Summary: We are to worship only the God of Israel and do so only in the manner revealed in scripture. We are not to amass wealth for our please and security, but to find our treasures in the Lord.
Isaiah 2:6-11 A Full Land
8/13/00e D. Marion Clark
In our previous passage we were given a vision of what the final Mt. Zion will be like. Some day, the people of all nations will stream to the mountain of the Lord, i.e. to Jerusalem. There they will walk in his ways, learn from him, and be judged by him. It is a grand vision of the last days when God’s people will come out of all nations.
Verse 5 forms a transition into our passage. Isaiah, seeing the example that the peoples of other nations will set, exhorts Israel to set the example now: 5 Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD. The nation of Jacob should demonstrate before the world now what it is to walk in the light of the Lord.
The people are to fulfill the instruction of Moses:
5 See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” 7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8 And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today? Deuteronomy 4:5-8
But they have not done so as our passage makes clear.
Isaiah exhorts Israel to walk in the light of the Lord, evidently because that is precisely what is not happening. The first sentence in verse 6 expresses his dismay: 6 You have abandoned your people, the house of Jacob. Note the irony of expression. God abandons Israel leaving the nation empty of his presence; but we see that he left only because she had filled herself with so much empty things. What is she filled with?
Superstitions and divination: They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans. The Israelites have adopted the superstitious and occult practices of the surrounding nations. This is the problem that has plagued the nation throughout most of its existence and of which the people were warned by Moses.
9 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the LORD your God (Deuteronomy 18:9-13).
What a contrast to what should be happening. Verse 3 prophesied how the nations would learn from Israel:
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.”
Right now Israel is learning from the nations how to walk out of the Lord’s paths.
Israel is filled with wealth: 7 Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures. This seems odd. You would think Israel would be devastated. In chapter 1, Isaiah describes the country as desolate and plundered by the other nations because of her rebellion. Here it seems that she has become enriched through her rebellion.
We are undoubtedly seeing descriptions of Israel at different times. Remember that Isaiah prophesied over a time-span of 40 years. His book of prophesy is not written chronologically, but rather thematically. Nor does he bother to contextualize his writings. This leaves us most of the time unable to pinpoint what situation he is referring to.
Now, as I said, we would have expected to hear that Israel is impoverished, rather than full of silver and gold. What Isaiah is pointing out is that this is another example of Israel violating what Moses had warned against. Let’s turn to him again. This text is in reference to having a king.
14 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,” 15 be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite… 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.