Hitting the Wall in First Nephi 20

Introduction to Isaiah 48

Runner's wall

Years ago I  loved running long distances most days of the week, but the marathon always seemed too much to take on. Finally, I tried one, but had an awful experience 20 miles into the run; I had hit the “wall.” I never felt worse in my life—some police officers noticed me, put me in their squad car and hauled me to the finish line; I was convulsing along the way. It was most disheartening for someone who had run hundreds of miles in preparation

The “wall” in long distance running is part physiological and psychological. Surprisingly you can train yourself out of it. Needless to say, I did not let that ever happen again. I trained longer and harder and never hit the “wall” again during a race.

Reading scripture can be a daily run of sorts, but when it comes to 1 Nephi 20 it is like hitting a readers “wall.”  You race through the first 19 chapters just fine,  then stumble into Chapter 20 and hit Isaiah. It doesn’t get much better if you plow through the next chapter, Chapter 21, but remember it “is part physiological and psychological.”

Regarding this, President Boyd K. Packer warned readers that while they “readily understand the narrative of the Book of Mormon. … the prophecies of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah … loom as a barrier. … You, too, may be tempted to stop there, but do not do it! …The Lord had a purpose in preserving the prophecies of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon.” ( The Things of My SoulEnsign, May 1986)

So here we stand at our reader’s “wall” and it is time to move forward with Chapter 20 (Isaiah 48) and I think this overview from Joseph Spencer will be helpful before we start reading. He says 1 Nephi 20 “opens (verses 1–2) with the Lord making clear that Israel has been unfaithful, but this is immediately followed with an outline of the Lord’s double strategy for keeping Israel faithful: first by providing them with prophecies long in advance of fulfillment (verses 3–6a), and second by providing them with brand new prophetic things to think about (verses 6b–8).”—Spencer, Joseph M., The Vision of All: Twenty-five Lectures on Isaiah in Nephi’s RecordGreg Kofford Books.

Click here to begin reading Chapter 20 (Isaiah 48)

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I am a retiree from Scouting. There I blogged for VoiceOfScouting.org, a site with more than 250,000 readers. During 42 years in the workplace, I've had many years senior level management with the BSA, professional associations, and high tech user groups. My background includes capital fundraising; outdoor adventure program development; property and construction management; event/conference planning; risk management and safety; lobbying federal, state and local government agencies; public relations; strategic planning; member advocacy and staff/volunteer training. Along the way, I have also taught Gospel Doctrine Classes and been both the ward and stake Sunday School President. In these settings, I have seen teachers and class members minimize Isaiah, a book Christ has commanded us to "search diligently." (3 Ne 23:1) With that in mind, I will do my best to explore and post my discoveries about the book of Isaiah. I am not a Bible scholar; like you, I read Isaiah in the Old Testament cycle of study in LDS Gospel Doctrine Classes and again in the Book of Mormon Cycle, so this is a whole new scripture adventure for me.


  1. Loved this article. Really enjoyed the metaphor of “Hitting” the “Wall” when it comes to reading Isaiah, like the wall in running long distance. Have gained greater appreciation for Isaiah!!


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