Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to understand Isaiah

“For behold, Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand”(2 Nephi 25:1)

The people of Nephi had difficulty understanding Isaiah, and they had Nephi for a teacher. Now I don’t feel so bad when I struggle with Isaiah myself.

Nephi gives us the key to understanding Isaiah:

“the words of Isaiah are not plain unto you, nevertheless they are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy.” (2 Nephi 25:4)

So here’s my thought: if the words of Isaiah still aren’t plain to me, am I safe to assume that I am still not filled with the spirit of prophecy? What does it mean to be filled? What is the spirit of prophecy?

John the revelator taught us “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10)

I have a testimony of Jesus. I know that I have a testimony of Him. Why aren’t the words of Isaiah plain to me? I think this is where we begin to really look at what it means to be filled with something in the gospel sense.

So what does it mean to be “filled with the spirit of prophecy”?

Could we liken the testimony of Jesus with knowledge or light?

“And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things” (D&C 88:67)

The verse above specifically says that our whole body will be filled with light. Let us assume then, that this is the definition that the Lord uses to mean filled. That when we are filled with something, we are filled completely with no room for anything else to take up space.

Can we have a testimony of Jesus and not be filled with it? I think yes. I, myself have had wonderful experiences that have built my testimony of the Savior. I know that He is my Savior and that He lives. Do I always act like I have that knowledge? Unfortunately no. I make mistakes, poor choices that do not testify that I have a testimony of Christ.

I think that to be filled with the spirit of prophecy or the testimony of Jesus we have to give no part of ourselves to unworthy thoughts or actions. When we do things that offend the spirit in full or in part, there is a void in us that can and will be filled by things that are not our testimony of Jesus.

We need to allow the Lord to fill us with pure intelligence about the Savior Jesus Christ. After we have that knowledge, we need to do everything we can to protect it, and to nurture it. If we lack understanding, we can ask for it in prayer. Once we are filled with the spirit of prophecy we will be able to understand the words of Isaiah, as well as the words of all the other prophets and apostles in the way they were meant to be understood.

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