For the Love of God, Volume 2/May 5
From Gospel Translations
Numbers 12—13; Psalm 49; Isaiah 2; Hebrews 10
THE FIRST SECTION OF ISAIAH 2 (vv. 1-5) simultaneously looks backward and forward. The first line reminds the reader of 1:1. When the two introductions, 1:1 and 2:1, are taken together, we are afforded a comprehensive glimpse of this book. Much of it focuses on the days of Uzziah and the other kings mentioned in 1:1, but the vision is so comprehensive that it includes “the last days” (2:2). It deals with Judah and Jerusalem, but it anticipates the Zion that is to come.
These opening verses also link up with the blessings promised in the final verses of chapter 1. Now, however, the vision is openly eschatological. One holy mountain, the mountain of the Lord, will reign supreme. In one sense this vision is exclusive; in another, it is comprehensive, for “all nations will stream to it,” and “[m]any peoples” will say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD” (2:2, 3). In terms that have become proverbial in the English language, Isaiah depicts universal peace (2:4). Although he roundly denounces the injustice of his day, he never loses sight of the fact that our ultimate hope is not political reform but the final intervention of God.
These opening verses also point forward in the text. Before the “last days” of 2:2-5, the Lord has another “day” in store (2:6-22, especially 2:12). The prophet knows judgment is impending, for what is going on in the nation means God has already in some measure abandoned his people (2:6). They have adopted religious superstitions from the East, and they now practice divination like the Philistines (who lived in the West). In other words, they pursue idolatry wherever they can find it. Material blessings have made them unbearably arrogant (2:7-9). But when judgment falls, the “eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day” (2:11). Some will hide among rocks and caves, fleeing invaders whom God has brought on his people (2:10, 19-21; compare Rev. 6:12-17). When in “the splendor of his majesty” God “rises to shake the earth” (2:21), there is no place to hide.
How much more do large swaths of the confessing church in the West stand under similar judgment? “Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures” (2:7). But we are not a people characterized by great humility and zeal for the Lord’s glory. The solution is the same as in Isaiah’s day: “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?” (2:22).