The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

My Notes on Isaiah 2:1-5

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 27, 2011

2:1 This is the word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

This verse is similar to the superscription which opens the book (1:1). As noted in the comments there, the Hebrew word for vision can refer to both optical and auditory experiences, therefore, the statement that the prophet “saw” the “word” should not cause us to wonder. God speaks both by what he says and by what he does. Visions, like pictures, can speak a thousand words. Do you “see” what I’m “saying”?

The superscription introduced the entire book; this statement in 2:1 is an introduction to chapters 2-5. this suggests that the book was developed, at least in part, from existing written oracles which were edited into the book as we now have it. Whether these were written by Isaiah himself or some of his disciples (or a combination of the two) we shall probably never know.

2:2-5 And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of Yahweh’s house shall be established as the highest of mountains, raised up above all the hills. All nations shall flow towards it; many people will come, saying, “Come, let us ascend the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us concerning his ways, so that we might walk in his paths. For out of Zion instruction will go forth, the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem. He will judge among the nations and set terms on many people. They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. No nation shall lift the sword against another, nor will they train for war again. O house of Jacob, come and let us walk in the light of the Lord.

These words are nearly identical to what is found in Micah 4:1-3. Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah and it is difficult to say which of the two prophets was the first to receive it. The claim made by some that the two passages are both later interpolations from the post-exilic period has not been well received by scholars. Here we will focus on the literary context of the passage.

The last days. the underlying Hebrew words are variously translated in English. The words need not imply the end of all time but rather the end of an age or era.

the mountain of Yahweh’s house shall be established as the highest of mountains, and raised up above all hills. In chapter 1 the nation was suffering military invasion and Jerusalem was under siege because of its sins (1:7-8). Its primary sin was idolatry, the worship of false gods. Such worship often took place under terebinth trees and in groves or gardens (1:29). Often these were located on elevated places like hills (often called in the bible “the high places”). In this current oracle we have a promise that the mountain of the Lord’s house will be established and raised above such places. All the nations will worship God in true fashion and therefore he will not have to punish them with war (see Deuteronomy 28:49-57).

This would be preceded by a judgement when all that is high, lofty, or lifted up (i.e., pride, arrogance of man which manifests itself in idolatry) would be brought low, and God would be lifted up~  Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made: So man is humbled, and men are brought low — forgive them not! Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust from before the terror of the LORD, and from the glory of his majesty. The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the pride of men shall be humbled; and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. For the LORD of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up and high; against all the cedars of Lebanon, lofty and lifted up; and against all the oaks of Bashan; against all the high mountains, and against all the lofty hills; against every high tower, and against every fortified wall; against all the ships of Tarshish, and against all the beautiful craft. And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the pride of men shall be brought low; and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. And the idols shall utterly pass away (Isa 2:9-18, RSV).

the Lords house established. The Hebrew word for established is often associated in the OT with the place where God’s presence was manifested (Ex 15:17; 1 kings 8:13;) Here the word house obviously refers to his temple. With the coming of the Holy Spirit God’s temple is now the Church, built of “living stones,” (1 Pet 2:4-8) “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone” (Eph 2:19-22) See here, and here.

all nations shall flow towards it. Like streams or rivers. Of course, water does not run uphill. (see what follows)

come, let us ascend the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. It is pagans speaking here. The text looks to their conversion. “Who may abide in your tabernacle? who may dwell on your holy mountain? Whoever walks without blame, whoever does what is right, whoever speaks the truth from the heart” (Psalm 15:1-2). But no more than water can flow uphill can man ascend to God by his own power, let alone dwell with God. God must draw him up and invite him in, therefore:

he must teach us concerning his ways, so that we might walk in his paths. It is for this reason that out of Zion instruction will go forth, from Jerusalem the word of Yahweh. This happened as a result of Pentecost (see Acts 1:6-8). As a result, those who were far off (gentiles=people of the nations) have become near to the community of the true Israel (the Church, Gal 6:16) by the blood of Christ. they are now no longer strangers, they have become fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred to the Lord…into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (see Eph 2:11-22).

O house of Jacob, come and let us walk in the light of the Lord.  It is the Israelites speaking here. They recognize that they have become like the pagans and are in need of God’s instruction once again (See Romans chapters 9-11).

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One Response to “My Notes on Isaiah 2:1-5”

  1. […] John Paul II's Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 80 « My Notes on Isaiah 26:1-6 My Notes on Isaiah 2:1-5 […]

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