Isaiah 2 – Hope and Fear
A. The hope of the Messiah’s reign.
1. (1) A word concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
a. The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw: This was revealed to Isaiah in some kind of vision because this was a word that he saw.
b. Concerning Judah and Jerusalem: This prophecy (continuing on through Isaiah 4) is directed towards the southern kingdom Judah and its capital Jerusalem.
i. Isaiah 2:1-3 is repeated in Micah 4:1-3. Since Isaiah and Micah were contemporary prophets, it isn’t surprising that the same Spirit of the Lord could give these two prophets the same vision, to establish and emphasize His word.
2. (2-3) The exaltation of Judah and Jerusalem
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the Lord’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
a. In the latter days: In context, the term latter days refers to the “time of the Messiah,” when the Anointed of the Lord reigns over the earth. Broadly, this speaks of the time many refer to as the millennium, the thousand-year reign of Jesus on this earth (Psalm 72, Isaiah 11:4-9, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Luke 1:32-33 and 19:12-27, Matthew 5:18).
b. The mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it: During the millennium, Israel will be the “superpower” of the world. It will be the leading nation in all the earth, and the center of Israel will be the mountain of the Lord’s house – the temple mount, which will be the “capital” of the government of the Messiah. All nations shall flow to the “capital” of the government of Jesus.
c. Come, let us go to the mountain of the Lord…He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths: During the millennium, the citizens of earth will acknowledge and submit to the Lordship of Jesus. It will be a time of perfectly administrated enforced righteousness on this earth.
3. (4) The peaceful nature of the Messiah’s reign
He shall judge between the nations,
And rebuke many people;
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.
a. They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: During the reign of the Messiah, there will be no more war. There will still be conflicts between nations and individuals, but they will be justly and decisively resolved by the Messiah and those who reign with Him (He shall judge between the nations, and shall rebuke many people).
i. It isn’t the reign of the Messiah itself that will change the heart of man. Citizens of the earth will still need to trust in Jesus, and His work on their behalf, for their personal salvation during the millennium. But war and armed conflict will not be tolerated.
b. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore: It is important to see that this is not the peace of surrender. This is the peace of enforced righteousness. There would be no more war, and no more need for swords and spears, so it made sense to make them into plowshares and pruning hooks. But there will be no more war because there will be a new ruler on earth, Jesus Christ. Psalm 2:9 tells us what the Messiah will do to the disobedient in that day: You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.
i. We long for the day when there is no more need for a military budget, when the money that goes for weapons and armies can go to schools and parks. But we are only safe doing that when the Messiah reigns among us.
ii. “Men yearn for peace, but they will not acknowledge the hopelessness of their own efforts to achieve it. It is only when the word of the Lord goes forth from Jerusalem, when He Himself is reigning over the nations, that lasting peace will come.” (Martin)
B. The threat of coming judgment.
1. (5) A plea to walk in the light of the Lord.
O house of Jacob, come and let us walk
In the light of the Lord.
a. Oh house of Jacob: After painting the picture of the glory of the Messiah’s reign, Isaiah then challenges Judah (house of Jacob) to live in the Messiah’s reign right now.
b. Walk in the light of the Lord: This means to order your life after God’s truth and God’s ways. The ultimate reign of the Messiah may be many years away, but Jesus can reign in our lives, in our minds, and in our hearts right now. We don’t have to wait for the enforced righteousness of the millennium to have the blessing of Jesus’ righteousness in our lives right now.
c. Walk in the light of the Lord: This means you enjoy the blessings of the Messiah’s reign right now. You don’t have to live a dark, depressing, discouraging Christian life. You can walk in the light of the Lord.
i. What is it that gets you down, that brings darkness into your life? How can it compare to the light of the Lord? Is the darkness of spiritual attack, of unfaithful friends, of bad circumstances, of shame, of guilt, of anything greater than the light of the Lord? It cannot be so.
ii. “You know that, if you were to go to Australia in a good sound ship, you would get there even if you were always to lie down in the hold among the luggage and the rats; but I should like to go in a first-class cabin, and I do not see why you and I, if we are going to heaven, should not go first-class.” (Spurgeon)
2. (6-9) The sins that prevent Judah from walking in the light of the Lord.
For You have forsaken Your people, the house of Jacob,
Because they are filled with eastern ways;
They are soothsayers like the Philistines,
And they are pleased with the children of foreigners.
Their land is also full of silver and gold,
And there is no end to their treasures;
Their land is also full of horses,
And there is no end to their chariots.
Their land is also full of idols;
They worship the work of their own hands,
That which their own fingers have made.
People bow down,
And each man humbles himself;
Therefore do not forgive them.
a. They are filled with eastern ways…they are soothsayers like the Philistines…they are pleased with the children of foreigners: Judah had allowed the false gods of foreigners to capture their attention.
i. This was not an anti-immigrant statement. God is not against the cultures and customs of other peoples, except where those customs and cultures honor and worship false gods. Perhaps in the name of “diversity,” the leaders and people of Judah were allowing the worship of false gods.
b. Their land is also full of silver and gold: Judah had allowed the false gods of wealth and materialism to captivate their attention. Because Judah was in a time of economic prosperity (full of silver and gold…no end to their treasures…full of horses…no end to their chariots), they were far more prone to economic idolatry.
i. This was not an anti-wealth statement. God is not against wealth and riches and may choose to bless some with significant resources. This is a rebuke to those who love riches and trust in wealth.
c. Their land is also full of idols: Judah had allowed idols to captivate their attention. Because everyone has an innate tendency to worship themselves (the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made), we are tempted to worship what we have made and accomplished instead of worshipping the One who made us.
i. This was not an anti-work statement. God wants us to work hard, and be pleased with the work of our own hands, and to see the accomplishments that our own fingers have made. This is a rebuke against those who worship what they have made and what they have done.
d. People bow down, and each man humbles himself: There was plenty of worship (bow down) in Judah, and plenty of people humbling themselves. They were simply worshipping the wrong things and humbling themselves before the wrong things!
i. We know how to bow down, we know how to humble ourselves; we just don’t find it easy to direct it properly towards the Lord. We are more than happy to bow down and humble ourselves for something of our choosing but often find it difficult to do it for the Lord.
ii. The application is sobering: Therefore do not forgive them. Their worship of foreign gods, of riches, and of idols was sincere. It may have been ennobling or helpful to society. But it was a rejection of the Lord God and was therefore unforgivable.
3. (10-22) A description of the Day of Judgment.
Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust,
From the terror of the Lord
And the glory of His majesty.
The lofty looks of man shall be humbled,
The haughtiness of men shall be bowed down,
And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.
For the day of the Lord of hosts
Shall come upon everything proud and lofty,
Upon everything lifted up—
And it shall be brought low—
Upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up,
And upon all the oaks of Bashan;
Upon all the high mountains,
And upon all the hills that are lifted up;
Upon every high tower,
And upon every fortified wall;
Upon all the ships of Tarshish,
And upon all the beautiful sloops.
The loftiness of man shall be bowed down,
And the haughtiness of men shall be brought low;
The Lord alone will be exalted in that day,
But the idols He shall utterly abolish.
They shall go into the holes of the rocks,
And into the caves of the earth,
From the terror of the Lord
And the glory of His majesty,
When He arises to shake the earth mightily.
In that day a man will cast away his idols of silver
And his idols of gold,
Which they made, each for himself to worship,
To the moles and bats,
To go into the clefts of the rocks,
And into the crags of the rugged rocks,
From the terror of the Lord
And the glory of His majesty,
When He arises to shake the earth mightily.
Sever yourselves from such a man,
Whose breath is in his nostrils;
For of what account is he?
a. From the terror of the Lord and the glory of His majesty: The beginning of the chapter described the glory of the Messiah’s reign (Isaiah 2:1-4). The second part of the chapter described the current corruption of Judah (Isaiah 2:6-9). How will the earth be transformed from its current corruption to the glory of the Messiah’s reign? It will happen by the victory of the Messiah in the day of the Lord of hosts.
i. The term day of the Lord (used more than 25 times in the Bible) does not necessarily refer to one specific day. It speaks of “God’s time.” The idea is that now is the day of man, but the day of man will not last forever. One day, the Messiah will end the day of man and bring forth the day of the Lord.
b. The day of the Lord of hosts shall come: In the day of the Lord, men will be terrified. God tells them to enter into the rock, and hide in the dust, from the terror of the Lord and the glory of His majesty. In the day of the Lord, men will be humbled: The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. In that day, there will be no more idolatry; the Lord alone shall be exalted. In that day, God will be glorified, and all will see the terror of the Lord and the glory of His majesty.
i. The high tower, the fortified wall, the ships of Tarshish and the beautiful sloops – these are all expressions of the loftiness of man and the haughtiness of men. In the day of the Lord, every proud, arrogant achievement of man will be brought to nothing, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.
ii. “Man in all matters of religion, and in all his dealings with God, is proud. It is wonderful how apparently humble men will be when they worship false gods. They will cut themselves with knives, and roll themselves in the mire. We have known some votaries to kneel before the representation of the Virgin Mary and lick the very pavement with their tongues by way of penance, and perform the most degrading rites in honor of their false gods. Man seems to be humble enough in his dealings with a false deity, but as soon as ever he comes to deal with the true God, the first things that have to be got out of him are his pride, his high looks, his haughtiness.” (Spurgeon)
c. Sever yourselves from such a man: Because the days of idols and human pride are coming to an end, it is not wise to associate with those who cling to what will certainly be defeated. We should see that such men are of no account, and walk in the light of the Lord instead.
i. What strange sin in us, to make us give more account to men who can only hold as much breath as their nostrils will contain – who depend on every breath for life – than to the Lord God who will shake the earth mightily! It simply makes sense for us to honor and obey God rather to follow men into sin.
d. For of what account is he? If men are only men, why do we give so much attention to the opinions of men? Why rise so high on the praise of men, and get so low at their disapproval? We have something – Someone – better to live for.
i. “‘But they say.’ What do they say? Let them say. It will not hurt you if you can only gird up the loins of your mind, and cease from man. ‘Oh, but they have accused me of this and that.’ Is it true? ‘No, sir, it is not true, and that is why it grieves me.’ That is why it should not grieve you. If it were true it ought to trouble you; but if it is not true let it alone. If an enemy has said anything against your character it will not always be worth while to answer him. Silence has both dignity and argument in it.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “Brethren in Christ, let us think more of God and less of man. Come, let the Lord our God fill the whole horizon of our thoughts. Let our love go forth to him; Iet us delight ourselves in him. Let us trust in him that liveth for ever, in him whose promise never faileth, in him who will be with us in life, and in death, and through eternity. Oh that we lived more in the society of Jesus, more in the sight of God! Let man go behind our back, and Satan too. We cannot spend our lives in seeking the smiles of men, for pleasing God is the one object we pursue. Our hands, and our heads, and our hearts, and all that we have and are, find full occupation for the Lord, and therefore we must ‘Cease from man.’” (Spurgeon)
(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org