Run to the hills - Isaiah 2

This is a sermon by Lee McMunn from the Riverside Church service on 14th September 2014.

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Run to the hills

Isaiah 2:1-22

 

If you were able to predict the future then you would be rich. Guaranteed. No doubt about it.

 

Weather, traffic, stocks and shares, house prices, football results, even the results of next week’s vote on Scottish independence

 

But of course we all know that’s impossible. Because all we humans can do is make estimated predictions. We cannot make certain promises. However, the God we meet in the Bible is very, very different. You see, not only can he accurately predict what people will do and so therefore promise the future that will be. The Bible also says, that he is actively involved in our human story to ensure that his ultimate outcomes are realised. Now he is involved in such a way that we are still held responsible for our choices but never is the final outcome in doubt. And so therefore God can confidently promise, ahead of time, what the future will be.

 

And that’s what we discover him doing in this second chapter of Isaiah. You’ll see from your handout that there are two big promises made in this chapter.

 

  • The promise of peace (Vs 1-5)
  • The promise of punishment (Vs 6-22)

 

The promise of peace (Vs 1-5)

 

What is peace? We often think peace is simply the absence of war. In the Bible, peace is also the presence of wholeness and well being. So yes there is the absence of war but when true peace is present life is also blossoming for the people involved. If such peace is offered to you, you should grab it with both hands.

 

Now this is the kind of peace promised, described and offered in these verses of Isaiah. So let me show you more of the details.

 

First of all, let’s discover where this peace is being offered. Look at vs 2. Read vs 2-3a.

 

Isaiah is being told that there will be a future day when people from all the nations of the world will come and worship the God of Israel. A future day coming when the God of Israel will be the most popular choice of all.

A day when the statistics would proclaim that the Trinitarian God is the chief choice among many alternatives.

 

Or to use the language of verse 2, when the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains. When it will be raised up above the other hills.

 

What does this mean? The secret to understanding these words is to realise this is a symbolic vision. Or dramatic picture language to make a profound point.

 

Ancient world, the gods were often worshipped on mountains or high places. You could easily get into a size comparison. My god is better than yours because he has a bigger temple or a bigger mountain – or a bigger temple on a bigger mountain!

 

This chapter of the Bible uses this way of thinking to show that there will be a future day when it will be obvious that the God of Israel is the most significant deity on the planet. And at some future point all kinds of people would choose to worship him.

 

Why? Let’s continue to read from where we left off. Read vs 3. Taught God’s ways. Not just for learning. But so they can be changed. So they can walk in God’s paths. That wholeness and well being. The God of Israel is offering a certain kind of peace and they want it.

 

How do they know what’s on offer? Let’s read on. Read vs 3.

 

Somehow the news gets out! The word of the LORD will be spread to the different parts of the world. And so the nations come to worship the God of Israel and enjoy his wholesome peace.

 

And yet there is even more on offer. Look at vs 4. Read vs 4. This is the other dimension of peace. The absence of war. A future day coming when the weapons of war will be no more. In fact, the desire for war would be taken away – it is the people who beat the swords into ploughshares.

 

Can you imagine how crazy this would have seemed to the people in Isaiah’s day? The foreigners were coming but not with hearts of devotion. No they were coming with hearts of destruction. But God was making a clear promise about a future day when things would be different. When would this be? When would these last days occur? The NT makes it clear that these days started with the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. Two things to point out.

 

Jesus became the centre point of God’s plans. John 4. Samaritan woman. Vs 19. “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

This was going to revolutionise the potential to get the message out. The great commission. The day of Pentecost. Jesus sent his disciples out into all the world. From Jerusalem. And then going out from churches spread through the world.

 

What is our message? The message of Jesus. What was that? Jesus came offering peace. Different aspects. Peace with God. Peace with each other. Peace within.  Peace globally. Some aspects could be experienced straight away. Some aspects were reserved for a future time when he would return.

 

Let me bring all these truths together. People stream to the God of Israel by streaming to Jesus but they don’t literally have to go to Israel anymore.

 

This is happening all over the world. We are living in the last days. It is happening here in Hull. Does it need to happen to you?

 

What about those of us who have already come to know Jesus? What should our response be? Look at vs 5. Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

 

The message in Isaiah’s day. Given this future, let’s live differently today.

 

The message for the church. Let’s show the gospel is beautiful. His ways. Let’s say the gospel is beautiful.

The launch of the iPhone 6. They genuinely love their product. Do we love the peace of Jesus?

 

The promise of punishment (Vs 6-22)

 

  • The reason for the punishment (Vs 6-9)
  • The nature of the punishment (Vs 10-21)
  • The way to avoid the punishment (Vs 22)

 

The reason for the punishment?

 

  • Vs 6. Superstitions from the east. Divination like the Philistines – who happen to be from the west. Very open minded!
  • Vs 7. Wealth. Weapons of war. These reveal what they ultimately treasure and trust in. It’s obviously not God.
  • Vs 8. What are they devoted to?
  • Consequence? Vs 9. So man will be brought low and mankind humbled. No forgiveness. All the earth. Not just God’s people.

 

  • This is right and justified. Indeed, we should have a passion to see it happen for the honour of God’s name. Our passions are often stirred when another human is treated disgracefully. Justice to be done. The same should be true of God.

 

 

The nature of the punishment?

 

Three times something called the dread of the LORD is mentioned. See vs 10, 19 and 21.

 

God is present in awesome holiness and perfect anger. It is terrifying.

 

When will this judgement take place? Short answer – when Jesus comes back.

 

Let me read to you from the end of Revelation 6. “I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red,  13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind.  14 The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains.  16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!  17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

 

How can we avoid this punishment?

 

Look vs 22.  “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath In his nostrils. Of what account is he?”

 

How can you stop trusting in yourself or another human being? Your trust must be directed elsewhere It must be directed to God.

 

When it is you will avoid the punishment you deserve and instead enjoy the peace provided by Jesus Christ.

 

Let’s pray.

 

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