Our third reflection (24 mins) us titled "The Mountain of the Lord & the Holes of the Ground."
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The Mountain of the Lord & the Holes of the Ground
On v.1—Let's keep focused: every verse in the Bible has a context – it is written by someone for someone for some reason. Recall that the Northern Kingdom would fall in 722. The Southern Kingdom has been given a temporary reprieve – until 605, 597, and 587 BC. The oracles of the prophet are not only to warn, but also to impart hope – to build up, to inspire us through insight into the Lord’s purposes and heart.
Vs.2-3—Here we find the first of two poignant poems, on what Zion should be (2:2+). The second concerns what it is to be in the Messianic Kingdom (4:2+). "Mountain" is associated with "kingdom." The attraction of the Gentiles (polytheists) to the true God, worshiped among God's people, is a huge theme in the OT, as it also is in the NT. The envisioned pilgrimage to Zion isn't literal pilgrimage. How do we know that? Perhaps because streams do not flow uphill! We know it because of the teaching of Christ and his apostles (Acts 1:8; 15:14-17). What a great image for the church! What draws people? Apart from Christ, of course (John 12:32), it's the opportunity to learn God’s ways—and to walk in them. (v.3). The transformative Word!
vs.3-5—Swords and spears converted to the implements of peacetime. The Messianic kingdom is one of peace, since the Messiah is the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6). Let's walk in his light, and be the light of the world (Matt 5:14; also 49:6) – to be a light to the world, we must walk in this light.
vs.6-8—This contrasts with the world's "light." We are to reject eastern superstitions, fortune-telling, etc. Nor are we to put our hope in idols: Silver and gold = purchasing power and financial security. Horses and chariots = military might. Recommended: Here Are Your Gods: Faithful Discipleship in Idolatrous Times (Chris J. H. Wright, 2020). Possible wordplay: ’ elîlîm (idols) v. ’ elōhîm (God).
vs.9-10—The natural response, when the Lord's judgment comes, will be to hide from the terror / majesty of the Lord.
vs.11-18—The Lord has set a day— in Isaiah's time! —although this day also points to the ultimate judgment. Note: Haughtiness and pride both come from the same Hebrew word for height.
vs.19-22—Cave is the opposite of the mountain. One is dark and concealed, the other visible and open. Don't fear man; fear God! Confidence in him! Stop being so impressed by people, society, culture, fashion, power—the idols of the world.
- Mountain means kingdom—here, one as glorious as the caves (vv.19-21) are inglorious!
- Prophecy of chapter 2 fulfilled paradoxically—not with the Gentiles streaming to Jerusalem, but with the word taken from Zion to the ends of the earth.
- The Messianic Age is a time of peace. The early church understood this, and refused to support violence.
- The Lord humbles the haughty.
- The light the world offers is a false light. It is only through the Lord, and in the light of his word, that we can be who we are called to be: the light of the world!
- This will happen when we fear the Lord—and not people!
Next: "The Crisis of Leadership and the Collapse of Society"