Advent Devotional Day 11: Isaiah 2.2-5
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “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 the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord. (Isaiah 2.2-5)
The Mountain of the Lord
Throughout Scripture, the theme of the “mountain of the Lord” is plentiful. This is the place in which God dwelt with His people, the temple of His presence, and the throne that He rules from. The garden of Eden was a prototypical “mountain of the Lord,” exuding temple imagery such as precious stones, and featuring rivers flowing out of the garden and down its slopes. God dwelt here in perfect harmony and union with Adam and Eve, He ruled them as they ruled over creation by His authority. They enjoyed His perfect presence. Obviously the story after this point includes the fall, and the promise of redemption through the coming Seed.
Israel also featured a “mountain of the house of the Lord” in the temple mount. This was a sort of restoration of God’s presence among His chosen people post-fall. This presence among His people in the temple, ruling from that mountain, was just a guidepost along the way to His ultimate presence. His presence in Israel on the temple-mount in Jerusalem is one key feature of this passage, it is the context that this passage inhabits. The reason that Yahweh’s presence on the temple-mount was just a guidepost though is because this presence could be lost through idolatry and rebellion. In Ezekiel 10 we see the dramatic picture of the Glory of the Lord’s presence leaving the temple because of the idolatry that had corrupted the land of promise. Ultimately this story ends in exile. The mountain of the Lord is left desolate, without His glorious presence, and the people of the land are carried off to live amongst foreigners as slaves. Isaiah prophecies in the context of this coming judgement. Isaiah 1, just a chapter before the promise found above, is a prophetic oracle filled with indictments against the nations of Israel and Judah. The “faithful city has become a whore.” (Isaiah 1.21) This imagery is grotesque, but necessary. The Lord’s wife has turned to other lovers, and because of that the mountain of the Lord will be besieged by the heathen under His judgement.
Amid these overtones of disaster and apocalypse, a shining beacon of a promise comes in our text above. Even though the mountain of the Lord’s house that is Jerusalem would be torn down brick by brick by Babylon, (as we see later in Isaiah) one day the Lord’s house would be raised up as the “highest of the mountains.” (v. 2) It would be “lifted up above the hills,” and “all the nations shall flow to it.” This is a picture of a restored mountain of the Lord, and not only that, but a New Eden that has Jerusalem at the center and expands and consumes the whole earth. The nations flow up this mountain as if they were rivers flowing upstream to worship Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They go there to listen to His Law so that they may obey His commands. (v. 3) This hearing of the Law of the Lord so consumes the nations that they “no longer lift up sword” against one another. (v.4) He shall be the One who reigns over them and executes judgement between them. (v. 4) Because of the reality of this coming, restored, and redemptive kingdom, the nation of Israel is encouraged to “walk in the light of the Lord.” (v. 5) You may be asking yourself: what does all this mean? How does this relate to the advent of Jesus Christ?
If you have been reading the previous installments of this advent devotional series, you may be picking up on the theme here already. We have looked at theme of the ruler who will come from Judah, a Davidic King, and a new and better Solomon who reigns more comprehensively, more dominantly, and eternally. He does so as the Seed of the woman who crushes the Serpent’s head. He is the mighty Warrior who comes to slay the Dragon. (Rev. 20) He is the King from the line of Judah, David’s son and David’s Lord. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. (Rev. 19.16) This Davidic King is the means by which God rules over His kingdom. As this oracle in Isaiah makes clear, His kingdom that is coming as a fulfillment of what the Old Kingdom pointed to, is the entire earth. His authority extends “to the ends of the earth.” (Psalm 72) This is a New Eden, and better Kingdom with a better King, and as this prophecy stands in line with everything that we have seen before about the coming King, we know that this King who came in fulfillment of what is written is the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Kingdom in Isaiah’s day was corroding and disintegrating because of the nation’s idolatry, especially the idolatry of the Kings of Judah and Israel. Time and time again in the books of the kings we are told that kings rebuilt the high places of idol worship, or failed to have them destroyed. In fact, only a couple kings are said to have been unqualifiedly good. All of this idolatry and the failure of those in David’s line only served to produce a longing for the Good King. Where is the king who will abolish idolatry amongst God’s people? Where is the king who will love righteousness perfectly and hate wickedness? Where is the kingdom who will finally establish God’s reign over the earth? This King has come in the incarnation, He has been revealed. He establishes God’s reign over the earth as the King from David’s line who is also God in the flesh. His reign has been inaugurated with His ascension to God’s right hand and will be completed as He returns to judge His enemies. He has been enthroned in His ascension and that public enthronement as King will be made manifest to every single man when He is revealed from heaven. He is the One who will draw the nations up to this restored mountain of God as the whole earth is transformed in resurrection glory. He will fully establish God’s immutable presence among His people on the earth.
I pray that the Lord will never let us lose sight of the power and authority of the One who came, born of a virgin. Millennia of prophetic utterances gave birth to the question: “where is he who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2.2) The King of the Jews has come, and He has all authority in heaven and on earth. (Matt. 28.18) There is a beginning of His great Kingdom as men from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation hear His Gospel and come to Him in faith and worship. Let’s bow before Him.