Summary: Isaiah 2:1-5 is the Old Testament for the First Sunday in Advent, Year A in the Revised Common Lectionary. This was the occassion for the preaching of this message in December 2007, and the theme is that the Second Coming of Jesus is our ultimate hope.
King Jesus, Our Coming Hope
Traditionally the first Advent candle and the theme for this Sunday is “Hope.” When we hope for something we have confidence that it will happen. Hope is the expectation that our dreams will become reality. The greatest English poet of the eighteenth century Alexander Pope penned these immortal words in his An Essay on Man:
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never IS, but always TO be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
[SOURCE: Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, Epistle I, 1733]
It seems we never achieve but always desire, we always hope for “peace on earth among those whom God favors.” The prophecy of Isaiah in our text assures us that our hope will become reality when Jesus, our King, returns and reigns as the Promised Messiah of Israel over all His creation.
Hope is confidence that something we desire will happen. Hope looks to the future. In Scripture hope looks to the future with “confident expectation” and “solid assurance.” In the Bible our chief, supreme hope as Christians is the return of Jesus Christ in His Second Coming. Paul reminds us in Titus 2:13 that “we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.”
Often the Old Testament prophecies of the Coming of Christ overlap their presentation of events that took place in His First Coming with those that will happen at His Return. During Advent most of our Scripture readings look forward to His Coming Again. Advent is thus a time of joyous, confident expectation that the King of Kings is going to return and reign in victory over all His creation.
Our passage in Isaiah looks forward to that Day of the Return of Jesus. It give us assurance that He will indeed right all wrongs and usher in the time we have all expectantly awaited, that time of “peace on earth among those whom God favors.”
Isaiah’s ministry took place some 700 years before the birth of Jesus, yet his prophecy today is as contemporary as the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Summit at Annapolis this week, for as Disciples of Jesus Christ we all know beyond any doubt that the time is coming when there will be lasting peace on earth to which Isaiah testified some 2700 years ago. As we celebrate Advent and Christmas in 2007, this is our “blessed hope.”
Isaiah begins his testimony of a glorious, peaceful future by telling us in verse two that “all the nations of the world shall stream to the LORD’S HOUSE.” All the nations of our world belong to our God and King. Today many of them may blindly follow Allah, Buddha, the many gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon, or acknowledge no divine authority at all, but God Himself declares in Exodus 19:5, “Indeed, the whole earth is mine.”
Jesus Christ is the Only Saviour of all the nations, as He asserts in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” The whole earth is God’s, and Jesus is the Only Way to peace with God. When He returns, “all the nations of the world shall stream to the LORD’S HOUSE in Jerusalem.” The Day is coming, as Paul assures us in Philippians 2:10-11 when, “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” People of all nations will be motivated to surrender to Jesus and follow Him as Isaiah shows us in verse three of our text:
“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.”
That Day is coming when people around the world will hunger to walk in the paths of Jesus, and they will bow before Him confessing “that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
Our blessed hope is that Jesus is coming to “judge between the nations.” When He returns, Jesus will bring justice for all wrongs that have ever been committed even though originally many seemingly went unpunished. Multiple passages of Scripture affirm this fact. Isaiah 11:3-4 is one of the great Messianic promises which presents Jesus as the Judge who brings justice to all the earth: “He will never judge by appearance, false evidence, or hearsay. He will defend the poor and the exploited. He will rule against the wicked and destroy them with the breath of his mouth. He will be clothed with fairness and truth.”