This is article #3 in a series by Rod MacArthur. These are great articles so be sure to read the entire series!
Isaiah 2: Mountain of the Lord’s House
Building on our last article, Isaiah predicted events which would occur in the Last Days for the remnant whom the Lord intended to leave (19). Let’s see what they had to look forward to. He says in 21–4:
Now it will come about that
In the last days
The mountain of the house of the Lord
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.
And 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;
That He may teach us concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For the law will go forth from Zion
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
When we think of the mountain of God’s house, let us not think about the geographic structure upon which the temple was built. Isaiah used “mountain” as a metaphor for the kingdom, the house of the Lord. That kingdom would be the chief of all the kingdoms and all nations would flow to it.
That’s an interesting picture. If a mountain is raised up above all the mountains, how does anything “flow” into it? Here in the PNW we have Mt. Rainier. Imagine water flowing up to the summit. Naturally, water flows from the top down. But here Isaiah speaks of Yahweh’s mountain, elevated above every nation, with all nations flowing to it. There must be some energy involved in drawing and attracting and causing them to flow uphill. All nations would come and take part. This reminds us of Rev. 222 where the leaves of the Tree of Life, which is in the New Jerusalem, are for the healing of the nations.
Jumping ahead to Isa. 496, God said to his servant Jesus:
“It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also make You a light of the nations
So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
So in chapter 2, we not surprised that beginning, as it does in the Last Days, there would be a call, not simply to Judah and Israel to repent and return to the Lord their God, but to the nations as well to come and be healed. “Many people will 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 concerning his ways.”
To see God finally regathering his family around him in the way He wanted on this earth is what fulfillment is all about. It can be challenging to keep one’s balance, though. It’s exciting to see the development of God’s plan to bring His people back as well as to draw all people into relationship with Him. But the other piece of the balancing act is this: What does He want us to be, or what does He want us to become; how does He want us to behave? What are the moral, ethical expectations as we dwell with Him in His Holy Mountain? Did Isaiah perceive universalism: “All nations” meaning everybody? Did he envision a certain quality of life for Zion’s citizens; or is it just do as you please?
During the transition from the Last Days into the new order, Paul said “walk in a manner worthy of your calling” (Eph. 41). So, there is the calling into relationship, and there is the walking worthily of it. Thus in Isa. 23, the nations would come so that “He may teach us concerning His ways.” Solomon said, “There is a way that seems right to man, but the end thereof is the way of death” (Prov. 1625). How sad it is to watch people who have access to the ways of God choose to do it their own way, and then watch their children suffer, watch their marriages suffer. “Why is this happening to me? Why is my daughter going astray?” they wonder or even ask. “Well, why don’t you have you daughter learning the ways of God? Why not have your son see you walk the ways of God, you have a great life,” I want to shout.
Being with God is more than just having a grand understanding. We not only have this marvelous view of fulfillment, we have a wonderful relationship with God. He teaches us how to live and have a great life. That part of the message needs to be emphasized, perhaps even more than fulfillment!
We must lay the foundation for the teaching to stick, but once we learn the basics (see Heb. 61ff), we must learn the ways of God, into whose presence we’ve come. That message must be thundered. Learn His ways; learn how to live in the presence of God.
Now consider Isa. 24—
And He will judge between the nations,
And will render decisions for many peoples;
And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they learn war.
Ask the piercing question: “Has this great mountain of the house of the Lord been established; is its presence with us?” If you say, “Yes”; then ask, “Why is there so much unrest in Egypt and Libya and throughout the world? Why does the US have troops stationed in hot spots throughout the world?”
Here is the disconnect between what Isaiah said and what many think he said: Isaiah was not talking about universal, worldwide peace. He spoke about in the new order the people who belonged to Yahweh who would never have to depend upon war to defend their borders, the way Israel and Judah were doing in the days of Isaiah. The people in Isaiah’s time were taking their plowshares and/or their pruning hooks to the blacksmith who forged them int
o spears or lances or swords.
They used these to defend their borders. But, why did they even need to fight for their borders? It was because Yahweh wouldn’t fight for them. They were unfaithful to Him, so He let them be overrun by the enemy. But in this famous passage He promised that He was going to have a city in which righteousness would dwell; and His people—whoever would hear the call and enter, from whatever nation—would never again have to take their agricultural implements and turn them into warring implements. As He said in Zechariah, “I will be a wall of fire about them” (Zech. 25). They wouldn’t need a brick wall; He would be their Divine wall. They wouldn’t need a sword, He wouldn’t let anyone invade. They wouldn’t need to defend themselves because He wouldn’t allow any nation to attack them.
You see, Isaiah was not talking about whether the United States of America would ever be attacked. He promised that Zion would never be attacked. Her inhabitants would never have to build a weapon to defend her. She was to become a place in which righteousness dwells. She was to become a sanctuary in which people yearn to know the ways of the living God. The mountain of the house of the Lord has never come under siege, is not now under siege and never will be. There is no war that man can pose against the mountain of the house of the Lord, so its residents don’t have to build any weapons to defend it.
Keep this in perspective: Isaiah’s audience was building weapons of war to defend themselves, perhaps even when he uttered this promise! “New Jerusalem is coming in the Last Days,” He promised. “My people won’t need weapons.” (Also, consider what Paul said: the weapons of our warfare are conceptual and ideological, for casting down imaginations and philosophies; 2 Cor. 104–5. That is, they are not physical; because the threat isn’t from any nation or army.)
Lastly, consider Isa. 25–6—
Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.
For You have abandoned Your people, the house of Jacob,
Because they are filled with influences from the east,
And they are soothsayers like the Philistines,
And they strike bargains with the children of foreigners.
Please note the parallel between: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord…That He may teach us concerning His ways, And that we may walk in His paths” (23); and “Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the Lord” (25). His ways are His light!
Isaiah complained: “You have abandoned your people.” See the roots of this abandonment in Deut. 325.
They have acted corruptly toward Him,
They are not His children, because of their defect;
But are a perverse and crooked generation.
“They” referred to God’s people. But watch more specifically. Moses was designating a specific, single generation. Did you see the singular: a crooked and perverse generation? Moses forecast, “They are not my people.” Compare that now to Isaiah 26: “You have abandoned your people” because of their defect. Not until the days of Jesus, Paul, Luke and Peter was this phrase ever applied to the nation of Israel. It was never applied to Israel (or, anyone else) in any of the prophets throughout Israel’s history. As corrupt as they became, this phrase was never applied to any single generation. But in the days of Jesus, He applied it frequently of His current generation (see Matt. 1116; 1239–42; 164; 1717; 2336; 2434; Mark 812, 38; 919; 1330; Luke 731; 941; 1129–32, 50–51; 1725; 2132). Paul and Peter also referred to their generation as the one of whom Moses spoke (see Acts 240; Eph. 35, 21; Phil. 215; Col. 126). They were the crooked and perverse generation. It’s what Moses and Isaiah predicted.
Do not look at the Babylonian invasion, captivity and restoration as the event Isaiah was describing. Rather, see the final, Last Days invasion as that which would bring forth God’s wrath and His own new nation. This is clearly the application Jesus and His apostles made of it. So should we.