Isaiah 2:1-22 Visions of God’s Greatness WC McCarter
The LORD Alone Shall Be Exalted
One of the things that seems to be lacking in churches today, especially in America and even in solid evangelical churches, is an accurate picture of Almighty God. We seem to have lost who God is, what He does, and what He is going to do. We have lost the attributes of God: the holiness of God, His righteousness, His justness, and more. We have lost it, and it’s a problem. Instead, we have filled our minds with the latest self-help or positive-thinking nonsense. In doing so, all we can think about is how we can live our best life now. We are selfish and sinful. We have lost the greatness of God and the global vision that He has given us. To combat this spiritually devastating epidemic, I am going to preach God in all His glory the best I can over the next several weeks.
As we begin this new sermon series in the book of Isaiah, we will be looking at six different chapters which contain visions of God and what He will do. Isaiah is considered the greatest of the writing prophets because his book is the longest of all the prophets. His career lasted at least four decades as he warned the Israelites of the North of coming judgment, and then he warned the Jews of the South of the same. He began preaching in about the year 740 B.C. Isaiah preached judgment, repentance, and hope for the future.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Global Vision (1-4)
The first thing to notice about this chapter is the global vision that the Lord reveals to the prophet Isaiah. He promises a splendid future when “all nations” shall flow to the Lord’s house; “many people” shall come to the mountain of the Lord to declare His greatness; and the instruction of the Lord shall “go forth” from Zion, the holy city, into all nations. The Lord also promises righteous judgment of the “nations;” He will rebuke “many people;” and “nations” will no longer think of war. As one writer has said, “This vision depicts nothing short of the transformation of human society” (Chisholm, 18).
Verse one tells us that this was a “word” that Isaiah “saw,” that is to say, this was a vision from the Lord. The vision revealed the promises of God for the future. In the “latter days” the Lord’s dwelling place on earth will be exalted. His house will sit at the heights of the mountains. The Lord’s house will be established on the peak of the tallest mountain.
The instruction of the Lord will bring about peace worldwide. It will truly transform global society. War will be a thing of the distant past as nations give it up to cultivate their own lands. War is an awful thing, especially in ancient times. In those days, war meant hand-to-hand combat. It was bloody, and it was ugly. There was slaughter, starvation, raping, cannibalism, slavery, and all forms of human atrocities. But in the latter days this will all be abandoned.
Filled with Eastern Ways (5-9)
Verse five is a call to all Israel to repent and obey their Lord which would usher in the long-awaited “latter days” when God would bring the blessings of verses one through four.
Verse six begins a different section in the chapter. God is acknowledged as having forsaken His people. The reason He has done so is clear, and the cause runs from verse six to verse nine. Twelve lines are listed representing three evils found among God’s people: eastern ways, wealth, and idols.
The Lord Alone Shall be Exalted (10-17)
Verse ten says that a wicked person can try to hide, but verse eleven makes clear that the wicked will be found and brought down. The only one left standing on that day will be the Lord. Not only will He be left standing, but He alone will be exalted.
The question that comes to mind from the end of verse eleven is, what is “that day?” The answer comes in verse twelve. It is the “day of the Lord.” This is a common phrase for the prophets of the Old Testament which refers to the judgment that the Lord will bring down upon the earth. Sometimes it refers to the very end times, and sometimes it refers to an immediate judgment against the people of Israel.
Israel is seen here as having fallen into the evil ways of all of humanity. They have become proud and arrogant. The day of the Lord is said to come upon everything that is lifted up, and, when it does, those things will be brought low.
Verses 13-16 list eight things which the Israelites would have considered high and mighty. The prophet says that these things will be brought down and, “The Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” These verses are almost poetic and certainly emphatic. For a Jew who only knew small, warped trees in Palestine, the massive trees of Lebanon and Bashan were greatly admired. For a people who feared the seas, the mighty merchant ships of Tarshish were wondrous. Some things which were a little closer to home, for which the Jews took great pride in, were the high mountains and raised hills, the high towers and fortified walls. These were great prides in the land of Canaan.
All the things that the people of earth take great pride in will be brought down. All the things that the Israelites considered mighty and marvelous would be brought low. The great sin of man is the sin that was committed first in the Garden and has occurred in every generation since: the sin of attempting to become God. We are selfish, proud, and arrogant people who are out of line and out of place. We do not have a proper perspective of ourselves, especially in relation to the Lord of hosts. Those who persist in arrogance will experience the terror of the Lord.
Idols Utterly Abolished (18-22)
On the day of the Lord, idols will be shown for what they are: helpless and useless. They will not save their devotees. The day of the Lord will be the end of all idols. They will be utterly annihilated. The only good those idols will be in the day of the Lord is as deterrents against rodents as the idolaters flee to the caves and holes to hide from the terror of the Lord, and they throw them at the moles and bats to keep them away.
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) Come and let us walk in the light of the Lord.
(2) Arrogance and pride bring about the judgment of God. It is a broken and contrite heart that the Lord will not despise. The Lord looks favorably upon the lowly. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Blessed are the poor in spirit. You see, the doctrine taught here in Isaiah is taught throughout the Bible. The Lord says in the New Testament, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(3) Not only should you forsake your own pride and self-centeredness, but you should also reject those around you who follow that path. We are told to sever ourselves from such people. Bad company corrupts good character.