Gratitude is Seeing the Miracle in Every Moment.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A New Book Club- Isaiah

The underlying purpose of a book club is to share with the group the things a reader found interesting or enlightening and from there adding personal wisdom or opinions which coincide with the passages found in the book's pages. Thus it shall be with the discussions on Isaiah in this blog entry.

The beginning of Isaiah's writings seem to premise the last days as well as the days in which he then lived. He tells of Israel's apostasy away from the true gospel and teachings of God, and often writes in parables to better express the emotions and views he desired to convey.

At the time of the beginning of Isaiah's writings, the people of Israel were in an extremely wicked and rebellious state. He tells of the Lord's despair at the falling away of His children from him, "I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's stall: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward." (Isaiah 1:2-4) Thinking of how much the Lord grieves when we fall from Him, it is a wonder why people would not be more diligent in being close to a Father who has provided, loved and given so much.

Yet still, being imperfect beings compared to God, He still supplies a more than adequate remedy for the scars of mortal imperfections. He says, "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgement, relieve the oppressed, give a just verdict to the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be a scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." (Isaiah 1:16-20) Pretty black and white here.

Throughout the next few chapters, Isaiah continues to recount the eminent destruction of Israel should her people continue on in sin and wickedness. But a wonderful chapter to read is when Isaiah sees the Lord, in chapter 6, where again, it all comes down to the healing and cleansing powers of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in the lives of every individual that saves that soul in the eternities.

The question I pose is this: What determines the type of experience we will have when we do see him? Here stood a prophet of God, a man who one would think close to perfection, and yet he cries in agony because of unworthiness to stand in the presence of His maker. Interesting concept. Some people think that were they to stand before the God of Heaven and Earth, they would run to him in full carefree abandon and joy. Yet being the imperfect creatures mortal men and women are, would we really react in such a way? One would like to hope for such a reunion, but it is my personal opinion, that we would react similarly to how Isaiah did. He cried:

"Woe is me! For I am undone (this is Hebrew origin for saying cut off; i.e., he was overwhelmed by his consciousness of the sins of himself and his people.); because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."(Isaiah 6:5)

What is our status with the the Lord in our worthiness to see him as Isaiah and many others have? Will we actually run to him in carefree abandon as we imagine? Or will we shrink in shameful agony for our unworthiness to be in his presence?

Being the prophet he was in his greatness, Isaiah then offers a wonderful visual of how the Atonement can and does work in an individual life. He gives a beautifully depicted account in parable form of a cleansing offered only by a loving Father in Heaven through his Son, Jesus Christ. He recounts how an angel took a "live coal" from the altar of the temple and laid it upon his mouth, and said, "Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is purged." (Isaiah 6:7)

Breaking this parable down there are a couple of things to consider... first, what entails a "live coal". We could view this as a coal that has been lit by fire, and not only lit, but vividly burning. What happens to coal when it burns in extremely hot temperatures for a long time? It turns white. So, now we can picture an angel taking this scathingly hot, white coal from off the altar and placing it in Isaiah's mouth. My first impression is OUCH!!!!

How does this apply to us? What is the underlying message or lesson to be learned? One might be: For we as sinners and imperfect children it would be awful to stand spotted and unclean in the presence of He who has no such blemishes on his person or countenance. Our souls would be in great anguish being brought before him, having a knowledge of our unworthiness to be with a perfect God. We would beg for a way out.

Because He loves us, there is a way out. Its painful.... much like a burning coal in our mouths would be but in a spiritual sense. But our sins, our faults, our imperfections, impurities, our unworthiness can be seared and cleansed and purged through the pure whiteness of the Lamb of God. His perfection in all things including love and forgiveness and taking upon us the infirmities of this sinful life is the only way we can find peace in his presense. Are we willing to take the temporary pain, enabling us to experience eternal joy and freedom from sin and filth? Will we allow Him to heal us, though painful now, painless in the life to come? May we contemplate the eternal value o f this lesson taught so artfully by the ancient prophet Isaiah in our individual process to come unto him.


  1. My thoughts on seeing the Savior are these. I think that there is a great lesson on humility and being teachable by learning from the ancient prophets' experiences. Even in the Book of Mormon, in the Psalm of Nephi (2 Nephi), Nephi exclaims "Oh wretched man that I am!" I think that if these wonderful prophets feel the need to repent and cry in anguish, then how much more great is our need? I think part of our "jobs" in mortality is to become more like the Savior and to BE ABLE to recognize Him. If we don't KNOW Him, then we will not recognize Him, but I think that we should react very humbly and very much the way Isaiah did. You didn't mention it much in the above discussion of Isaiah, but one of my favorite underlying themes of Isaiah is that the Lord's arm is outstretched still. No matter how wicked Israel was (or we are), the Savior is there reaching for us....if we do as your discussion states...endure the pain of repentence and come unto Him.
    I very much enjoyed this post, and I just felt that I should go off on my small little tangent. I love the thought provoking questions that you asked.

  2. Jenn, Thanks for your imput. Sometimes I wonder if anyone reads the posts. Hence why I haven't written is so long now.