People who are spoken of in the scriptures as being “highly favored of the Lord” indeed saw and heard extraordinary things and were exceedingly blessed of God. One of these is Nephi: “Having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days” (1 Nephi 1:1). However, it is the backstory of Nephi’s being “highly favored of the Lord” that tells us how he became so privileged: “Having seen many afflictions in the course of my days” (ibid.).
From this, we may assume that those called “highly favored of the Lord” became so over time as they waded through opposition, persecution, temptations, and afflictions of every kind as Nephi did in order to arrive at a spiritual level on which God could use them as his servants. This itself tells us that these privileged persons kept a higher law of God than those not so favored. God had respect to Nephi because he chose to obey God to the last when put to the test. Within Isaiah’s paradigm, his descent phase through trials led to an ascent phase of divine empowerment.
Another person “highly favored of the Lord” is the brother of Jared: “The brother of Jared being a large and mighty man, and a man highly favored of the Lord, Jared, his brother, said unto him: Cry unto the Lord, that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord, and the Lord had compassion upon Jared; therefore he did not confound the language of Jared; and Jared and his brother were not confounded” (Ether 1:34–35). Each time the brother of Jared appealed to the Lord, he heard him.
From the brother of Jared, we learn another important element of what makes a person “highly favored of the Lord: “And it came to pass at the end of four years that the Lord came again unto the brother of Jared, and stood in a cloud and talked with him. And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord. And the brother of Jared repented of the evil which he had done, and did call upon the name of the Lord for his brethren who were with him” (Ether 2:14–15).
In others words, the brother of Jared served as an intercessor for his brethren. We further learn concerning him that “there never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared.” He not only “saw Jesus” but also “all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be” (Ether 3:20, 25). And the Lord granted the same privilege to Nephi, whom the angel showed the end from the beginning (1 Nephi 11–14), and to Enoch, who saw “all things” and “all the inhabitants of the earth” (Moses 7:21, 67).
Each serves as a model for God’s end-time servants: “They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord. And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are (Ether 4:6–7).
Of note to Latter-day Saints—who are “identified with the Gentiles” (Doctrine & Covenants 109:60)—is that Isaiah identifies these end-time Gentiles as the spiritual kings and queens of the Gentiles who restore the house of Israel: “I will lift up my hand to the nations, raise my ensign to the peoples; and they will bring your sons in their bosoms and carry your daughters on their shoulders. Kings shall be your foster fathers, queens your nursing mothers” (Isaiah 49:22–23). Are we ready to repent, exercise faith in Jesus, and become sanctified like the brother of Jared?