Summary: The concept of hope as set forth in Isaiah 2:1-5 shows us a glorious future.
Today is the First Sunday of Advent. This year’s Old Testament Scripture Readings for the Season of Advent are taken from Isaiah. So, I have decided to preach from these Scripture Readings. I am calling this series of messages, “Advent in Isaiah.”
God called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldeans and led him to the Promised Land. Abram, who became Abraham, would be the one through whom God would bring to the world the blessing of knowing him (Genesis 12:1-3). The great tragedy of Israel was their repeated faithlessness, which blunted their testimony to the Gentiles. But God’s purpose always succeeds, and in order that all people in the world (including Gentiles) might receive his blessing, God would send one of Abraham’s descendants, from the house of David, who would be Immanuel (God with us, Isaiah 7:14).
Though the prophet Isaiah denounced hypocrisy, greed, and idolatry as offenses against God, he also foresaw the Savior of sinners, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God-with-us (Isaiah 7:14), the child destined to rule forever (9:6-7), the hope of the Davidic throne (11:1), the anointed preacher of the gospel (61:1-3), and much more.
Isaiah pictured the mountain of the Lord, which was a reference to the presence of God, to give God’s people hope regarding the triumph of God’s purpose for his people, when nations will hurry to learn his way as the only way of salvation.
Let’s read about the mountain of the Lord in Isaiah 2:1-5:
1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2 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,
3 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.
4 He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many
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.
5 O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord. (Isaiah 2:1-5)
Alexis de Tocqueville is well-known for his book, Democracy in America, which was published after his travels in our country in 1835. It is an early study of the behavior of American society.
Let’s imagine that someone from another country visited us today and also wrote about he saw. And let’s imagine that he had not been exposed to any media or information about America. What would he say about America today?
Well, he would say that America has many admirable qualities. And yet, there are also areas of concern. For example, he would note that true, biblical faith is declining as a growing number of people embrace non-biblical views about God and his world. Worship of the living God is becoming increasingly syncretistic. In fact, idolatry is on the rise in this country, and many people have simply rebelled against God. People also care less and less about social justice. And, lurking in the background is the ever-growing threat of terrorism and war.
This description of our country is in fact not dissimilar to the description of Judah in the days of the prophet Isaiah. By the time of Isaiah, the nation of Israel had already divided into Israel (in the north) and Judah (in the south). That division took place in 931 B.C., and Israel was eventually conquered and taken into captivity by Assyria in 722 B.C., never to return again. Isaiah began his prophetic ministry “in the year that King Uzziah died” (Isaiah 6:1) in 740 B.C. and he ministered until the death of Sennacherib (37:48) in 681 B.C. The people in Isaiah’s day no longer trusted in the promises of God. The descendants of Abraham increasingly aligned themselves with the false promises of their world. Biblical faith was declining as a growing number of people embraced non-biblical views about God and his world. Worship of the living God had become increasingly syncretistic as the people embraced pagan gods. Idolatry was on the rise, and many people had rebelled against God. People also cared less and less about social justice. And, lurking in the background was the ever-growing threat of an Assyrian invasion.
So, although God was eventually going to judge them for their sin, he also gave them hope of a glorious future.