By Hollie Ogden Wells
People are put off by the Book of Isaiah for the same reason some people are extremely uncomfortable with temple ordinances and worship. Both are full of (what can seem to be) illusive symbolism. Both use ancient ways of teaching that may be confusing or unfamiliar to a modern audience. We may not understand both the first, second, or hundredth time we engage with them. But every time we attempt with enthusiasm and effort (not perfection), we are rewarded with rich knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and with a closer relationship with Him. Since the Come, Follow Me curriculum is currently covering Isaiah, I wanted to share some of my Isaiah insights about the temple that I have had in recent study.
Isaiah 2:2-3 Mountain in the Mountains
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.
3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
This is perhaps Isaiah’s most famous commentary and prophecy about temple building and worship. This prophecy applies to so many things and time periods but many prophets have commented on how this prophecy lends itself to the Salt Lake City temple specifically and all latter-day temples generally. It must have been so beautiful for Isaiah to see so many faithful people flowing to temples to learn and “walk in [the Lord’s] paths” by making covenants. Isaiah prophesied of the “marvelous work and wonder” which would take place in the last days (Isaiah 29:14) and latter-day temples are a significant part of that restoration!
Isaiah 65:11 Forgetting
But ye are they that forsake the Lord, that forget my holy mountain
This is a simple warning from Isaiah for us not to forget the temple. So many of us live very near to a temple, yet do not take the advantage to go as often as is possible. This is one of the most ironic tragedies in the church. Choose not to be part of it.
Isaiah 56:4-7 Take Hold of the Covenant
4 For thus saith the Lord unto [those] that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;
5 Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off… 7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer:
This particular passage of Isaiah had never stood out to me until I was looking carefully for temple-related messages. Here is what these verses mean to me:
Like those clinging and holding fast to the rod in Lehi’s dream, we have to actively hold on to Christ. We do this by entering into sacred covenants with Him and keeping them. The beauty of covenants is that it is a relationship, a powerful two-way grasp with a Savior who is more powerful or capable than we will ever be. He will never let go of this covenant grasp, just as a woman will never “forget her sucking child” (Isaiah 49:15).
When we go to the Lord’s house and make these covenants, verses 5 and 7 are fulfilled. We have a place with Him, no longer a stranger in His house, but like a child coming home after a day of school. He also gives us a name associated with who we are as covenant-makers. We also more fully become part of Israel, which perhaps is an interpretation of the “everlasting name” that Isaiah is speaking of here.
Isaiah 40:9 Get Thee to the Mountain
O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain;
One of my favorite things that Russell M. Nelson has said recently is, “If you don’t yet love to attend the temple, go more often—not less.” (General Conference October 2021, The Temple and Your Spiritual Foundation). He is pleading just like Isaiah that you “get thee to the mountain.”
Just go to the temple! There is nothing that can replace being there! Nothing can teach you more about your covenants and your covenant partner than repeated exposure and attendance in the House of the Lord. Just go!