So, what exactly is going on with Nephi’s Isaiah? I probably ought to, oh you know, read the whole book called “Reading Nephi Reading Isaiah” that Joe helped edit?? But, that said, I’m going to use this post to think through some questions and ideas I’ve had over the last few days.
So I love it, absolutely love it, that Nephi gives his own prophecy in the chapters following the Isaiah portion that reframe what Isaiah has just said. How rare is it to hear that mentioned in Sunday School?! He plainly explains he is going to do that, and he does it well. He’s had this vision of the future, he quotes lots of Isaiah where Isaiah himself prophesies and explains God’s workings, and then he tells us again about his vision. I think he can’t helped but be seen as trying to show that his vision of the future fits into what Isaiah has already talked about. But, if we’re not really clear on Isaiah, like his people weren’t, then at least read Nephi’s prophecy that follows. For some reason we read chapter 25 as a list of ways to understand Isaiah, instead of seeing Nephi as saying he already does, so let’s listen to him explain it.
I would assume that all of the elements of Nephi’s prophecy have corresponding elements in the Isaiah chapters. Maybe I’ll make that a study next. What a great article that would be! Hmm.
What really surprised me was that the end of chapter 24 seems to leave the covenant people in shambles, or at least the covenant land, but then the messengers run back the message that God has established Zion. And then that’s where Nephi stops quoting Isaiah. I knew already that Nephi talked about Zion, and it always almost seemed out of place b/c the term “Zion” isn’t used much in the Book of Mormon. But then I realized that Nephi might very well be referring to Isaiah, and also his own vision that his people will live in peace for three generations. Rather than abstracting his talk on “Zion” and pairing it with Jackson County or some future Zion or my own ideas of Zion-like living (thought I think we can do all of that too), why not leave it in the context of Nephi?
That’s what got me started on this potential project (we’ll see if I actually follow through!).