Isaiah 2:1-5:30       The Mountain of the Lord September 17, 2018

Last week Isaiah presented his first vision.  It was not a pretty one.  The lands of Israel and Judah were being invaded and the invaders were causing much destruction.  The reason for the invasion was the spiritual falling away of the people.  The countries had enjoyed 50 years of peace under Uzziah and Jotham in Judah and Jeroboam II in Israel.  The peace increased the prosperity of the people and the nations.  The pace was broken when Ahaz began to reign.  He encouraged worship of the local Baals and even placed an altar to Baal in the very Temple of Yahweh.  Soon war broke out between Judah and Syria and Israel.  Ahaz called to Assyria, the latest rising world power, to help him.  Assyria came, but with no benevolent intent.  She conquered Syria, then laid siege to Samaria and after 3 years conquered Israel.  She now turned her forces on Judah, the one she was asked to assist. 

Your country lies desolate;

your cities are burned with fire;

in your very presence

foreigners devour your land;

it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.


 Isaiah attributes this disaster to the rebellion of the people against God.  They deserted Yahweh, their God, to go after a multitude of pagan gods.   The physical causes of the downfall of the nations can be found in secular history, but the true causes lie in the spiritual realm.

“Children have I reared and brought up,

but they have rebelled against me.

The ox knows its owner,

and the donkey its master's crib,

but Israel does not know,

my people do not understand.”

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.

This week we will get little glimpse into the type of city and nation that pleases Yahweh.  Such a nation will be a blessing for the whole world.  This is a hint of what the heavenly city will look like.  It is a picture of a city that God imagined Abraham would create when he called him out of Iraq (Ur of Chaldea) and set him up in Israel (East of Bethel) (Genesis 11-12).  Unfortunately sin intervened and we are still awaiting the New Heaven and the New Earth.

2:1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

The first chapter begins with The vision of Isaiah. Now we begin with The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.  A word that is ‘seen’ sounds very much like a vision.  In any case the revelation is from outside of Isaiah, not his own construction.

2:2-5 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 forth 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.

This is a picture of a city that would please God.  Also it reflects God’s expectation for the Jews to be a proselytizing people who should be spreading the glory of Yahweh to all the world.  This has not happened to any extent until Jesus dispatched the church to ‘go therefore and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19-20).

We get an expanded view of the city in Isaiah 61-62.

The Day of the Lord

2:6-15 For you have rejected your people,

the house of Jacob,

because they are full of things from the east

and of fortune-tellers like the Philistines,

and they strike hands with the children of foreigners.

Their land is filled with silver and gold,

and there is no end to their treasures;

their land is filled with horses,

and there is no end to their chariots.

Their land is filled with idols;

they bow down to the work of their hands,

to what their own fingers have made.

So man is humbled,

and each one is brought low—

do not forgive them!

Enter into the rock

and hide in the dust

from before the terror of the LORD,

and from the splendor of his majesty.

  The haughty looks of man shall be brought low,

and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled,

and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.

2:12-19 For the LORD of hosts has a day

against all that is proud and lofty,

against all that is lifted up—and it shall be brought low;

  against all the cedars of Lebanon,

lofty and lifted up;

and against all the oaks of Bashan;

against all the lofty mountains,

and against all the uplifted hills;

  against every high tower,

and against every fortified wall;

  against all the ships of Tarshish,

and against all the beautiful craft.

And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled,

and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low,

and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.

And the idols shall utterly pass away.

And people shall enter the caves of the rocks

and the holes of the ground,

from before the terror of the LORD,

and from the splendor of his majesty,

when he rises to terrify the earth.

2:20-21 In that day mankind will cast away

their idols of silver and their idols of gold,

which they made for themselves to worship,

to the moles and to the bats,

  to enter the caverns of the rocks

and the clefts of the cliffs,

from before the terror of the LORD,

and from the splendor of his majesty,

when he rises to terrify the earth.

Stop regarding man

in whose nostrils is breath,

for of what account is he?

Unfortunately the City of God did not appear in Israel.  I contend that the New Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed is the beginnings of that city, but there is a lot of debris still on the road, just like there was in Israel and Judah.  

Here we read of ‘the day of the Lord’.  It is not a pretty day.  It will be filled with terror.  As Christians we await the return of the Lord.  It will be the ultimate ‘day of the Lord”.  It may not be as sanguine as we make it out to be.  Everything hidden will be revealed and judged.

Pride and ambition are the downfall of man.  This was the downfall of Lucifer as well (Isaiah 14:12-22).  The idols that men create are expressions of pride and ambition.  An idol is a god we can manage because it has no life of its own.  That is why nations rage against the Bible and against the Jews, because both represent the true God.  Deep inside mankind knows that the idols are unreal, and therefore he does not fret much about them.

Judgment on Judah and Jerusalem

3:1-3  For behold, the Lord GOD of hosts

is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah

support and supply,

all support of bread,

and all support of water;

  the mighty man and the soldier,

the judge and the prophet,

the diviner and the elder,

the captain of fifty

and the man of rank,

the counselor and the skillful magician

and the expert in charms.

3:4-5 And I will make boys their princes,

and infants shall rule over them.

  And the people will oppress one another,

every one his fellow

and every one his neighbor;

the youth will be insolent to the elder,

and the despised to the honorable.

3:6-7 For a man will take hold of his brother

in the house of his father, saying:

“You have a cloak;

you shall be our leader,

and this heap of ruins

shall be under your rule”;

in that day he will speak out, saying:

“I will not be a healer;

in my house there is neither bread nor cloak;

you shall not make me

leader of the people.”

3:8-9 For Jerusalem has stumbled,

and Judah has fallen,

because their speech and their deeds are against the LORD,

defying his glorious presence.

  For the look on their faces bears witness against them;

they proclaim their sin like Sodom;

they do not hide it.

Woe to them!

For they have brought evil on themselves.

God has taken away wise rulers and leaders and replaced them with children and women.

The speech and deeds of the people are against God.  It is revealed in their faces as well as they actions.  I think this characterizes the liberal establishment in our country today.  God is not acknowledged and it is obvious on their faces.

3:10-15 Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them,

for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds.

  Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him,

for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him.

  My people—infants are their oppressors,

and women rule over them.

O my people, your guides mislead you

and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.

  The LORD has taken his place to contend;

he stands to judge peoples.

  The LORD will enter into judgment

with the elders and princes of his people:

“It is you who have devoured the vineyard,

the spoil of the poor is in your houses.

  What do you mean by crushing my people,

by grinding the face of the poor?”

declares the Lord GOD of hosts.

God has taken away wise rulers and leaders and replaced them with children and women.

There seems to be a paucity of wise leadership in either of our main political parties.  “All society is held together by invisible bonds - common concerns that have a moral base.  When these disappear the body politic disintegrates”.  (Watt)  God does not need war to bring judgment on a society.  He can do it as well from internal causes.  Most world powers collapse from the inside first.  War just cleans up the mess.

3:16-17 The LORD said:

Because the daughters of Zion are haughty

and walk with outstretched necks,

glancing wantonly with their eyes,

mincing along as they go,

tinkling with their feet,

therefore the Lord will strike with a scab

the heads of the daughters of Zion,

and the LORD will lay bare their secret parts.

3:18-24 In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents;  the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves;  the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets;  the signet rings and nose rings;  the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags;  the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils.

  Instead of perfume there will be rottenness;

and instead of a belt, a rope;

and instead of well-set hair, baldness;

and instead of a rich robe, a skirt of sackcloth;

and branding instead of beauty.

3:25-26 Your men shall fall by the sword

and your mighty men in battle.

And her gates shall lament and mourn; empty, she shall sit on the ground.

4:1 And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach.”

The moral tone of a nation is established by the women of the nation.  If they are guided by modesty and Godly principles, the men will follow.  If they are loose and wanton, the men gladly acquiesce.  When women are honored and respected the nation prospers.  It they are allowed their role as mother and home keeper the population grows and the land is strengthened.  Men brought up by ungodly mothers are more likely to fail in battle.

The Branch of the Lord Glorified

4:2-6 In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel.  And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning.  Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy.  There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.

War destroys a nation, both in material terms and in population.  God uses war to cleanse a nation, but the wars can be devastating.  When Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem two-thirds of the people died from battle, pestilence and starvation.  One-third were enslaved in Babylon.  The nation of Israel was reconstituted by the captive third 70 years later.

Once God has cleanse a nation, he reconstitutes the nation under his own terms.  Although the return of the Jews to Jerusalem and the reconstruction of the Temple did not create the true holy city, the worship of pagan gods ceased for good.  The restored nation has been monotheistic nation to this day.

God is the protector and guide of the new Jerusalem.  He will guide it with his cloud through the day, and he will shine his light upon by night.  There will be a cover from the heat of the noontime sun and from storm and rain.

A Requiem for the Vineyard of the Lord

5:1-7  Let me sing for my beloved

my love song concerning his vineyard:

My beloved had a vineyard

on a very fertile hill.

  He dug it and cleared it of stones,

and planted it with choice vines;

he built a watchtower in the midst of it,

and hewed out a wine vat in it;

and he looked for it to yield grapes,

but it yielded wild grapes.

And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem

and men of Judah,

judge between me and my vineyard.

What more was there to do for my vineyard,

that I have not done in it?

When I looked for it to yield grapes,

why did it yield wild grapes?

  And now I will tell you

what I will do to my vineyard.

I will remove its hedge,

and it shall be devoured;

I will break down its wall,

and it shall be trampled down.

I will make it a waste;

it shall not be pruned or hoed,

and briers and thorns shall grow up;

I will also command the clouds

that they rain no rain upon it.

  For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts

is the house of Israel,

and the men of Judah

are his pleasant planting;

and he looked for justice,

but behold, bloodshed;

for righteousness,

but behold, an outcry!

This is a poem, and a sad poem.  God carefully planted and tended his vineyard, Israel.  But the vineyard turned against him.    With no repentance, God takes down its protecting walls and allows briers and thorns to take over the land.

God looked for fine wine, and only found bloodshed and injustice.

There are those who want to take down the walls of our nation and to import MS-13 and drugs.  But this might well be all God’s doing.

Woe to the Wicked

5:8-12 Woe to those who join house to house,

who add field to field,

until there is no more room,

and you are made to dwell alone

in the midst of the land.

The LORD of hosts has sworn in my hearing:

“Surely many houses shall be desolate,

large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant.

For ten acres of vineyard shall yield but one bath,

and a homer of seed shall yield but an ephah.”

Woe to those who rise early in the morning,

that they may run after strong drink,

who tarry late into the evening

as wine inflames them!

They have lyre and harp,

tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts,

but they do not regard the deeds of the LORD,

or see the work of his hands.

5:13-15 Therefore my people go into exile

for lack of knowledge;

their honored men go hungry,

and their multitude is parched with thirst.

  Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite

and opened its mouth beyond measure,

and the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude will go down,

her revelers and he who exults in her.

  Man is humbled, and each one is brought low,

and the eyes of the haughty are brought low.

 5:16-17 But the LORD of hosts is exalted in justice,

and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness.  

Then shall the lambs graze as in their pasture,

and nomads shall eat among the ruins of the rich.

5:18-19 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood,

who draw sin as with cart ropes,

who say: “Let him be quick,

let him speed his work

that we may see it;

let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near,

and let it come, that we may know it!”

5:20 Woe to those who call evil good

and good evil,

who put darkness for light

and light for darkness,

who put bitter for sweet

and sweet for bitter!

5:21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,

and shrewd in their own sight!

5:22-23 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,

and valiant men in mixing strong drink,

who acquit the guilty for a bribe,

and deprive the innocent of his right!

5:24 Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble,

and as dry grass sinks down in the flame,

so their root will be as rottenness,

and their blossom go up like dust;

for they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts,

and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

5:25 Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people,

and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them,

and the mountains quaked;

and their corpses were as refuse

in the midst of the streets.

For all this his anger has not turned away,

and his hand is stretched out still.

God pronounces a series of woes against the nations of Judah and Israel.  They are all predicated on the evils in the society and in the individual citizens.

5:26-30 He will raise a signal for nations far away,

and whistle for them from the ends of the earth;

and behold, quickly, speedily they come!

None is weary, none stumbles,

none slumbers or sleeps,

not a waistband is loose,

not a sandal strap broken;

their arrows are sharp,

all their bows bent,

their horses' hoofs seem like flint,

and their wheels like the whirlwind.

Their roaring is like a lion,

like young lions they roar;

they growl and seize their prey;

they carry it off, and none can rescue.

They will growl over it on that day,

like the growling of the sea.

And if one looks to the land,

behold, darkness and distress;

and the light is darkened by its clouds.

Assyria is on the march.  No one can stop its advance.  Israel and Judah are in its path.

Nations rise and fall at the will of God and for his purposes.  We need to realize this for our nation and for our day today.