A beautiful, poetic prophecy from Isaiah, the great prophet of messiah. The great prophet who in so many ways saw the coming of Jesus 7 centuries before His birth. Prophets are the ones who reimagine the world as being better than it is, the ones the Holy Spirit chooses to give the imagination to, the vision, to see the world different and better than it is, and then the ability to communicate that vision.
Principalities and powers are often intimidated by the poet prophets. The status quo is just alright by them. Those in power never want people to have the idea that the world could be any other way. It threatens their authority. Isaiah made the powers and the empire so uncomfortable with his poetry (it’s just poetry!!??) and so enraged King Manasseh with his vision of the world different than it was that the king had him sawn in half. You have to be pretty angry to have someone sawn in two!! So just remember this as you read these passages.
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, 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.”
Isaiah doesn’t know when, but he knows God is going to do something big. God will act in such a way that the world is going to take notice. The world is going to be drawn to the Lord, they will come to the Lord seeking to know His ways.
For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Isaiah doesn’t know the when, but he has the where figured out pretty well. He knows that whatever God is going to do at that point in the future, it’s going to have something to do with Jerusalem. Something’s going to happen in Jerusalem, and it’s going to be big. It’s going to change the world.
We have hindsight on our side. Isaiah writes about Jesus, but he doesn’t know his name. He’s going to be called “Immanuel”, “God with us”, but that’s not His name. He’ll be called wonderful counselor, prince of peace, lord of lords, and king of kings, but those aren’t his name either. His name is Jesus, the lord saves, and we know his story. Isaiah had a vision of what was to come, we have the hindsight and privilege to know what Isaiah could not see. We know the baby would actually be born in Bethlehem, but something big would happen in Jerusalem. This baby would grow up and go into ministry. He would be a lightning rod for those in power, he would heal the sick, help the lame walk, and let the blind see. He would preach the sermon on the mount, teach love of enemy, and demonstrate and live out His own radical teaching dying from the Roman crucifix, forgiving those who tortured and killed Him even as they were torturing and killing Him.
This just occurred to me yesterday. To live by the sword is to die by the sword. Nothing but a cliche to us, but that comes from Jesus. “Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesusʼ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Matthew 26:50-52 NIV. So here’s the thing – Jesus was being seized by the powers that be, to be led off to His crucifixion, and when Peter draws his sword and fights back, Jesus tells him NO!! To live by the sword is to die by the sword. As He is Himself being led off to die. In Luke’s telling it says “And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the manʼs ear and healed him.” Luke 22:50-51 NIV. You live by the sword, you die by the sword. “No more of this!” No more responding to violence with violence. No wonder Peter denied Him in the garden. It’s a hard walk to follow Jesus.
So we have the hindsight to know that yes, God DID act in Jerusalem. Because those in power took Jesus away, had their “trials”, and crucified Him.
And what God did next, in Jerusalem, was big. Very big. So big in fact, it reset the calendar. We measure time by the event Isaiah is predicting right here, in 740 BC. BEFORE Christ. They killed Him, God raised Him. The word of the Lord will go out from Jerusalem. It was 740 years until the coming of Messiah, now it’s 2000 years since. We measure time based on this one event. We changed the calendar. That’s how big it was.
He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; 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. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord. A prophetic word from Isaiah, the world reimagined. Their swords turned into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks. The tools of war turned into tools of agriculture, tools for gardening. For us, could you imagine tanks turned into tractors? Missile silos turned into grain silos?
Here’s a question – do we see the world as a battleground or as a garden? Is the world a fundamentally threatening place? Is the whole world a battleground where we must keep our weapons close at hand, prepared to do battle at any time? Or is it fundamentally the recipient of Gods grace and loving care?
Do we feel like the whole world is a battleground and we need to be always ready to grab our weapons and go fight for our rights? Or is the world a garden to be cultivated and nurtured for the glory of God?? Are we all soldiers? Or are we gardeners? Which was Jesus?
To be continued…
“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, 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 the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; 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. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.”
Isaiah 2:2-5 ESV