Prophecy of Hope for a New Jerusalem
What was in store for Jerusalem in the last days?
In Isaiah 2:1-5, an eschatological passage, Isaiah envisioned Jerusalem as the world’s spiritual center in the last days (compare to Micah 4:1-5). He envisioned it as the place where the peoples of the earth would come to learn the ways of God and depart to walk in His paths. The central function of the Temple would be to impart God’s Word to the nations rather than serve as the place for sacrifices. Isaiah envisioned a day when peace would reign in the world and there would be no more war. Instead, implements of war would be made into farm implements and men would be able to live their lives free from the fears and consequences associated with war. Warren Wiersbe points out, “When prophets declare a vision of the future, they do it to encourage people to obey God today.” In light of the glorious future envisioned by Isaiah, he exhorted the “house of Jacob” to “walk in the light of the Lord” (2:5) in the present.
Note: Isaiah 2:4 is inscribed on the walls of the United Nations Plaza in New York.
A Vision of Unrepentant Jerusalem
What characterized the state of affairs in Isaiah’s day?
Isaiah 2:6-11 gives us some insight into the state of affairs in Isaiah’s day. Isaiah described a situation in which the people had excluded God from their lives. Instead of depending upon the Lord and walking according to His ways, the people relied on foreign influences and alliances. These foreign influences caused the people’s love for God to grow cold. The people listened to soothsayers rather than God’s prophets (2:6). They filled their land with wealth and implements of war (2:7), and trusted in those things rather than in the Lord. The people worshiped idols made with their own hands rather than the Lord (2:8). The land was so filled with foreign influences, silver and gold (materialism), horses and chariots (military might), and idols that there was no room for God. The enormity and scope of these sins prompted Isaiah to ask God to withhold forgiveness from the people (2:9). Isaiah then warned the people to try to hide from God’s judgment, something that was not possible (2:10). The coming judgment would humble men and the Lord alone would be exalted (2:11).
Practical Consideration: It is foolish to fill ourselves with the wrong things.
Isaiah 2:6-8 records the things that “filled” the nation and the lives of the people. They were “filled” with influences from the east (2:6). Their land was “filled” with silver and gold and “filled” with horses and chariots (2:7). Their land was also “filled” with idols that the people worshiped. The land and people were so full of the wrong things that there was no room for God. They had crowded God completely out of their lives. If we allow ourselves to be filled with the wrong things then we will have no room for God. If, however, we allow God to fill our lives then we will have no room for the wrong things.
What fate awaited the proud and haughty?
Isaiah 2:12-22 records the fate awaiting the proud. The proud, who are always interested in their standing, would be brought low. Using graphic descriptions of great and lofty things as symbols of man’s pride (2:13-17), Isaiah accentuated the fate of the proud. They would be humbled and the Lord alone would be exalted. They would cast their idols in fear into the habitations of moles and bats and try in vain to find refuge from judgment in caverns. Isaiah ended this oracle with a rhetorical question designed to accentuate the folly of trusting in man.
Practical Consideration: Pride is the quickest way to the bottom.
God’s message to the proud and lofty was that they would be brought low. Throughout Scripture, God’s message to the proud, haughty, and arrogant is the same: all such people will be brought low, will be humbled, and will fall. The Scripture notes no exceptions to the rule.