Learn and Live the Light of God — Isaiah 2:1-5

As we prepare to enter into a new year, why should we give so much attention to the Word of God?  Does it get tiresome to turn back to the pages of the OT and read words that were written 700 years before the First Coming of Christ?  Of what possible relevance could these prophecies be to the pressures I will face in this coming week?  Why does God provide so many details about a future Messianic kingdom on earth that seems to have primary application to a Jewish nation that could care less about what God says?  What type of interest do you have today for matters which are apparently dear to the heart and program of God?  We are going to offer Is. 2:5 as our verse for 2013

Some of your level of interest will be dictated by your view of the nature of this coming kingdom.  Evangelicals are divided today into 3 major camps with a variety of minor alterations.

Gil Rugh: Views of the Prophesied Kingdom

3 basic views on this kingdom:  (different from universal kingdom)

Millennium –  thousand year period; derived from Rev. 20:2-7; that’s the only place in Scripture referenced; look at what events come before and what come after; some people take Revelation as so highly symbolic that we should not take this number literally

1)  Amillennialism = no literal, earthly millennium

Kingdom is spiritual and began with resurrection of Christ who rules spiritually right now; Roman Catholics, Luther, Presbyterians; hermeneutic: the NT reinterprets the OT [look at how NT quotes the OT in many places – answered by process of revelation – different from our efforts at interpretation]; prophecies relating to Israel fulfilled by God’s people now who are the new Israel; But additional revelation cannot change earlier revelation – it can only add to it or clarify it; you cannot spiritualize the text; form of allegorizing; usually these people don’t spend as much time on prophetic passages; we should be doing things associated with the kingdom = helping the poor; social justice programs; etc.

[Since they take the language as largely symbolic – they don’t spend much time in these OT kingdom passages trying to agonize over the precise interpretation.  They just speak in generalities of the type of peace and justice and righteousness that the reign of Christ can bring in our hearts.  They don’t spend much time with the details.]

WHAT IS THE POINT OF SO MUCH EMPHASIS ON PROPHETIC DETAILS?

Distinction continues to be made between people of the nation of Israel and people of all other nations; there will come a time when all Israel will be saved – doesn’t make sense if that refers to the body of the church = they are already saved

2) Postmillennialism – through the work of God’s people, things get better and better and then we usher in the kingdom and then Christ returns at the end; the kingdom got started with the First Coming of Christ; almost died out with the World Wars; Charles Hodge, Shedd, Strong, Boettner are all in this camp; now we see a resurgence of this by reconstructionists and theonomists who want to see God’s law reinstituted in the culture; strong regarding social action and instituting change in all areas of our government and culture

WHY DOESN’T THE WORLD LOOK LIKE IT IS HEADING IN ANY TYPE OF POSITIVE DIRECTION?

3)  Premillennialism – Christ returns first and establishes earthly kingdom;

– post-trib view = rapture after the tribulation period; covenant view – blend Israel and the church; who will populate the Millennium if all believers are raptured and get glorified bodies and return to earth; who then will be born in Millennium and rebel and be judged at end of Millennium

– pre-trib view; dispensational view; clear distinction between national Israel (physical descendants of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob) and the church; [just because 2 groups have much in common as the people of God, the people of faith does not make them identical without distinction] Rom. 2:28 – being a physical Jew alone does not mean you will inherit the promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their descendants; you need a circumcised heart; that was always required (Deut. 30:6; etc.); consistent literal interpretation of Scripture (amills say OT was literally intended to be interpreted spiritually);

What kingdom was promised in these OT prophetic passages?  Our view affects our practice as a church; what types of things should we focus on??  Not movements like the Moral Majority which is designed to change society = functioning as a postmill

Interesting that the apostles did not question Jesus about the nature of the kingdom – just the timing of it –

Acts 1:6Is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”  no teaching by the Lord about Israel being replaced in God’s promises with the church – nature of the coming kingdom on earth not at issue – just the timeframe

Previously, the nature of the kingdom had been an issue – Luke 17:21kingdom is in your midst” because the King is present – there is a spiritual aspect to the kingdom in which we participate right now

Jesus did not want His apostles to try to bring in the kingdom on basis of physical warfare; had them put up their swords and not put up a fight when He was arrested

1 Cor. 15:50flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” – speaking of the eternal kingdom which requires a glorified body

You must look at the context

Overall chiastic structure of this section:

Van Parunak: In 4:2-6, Isaiah will return to the theme of Zion’s restoration, but first he turns to the Day of the Lord, the great period of judgment that will culminate in this restoration. The intermediate section has two main divisions, each introduced by a command to his readers. The first introduces the theme of the Day of the Lord for the first time in Isaiah. (The concept is most discussed by Joel, and if his ministry antedates Isaiah, that may be the source for Isaiah’s discussion.) In this first section, one might think that the judgment is to fall primarily on the Gentiles. But the second shows the effect of that day on the nation Israel.

Oswalt: proud, self-sufficient Israel can become the witness to the greatness of God only when she has been reduced to helplessness by his just judgment and then restored to life by his unmerited grace.

Application: Isaiah wants the Jews of his day to look into the future – see the glorious kingdom that God will bring about and then reform their life today to Learn God’s Word and Live in harmony with the Light of God

(:1)  PREAMBLE – connection back to 1:1

The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

1:1 introduced the entire prophecy of Isaiah; here the heading is repeated to introduce the first section of chaps. 2-4

Van Parunak: It seems unusual to us to “see” a “word.” We might expect him to see a vision or hear a word. But Hebrew dabar can mean “matter” or “thing” as well, and that appears to be the sense here.

THE GLORY OF THE COMING MESSIANIC KINGDOM WILL BE MANIFESTED IN THE UNIVERSAL INDOCTRINATION IN THE WORD OF GOD AND THE UNILATERAL IMPLEMENTATION OF JUSTICE AND PEACE

I.   (:2-3)  THE UNIVERSAL INDOCTRINATION PROGRAM OF THE MESSIANIC KINGDOM – ACCOMPLISHED BY THE MESSIAH

A.  Timeframe for the Messianic Kingdom

Now it will come about that in the last days,

Phrase refers to timeframe future to the speaker; context determines that reference is eschatological; “in the afterward of these days

Emphasizes the certainty of Israel’s ultimate destiny

As we enter into new year, good to put our focus on the last days; we are living in the last days = the age introduced by the Messiah

Beall: Vv. 2-4 are nearly identical to Mic 4:1-3. Some argue that they are original with Micah,

since they seem fit the context of Micah better. But Motyer thinks that Isaiah’s version

“feels and is a tighter literary composition, and the variations in Micah could have arisen

through quoting from memory” (p. 53). Or, perhaps Isaiah and Micah took the prophecy

from a common, well-known source.

Grogan: The NT, making explicit the fact that the Messiah comes twice, applies the phrase both to the period of his first advent (e.g., Acts 2:17; Heb 1:2) and to his second (e.g., James 5:3; 1 Peter 1:5).  The context of the oracle in Micah suggests that the first stage of its fulfillment took place in the return from Babylonia (Mic. 4:1-10), when ruined Jerusalem (Mic 3:12) would be rebuilt and her temple raised again.

Micah 4:1-2  “And it will come about in the last days That the mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, And the peoples will stream to it. And many nations will come and say, ‘Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths.’ For from Zion will go forth the law, Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”   (Zech. 14:9-11)

Ezek 38:16and you will come up against My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land. It will come about in the last days that I shall bring you against My land, in order that the nations may know Me when I shall be sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog.”

Deuteronomy 4:30  “When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice.”

Daniel 10:14  “Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.”

Hosea 3:5  “Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days.”

B.  Supremacy of the Messianic Kingdom

The mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills;

Van Parunak: the use of poetic parallelism, already evident in ch. 1, is here pervasive, and often provides an important clue for interpretation. Virtually every clause, every assertion is doubled. The importance of this stylistic feature was recognized by Bishop Lowth in 1754, well after the publication of the KJV in 1611, so sometimes they miss the parallelism.

Mountain – speaks of kingdom; and kingdom implies a king (Dan. 2:35; Amos 4:1)

The religion of Israel and the God of Israel will be exalted as exclusively true

Structure patterned after nation of Israel; not the church

Van Parunak: In its current situation, Mount Zion is actually lower than the nearby Mount of Olives; one looks down on Mount Zion from the top of the Mount of Olives. . . Isaiah may be describing a physical change in topography; earthquakes feature prominently in the culminations of each cycle in the Revelation. Zech 14 describes dramatic topographical changes in the coming “day of the Lord

Isaiah 11:9  “They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.”

Zechariah 8:3  “Thus says the LORD, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.’”

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

C.  Gentile Discipleship in the Messianic Kingdom

And all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways, And that we may walk in His paths.’

Picture is of a river flowing uphill

Motyer: a supernatural magnetism is at work

1 Tim. 1:5  “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith

Van Parunak: It was prophesied that Gentiles would come to worship the Lord. It was not previously revealed that in their worship, they would be on an equal footing with Jews.

Oswalt: Those who will not leave their own self-sufficiency and come to God cannot learn his . . . ways.  But the learning is for the purpose of living.  It is not an end in itself

2 Tim. 3:7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth

Motyer: This is true knowledge: a grasp of truth issuing in redirection of life.

Aside: Does the temple need to be rebuilt as the center of worship in the Millennium Kingdom? Actually it needs to be rebuilt by the mid point of the Tribulation period because of the prophecies of the desecration of the temple by the Anti Christ

The abomination of desolation is referred to three times in the book of Daniel, (Daniel 9:27, 11, 31; 12:11). Each mention refers to the place of sacrifice being defiled.

The words of Paul refer to the defilement of the temple as well.

2 Thess. 2:3-4  Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalt himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”

D.  Dispensation of the Truth of God

For the law will go forth from Zion, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Beall: Gen 22:14, the prophetic name for the mount given by Abraham after God provided the sacrifice in place of his son Isaac
Young: Whenever and wherever in the church preaching the truth has been relegated to a secondary position, in that measure the church has been unfaithful to the will of God as expressed in this prophecy.

II.  (:4)  THE UNILATERAL IMPLEMENTATION PROGRAM OF JUSTICE AND PEACE IN THE MESSIANIC KINGDOM – ACCOMPLISHED BY THE MESSIAH

“unilateral” = done or undertaken by one person or party

A.  Implementation of Justice

And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples;

No International Court system run by world governments

B.  Implementation of Peace

1.  Destructive Implements of War Converted Into Productive Implements of Agriculture

And they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.

Not accomplished by the United Nations or by a consortium of world governments

United Nations statue: The United Nations garden contains several sculptures and statues that have been donated by different countries. This one is called “Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares” and was a gift from the then Soviet Union presented in 1959. Made by Evgeniy Vuchetich, the bronze statue represents the figure of a man holding a hammer in one hand and, in the other, a sword which he is making into a plowshare, symbolizing man’s desire to put an end to war and convert the means of destruction into creative tools for the benefit of all mankind.

http://www.un.org/cyberschoolbus/untour/subswo.htm

cf. bumper stickers: “World Peace” – what does that mean??

Why are weapons needed? For protection or attacking

Not a good idea for countries to lay down their weapons right now!

Look at Joel 3:10 which advocates the exact opposite of this passage in preparation for final battle leading into the Millennial Kingdom

2.  Cessation of Hostilities

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

No need for peace treaties

No return to former state

No need for huge defense budgets and standing armies and weapons of mass destruction

Can devote attention to learning the ways of the Lord

Motyer: the means of war, the practice of war, the mentality of war all alike disappear.  The choice of agricultural implements is symbolic of the return to Eden (cf. 11:6-9)

(:5)  APPLICATION: LEARN AND LIVE ACCORDING TO GOD’S WAYS

Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Gentile nations will be responding to God’s truth in the Messianic Kingdom; exhortation to Israel to respond now – motivating to holy jealousy

Oswalt:  Is. 9:2, 18-25; 24:14-16; 42:10, 12; 60:1-3, 19; 66:18-21

Gleason Archer: In the light of God’s promises of pardon for repentant sinners, and in view of the glorious prospects for the future conversion of the Gentiles, the prophet urged his countrymen to walk in the light and live to please God, trusting Him to perform His word.  They were to do this even though it meant running counter to the stream of the times and opposing current and fashionable trends.

Light vs Darkness – evil men hate the light and refuse to come to it

Jesus was the light that came into the world

Light associated with Life

Light brings blessing to the Gentiles

Parallel to the Great Commission – program of indoctrination and program of implementation

teaching them to observe all that I commanded you

CONCLUSION:  Psalm 119:105-112

THE WORD OF GOD LIGHTS OUR PATHWAYS ON THE ROAD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

I.   (:105)  THESIS:  “THY WORD IS A LAMP TO MY FEET, AND A LIGHT TO MY PATH.”

Contrast of Light vs. Darkness very important throughout Scriptures

“God is Light”

We lose our bearings when we stray from the Word of God

God’s Word provides practical direction in the path of obedience

II.  (:106)  RIGHTEOUSNESS MOTIVATES OUR COMMITMENT TO OBEDIENCE

I have sworn, and I will confirm it, That I will keep Thy righteous ordinances.”

A.  Level of our Commitment — How committed are you to obedience?

1.  “I have sworn

2.  “I will confirm it

3.  “I will keep

B.  Value of God’s Commands — How righteous are they?

III.  (:107-110)  AFFLICTION THREATENS OUR PESEVERANCE IN OBEDIENCE

A.  Intensity of the Affliction

1.  Its Depth — “I am exceedingly afflicted

2.  Its Duration — “My life is continually in my hand

3.  Its Danger — “The wicked have laid a snare for me

B.  Passion for God’s Word

1.  Its Power to Revive — “Revive me, O Lord, according to Thy word

2.  Its Helpfulness to Instruct — “teach me Thine ordinances

C.  Attitude of Thankfulness — “O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord

D.  Perseverance in Obedience

1.  Remaining focused — “Yet I do not forget Thy law

2.  Remaining on track — “Yet I have not gone astray from Thy precepts

IV.  (:111-112)  THE ROAD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THE ROAD TO ETERNITY

A.  Righteousness is Our Eternal Joy

I have inherited Thy testimonies forever, For they are the joy of my heart

B.  Righteousness is Our Eternal Pursuit

I have inclined my heart to perform Thy statutes Forever, even to the end

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