The Old Testament Lesson for the first Sunday of the Church Year in Series A is from the book of the prophet Isaiah. The text is Isaiah 2:1-5 and is a beautiful eschatological prophecy focusing on the era of peace that comes along with the coming of the LORD. Frequently, Jewish people have misidentified which coming of the Messiah and which Messianic age is being referenced. Even at the time of Christ’s walk on earth this kind of confusion is evident in the questions asked and the attitudes perceived. Even the disciples of Jesus wondered, “LORD will you NOW…?” However, the Church, perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, has correctly understood these words of Isaiah to point to the coming of the LORD to judge on the last day. The language is actually quite clear in this regard… again, perhaps with the benefit of hindsight.
“The Mountain of the LORD,” as mentioned in these verses is one of the many “mountain” references by Isaiah. In the past I have used this mountain motif of Isaiah as my mid-week Advent themes:
Advent 1: The Mountain of Peace (Isaiah 2:1-5)
Advent 2: The Mountain of Good News (Isaiah 52:7-10)
Advent 3: The Mountain of Reunion (Isaiah 66:18-23)
Christmas Eve: The Mountain of Reward (Isaiah 40:9-11)
Christmas Day: The Mountain of Life (Isaiah 25:6-9
New Year’s Day: The Mountain of Restoration (Isaiah 55:12-13)
Of course, the language of “peace” and the reference to, “all nations coming to this Mountain of the LORD,” are very important to the Advent season as we wait, watch and prepare for the return of the LORD. Verses 2-4 beautifully describe the advent of that glorious day, while verse 5 basically tells the people (and us), while we wait for this coming of the LORD, we shall walk in the light of the LORD. This is not only to preserve and strengthen our faith, but also to prepare the world around for that day.
One other thing to note before we deal with the grammatical aspects of these verses: In Micah 4:1-4 we read an almost exact replication of these words from Isaiah. This has caused a great deal of discussion. Who copied who? Or, who was the “redactor” who made these prophets mirror one another so closely at this place? There are many possibilities which would not include the idea of someone altering the inspired Word of God. Isaiah and Micah are contemporaries and are addressing similar audiences. Why would God inspire identical messages? Perhaps both prophets are quoting a popular saying, or a hymn, or a poem of the day. Isaiah and Micah are most certainly aware of the work and prophecies of the other and would have recognized the hand of the LORD in their work. Why would they not feel free to quote or copy the other? It would most definitely given credence to the message when two prophets are speaking identically.
2:1 חָזָה (cha-Zah) Qal: “to see; to see as a prophet or seer” This is a prophetic seeing.
2:2 בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים (be-a-cha-Rit hai-ya-Mim) “in the ends of the days” “in the latter days”
*Note the “mountain of the house of the LORD” is connected to Mount Zion. However, as the following verses indicate, this is the new Zion, the heavenly Temple in the heavenly Jerusalem.
מִגְּבָעוֹת (mig-ge-va-ot) from: גְּבָעה (ghib-aw) “hill; height; elevated place”
וְנָהֲרוּ (ve-na-ha-Ru) root: נהר (naw-har) Qal: “to flow to; to stream towards”
2:3 וְהָלְכוּ (ve-ha-le-Chu) Qal: “to come; to go” “they will/shall come”
לְכוּ (le-Chu) root: הלך (haw-lak) Qal, imperative: “come”
וְנַעֲלֶה (ve-na-a-Leh) root: עֲלֶה (aw-law) Qal, jussive: “let us go up”
וְיֹרֵנוּ> (ve-yo-Re-nu) root: ירה (yaw-raw) Hiphil: “to direct; to teach; to teach someone something; to cause to be taught” The Teacher is the LORD.
בְּאֹרְחֹתָיו (be-o-re-cho-Tav) from: אֹרְחֹ (o-rakh) “way; path”
*Note that “the Word of the LORD” and the “Torah” are synonymous in this verse. Therefore, it is best to translate “Torah” as teaching or instruction rather than, “Law.”
2:4 וְשָׁפַט (ve-sha-Fat) Qal: “to judge”
וְהוֹכִיחַ (ve-ho-Chi-ach) root: יכח (yaw-kahh) Hiphil, perfect: “to mediate; to decide; to maintain justice; rebuke”
וְכִתְּתוּ> (ve-chit-te-Tu) root: כתת (kaw-thath) Piel: “to beat; to crush to pieces; to hammer”
לְאִתִּים. (le-it-Tim) from: אִתe (ayth) “plowshare; mattock”
וַחֲנִיתוֹתֵיהֶם (va-cha-ni-to-tei-Hem) from: חֲנִית] (khan-eeth) “spear; and their spears”
לְמַזְמֵרוֹת (le-mazmeRot) “pruning hook; vine-dresser knife; pruning knife”
יִלְמְדוּ (yil-me-Du) root: למד (law-mad) Qal: “to learn”
*Instruments of war are turned into agricultural instruments which are a sign of peace.
2:5 וְנֵלְכָה> (ve-ne-le-Chah) root: הלך (haw-lak) Qal, jussive: “let us walk; let us go”
THEME: The Coming of Peace
- Peace is unnatural to us.
- People are not peaceful.
- People are fighters.
- People want to get even.
- We do not love our enemies.
- People are not peaceful.
- Isaiah speaks of Peace.
- A time of peace is coming.
- This time is ushered in by the Light.
- The Now and Not Yet of Peace.
- The time of peace is NOW.
- Christ, the Light has come and has brought peace.
- Advent celebrates this coming as we live in the Light.
- The time of peace is NOT YET!
- Christ will come again and usher in peace.
- Advent is a preparation for the return of the Light.
- The time of peace is NOW.
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Isaiah 2:1-5.
Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Isaiah 2:1-5.