Isaiah 2 opens with a glorious vision of the far future, when the Lord will reign on Mount Zion, and all the people of earth will stream to God. The Lord will reign in righteousness, with judgments so profound and peaceable, that a global disarmament movement will commence.
Though this future is yet to be realized in a concrete, literal fulfillment, believers enjoy something of that glorious vision today. It is why Christians will speak of that time as “now . . . and not yet.”
Now . . . And Not Yet
The apostle Paul wrote regularly on this theme of living into the future God has in store.
God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which [God] loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come [God] might show the immeasurable riches of [God’s] grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.Apostle Paul, Ephesians 2:4-7 (NRSV, brackets mine)
This is the perspective every believer is given, one in which we see ourselves as already now seated in the heavenly realms with Jesus, within Jesus, who is upon the throne of glory. This present experience of triumph over sin, corruption, and death is but a foretaste of the immeasurable riches of God’s grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus which will be fully revealed—as Isaiah himself witnessed and testified to—in the ages to come.
Let Us Walk in the Light
With this glorious future in view, the seer Isaiah said to God’s people
O house of Jacob,Isaiah 2:5 (NRSV)
come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord!
And that is a good word for you and me, too.
If you and I were to sit together and do a study on the word “light” throughout the Bible, we would be swept away by how woven into the scriptures this imagery is.
In the Holy Place of the tabernacle, and later the temple, a sixfold golden lamp was kept alight day and night.
Standing to the left of the priest as he entered the room, this lampstand was shaped like a candelabra and crafted from seventy-five pounds of solid gold. It provided the only source of light in the room. It was made to look as if it were a living tree, with buds, blossoms, and almonds, the three stages of life, reminiscent of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. It was also reminiscent of the burning bush.
The lampstand symbolized the light of God, God’s Shekinah, the effulgence of God’s splendor, the radiance that blazed at night as a pillar of fire, and that would have blinded Moses had God not shielded his eyes. It was this light that protected the Hebrew people from Pharaoh’s army, and that guided them through the Red Sea, through the wilderness, and into the Promised Land. Later, the Psalmist likened God’s light to the illumination of wisdom, and of God’s word in the scriptures.
All of these images would have come to mind for Isaiah’s original audience.
Jesus, Light of the World
Christians have come to understand God’s light as Jesus Himself. In fact, the writer of Hebrews described Jesus as the brilliance of God’s glory. Jesus said of Himself, “I am the Light of the World.” As the lampstand illuminated the Holy Place, so Jesus’ Spirit illuminates our lives now as the dwelling place of God,
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NRSV)
Light in the Darkness
Isaiah’s vision is astounding, but can we believe it, especially as Isaiah delivered it?
Is God really powerful enough, is God able to raise the relatively unassuming temple mount to such spiritual—and possibly physical—heights?
Spiritually, God brought about the conversion of thousands on the first day of Pentecost, and millions daily, today. Physically, every mountain range on earth was created by God, and new mountains are forming even now, out by Hawaii.
Can the Lord draw rivers of people to God?
It is happening right now!
According to one news source, In 2001 there were only seventeen converted Christians in Afghanistan. But by 2007 there were more than ten thousand believers. In 1990, there were only three known Christians in Kazakhstan and no Christians in Uzbekistan, but now there are more than fifteen thousand in Kazakhstan and thirty thousand in Uzbekistan. More than ten thousand converts accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior throughout India in 2006 alone. There were only five hundred Christians in Iran on 1979, but more than one million Iranians have put their faith Jesus Christ today, most of whom meet in underground house churches
Almost sixty thousand people were caught in 2010, trying to illegally enter Greece, most of them refugees from war-ravaged nations. My husband’s and my friend, a Greek pastor in Athens, was ready to receive them with food, clothing, shelter and the gospel. There is now a thriving church in Athens made up solely of converts from these refugees. Many others continue on into Europe and beyond, bringing the gospel with them.
One of the most dramatic ways God is drawing people to the light in those nations where it is illegal to speak of salvation through Christ is through seeing dreams and visions of Jesus. Now Christians and underground churches are seeing more and more such people who have already put their faith in Jesus through having heard the gospel in a dream, and now need a Bible and guidance on how to follow Jesus.
Two years ago, our Greek pastor friend relayed to us a story from one of his coworkers. They had met two young women from a village in Afghanistan who had recently emigrated with their husbands. Both women were pregnant, and one had another two children with her. Smugglers helped them through Iran and into Turkey, where one was baptized into the faith. Though they remained together as traveling companions, their relationship became strained as they continued their journey. Finally, the young families made it to Greece on a raft, and came to Helping Hands and the Agape Afghan Church in Athens.
This is when the other young woman had a dream in which Jesus opened a door and beckoned her to follow. It took a number of weeks for her to understood Jesus was more than a prophet, that he was also Messiah and Son of God. But it was the dream God sent to her that began the opening of her eyes and heart to faith.
Another friend tells me of an Afghani man who broadcasts from a Christian television network in the U.S. to the Middle East. Every week he and his volunteer staff are flooded with more phone calls than they can answer from those who want to know Jesus. One of his stories in recent weeks is about a woman who dreamed one night about Jesus. In her dream Jesus told her He was the truth. The next morning she told her husband and sons, and they immediately believed, by God’s divine power, all the more remarkably because their faith came through a woman’s testimony.
In him was life, and the life was the light of humanity.
The light is shining in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it, did not apprehend it, did not overtake it.John 1:4-5