We can have confidence that there will come a day when Christ will personally and visibly come again to this earth a second time, and when he does, the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the highest of the mountains—the true worship of God will become preeminent. All the other mountains and temples will be destroyed: the Hagia Sophia will fall to the ground, the Dome of the Rock will crumble to make room for Jesus’ Temple, and St. Peter’s Basilica will be reduced to rubble.
You don’t have to turn on the news or visit a news web site very long to get very depressed. We live in a day of despair, threat of war, violence, murder, poverty, sickness, abortion, waning morality, injustice, and racial tensions. Even from the perspective of the unbelieving world, things look pretty bleak.
But from the Christian perspective, things look perhaps even worse. We recognize these things as but symptoms of deeper problems. We look around us and see fewer and fewer people, even in our own country, who truly worship God.
Whereas once our country had at least had a Judeo-Christian moral foundation, today, more people than ever reject any standards of morality, relativism is rampant, people are simply following after whatever sinful lust fits their fancy.
But the picture is even worse. We probably should expect that unbelievers would live like this. It was something of an anomaly by the grace of God that our country enjoyed such moral stability for so long.
But we are witnessing in our day these same kind of terrible problems even within churches. Self-professed Christians are worshiping themselves rather than the true God. Professing believers refuse to listen to God’s Word and are following after their own lusts. Even people who claim the name of Christ are perpetuating immorality and injustice in our world.
All of this very bleak assessment of our world leads us to ask, is there any hope?
Israel during the time of Isaiah’s prophecy resembled in many ways the condition in which we find ourselves today.
During Isaiah’s childhood, Israel and Judah experienced prosperity and freedom from foreign powers. Yet the people of Israel very quickly took that prosperity and peace for granted and began to forsake the Lord. They stopped trusting God’s promises. They began to follow after false idols and idolatrous practices. They recognized the hostile world foreign powers growing around them, and instead of trusting in God’s promises to protect them, God’s people turned to the promises of this world. Perhaps Isaiah himself describes it best when in Chapter 6 he relates his calling to be a prophet of the Lord, and he confesses that he is a man of unclean lips, and he dwells among a people of unclean lips.
For this reason, the prophecy of Isaiah begins in chapter 1 with harsh condemnation.
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” 4 Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.
The chapter continues with strong words of admonition; the prophet offers forgiveness to the people if they will repent of their sins and turn back to God, but if they do not turn, he promises that they will be consumed by the fiery wrath of the Lord.
And as we know, that is exactly what happens to Israel and Judah. The people are carried off into captivity and Jerusalem is utterly destroyed; the people fail to heed the prophet’s warnings—they do not worship God as he has commanded, they do not listen or obey God’s words, and thus they face the punishment of war and destruction that he has promised to them.
Thus much of the prophecy of Isaiah follows this theme of judgment and doom found in Chapter 1. Yet this is not the only theme of the prophecy; indeed, it is not really even the primary theme of the prophecy.
Rather, we find right at the beginning of chapter 2 a glimpse of hope in the midst of this turmoil:
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 the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4 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.
Now, Isaiah says, you are experiencing impending judgment. You have failed to worship God as you ought, you are not listening to the word of God, and war is coming.
But, there is still hope. There is a day coming that will bring hope to God’s rebellious and condemned people.
A day is coming that will bring hope.
Let’s look at how Isaiah describes this coming day of hope.
A Day is coming when the worship of God will be preeminent.
First, Isaiah says that in that day, “the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the highest of the mountains.”
Clearly the “house of the Lord” here is the Temple—the center of Yahweh’s worship, and the mountain is Mt. Zion, the place upon which God’s house sits. In that coming day, Isaiah, prophesies, the mountain of the Temple of God will rise up above all other mountains and will be established as the highest of them all.
This prophecy signifies that in that coming day, the worship of God will be preeminent. All other mountains—all other places of worship will shrink under the majestic greatness of Mt. Zion. Mt. Gerazim will be but a small hill, Mt. Olympus a mere bump in the road, Baal’s Mt. Carmel will appear as an ant hill.
Likewise every other dwelling place of the gods will collapse in sight of that brilliant Temple on the mount. Hatshepsut’s temple along the Nile in Egypt will be buried, the Greek Parthenon will crumble, the Sumerian ziggurat reduced to rubble.
All of the places of worship will be nothing compared to the house of the Lord. God’s people will no longer flock to the high places of the false idols; instead, they will stream toward the highest mountain of all where they will once again return to true worship.
But notice that it is not just God’s people who return to worship. It is not as if all of the other nations will continue to worship in their false houses on their false mountains in that day. No—the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the highest mountain, it will be lifted above all the other 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 Yahweh, to the house of the God of Jacob.’”
In that coming day, not only will the true worship of Yahweh be restored for the people of Israel; all the nations will descend from their crumbling temples on their puny hills and will flow like a surging river up to the true Temple on the preeminent mountain.
What hope this must have brought to Isaiah’s discouraged heart! Here he is in the midst of an unclean people who have forsaken the worship of the one true God in favor of worshipping false, insignificant idols made by human hands, idols that have mouths but they cannot speak, eyes but they cannot see, and ears but they cannot hear.
But revelation has come to him that a day is coming when these rebellious people will turn away from those false gods and will return to worshiping the true God. And not only that, all the peoples of the earth will join Israel in worshiping the God of Jacob.
A day is coming when all people will hear and obey the Word of the Lord.
But there is a second hope-filled blessing this coming day will bring. Look again at what the peoples of the nations say in verse 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 the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.