters. So I'm grateful for the advise above from Elder Packer. Hopefully my kids can wade through them with me and all will be edified. ♥