Summary: A sermon for the first Sunday in Advent.
“God Will Teach Us”
In our Old Testament passage for this morning, we are told about “the mountain of the Lord” where God will teach us God’s ways so that we will be able to walk in God’s paths.
God will judge and settle the disputes for the nations.
There will be no more need for weapons; the swords will be beaten into plows, and the children’s stomachs—gnarled from hunger—will be filled.
There will be no more need for spears; they will be beaten into pruning hooks as men and women, once again, work in the fields… …bringing in the bountiful harvest that God will provide for them.
This is the promise of this Scripture passage—
--never again will a sword from one nation be lifted against another.
Never again will the peoples of the earth have to train for war.
It kind of sounds like a return to the Garden of Eden…
…a return to the time before the Fall of humankind.
It kind of sounds a bit like the description of the new Jerusalem in Revelation Chapter 21 and 22 where we are told: “No longer will there be any curse,” and “the dwelling of God is with men, he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Maybe some of us think this promise is too good to be true, but even the most remote possibility that it could be true makes the journey to the mountain worthwhile.
“Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.”
How in the world could anyone refuse this?
And yet, the people of Isaiah’s day did just that.
The remainder of Isaiah Chapter 2 gives testimony to the choices the people of Judah and Jerusalem made.
Their choice was not to travel to the mountain, not to know the ways of God, not to be instructed in the ways of peace.
Yes, this promise from Isaiah is so wonderful, one wonders how we could refuse it.
And yet we do.
The world as we know it gives us testimony to the choices that we humans continue to make.
We decide not to travel to the mountain, even though the place of God promises us peace.
Maybe peace is not what we want.
Perhaps, in some sick, twisted, perverted way—we actually like war.
Perhaps, in some sick, twisted, and perverted way—we actually enjoy chaos.
In the Creation, God fashioned the world from chaos to order and beauty.
And did we mess it up?
You better believe it!
It is frightening, the violence we do to one another.
Many of us, walk around like a bunch of children who are afraid of our own shadows…so in order to find some security…in our insecurity we steal some fragile security at the expense of others.
Frightened bigots slander the person or group they fear.
It seems to make us feel better and more secure to have an identifiable enemy.
And oftentimes we find ourselves the victims of someone else’s efforts to shore up their sense of security and worth—cutting us down in the process.
Corruption also spills over into the systems and groups in which we live.
Pain and suffering are inserted into our families, nations, classes, and religions.
The high management of Enron Corporation concealed the plight of their company at the expense of their employees.
They secured great wealth for themselves by divesting their shares of Enron stock before they became worthless.
Apparently, they cared very little for those who lost their life savings and pensions.
Choices—we do make some awful choices.
As we see in Isaiah chapter 2, the choice of Isaiah’s listeners was not to travel to the mountain, not to know the ways of God, not to be instructed in the ways of peace.
What choices will we make?
Isaiah speaks of the last days.
And we are living in them, of course, we have been living in them for approximately 2,000 years because the last days were ushered in with the birth of the Lord Jesus…
…as Paul declares in our Epistle Lesson that Sara read earlier: “The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
How do we put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light?
We certainly can’t do it on our own.
History and our own lives are testaments to this fact.
The only way we can know peace is to do things according to God’s terms, not our own.