What are you looking forward to right now?
Maybe a baby is coming, that’s a happy anticipation! Or a wedding, or some special honor, a happy milestone in your life, or a big trip. But maybe there is something you are dreading, such as an upcoming confrontation, a difficult phone call, bad news you do not want to deliver, a doctor’s visit you fear will deliver troubling results, getting something in the mail you know is coming such as overdue bills, or a court summons, or a rejection notice.
What do you do when you are looking forward to something?
If it is a happy anticipation, maybe you tell all your friends, you make preparations, you clean your home, you get out your best clothes. But what if you are dreading something? Do you worry? Do nothing, try to avoid it, ignore it, put it off? Or maybe you rush into it, hoping get it over with as fast as possible?
Anticipation of the future, whether you and I are looking forward to something wonderful, or something dreadful, really does have a significant impact on our lives, and that is what we are going to see in this passage.
The Word of God
Isaiah was a seer, he saw what God revealed to him. So, he began this passage by explaining that it was both a vision and a word from God. The literal Hebrew translation is that he saw a word from God. God had opened Isaiah’s eyes to see the future of Judah and Jerusalem, both the beautiful and glorious, and the dreadful and terrifying.
The writers of the Christian Testament regularly quoted passages from Isaiah’s prophecies because they recognized Isaiah had seen beyond his own era to the last days. They realized Isaiah had seen glimpses of a far distant time—to him—that began with the birth of Jesus and will culminate when Jesus returns to earth. During this Messianic age God will judge the nations and then there will be worldwide peace and joy.
During that time, according to Isaiah and other prophets both in the Hebrew scriptures and in the Christian Testament, Jerusalem will become the center of everything, the governing center of the world, the place where Jesus reigns as king. In fact, many scholars point to a text in the Book of Revelation that claims this reign will last a thousand years, what in Latin would be called a millennium.
Spiritual: A good number of scholars take this thousand-year reign of Christ as representative of the time when Jesus has come and we begin to experience some of the benefits of knowing Him as we await for His return.
Physical: Many other theologians view this thousand-year reign, this millennium reign, as a concrete future event that really will happen, where Christ will literally reign on earth for a thousand actual years.
I see no reason to have to make a choice. Prophecy is famously written in a layered form, with near-term partial fulfilment that can happen any number of times as both proof of and pointers to the future and final fulfillment.
The Mountain of God
As mountains go, the temple mount is not the tallest, let alone in comparison to other mountains of the world, such as the Himalayas, or the Alps.
But according to
The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to comeIsaiah 2:1-2 (NRSV)
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
That mountain will be raised up, at least in a spiritual sense, and tower over all the earth. It will become the chief mountain of the world. When that happens,
all the nations shall stream to it.Isaiah 22 (NRSV)
All nations will be eager to be in God’s house.
That is a stupendous vision!
Isaiah used the word גּוֹי | gôwy, go’-ee when he described all these people groups, a word often translated as Gentile, but with the sense of masses of people, a vision of all the world’s nations.
In Isaiah’s day the people of Judah were adopting the gods of the surrounding nations. But one day those nations would themselves abandon their gods and religions and turn to the one true and living God. The temple, the holy habitation of YHWH, built upon the summit of God’s holy hill, would become the center for the worldwide worship of Almighty God.
Even today you and I can experience something of that future glory when we study God’s word together and say with those Isaiah saw in his vision,
Many peoples shall come and say,Isaiah 2:3 (NRSV)
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
The Peace of God
In this vision, Isaiah saw the Word of the Lord settling disputes between all nations with perfectly satisfying justice and mercy.
He shall judge between the nations,Isaiah 2:5 (NRSV)
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
In fact, the Lord’s judgments will be so deeply satisfying that there will be no disagreement, no flare ups. This is not simply a moment of world peace.
This is total global disarmament!
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,Isaiah 2:4 (NRSV)
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
It is a famous saying because it is so stunning.
All weapons and even armies dismantled, for there will not even be the training in war anymore. Time and money and resources will be freed up instead for providing for the people.
When you and I look at the news today, that is not the world we see. But the day is coming, God declares through Isaiah, when the Lord will rule this world in righteousness, and people will desire to obey God, and their chief desire will be to be with God.
The Blessing of God
The exciting part of this news for you and me today is that we can have a foretaste of it right now. The apostle Paul talked about it in his letter to the Ephesians. Here are some glimpses,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has
1. blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
2. just as [God] chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world
3. to be holy and blameless before [God] in love.
4. [God] destined us for adoption as [God’s] children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of [God’s] will,
5. to the praise of [God’s] glorious grace that [the Lord] freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
6. In [Christ] we have redemption through [Jesus’] blood,
7. the forgiveness of our trespasses,
8. according to the riches of [God’s] grace that [God] lavished on us.
9. With all wisdom and insight [Christ] has made known to us the mystery of [God’s] will, according to [God’s] good pleasure that [the Lord] set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time,
10. to gather up all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth.Apostle Paul, Ephesians 1:3-10 (NRSV, brackets mine)
I counted ten (at least) incalculably beautiful blessings from God in that one small passage, with the final gift corroborating Isaiah’s vision.
Here is another.
The Spirit of God.
In [Christ] you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of [Christ’s/God’s] glory.Apostle Paul, Ephesians 1:13-14 (NRSV, brackets mine)
You and I experience all this now, but also not yet.
We do not have all that Isaiah described, but we can experience some of his amazing vision right now.