2 Nephi 11:2
“And now I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah….” It’s about here that many readers of the Book of Mormon groan. Isaiah is notoriously difficult to understand. Nephi, however, found so much of worth in Isaiah’s writings that he quoted entire chapters. But I think even more so, Nephi felt a special affinity for the prophet Isaiah. “[F]or my soul delighteth in his words. For I will liken his words unto my people, and I will send them forth unto all my children, for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him.”
It strikes me that Nephi didn’t have a lot of religious peers. He had his father Lehi and brother Jacob, both prominent prophets in the Book of Mormon, but Sam seems to have been more of a follower though he was close to Nephi. And then Nephi had to constantly fend off and protect himself against his two older brothers. It probably felt quite lonely as the God-appointed leader, not just socially but also on an interpersonal level and spiritually as well. The Gospel and his prophetic experiences were so important to Nephi but there seem to have been few people with whom he could share and bask in these experiences.
Nephi not only shared a cultural background with Isaiah but they also shared their socio-political history and geography (prior to Nephi’s travels to the Americas). More than just understanding and enjoying Isaiah’s writings, however, Nephi recognized a kindred spirit in Isaiah. They had something in common that bound Nephi to his predecessor.
Seeing the pre-mortal Savior was likely the single most important moment in Nephi’s life as a prophet. He received an incredible first hand witness of Jesus Christ which is so simply and directly stated in this verse. What I found compelling is how Nephi ties himself to Isaiah with this experience. Both prophets saw Christ prior to His birth and mortal ministry on Earth. Both prophets were called to teach about and prophesy of Christ. Though things were lonely for Nephi as a religious leader, He seems to have found respite, solace, and kinship in the writings of Isaiah.