For some people, the book of Isaiah is harder to understand than other books of scripture. But the Savior has said, “Search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1). If the Savior wants us to read Isaiah, He probably wants us to understand it too! What can help?
Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, a member of the Young Men General Presidency, said that Nephi can help us out. Here are four specific tips Nephi mentioned:
1. Live in the last days.
You can check this one off the list! Done and done. Nephi said that those living in the last days—that’s us!—would be able to understand Isaiah’s words (see 2 Nephi 25:8). Maybe that’s because we have a perspective that people didn’t have in earlier times.
2. Try to build your testimony.
Nephi said Isaiah’s words can be “plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy” (2 Nephi 25:4). We can have the spirit of prophecy as we strengthen our testimony (see Revelation 19:10). Believing in Jesus Christ can help you understand those hard scriptures!
3. Think about poetry and symbols.
Isaiah used a lot of symbolism in his writing. Spend time thinking about what these symbols might mean. (Pro tip: Footnotes can sometimes help!) Institute manuals like this one can help you understand more about the lifestyle and culture of Jewish people in those days.
4. Learn about the geography.
Some important places Isaiah mentions are:
- Jerusalem: at the center of competing world powers
- Babylon: to the east, represents worldliness
- Assyria: to the north, represents pride
- Egypt: to the southwest, represents wealth
Isaiah’s words are meant for you. The Lord will help you understand them as you spend time with Him each day!