November 13, 2006 - Original Post
For the next few chapters, Nephi records the words of Isaiah. The “Isaiah chapters” are difficult mostly because of the language … it is so different. It’s a rarity that I get much out of these chapters … but sometimes I do.
In verse 10, the Lord tells Jacob and his people that he has refined them and has chosen them in the furnace of affliction. What this means to me is that “God’s people” were chosen because their faith was put to a test and they were proven to be faithful. All sorts of trails and persecutions were thrown at them, yet they did no curse God, but endured and were even strengthened. Because they were strengthened, they were able to accomplish much for the Lord.
I guess I’m a sports nut because I always think of sports analogies when it comes to the scriptures. My uncle ran a marathon while I was on my mission. We also had a couple of friends recently run a marathon. Anyway, I’ve heard that running a long distance race and successfully enduring it is a spiritual experience. It’s a spiritual experience because you go through a type of refiner’s fire … you think that you cannot succeed … you see this almost impossible goal, yet step by step, day by day you work towards that goal. You endure heat, pain, cold, rain, fatigue and other ailments. But when you cross that finish line, you feel a wonderful sensation. I’ve never done it so I don’t know what it feels like. But I’ve done other things in my life that have been a sort of a refiner’s fire.
The MTC is one. Going on a mission is another. Any type of training regimen is a type of a refiner’s fire. But real refiners' fires are those trials that people go through. The early Saints and the persecution is another type. In summary … anything that stretches and strengthens you is a refiner’s fire … it makes you more pure at whatever you are doing. Fasting is another example.
I liked verses 12 and 13. The Lord is the first and the last. He created the earth and his hand spans the universe. He is Lord of the Universe and all that is in it. When I read this today, I felt this sense of greatness in the person I worship. I have reservations in worshiping anything … we’ve been trained our whole lives to not worship idols and riches and things or even people. But the one person and thing we can worship is God. We can give ourselves to him … wholly. If I am going to do that … give that much commitment, then that person had better be all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving. That person is God. And these two verses tell us the type of person we worship.
Verse 17 & 18 were also really good. God loves us and wants us to prosper. He wants to teach us all that he knows. But we have to be willing to accept him and his teachings. If we are obedient to him, then we will have true, lasting peace. Verse 18 says that our peace would be as the river and waves of the sea. I didn’t think a river or sea was too peaceful when I read this. So I got out the NIV translation of the bible and the footnote said that the peace would be abundant and overflowing like water is to a river and the waves of the sea. That makes complete sense. Another blessing of obedience is that our posterity will last forever.
And the last note of interest in this chapter is verse 22. The Lord simply states that there is no peace for the wicked. I am listening to some relaxing music while I type this and I feel peaceful. I don’t feel too stressed right now. I’ve enjoyed reading the Book of Mormon for a few minutes this morning. It would be nice if I had a chance to do this every day. It is peaceful. I can barely imagine what the peace the Lord can give us.
January 4, 2012 - Addition
On Suffering and Purifying
There is a mash-up quote from James Allen that I think of several times a day. It goes like this: "The man who shrinks from self-crucifixion can never accomplish the object upon which his heart is set. The sole and supreme use of suffering is to purify; to burn out all that is useless and impure."
There is so much stuff to think about, to do, to be entertained by, to read, to study, to watch, to listen to ... it is endless. It is easy to be overloaded with things today. As such, I try to constantly evaluate if what I'm doing is worthwhile or if it is useless. Also, for those things I truly desire, I try to ask myself what I would be willing to do to accomplish it? If it really is worthwhile, am I willing to suffer for it?
Link to Isaiah Blog
1 Nephi 20 is also Isaiah 48. See my commentary on Isaiah 48 here.