I've been away for awhile with bible studies and such, so by way of review, Isaiah opens with God bringing a reoccurring vision to Isaiah and a "court case" against he people of Judah for breaking their contract. He has a message of hope and a message of destruction for all sinners (all of us). We must choose.
Chapter 2 open with a vision of the last days.
- God's Mountain (of the house of the Lord) will be the chief mountain.
- All nations will stream to it.
- They will want to go up to His Mountain and learn His ways. And they will want to walk in these ways.
For the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.Isaiah 2:3b
When this part of the human journey began with God, He brought people to a mountain; but would only let Moses come up. Not even the animals could stray near Him. But, in the fullness of time, people will desire to go up and desire to walk in the ways they are taught.
What changes that God would become available to the people and they would come to Him instead of having to be led?
The law went forth from Zion and the Word from Jerusalem.Isaiah 2:3b
Because of what Jesus did for me; I have a Helper. And because of what Jesus did for me; I can approach the Lord without Moses as an intercessor.
Incomprehensible, really. This is amazing grace.
In verse 4, Isaiah continues with his vision of the future- and it is one of peace. This seems to be the end of the vision.
That Which Their Fingers Have Made
Starting in verse 5, Isaiah is back to speaking directly to the "house of Jacob".
- He encourages them to walk in the light of the Lord.
- He exhorts them for abandoning the people, leaving them influenced by the eastern idolatry and soothsayers.
- He points out that they have treasure and horses, and chariots; but it's only because they traded with foreigners and accepted their idols.
- They worship their own work. Idols they made.
They worship the work of their hands, that which their fingers have made.Isaiah 2:8b
This is very convicting to me. I know the author meant the idols they made; but I think it is just as relevant to the modern people who are workaholics who can't mentally clock out because they've invested so much of themselves in their work.
I've always made my work a huge part of who I am. My identity was enmeshed in what I did. People would ask what my hobbies were and all I could come up with was...my work. Looking back on my first few years of teaching, I describe it as joining a convent. I rarely saw family or old friends. The only friends and social outlets I had were other teachers who knew the toll the job took. I stayed up late, got up early, nights, weekends...all for the job.
And, of course, there is nothing wrong with working hard. But mine had a panic to it. A desperation. I was trying to "be alright" through my work. And just as unlikely as it was for the house of Jacob to get rain from a wooden doll they made, I was unsuccessful at finding peace and joy from the work of my own fingers.
Day of Reckoning
Starting in verse 9, Isaiah returns to the future. He points to this time as being the end of the prosperity for the proud. The common man is humbled and the important men have been outright abased.
But this is not a time of forgiveness, run and hide in the rocks.
I know this was a common defense tactic back then; but it also reminds me of Revelations 6: 15-17 when everyone, including kings, great men, and commanders, went and hid in the rocks and begged nature to save them from the wrath of the Lord.
The Lord alone will be exalted on that day.
He is patient and loving; but He is righteous.
For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning.Isaiah 2: 12a
I love God's timing. Our church is going through Revelations right now and all of this means so much more because of that deep dive.
The Lord's reckoning is incredibly destructive and complete. He's pulling down everything that is high and lifted up. Sounds a lot like I Corinthians 10:5.
- He's pulling down the proud
- The celebrities
- the cedars of Lebanon lifted up. I don't know if that means big trees planted by man or tall, strong buildings made with them
- oaks (MacArthur says these were "object of great admiration")
- lofty mountains and hills (Revelations 6)
- high towers and fortified walls
- beautiful crafts
Some of those things seem like items of nature; but I'm guessing they stand for works of man somehow.
The Lord alone will be exalted on that day.
The idols will vanish (v. 18). He won't just bring them low and abase them- He will make them disappear completely. Hold on loosely to any accomplishments at work that shape your identity. Hold on loosely to any hobby that steals time God had appointed for eternal tasks. Our idols are going to disappear completely. And what will we be left with?
This is a theme throughout the Bible. He bring low the proud and exalts the humble- Christ being our biggest and most important example, as described in Philippians 2:1-11.
Verse 19 reiterates the events of Revelations 6 when the important men go into the rocks to hide in terror from the Lord. Verse 20 has them tossing away to the bats and moles their idols of silver and gold. It's become clear to them that they chose wrongly and now all they can do it jettison the evidence of their error.
Chapter 2 ends with verse 22 encouraging us to stop regarding and esteeming man, whose life is in his nostrils.
It's a pretty stark contrast. We have our heroes and even our villains that we hold in such high regard. And we have our loved ones that we cling to...but all are just men who cannot even draw a single breath without it being given to them by God.
The only way to love or esteem anyone is by having God in His proper place and seeing that person through the lens of being a gift from Him.
God resists the proud; but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6
Be Comforted, Warren Wiersbe (Isaiah Commentary)
Wiersbe read in verses 1-5 of the Temple being rebuilt and the literally Kingdom of God. I see where he gets this. Verse 3 specifies, "To the house of the God of Jacob."
I'm guessing Wiersbe is correct; but somehow, in the end times-speak, I just picture God and His Mountain. That's how I read it.
But, again, what Wiersbe says makes sense.
He also makes a good point that when Isaiah describes the peace in verse 4, we can't translate that into a mandate for modern countries-- the verse starts, "He will judge between nations." He's taken over. Nothing will ever be the same. But we're not there yet.
The Day of the Lord
Wiersbe describes this time (Tribulation) as God's judgement and purifying Israel in preparation for the coming of his King to reign in Jerusalem.
I've never heard it described that way.
As I mentioned above, right now our church is studying Revelations. I tend to rush past anything end times because the symbolism and language are confusing and grim. However, God has used our new pastor to shine light on it as God's grace. Trying to bring every last believer into the fold. That has really resonated with me and brought a lot less discomfort at looking at the end times.
Then to have Wiersbe add to that perspective, God purifying for His Kingdom, offers a second layer to God's plan. It doesn't seem like a coincidence that I'm coincidentally studying them side-by-side.
Wiersbe points out that the Day of the Lord is described by Jesus, John, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Zephaniah, and Zachariah.
These prophets and the people (Judah and Israel) lived through a preview or parallel events bringing a reckoning by the Assyrians and Babylonians.
Wiersbe asks why God would judge His people...but my blog posts for the last couple of years tell the tale. Joshua drops them off in the promise land, leaving behind human leaders and now safe, resting in the Promise Land of the Lord, they begin a long, sad series of betrayals of the Lord. He has been infinitely patient, loving, restorative, corrective...and they have remained moistly unfaithful.
And by "they", I mean us. In this fallen world of knowledge and evil --that we chose.
The MacArthur Bible Commentary
- The commentary notes that Chapters 2-5 are one continuous discourse.
- Micah repeats verse 2-4 almost word for word, indicating that maybe the younger prophet received it from Isaiah?
The NIV Chronological Study Bible
In verse 2:20, I read it as they threw their gold and silver idols to the moles and bats...in other words, the lowest creatures would end up with these "valuable" items.
A sidebar in the NIV Bible states that the gold and silver idols were of moles and bats- showing that the people of Judah had fallen so far as to worship the lowest. Especially considering the Egyptians who worshipped bats were a death cult.
It's amazing what we'll worship. That's an excellent warning for all of us.