The first chapter of Isaiah is a condemnation of Judah for its sinfulness. The declaration ended with a promise of redemption to those who repent. Chapter two begins a second prophecy that pictures the contrast between the kingdom of Israel and the Messiah’s kingdom.
When the Glory of the Lord Is Exalted (2:1-5)
Isaiah describes the coming of the glorious kingdom offering hope to the people of God. The “last days” or “latter days” point to the arrival of the Messianic age. In this new era God would create new relationships with Israel and with the world. Isaiah says the mountain of the house of the Lord would be established as the highest of the mountains. Mountains carry the symbolism of a kingdom or power (cf. Jeremiah 51:25). Therefore, the coming kingdom of the Lord would be greater than all other kingdoms.
Isaiah further pictures the nations of the earth flowing to this glorious kingdom. Why are they going there? Notice Isaiah 2:3, “Many peoples shall 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 his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” People will go to the mountain because they will have the desire to be taught by God and walk in his paths. This was a contrast to the physical nation who was rebelling against God. Isaiah pictures people all over the earth desiring to participate in the glorious kingdom when it arrives. People will flow to this kingdom (Zion) because it will be the place where instruction goes out. God will be the teacher and people will flow to him to listen to him. When the people come to him, they will trust God and submit to his just decisions (2:4). God’s word will be the standard by which all matters are judged. Further, this kingdom would not be defended or extended by fleshly warfare (cf. 2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:10-17). Rather, the kingdom is defended and extended by the preaching of the message of peace and reconciliation (cf. Eph. 2:17).
In predicting the coming of Christ’s kingdom, Isaiah is describing Christians and the way God’s glory would be shown in the Messiah’s kingdom. We must ask ourselves if we fit this description. True followers of Christ desire to hear the word of the Lord. They want to be taught in the ways of the Lord so that they can walk in the Lord’s paths. They long to enjoy the scriptures and also invite others to learn. The Messiah’s people do not have the attitude that they “have to read the Bible” or “have to worship together.” According to Isaiah, spending time in the scriptures and serving God is what they want to do.
When Glory Is Misplaced (2:6-11)
Rather than continuing to picture the coming of the glorious kingdom, Isaiah describes the failure of the people in his day. It is a failure that continues in those today, who like Israel are glorifying the wrong things. Verse six begins with the solemn, sorrowful words that the Lord has rejected the people. Rather than desiring the word of the Lord and conforming to God’s teachings, notice where they put their desires and their trust:
- The people were filled with worldliness (2:6). God describes the people acting like the surrounding nations and embracing their pagan customs. The scriptures repeatedly warn against conforming to the thinking and actions of the nations. Do not be like them. Do not act like them. Do not adopt their practices (2 Cor. 6:14-18). We are called to be holy people, indicated by the fact that we act differently than the world. The apostle Peter says that we will be different to such a degree that the world will think we are strange for not doing the same things they are doing (1 Peter 4:3-5).
- The people trusted in their wealth (2:7). Isaiah declares that the land is full of silver and gold and there is no end to their treasures. Their hearts had been stolen away from the Lord. They had found their satisfaction in their wealth.
- The people trusted in their horses and chariots (2:7). In other words, the people had put their trust in their military might rather than the Lord. God warned of these problems in Deuteronomy knowing that trusting in physical security causes a nation to lose its reliance on the Lord (Deut. 17:14–17).
- The people were filled with idols (2:8). The people were not seeking the Lord. Their hearts had turned to their gods. How foolish to put trust and confidence in things humans have made! Therefore God would humble the people through judgment. There would be no forgiveness because the people would not change. Notice that God attributes these idolatrous ways to pride (2:11).
It is arrogant to think that acting like the world is going to bring us happiness and joy. It is arrogance when we trust in our wealth as if we are in control of our prosperity. It is arrogance when we trust in our nation’s armies, as if this nation will last forever or has matchless power. It is arrogance when we trust in idols, which is any object or pursuit that takes our attention and desire away from passionately pursuing the Lord. It is arrogance because we think these idols will bring us satisfaction. Sadly, even Christians will act just like Israel filling themselves with everything but God and his word! God says he is going to take that pride and shatter it. We show our pride when we think that the world’s pleasures rather than the treasures of the Lord can satisfy the longings of our soul. The Lord alone will be exalted in that day (2:11)!
The Lord Alone Will Be Exalted (2:12-22)
God declares this truth a second time in verse 17 to drive it into the hearts of the people and into our hearts. No one would be in the Messiah’s kingdom who does not exalt the Lord alone. God will show everything we put our trust in to be a false hope and a false deliverer. These idols always disappear; they always let us down. Glory belongs to the Lord, not to us. There is nothing within us deserving of glory or attention. The Lord alone must be exalted!