God is My Salvation Isaiah 1-12
There is so much to be learned from Isaiah... why do we struggle so much to understand it? We all know the running joke about skipping over or skimming the Isaiah chapters when we reach them in 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon... and sadly I can admit my reading of the Book of Mormon has gotten hung up more than once because of it.
So this time as I approached the "actual" book of Isaiah, I decided I needed to really buckle down and learn something. After all, even Jesus himself quoted Isaiah and admonished all of us to learn and know his words. That means there must be some pretty important things for me to learn there.
These thoughts sent me on a quest to learn how to learn from Isaiah. This is a funny thought, too, because in one of the podcasts I listened to, the guest pointed out that many a Gospel Doctrine class has been spent talking about how to learn from Isaiah but never actually learning from Isaiah. But nevertheless, here I am talking about it again...
(And lest you think the whole post will be about how to study, I want to also say that the things I learned and followed DID actually help me. I will include one of the messages I got in just a minute.)
An LDS philosopher named James E. Faulconer has been quoted often as saying that we read the scriptures too fast! Our study of scripture is only as good as the effort we put in to understand and the questions we bring with us to our study session.
I am guilty, I know, of sometimes racing through verses or chapters. I decided this time I was going to take a little more time with each verse, and I discovered some interesting things.
For one, Isaiah repeats himself a lot. That's actually helpful because I realized that moving on from a verse I didn't understand helped me understand it when I went back again. Those later verses gave me a lot of clarity.
Use the Footnotes!
I spent a lot more time cross referencing the footnotes this week than I normally do. There were a lot of explanations that helped me! I also followed those references and read the verses referred to, finding that clarity came by reading both.
While much of what Nephi says in 2 Nephi is a direct quote and identical, there are words here and there that are not in Isaiah. In a few places, the footnotes pointed out that there were extra words that shouldn't be there--a fact which changes the meaning of the whole verse.
Refer to other sources
I wrote recently about this new Bible that I bought back when I was studying Psalms, and I am here today to repeat how helpful this Bible has been!
My main study source is still the King James version that is the official Bible that we recognize in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but having this other Bible at hand to compare really helped me a lot!
Because it is written the way we talk now, it really made a huge difference. But I also always have to keep in mind that scriptures can be interpreted differently, and there were some notable differences that I found. The funny thing about that is, it helped me discover the true meaning of a phrase I have seen and wondered about for years! (More on that in a moment)
Keep a Journal
I know that I blather on about the importance of a journal so often that those that hear me are probably hearing the drumbeats on dead horses... but I cannot possibly emphasize enough how important I think this is!
Whether you have wide margin scriptures and you journal right in the book, or you keep a separate journal it really doesn't matter. Writing my thoughts and impressions is more important than any single thing I ever do (short of starting with prayer) when I study.
I learned this lesson the hard way...
Many years ago, I was struggling with a difficult decision about the job I was working at the time. I didn't love the job, but not being a fan of change, I was reluctant to move on from it. I had been praying for an answer as to what to do, and I have learned (since then) that my answers usually come in the scriptures.
So I was reading in the Book of Mormon and there it was--the exact answer, spelled out for me. It was clear as day, almost as though it jumped off the page and flashed in my face like a neon sign.
At the moment, I was busy and didn't take the time to mark it or write it down, but I knew what it said.
But when I came back later to reread the same chapter and try and write down my thoughts, it was gone. Yes, it was all the same verses, and I knew I was reading in the same place. But the clear message that I had gotten from it was gone. I had the gist of it, that it was time to leave the job and move on. But the spiritual part of the message that spoke specifically to me just disappeared.
I followed the prompting and left that job. But I have never forgotten the loss of what the Spirit had spoken to me in that moment, because it could have helped me be stronger and more faithful going forward.
The Important Message I got from Isaiah
If you are a subscriber to my email, I shared a message there about the Sacrament. But that was not the only message I got from this section of Isaiah.
Isaiah 8: 11-12
For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people...neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.
The last two years have been rough, and I feel like they have resulted in so much mistrust, worry, and fear. I have pretty much decided I don't trust most of what I hear, but I am making a concerted effort to not be afraid. Some days that is harder than others. And these verses spoke to me about that.
God IS my salvation.
I need to put whole trust and faith in Him, knowing that no matter what happens in the world, He is still in charge. I will put my hope in Him.
Isaiah 8: 20
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
One of my favorite things I learned about Isaiah this week is that while so much of what he wrote was directed at the Israelites during his own time, they apply again to us. It reminds me that there are lessons to be learned from the past, and I want to know them, be ready for them, and always be sure I am on the Lord's side.
And now, believe it or not, I am looking forward to discovering more in the weeks to come as we continue in Isaiah!