Isaiah 29

Isaiah 29:4 thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit

Russell M. Nelson

Could any words have been 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?

Other Old Testament passages foretold the Book of Mormon. One such came to mind when I attended a prayer breakfast in January 1997 at the White House in Washington, D.C. During an informal reception that preceded the breakfast, I was chatting with a distinguished and scholarly Jewish rabbi from New York. Our conversation was interrupted by another rabbi, who asked his colleague from New York if he could recall the scriptural reference to the stick of Judah and the stick of Joseph that would come together one day. My friend paused for a moment, stroked his chin pensively, and then replied, “I think you will find that in the book of Ezekiel.”

With that, I could not restrain myself. “You might look in chapter 37 of Ezekiel,” I interjected. “There you will find the scriptures that you seek.”

My rabbi friend expressed surprise: “How did you know that?”

“This doctrine,” I concluded, “is very important in our theology.” Indeed it is. I would like to quote from it:

   Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:

   And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand (Ezek. 37:16–17).

Saints of modern Israel throughout the world are blessed to hold the Bible and the Book of Mormon as one in their hands. The worth of this privilege must never be underestimated. Isaiah described the spirit of the Book of Mormon as “familiar.” It resonates with people who know the Old Testament, especially those who are conversant with its Hebrew language. The Book of Mormon is rich with Hebraisms—traditions, symbolisms, idioms, and literary forms. It is familiar because more than 80 percent of its pages came from the same time frame as parts of the Old Testament. (“The Exodus Repeated,” Ensign, July 1999, 10)

Isaiah 29:6 visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake…

Dallin H. Oaks

During the past decade there have been many examples of large-scale adversities affecting tens or hundreds of thousands or millions. Only a few can be mentioned. In addition to wars in many nations, we have had earthquakes in Japan, California, China, Armenia, and Mexico; hurricanes or tornadoes in Florida and the central United States; volcanic eruptions in the Philippines; flooding in India and North America; and famine and pestilence in Africa and elsewhere.

These huge catastrophes are tragedies, but they may have another significance. The Lord uses adversities to send messages to his children. Isaiah prophesied that in the last days the Lord would visit all nations with great natural disasters (see Isa. 29:6; 2 Ne. 27:1–2). In modern revelation, the Lord speaks of calling upon the nations of the earth by the mouth of his servants and also “by the voice of thunderings, and by the voice of lightnings, and by the voice of tempests, and by the voice of earthquakes, and great hailstorms, and by the voice of famines and pestilences of every kind” (D&C 43:25). In another revelation, the Lord tells those he has called to teach the gospel:

   After your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, …

   And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.

   And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people (D&C 88:89–91).

Surely these great adversities are not without some eternal purpose or effect. They can turn our hearts to God… Even as adversities inflict mortal hardships, they can also be the means of leading men and women to eternal blessings.

Such large-scale adversities as natural disasters and wars seem to be inherent in the mortal experience. We cannot entirely prevent them, but we can determine how we will react to them. (“Adversity,” Ensign, July 1998, 7-8)

Isaiah 29:11 the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned

The Nephi version of this prophecy is much clearer than is Isa 29:11-12. Look at the following passage, the Lord God shall say unto him (Joseph Smith) to whom he shall deliver the book: Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another (Martin Harris), that he may show them unto the learned (Charles Anthon), saying: Read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say: Bring hither the book, and I will read them. (2 Ne. 27:15)

In fact, Nephi was very interested in these two Isaiah verses.  He knew that his record would become part of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s words.  That is pretty remarkable, to know that what you are doing is fulfilling the words of Isaiah!  That is why Nephi had quite a bit to say about the subject.  In fact, he provided his own inspired commentary in 19 verses (see 2 Ne. 27:6-24).


   And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you the words of a book, and they shall be the words of them which have slumbered.

   And behold the book shall be sealed; and in the book shall be a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof.

   Wherefore, because of the things which are sealed up, the things which are sealed shall not be delivered in the day of the wickedness and abominations of the people. Wherefore the book shall be kept from them.

   But the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who have slumbered in the dust, and he shall deliver these words unto another;

   But the words which are sealed he shall not deliver, neither shall he deliver the book. For the book shall be sealed by the power of God, and the revelation which was sealed shall be kept in the book until the own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for behold, they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof.

   And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth.

   Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein.

   And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men; for the Lord God hath said that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead.

   Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth him good will he establish his word; and wo be unto him that rejecteth the word of God!

   But behold, it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book: Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying: Read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say: Bring hither the book, and I will read them.

   And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God.

   And the man shall say: I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed.

   Then shall the learned say: I cannot read it.

   Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned shall say: I am not learned.

   Then shall the Lord God say unto him: The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.

   Touch not the things which are sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work.

   Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee, and obtained the witnesses which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me, that I may preserve the words which thou hast not read, until I shall see fit in mine own wisdom to reveal all things unto the children of men.

   For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith. (2 Ne. 27:6-23)

Joseph Smith

Mr. Harris was a resident of Palmyra township, Wayne county, in the state of New York, and a farmer of respectability. By this timely aid was I enabled to reach the place of my destination in Pennsylvania; and immediately after my arrival there I commenced copying the characters off the plates. I copied a considerable number of them, and by means of the Urim and Thummim I translated some of them, which I did between the time I arrived at the house of my wife's father, in the month of December, and the February following.

Some time in this month of February, the aforementioned Mr. Martin Harris came to our place, got the characters which I had drawn off the plates, and started with them to the city of New York. (History of the Church, vol. 1, p. 19)

Martin Harris

I went to the city of New York, and presented the characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthon stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyric, and Arabic; and he said they were true characters. He gave me a certificate, certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters, and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct. I took the certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr. Anthon called me back, and asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him.


He then said to me, “Let me see that certificate.” I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it to him, when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying, that there was no such thing now as ministering of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him, he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, “I cannot read a sealed book.” I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation. (History of the Church, vol. 1, p. 20)

Isaiah 29:13 this people draw near me with their mouth

Joseph B. Wirthlin

Some people are weak in their faith and testimonies but are not even aware of how precarious their situation is. Many of them likely would be offended at the suggestion. They raise their right hand to sustain Church leaders and then murmur and complain when a decision does not square with their way of thinking. They claim to be obedient to God’s commandments but do not feel at all uncomfortable about purchasing food at the store on Sunday and then asking the Lord to bless it. Some say they would give their lives for the Lord, yet they refuse to serve in the nursery.

The Savior spoke very explicitly about people who “draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me.” (Isa. 29:13.) His words were: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

   Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

   And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matt. 7:21–23.)

None would want to hear the Lord speak such disappointing words of you. That is why you need to do everything in your power to be absolutely certain that your spiritual bonfire of testimony is burning brightly enough to keep the wolves of darkness away. You can always use more dry kindling. As the Apostle Paul taught, each of us has “come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23.) None of us has progressed so far in this life that we do not need to continually fortify our testimonies. (“Spiritual Bonfires of Testimony,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 35)

Isaiah 29:14 I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder

Neal A. Maxwell

The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is a marvelous episode not only in Church history but also in human history. You and I owe many people for their roles in bringing us the Book of Mormon, a book filled with plain and precious salvational truths which came forth by “the gift and power of God” (Book of Mormon title page). Through the labors and sacrifices of many, the “marvellous work and a wonder” foreseen by Isaiah (Isa. 29:14) restored vital truths which had been lost to mankind for centuries! We can best express our gratitude by reading and applying the teachings of the Book of Mormon. (“By the Gift and Power of God,” Ensign, Jan. 1997, 36)

Neal A. Maxwell

The process of translation was truly “a marvellous work and a wonder,” or, as rendered in Hebrew, “a miraculous miracle.” (Isa. 29:14.) Depending upon his sequence of translation, scholars estimate Joseph in 1829 was translating at a rapid daily equivalent of from eight to thirteen of today’s printed pages. (See John W. Welch and Tim Rathbone, “The Translation of the Book of Mormon: Basic Historical Information,” Preliminary Report, F.A.R.M.S., Provo, Utah, 1986, pp. 38–39.) An able, professional translator recently told me he considers one page a day productive.

From Joseph the translator—untrained in theology—more printed pages of scripture have come down to us than from any other mortal, as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has calculated!

Joseph, the revelator. He also became an articulator. President Young said the Prophet Joseph had the “happy faculty” of communicating things “often in a single sentence throwing … light into the gloom of [the] ages … in one blending flood of heavenly intelligence.” (Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 9:310.) (“My Servant Joseph,” Ensign, May 1992, 38)

Isaiah 29:18 in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see

Elder Lynn G. Robbins

In the days prior to the glorious First Vision, the religious fervor of Manchester, New York, USA, was extremely confusing. In Joseph Smith’s words, “So great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person … to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong” (Joseph Smith—History 1:8).

The Book of Mormon refers to this pre-Restoration confusion as an “awful state of blindness … because of the plain and most precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church” (1 Nephi 13:32; emphasis added).


Over the centuries, the clear spiritual eyesight provided by the Bible blurred as many plain and precious parts were lost, sometimes unintentionally through flawed translation and sometimes intentionally by corrupt editing, “that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men” (1 Nephi 13:27; emphasis added).

One of the most common of the Savior’s miracles was restoring eyesight to the blind. The Savior’s more important mission and miracle, however, was healing the spiritually blind. “I am come into this world,” He said, “that they which see not might see” (John 9:39).

Using Isaiah’s metaphor and Nephi’s vision of spiritual blindness in the latter days, we may consider the coming forth of the Book of Mormon as a miraculous restoration of spiritual eyesight.

Neither will the Lord God suffer that the Gentiles shall forever remain in that awful state of blindness.

… I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel. …

For, behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, … [and] these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb.

And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation.

… These last records … shall establish the truth of the first. … They both shall be established in one (1 Nephi 13:32, 34–36, 40–41; emphasis added)—

coming together to help us see the truth.  (

Isaiah 29:19 the meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord

Orson Pratt

Now during the long night of darkness there have been some humble, meek persons who have had a degree of light; but as the Church of Christ had fled from the earth there was no one that had authority to baptize or administer the ordinances of the gospel to those meek persons; therefore their joy was imperfect: but Isaiah says, when the book is revealed, "the meek shall increase their joy in the Lord." This is what the book is calculated to produce; for by its contents the meek learn that the time is at hand for them to inherit the earth, according to the blessings of our Savior on the Mount: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." This will be fulfilled after all the wicked nations are destroyed. "And the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel." This also is promised as a result of the revelation of the book, and the means by which it is to be effected is by a general overthrow of the wicked; as, says Isaiah: "For the terrible one is brought to naught, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off; that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of naught." O how plainly it is declared that judgment was soon to fall upon all the wicked after the appearance of this book—this marvelous work and a wonder! And O how plainly it is also declared that the deaf, the blind, the meek and the poor among men were to be greatly benefited by the book! (Orson Pratt's Works [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1945], 277 - 278)