There are many ways to study scriptures. Here are ten tips to try in improving your study of Isaiah.
- Relax and realize that you already know a lot if you been attending Sunday meetings, seminary, family home evening, personal study, and prayer. These help you in studying Isaiah because those basic teachings are woven throughout Isaiah’s writings—
- Isaiah covers three main topics: Jesus Christ, the last days, and the events of Isaiah’s day. Review each chapter heading to one of these topics and then read that group. Unlike most books in the Bible, Isaiah is NOT chronological, but topical. Find one that is interesting and go after it.
- Use the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants to understand Isaiah’s words. There are 433 verses from Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, most have commentary from whoever wrote them. Doctrine and Covenants 113 explains several verses in Isaiah 52and Isaiah 11, saying that these verses relate to the restoration of the gospel in the last days, specifically the calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the restoration of the priesthood, and the gathering of Israel. Both the Book of Mormon and D&C are linked in many footnotes in the Book of Isaiah. Follow these for greater insights.
- Use conference talks at the Citation Index to understand Isaiah. Church leaders have used Isaiah in more than 4000 times in their talks
- In 2 Nephi 25:1, 6, he suggests that we learn “the manner of prophesying among the Jews.” Understanding Isaiah’s symbolism and Hebrew poetry are both helpful in understanding his prophecies. SearchIsaiah.org Labs and Top Questions sections are filled with helpful tools.
- Victor Ludlow has a simple suggestion. Read all the chapter headings; all 66 of them. Then pick just one to read and reread it. See if it’s in the Book of Mormon and read it again there. In your final reading check all the footnotes for greater insights. Now you have read one chapter. There are 65 more if that worked for you.
- Isaiah was written in ancient Hebrew; likewise, the King James Version is written in archaic English. Get a modern translation online to read alongside the KJV. The New Revised Standard Version is a simple modern version that makes sense to read.
- Pick a theme to study in Isaiah in the Topical Guide. For example, turn to Jesus Christ in the Guide and look up these topics: Jesus Christ, Birth of, Jesus Christ, Mission of, Jesus Christ, Atonement through, Jesus Christ, Second Coming and Jesus Christ, Millennial Reign. In each of these sections just stick to the verses in Isaiah. You will be surprised what you can learn.
- If you want to understand the history of Isaiah’s writing, study the Bible dictionary, maps, and other sources to learn about Isaiah’s world. For example, Look at the map at this map, and read Isaiah 7:1–2. To see what the kingdom of Judah up against politically. Similarly, open the Bible Dictionary to Assyria and Babylonia to learn about the two great empires that threatened the Jews.
- Commit to studying by the Spirit. Pray before you read asking God to help you understand the words. As you study by the Spirit, you will feel the truth of the Savior’s words: “Great are the words of Isaiah. 3 Nephi 23:1–5”
As a bonus, read “Ten Keys to Understanding Isaiah,” by Elder Bruce R. McConkie