In February (2015) the Charlotte Observer, in its Voices of Faith section, asked its religious columnists to answer the question, “Why is Isaiah your favorite prophet?” The newspaper published two responses — one from a Unity Temple reverend, and one from a Mormon Seventy.
The Unity clergyman gave two reasons for choosing Isaiah as his favorite prophet: 1) Because two people he loves have the name Isaiah; and 2) Because the prophet Isaiah understood and taught the law of cause and effect.
When the Mormon Seventy answered, he didn’t actually say that Isaiah is his favorite prophet (and I’m fairly certain that he is not), but Elder Deshler seems to hold Isaiah in high esteem. His answer to the question began with a statement straight out of the Mormon proselytizing handbook: “Throughout time, God has called prophets to act as his messenger and make known his will to the people. Additionally, prophets are called to preach righteousness and to testify of Jesus Christ.” Mr. Deshler noted that Isaiah’s teachings include now-fulfilled prophecies about the birth, mission, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as “powerful truths that are relevant to guide our day-to-day actions toward others and the deity.” These are things like avoiding worldliness, fasting for the poor, and keeping the Sabbath day holy.
“Of equal importance,” Mr. Deshler wrote, “Isaiah prophesied about the apostasy that would occur following the death of Jesus and his apostles; however, he also prophesied that his gospel would be restored in these, the latter days (Isaiah 32:9-29 [chapter 32 of Isaiah has only 20 verses]). I witness that the restoration prophesied by Isaiah is, indeed, taking place currently and that God’s prophet on the earth today is President Thomas S. Monson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
When I read Isaiah,
I see the glory of God: “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1)
I see the holiness of God: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3)
I see the judgment of God: “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come.” (Isaiah 63:3-4)
I see the mercy of God: “And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16)
I see the faithfulness of God: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” (Isaiah 49:15-16)
I see the condescension of God: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
I see the provision of God: “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
I see the patience of God: “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 30:18)
I see the jealousy of God: “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 48:10-11)
I see the exclusivity and uniqueness of God: “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god…Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.’” (Isaiah 44:6-8)
When I read Isaiah, I see the sweeping story of God’s judgment on, and deliverance of, His people Israel. What I don’t see when I read Isaiah is Mormonism, the Mormon Church, or the Mormon prophet Thomas S. Monson.
Elder Deshler reads Isaiah and finds superficial support for Mormonism and Joseph Smith’s Restoration.
God’s people read Isaiah and see God.