Friday 02 December 2016

Bible Book:

“Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord” (v. 3)

Isaiah 2:1-5 Friday 2 December 2016

Psalm: Psalm 65


This is a better-known passage from the early chapters of Isaiahthan some we have been reading this week, perhaps in part becauseit also occurs, almost word for word, in Micah4:1-3. Here Isaiah sets forth a glorious vision of the future -a vision of peace with Jerusalem at its centre, the heart's desireof the Hebrew people, which speaks powerfully to us today as well.After some of the destruction and judgement we have been looking atduring the week we may feel that Isaiah is having a "Thank God it'sFriday" moment! A major focus of this season of Advent is ourexpectation that Jesus will return and our preparation for the 'endtimes' referred to here. Very often the phrases "days to come" or"the day of the Lord" herald disaster and destruction butoccasionally, as here, they point to a coming time of peace.

The chapter opens in an unusual way, with a second introductoryverse (compare Isaiah 1:1). Perhaps, if we see chapter 1 asthe overture to Isaiah, then the real symphony is beginning now. Orperhaps this repeated superscription is intended to stress thatthis passage originates with Isaiah rather than with Micah. Thereasons for the duplication of this material in the two books aredifficult to ascertain now; one prophet may have borrowed from theother, or there may have been a pool of prophetic material fromwhich both Isaiah and Micah have drawn.

Mountains hold an interesting place in Scripture, too complex toexplore fully here. Unlike the modern Western attitude which seesmountains as beautiful places to climb and, ultimately, to conquer,Jews of the Old and New Testament would probably have regardedmountains as dangerous and remote - to be avoided where possible.God, however, was powerful enough to overcome the dangers and todwell on mountain tops so we read of Abraham, Moses, Elijah and,later, of Jesus, Peter, John and James all having significant'mountain-top experiences'. When Isaiah writes here that the"mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highestof the mountains", it conveys to all readers that Yahweh, the Godof the Hebrews, was the most powerful of all gods, occupying thecentral place. So, as the nations stream to Zion, Israel too isseen as having a superior role as the teacher and lawgiver for alllands.

Jerusalem is envisaged as a centre of world pilgrimage,revelation and peace. War was a fact of life in the world of theprophets, which makes verse 4 all the more remarkable - the toolsof war will become the tools of peace and productivity instead.(Sadly, this hope is reversed in Joel3:10 where ploughshares again become swords and pruning hooksare beaten into spears.)

The final verse (which has no equivalent in Micah 4) has thering of a rallying cry to Israel, "Come on Israel, let's lead theway!" as the community is exhorted to return to God and walk in thelight of the Lord.

To Ponder

  • Do mountains have a part to play in your spiritual life orunderstanding of God? What part might that be?
  • In some senses, this vision of Isaiah's is fulfilled, asJerusalem has been a centre of world pilgrimage throughout itshistory. How can we work towards it also becoming a centre of worldpeace?
  • What might it mean today for you, or your church community, to'walk in the light of the Lord'?
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