President Nelson—10 Years, 10 Quotes All From Isaiah

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Is the Sabbath a Delight?

The First Presidency and the Apostles have spoken many times in General Conference. Like other speakers, they often quote from the book of Isaiah. President Russel M Nelson is no stranger to Isaiah. Since becoming a General Authority he has quoted Isaiah more than forty times in General Conference. Often focusing on Isaiah’s messages of the Book of Mormon as a voice from the dust, family history work and the blessing of the fast.

In past General Conferences, Isaiah has been quoted more than 4,000 times. In fact, only the Gospels of John and Matthew are quoted more often. In General Conference, Isaiah is quoted more than any book in the Book of Mormon, more often than any section of the Doctrine and Covenants,  and more often than any part of the Pearl of Great Price. It is not surprising, for as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle states: “Isaiah is by every standard the messianic prophet of the Old Testament and as such is the most penetrating prophetic voice in that record.”1  

Below are a few of verses President Nelson used from Isaiah during the last decade of his General Conference talks:

Isaiah 58:13–14 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord;

In his 2015 General Conference address, “The Sabbath is a delight” He asked: “I am intrigued by the words of Isaiah, who called the Sabbath ‘a delight.’ Yet I wonder, is the Sabbath really a delight for you and for me?” The prophet concluded with this: “When Isaiah described the Sabbath as ‘a delight,’ he also taught us how to make it delightful. He said: ‘If thou turn away … from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, … and shalt honour [the Lord], not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord.’

He used this same verse in General Conference in 2000 “Living by Scriptural Guidance” and 1996 “Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods” making it his most often cited verse in Isaiah.

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. In a 2017 address, “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives” he placed this in his footnotes: “Long before His mortal birth, Jesus was the great Jehovah—God of the Old Testament. It was Jehovah who communed with Moses on Mount Sinai. It was Jehovah who made a covenant with Abraham that all nations of the earth would be blessed through Abraham’s lineage. And it was Jehovah who made covenants with families of the house of Israel. Jesus was also the promised Immanuel, as prophesied by Isaiah (see  Isaiah 7:14)”
Isaiah 24:Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.
The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled…
The earth mourneth
and fadeth away, the world languisheth
and fadeth away,
the haughty people of the earth do languish.
19 The earth is utterly broken down…
20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.
In a 2016 General Conference address,  “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” he said, “A host of prophets, including Isaiah, Paul, Nephi, and Mormon, foresaw that perilous times would come,  that in our day the whole world would be in commotion, that men would ‘be lovers of their own selves, … without natural affection, … lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God,’ and that many would become servants of Satan who uphold the adversary’s work. Indeed, you and I ‘wrestle … against the rulers of the darkness of this world, [and] against spiritual wickedness in high places.’” 
Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! In General Conference in 2014, in “Let Your Faith Show.” he stated: “Even if ‘everyone is doing it,’ wrong is never right. Evil, error, and darkness will never be truth, even if popular. A scriptural warning so declares: ‘Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness.’”

Isaiah 2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

Isaiah 29: 14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.

In a General Conference in 2013 talk, “Catch the Wave,” President Nelson said: “The Restoration fulfills many biblical prophecies. For example, Isaiah prophesied that the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains. [Isaiah 2:2] The exodus of Mormon pioneers to the mountains of western America is a fulfilling saga of sacrifice and faith. Isaiah also foretold that God will do ‘a marvelous work and a wonder.’[Isaiah 29:14] That is now being fulfilled by the sacred work of our growing army of missionaries.”
Isaiah 55:3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. In October 2011 General Conference, then Elder Nelson spoke using this title “Covenants.” Citing Isaiah 55:3 in his footnotes, said “When we realize that we are children of the covenant, we know who we are and what God expects of us. His law is written in our hearts.”
Isaiah 45:3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. In April 2011 General Conference, then Elder Nelson spoke using this title “Face the Future with Faith.” Citing Isaiah 45:3 in his footnotes, he said, “Obedience allows God’s blessings to flow without constraint. He will bless His obedient children with freedom from bondage and misery. And He will bless them with more light. For example, one keeps the Word of Wisdom knowing that obedience will not only bring freedom from addiction, but it will also add blessings of wisdom and treasures of knowledge.”
Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; Elder Russell M. Nelson, in April 2010 General Conference, gave an address titled, “Generations Linked in Love” saying, “The preparation of that record is our individual and collective responsibility. As we work together, we can make it worthy of all acceptation by the Lord. That record enables ordinances to be performed for and accepted by our deceased ancestors, as they may choose. Those ordinances can bring liberty to captives on the other side of the veil.” Then he cited Isaiah 61:1

Isaiah 29:4: Thou shalt … speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.

14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.

In October 2007, then Elder Russel M. Nelson in a General Conference talk entitled “Scriptural Witnesses” he asked, “How do scriptures of the Restoration clarify the Bible? Many examples exist. I will cite but a few, beginning with the Old Testament.” Then he cited this from Isaiah 29:4 and continued, “Could any words be more descriptive of the Book of Mormon, coming as it did ‘out of the ground’ to ‘whisper out of the dust’ to people of our day?

In the footnotes of his address he included this:

“Isaiah foresaw that God would do ‘a marvelous work and a wonder’ in the latter days (Isaiah 29:14). Those words of Isaiah echoed in the ears of inhabitants of ancient America: ‘The Lord will set his hand again the second time to restore his people from their lost and fallen state. Wherefore, he will proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder among the children of men’ (2 Nephi 25:17). That marvelous work would include the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of the gospel. Isaiah was quoted frequently in the Book of Mormon. A study of those quotations may be tedious, but it is not repetitious. Of 433 verses of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, 234 differ from their biblical counterparts.”—Nov. 2007, Scriptural Witnesses

How many times do you think Isaiah will be quoted in this General Conference?


1 Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon (1997), 75.

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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 COMMENT

  1. I did not hear the Prophet quote, Isaiah specifically, but will study his talks closer or Isaianic phrases. However at least two others did quote him directly:
    Steven R Bangerter
    Isaiah 28:16 ¶ Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste

    D Todd Christopherson
    3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

    Paul B Peiper quoted this phrase from Isaiah, “His hand stretched out still” which is often taken by members of the Church to mean, showing mercy. However, when you look at the deeper Hebrew meaning, it probably means His hand is poised to discipline.

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