The Lord directed Joseph Smith to have Martin Harris visit a learned man. Oliver Cowdery reported that during Moroni’s initial visit to Joseph Smith on September 21–22, 1823, Moroni quoted the prophecy of Isaiah cited here in 2 Nephi 27 and said that Joseph was to fulfill it: “‘Yet,’ said he, ‘the scripture must be fulfilled before it is translated, which says that the words of a book, which were sealed, were presented to the learned; for thus has God determined to leave men without excuse, and show to the meek that his arm is not shortened that it cannot save’” (“Letter IV. To W. W. Phelps,” Messenger and Advocate, Feb. 1835, 80). This prophecy was fulfilled in 1828 when Martin Harris visited the “learned” man, Charles Anthon (see Joseph Smith—History 1:63–65).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles expanded on the singular event with Professor Anthon to include the general reaction of the learned of this world to the Book of Mormon: “This is not solely a reference to Professor Anthon, since the plural pronoun they is used [2 Nephi 27:20]. The reference suggests a mind-set of most of the learned of the world, who, by and large, do not take the Book of Mormon seriously. Even when they read it, they do not really read it, except with a mind-set which excludes miracles, including the miracle of the book’s coming forth by the ‘gift and power of God’” (“The Book of Mormon: A Great Answer to ‘the Great Question,’” in Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr., eds., The Book of Mormon: First Nephi, The Doctrinal Foundation , 9).