Summary: This sermon explores the vision of Mount Zion as it contrasted the Mount Sinai experience. Isaiah saw our experience with the presence of the LORD.
ISAIAH’S VISION OF MOUNT ZION
There is nothing in all creation that is as majestic and mighty as a mountain. Sharon and I had the privilege of seeing Greece in all its mountainous glory. We had no idea that this nation was so full of mountains. Often we would see the clouds scraping the peaks of the mountains as if heaven and earth had come together.
As the tour bus turned yet another winding corner we thought there was nothing more to see. Just then a mountain range like the one near Kalambaka would appear and we would nearly gasp. To look at the mountains from the lower vantage point was to behold a daunting trek to the top. But at the top you were filled with great satisfaction at having made it to the apex of this God-made pinnacle. There is nothing like looking down on creation from the roof of the world and seeing a wondrous valley.
As beautiful as this vision was to us, Isaiah’s vision of Mount Zion blows it away one million fold. The prophet was not sight-seeing in old Anatolia; he was not vacationing in the mountains of Macedonia. The LORD took Isaiah away into a future place through the Holy Spirit and showed him something awesome. God showed him the glory of Mount Zion.
1. Isaiah saw a mountain rise
What did Isaiah see? “This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In the last days…” (2:1-2a). When we read this passage a number of questions will surface. Before we continue on we must ask, what are the last days?
There are two or three ways of looking at this phrase. Isaiah could be talking about the last days of Jerusalem. As they were surrounded by enemies and soon to be conquered these would certainly be the last days. When prophets speak of the last day, the final day, that is the judgment day when the earth and time will cease and God will judge all things. But here Isaiah speaks of the last days. What is this?
This refers to an era, to a time the Bible teaches is the era following Christ’s resurrection. It is the Church age, the last era. The book of Acts is the beginning of the Church age and we find the apostles waiting in a room in Jerusalem for God to do something. We know that the Holy Spirit came and filled them and they spoke in tongues. Peter then preached a sermon quoting the prophet Joel who said, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people…” (Acts 2:17). In the last days the Holy Spirit will come.
Then in Hebrews chapter one we read this: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” (Heb 1:1-2). These are the last days according to what our Bible tells us. We may assume very confidently that Isaiah is speaking to our time.
What is supposed to happen in our time, in this Christian era? “In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills…” (2:2). This is a very odd image. And some of us, no doubt, will see this as some apocalyptic event where perhaps the temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem. But we must put our minds into the mind of the Jew who heard this in his time. What did he think?
He must have thought something very huge was going to happen. A great change was going to take place. For you see, in his day the chief mountain was not Mount Moriah, or as we know it, Mount Zion, it was Sinai. It was from Sinai that the law was received; it was Sinai that Moses went up and met with God and was enveloped in thunder and smoke.
Here is something else very odd. Mount Zion is not much of a mountain. It is a hill among some other taller hills that could be called mountains. Something very important is going to happen here if the chief mountain is going to be Zion and not Sinai.
Mountains played an important role in the religions of those times. It was on the mountain that heaven and earth came together in the primitive mind. It was thought that the gods could be reached on mountain tops. That’s why they built altars and temples on mountain tops.
The Parthenon in Athens was built on a mountain top as an offering to the gods. I read up about this after our trip. When the Greeks defeated the Persians they built this magnificent structure to honor the gods for the victory they gave.