The Mountain of the Lord, 1-22

Isa 2:1 This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:

THE MOUNTAIN OF THE LORD, Isa 2:1-5

This exquisite poem (which is also found in Mic 4:1-4) presents us with a picture of the ideal Jerusalem, the centre of pilgrimage, of revelation, and of peace. Such a focus on Jerusalem is also found in the Psalms 87; 110).

Isaiah’s prophecy gives a vision of hope, predicting:-

Isa 2:2 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.

It will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it – Ortland says: ‘I love the anti-gravitational anomaly of this human river flowing uphill to worship God.’

A place of exaltation and pilgrimage

When? Isaiah speaks of the ‘the last days’. These are the days of the Messiah and of his grace, the days towards which all prophecy pointed. And he sees a time when the1 mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains.’ The temple in Jerusalem was built on Mount Moriah, and was highly visible to all the people. But now Isaiah looks forward to a time when the nations will be attracted, not by architecture and prominence, but because God is present there. In those far-off days, the temple will be transfigured and glorified. It will be lifted up for all to see; it will become an object of universal attention; it will become a place of universal pilgrimage. ‘For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’ Lk 2:30-32.

Traditionally, mountains were seen as the dwelling places of the gods. Here, the Lord occupies highest place, is seen to occupy it, and becomes the focus of pilgrimage for all nations. Normally, of course, streams flow down from mountains. But, such is the magnetic pull and supernatural power of the Lord, that ‘all nations stream to it.’

Many people flock to the mountain of the Lord’s temple. Coming out of every nation, they acknowledge ‘the God of Jacob’ to be the one true God. What does this mean? – Spiritual worship. Cf. Ps 24 Jn 4:21. This is revival: not just an evangelistic campaign; not just old-time religion; but people thronging to meet with God; people concerned about their souls; people coming together in worship and praise. There is an electric sense of urgency and expectancy.

John Howe: ‘We are told in Isa 2:2 etc. what shall come to pass in the last days…Such a time as that the world hath not yet known, so as that it should be said generally concerning it, that this great effusion of the Spirit, and such a cessation from hostilities and wars, should be concomitant and conjunct with one another: we have not had hitherto opportunity to observe a coincidency of these two things.’ (Quoted by Murray, The Puritan Hope, p246)

Isa 2:3 Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Some understand this verse as meaning that ‘the restored Jewish state with Jerusalem as its capital, will be the seat of government of the Messiah at His return.’ (Christian Friends of Israel leaflet ‘Why Should Christians Be Friends Of Israel?’).  But the NT looks forward to the new, heavenly, Jerusalem, not to the earthly capital of Israel.  See Gal 4:26f, where Paul quotes Isa 54:1, which refers to the earthly Jerusalem, now interpreted as the new Jerusalem.   Also note that Jerusalem is mentioned in Isaiah’s description of the new heaven and new earth, Isa 65:17–19; 66:22.  See also Jn 4:24; Rev 21:9-22:5.

A place of learning and obedience

The reason why all these people are coming together is to learn from God. They encourage each other. They do not desire merely formal worship; they are earnest seekers after truth. They want to be instructed in his ways, and in his will. But it is not just to hear God’s word: they want to ‘walk in his paths’, v3. The importance of hearing and obeying; of Christian doctrine and Christian living: Jas 1; Eze 36:26-27.

‘While many think of evangelism as a New Testament phenomena, profound concern for all people is also obvious in the Old Testament.’ (1 Kings 8:41-45 Ps 22:27-28 Isa 2:2-4) (Holman)

Out of Zion…from Jerusalem – As Ortland remarks, the word ‘only’ is implied.  ‘But today we are told that the exclusive claim of the gospel is intolerant. We are told that we should admit all religions as valid ways to God, so that people can be true to themselves. But those in this prophetic vision remain multicultural as “all the nations” and “many peoples.” What changes is that, in all their beautiful diversity, they find their greatest delight in a new devotion. And if the whole world freely chooses to rally around Jesus Christ by the irresistible force of his dying love, who would deny them that choice? That would be oppression.’

Isa 2:4 he will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

A place of peace and justice

The kingdom of God is wherever God’s rule is known and acknowledged. Righteousness and peace reign in his kingdom.

What a vision this is! Everybody believes in justice and peace, yet we seem powerless to achieve them. Can Isaiah’s vision possibly be true? Is it not just a forlorn hope; a hope against hope; mere wishful thinking? Yet, whenever the Christian gospel has gone forth with power, whenever Gods word has been established in its rightful place of authority, there has been a great measure social stability in the land.

We rejoice in all sincere efforts to reduce armaments, to reconcile national differences. Yet history teaches us again and again that such efforts can never been fully successful. For Isaiah the abolition of armaments results from a divine re-ordering of things which dissolves national boundaries and rivalries. Only when people know and obey God’s laws will their weapons finally be turned into farming tools. The ploughshare resembled a short sword, being a metal point mounted on a wooden shaft.

And, despite all appearances to the contrary, we are already seeing seeds of this prophecy shoot and bring forth fruit. The ‘last days’ are the gospel days. Heb 1:1-2. You have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, Heb 12:22: Lk 2:14??? “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.”

Rev 21 looks forward to the final consummation.

To conclude: God has not yet washed his hands of us. He intends to show his love and mercy in ways we have hardly dreamed of. We have a part to play in the fulfilment of this prophecy. We are taught to pray, thy kingdom come.

Isa 2:5 Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Isa 2:6 You have abandoned your people, the house of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans.

Isa 2:7 Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures. Their land is full of horses; there is no end to their chariots.

Isa 2:8 Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made.

Isa 2:9 So man will be brought low and mankind humbled— do not forgive them.

Isa 2:10 Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty!

Isa 2:11 The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.

Isa 2:12 The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled),

Isa 2:13 for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty, and all the oaks of Bashan,

Isa 2:14 for all the towering mountains and all the high hills,

Isa 2:15 for every lofty tower and every fortified wall,

Isa 2:16 for every trading ship and every stately vessel.

Isa 2:17 The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day,

Isa 2:18 and the idols will totally disappear.

Isa 2:19 Men will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth.

Isa 2:20 In that day men will throw away to the rodents and bats their idols of silver and idols of gold, which they made to worship.

Isa 2:21 They will flee to caverns in the rocks and to the overhanging crags from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth.

Isa 2:22 Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?

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