Text: Isaiah 2

When God’s people go astray, He sends His prophets to frankly and bluntly warn them of their sin and admonish them to repent and return to Him. Again, when I speak of God’s people, I am speaking of the church, Jewish believers, and Jews that do not yet believe that Jesus is their Messiah.

In the days of Isaiah, God’s people are headed for disaster —  exile (separation from His presence), and even death and condemnation. Oh, but if they will repent as I did, the Lord and I will rejoice and sing (Zephaniah 3:17)!

The LORD does not desire for any to perish, but all to come to repentance (2Peter 3:9). So, He sends Isaiah to speak to Jerusalem and Judah. He gives Isaiah visions, and words with which to paint a picture of what the Lord has shown him.

And He sends me to the church today, though I am only a pastor and teacher. But by His grace, I am what I am. As I read Isaiah, I see what the Lord showed him, as if the Lord was showing it to me. If I were going to give this a title, I would call it, “The Lord Alone Will Be Exalted.”

NOTE: My thanks to John Oswalt, author of the commentary on Isaiah in the New International Commentary on the Old Testament. He provides an excellent commentary on Isaiah that I will use from time to time, to help me teach as clearly as possible. 
Verses 1-2 —

First, we see the phrase from Isaiah 1:1 repeated. One vision is complete, and this phrase introduces another.

Isaiah is given a vision of the last days. When are the last days? When the LORD has revealed all false gods for what they are, when He has executed His wrath on those who refused Him. I believe Isaiah will describe Jesus Christ’s millennial reign here, per Revelation 20:6. 

At that time, it will be fully known that there is just one true God. The mountain of the house of the Lord (as opposed to the high places where Israel and the world have worshipped idols) will be established as the only true place where the only true God can be worshiped. 

Do you see His mountain, the house of the Lord, majestically standing above all the others, dwarfing them so that they are like low hills? The contrast of the hills of the false gods versus the mountain of His house emphasizes that they are nothing in comparison. And again, remember that hills were the locations of cult worship of false gods.

“And all the nations will stream to the house of the LORD.” The word “stream” gives us a picture of a great flow of humanity, and the word means sparkle, flow, as with the sheen of a running stream. 

Does this mean that all will stream into His temple in Jerusalem, where the LORD has established His house? Or is there also a spiritual meaning, that they will stream into the LORD’s spiritual kingdom? 

I think both. The LORD is not limited to geographical locations, but He established His house in Jerusalem, when He first brought His people there. So, in that day, peoples will come to the place that has been despised by the world, Jerusalem, and to the LORD’s temple, to bow down to and worship the one true God and His reigning Son. Thus, all who come and bow down will enter His spiritual kingdom!

Verse 3 —

And many peoples will come and say, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. The LORD specifies once again that peoples will know that His is the only mountain, the only house, and He is the only true God, even the God of Jacob (Israel). 

Why will all peoples come to His mountain, His house? So that He will teach them His ways, and so that they walk in His paths. They will no longer want to walk any other way. They will seek Him then, for at that time, the unmasking and destruction of all false gods will have been accomplished by Him. They will no longer rely on those gods, for they will see them for what they are!

They will know that from Jerusalem, the instruction of the LORD will go forth. From there, the word of the LORD will be heard and known by the peoples of the earth. 

Oswalt writes that unless the Lord teaches, we cannot learn His ways, but He cannot teach us unless we come to Him. So, we must first come, and then He will teach us. Good stuff!

In this day, we do not yet see rivers of humanity streaming to Jerusalem, but we have seen billions come to faith in Jesus Christ, through those who are filled with His Spirit and are thus His full-time, permanent dwelling places, His temples —

2Corinthians 6:16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God . . .

So, until the last day, they will come to the Lord who is in us, and learn from Him!

Verse 4 —

And He will judge between (vindicate or punish) the nations (peoples), and will render judgments for (correct and convict) many peoples. He is the only Righteous Judge (2Timothy 4:8). What will be the result of His judgment? Repentance!

They will break into pieces their weapons of war against Him and melt them down. They will make their swords into plowshares (hoes) and their spears into pruning hooks (pruning knives). They will cease to fight against Him.

Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war. 

What is the cause of war? Why do nations fight amongst each other? I could speak of world politics and false religions, but ultimately, the cause is the sin nature with which everyone is born. And He is the only One who can put that nature to death and make you a partaker of His divine nature! Then there will be His peace, not peace as humans define it!

Some come now, through those who announce His gospel. Some believers seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and then His peace is in them. But ALL will come, in that day.

Verse 5 —

In contrast to Isaiah’s vision of that day, the LORD must call His own people, for they are rebelling against Him! Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the LORD. If the Lord must beckon them to walk in His light, then they are not presently walking in His light, but in darkness. It is the same today. Come, O believer!

Verse 6 —

Because His people are walking in darkness, the LORD has abandoned them. He has thrust them off. 

Why has the LORD abandoned the house of Jacob? Because they are filled with influences from the east. They have not only followed the false religions of the east, but they are completely filled with the falseness and evil of false gods.

You become what you worship (Psalm 115:8). Thus, they have become soothsayers, sorcerers, things that are an abomination to the LORD because they involve consultation with Satan. 

And they trade with the children of foreign gods. Paul warns the Corinthians —

2Corinthians 6:14   Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?

Verses 7-8 —

Not only are His people filled with the falseness of the false religions of the east, but their land has been filled with the things the world relies upon and worships — silver and gold, treasures, horses, chariots. 

It is a picture of self-exaltation by humans. It is a picture of human pride and self-sufficiency. They play God, defiantly saying, I will fight with my own strength, I will make a god in my own image! Paul writes —

Romans 1:21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

And because of their self-exaltation, their land is also filled with idols, and His people worship the work of their hands. Humans make their idols out of wood, stone, and metal. They make them with their own fingers. They make them out of their own imaginations. 

Verse 9 —

So, regardless of position or wealth, all those who exalt themselves will be humbled and abased. Both “humbled” and “abased” mean “humbled” in the original Hebrew. So, I see that they will be humbled and humbled. When the Lord speaks the same word twice, it means that the humbling will be sudden. I believe that this time of humbling will be in the days when His wrath is poured out (Revelation 15:7 and forward).

When they are suddenly humbled by the Lord, they will see their pride. Their apostasy (willful turning away from the Lord) will become obvious to them. 

But they will not respond as they should, even though they now see their folly. There is no evidence that they will repent. So, Isaiah says, “But do not forgive them,” LORD.  The day of His grace will be gone — it will be the day of His wrath. So, their sin will not be forgotten by Him. They will be punished by Him. 

Beloved, there will come a time when the LORD no longer grants forgiveness. That is why Isaiah says, in Chapter 55, “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call on Him while He is near.” The Book of Revelation reflects that, after the LORD has done everything to bring all men near, and they yet refuse Him, He will execute His wrath upon them (Revelation 16:1 and forward).

At the end of things, every knee will bow, and every tongue — even that of the rebellious — will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10). The unrepentant rebellious have no choice but to bow and confess His Lordship, and confess that He would have been their salvation, if they had not rejected Him. But it will be too late for them.

Verse 10 —

In the days when His wrath is poured out, it will be too late to repent. The rebellious have not worshiped, feared and obeyed Him. They have not submitted to Him in recognition of His greatness and His right to rule in their hearts. 

So, when He appears, they will attempt to hide in caves and hide in the dust (in holes, per Verse 19). They will try to hide from the terror of the LORD. That phrase means His appearing will startle and cause them to physically shake. And they will try to hide from the splendor (gloriousness) of His majesty, which they will now see. 

He will come as their enemy, and they will have no defense against Him.

Isaiah repeats this phrase “The terror of the LORD and the splendor of His majesty” three times (Verses 10, 19, and 21). It is God’s mercy that Isaiah repeats it, for if His people will tremble at His words and repent while it is still today, He will forgive them. 

Hebrews 4:7  He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.”

Verse 11 —

In His great mercy, the LORD continues to give His people a wider view of what will happen if they do not turn back while it is still today. In that day when it is too late, the proud will be brought low, and the lofty will be humbled.

Verse 12 —

That day when it is too late will be His day of reckoning against everyone who is proud and lofty, and everyone who is lifted up. The reckoning is this — all such ones will be suddenly humbled by Him, and will be judged.

Verses 13-16 —

The LORD now gives Isaiah another picture to paint. Who are the proud and lofty and lifted up by their own estimation?

— The cedars of Lebanon and the oaks of Bashan (those who think they are like valuable, towering trees, thus counting themselves as far greater than the LORD whom they disobey)

— The lofty mountains and the hills that are lifted up (again, those who think they are far greater than the LORD)

— Every high tower, and every fortified wall (those who rely on their own protection as being greater than the LORD’s protection). I believe this passage also refers to those who exalt their own intellect, per Paul’s words to the wayward Corinthian believers who were listening to false teachers —

2Corinthians 10:4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

— Against all the ships of Tarshish, and against all the beautiful craft (against everything that the prideful rely upon for provision; again, these ships are the work of their own hands)

Verses 17-18 —

Isaiah repeats the phrase from Verse 11, at the LORD’s prompting, The pride of man will be humbled, and the loftiness of man will be abased, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. 

But what will happen to the idols to which the proud have looked, the idols they made with their own hands? They will completely vanish, for they are nothing and always have been nothing — 

Psalms 115:4-8 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of man’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they cannot speak; they have eyes, but they cannot see; 6 They have ears, but they cannot hear; they have noses, but they cannot smell; 7 They have hands, but they cannot feel; they have feet, but they cannot walk; they cannot make a sound with their throat. 8 Those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them.

Verse 19 —

Again, Isaiah repeats, Men will try to hide in caves and in holes of the ground. Why? Because He will appear, in all of His majesty, and they will feel His terror, for they have become His enemy, and have no defense against Him.

He will arise, and make the earth tremble, in that day. The world will shake violently, the world will be filled with dread and terror. 

All that can be shaken will be shaken, including the spiritual realm between us and the kingdom of heaven. It is where Satan dwells, his temporary lair —

Hebrews 12:26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.” 27 This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

Verse 20-21 —

What will be the response of the rebellious, now filled with terror, now shaking violently? They will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold to the moles and the bats. Those false gods, which they have made for themselves to worship, will be shown to have no power at all. But it will be too late!

They will cast them away, as they attempt to hide in their caves, and in clefts of rocks, where bats dwell, and as they attempt to hide in their holes in the ground, where moles dwell. But it is impossible to hide from the terror of the LORD and the splendor of His majesty, and there is no escape from His judgment.

Verse 22 —

So, what is the cure for the pride of man, for his self-exaltation? What is the cure for man’s idolatry of self, which leads him to fashion gods of his own liking and in his own image? 

Isaiah says, Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils. Why should man be esteemed? 

Cease and desist from your idolatry of self. You are nothing apart from the LORD. It is He who breathed life into you! You did not make yourself live. 

Why should man be esteemed? Why do so many highly regard themselves, their wisdom, their knowledge, the ways of man, business practices to grow churches, psychology, psychiatry, and sociology? 

The reliance upon such things by today’s leaders of the church reflects that they think they are wiser than the LORD. They believe they can build a successful and prosperous ministry by the work of their own hands! How foolish that the creature thinks he is greater than his Creator!

But how can you stop regarding man? It is human nature, the sin nature in you. But the LORD is the Heart Changer! If you ask Him to do it, He will crucify your sin nature, and give you His, instead. 

Then you will not exalt yourself any more. He will fill you with His Holy Spirit, and you will rely on His strength, His wisdom, His knowledge, and His ways! Amen! Let it be so, Lord!

Next time, we will see that the LORD will break His people, and tell them why He is doing it. Stay tuned!