Salvation in Isaiah Chapter 2
The name "United Nations", coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was first used in the "Declaration by United Nations" of 1 January 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their Governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers. The forerunner of the United Nations was the League of Nations, an organization conceived in similar circumstances during the First World War, and established in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles "to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security." The League of Nations ceased its activities after failing to prevent the Second World War.
In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter. Those delegates deliberated on the basis of proposals worked out by the representatives of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States at Dumbarton Oaks, United States in August-October 1944. The Charter was signed on 26 June 1945 by the representatives of the 50 countries. Poland, which was not represented at the Conference, signed it later and became one of the original 51 Member States.
The United Nations officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and by a majority of other signatories. United Nations Day is celebrated on 24 October each year.
Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the United Nations and membership totals 191 countries. When states become members of the UN they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, which is an international Treaty that sets out principles of international relations. According to the charter the UN has 4 purposes –
1. To maintain international peace and security. 2. To develop friendly relations amongst nations. 3. To cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights. 4. To be a centre for the harmonizing of the actions of nations.
What has all this to do with Isaiah chapter 2 our passage for this evening?
It has everything to do with verse 4 of Isaiah 2 – which says
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
What is more, Isaiah’s contemporary prophet Micah said exactly the same thing in Micah 4 v 3.
The UN has taken this text as their motto and has worked hard for 57 years to restrain wars between nations, not always successfully. The UN’s achievements are far from ideal and indeed are a breeding ground for anti-Christian activities and plans. It is one thing to quote the Bible in your motto – and quite another to have God as your supreme sovereign and governor and the One upon whom you depend.
And just like the people of Babel in Genesis 11 unity of nations without the root of that unity in the Creator God, spells disaster. The problem with the UN motto is this – they have not taken into consideration the FIRST part of Isaiah 2 verse 4
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people:
They have left out the God of the nations who alone can administer peace through His righteous rule.
Isaiah the Prophet received a DIRECT REVELATION from the Lord of a future glorious age. So our first heading this evening is
1. The Word to Isaiah.
Verse 1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In chapter 1 v 1 we read that Isaiah saw a VISION and God communicated the contents of that passage through the sights and insights that God gave his servant.
Here in Chapter 2 the prophet saw a WORD. Another supernatural revelation came to Isaiah. The Word of God according to this is energising and living. An ordinary natural mind of an ordinary man could receive directly from God His powerful word.
More than this though Isaiah had a mind that was qualified and prepared to look and understand; to discern intelligently what God had spoken and what the Lord wanted to reveal. Sometimes we forget this as we read our Bibles. We lose sight of the doctrine of the inspiration of the Scriptures supernaturally. We forget how unique the Bible is. When we study and read our Bibles let us ever remember that this is God’s supernaturally revealed word to us His creatures.
This chapter opens with an encouraging note. It is as if Isaiah is standing and looking at Jerusalem. But not the Jerusalem that he knew in his day – but the Jerusalem of a coming age. Not of the coming age when the Babylonians would capture and destroy it; not the coming age when Ezra and his colleagues would rebuild it; not the coming age when Israel would once more establish the sacrifices there in the Temple. But he saw the coming age when the seat of Government of the kingdom of God would be set up in all its glory on Mount Moriah, on Zion. Not in New York – but Jerusalem. In the course of his vision Isaiah has seen the Temple in Jerusalem receiving a special visitor – first as a child coming for the dedication; then as a boy of twelve speaking amongst the theologians for hours on end; and then as a man walking through Solomon’s porch and crying out
John 7 v 37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
Next Isaiah was going to see that same man lifted up outside of the city, to be nailed to a cross and to cry, “It is finished!” Next Isaiah sees this city burned with fire by the Romans utterly destroyed. Surely his spirit was almost unable to cope with all of this vision – but then he comes to the last days, the end of all periods and all time. He can see Messiah once again on Zion but now the little hill reaches up to the clouds – reaching to heaven itself. What he was really seeing was the New Jerusalem descending from heaven, God living among men and the nations flowing, drawn to the tabernacle of the Most High God where they offered Him holy worship. This is what Isaiah says in verse 2.
How encouraging this is. There is a time coming when this will be true. When will it happen? How will we know that it has come? What indication do we have that Isaiah’s prophecy, given to Him by the Lord God will be realised?
My friends it will come to pass when the Lord Jesus Christ comes again in glory and in power. He has promised to return –
I will come again – John 14.
His apostles say that he will come again –
1 Thessalonians 4 v 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
This was the word of vision to Isaiah. And we living in this time can read what God gave to Isaiah the prophet and believe it. We do not have to wait around for God to speak to us in words and visions – God has said all that he is going to say – through the Word of God that we have before us today.
We too have the benefit of the word to Isaiah.
2. Weapons of War abolished.
In the process of the Gospel age, that period of time between the first and second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, many souls will come and put their faith in the Saviour. This is what Isaiah sees in verse 3.
And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Not only is it a great multitude a great crowd of people who will be converted, but it is made up of individuals from among the races and tribes of Gentiles. Isaiah sees them flowing or streaming into the city and as they do inviting others to join them. “He will teach us His ways and we will walk in his paths.” Isaiah sees a contrast to his own day. Then the people were deaf and would not hear God’s word. Then they were rebellious and deliberately went against the will of the most high even though they, the Jews, knew His commands.
But in the future days there would be a readiness and a willingness to hear and to walk God’s way.
This then is a picture of the spiritual centre of the divine government and God’s law through God’s word being Jerusalem. But not the physical Jerusalem – rather the spiritual – the worldwide church of the Lord Jesus Christ in these days preaching Christ throughout the whole wide world.
Now comes the difficult part – verse 4 speaks of disarmament! But let us not make the UN’s mistake of taking the text out of its context.
4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
God will judge amongst the nations and He will rebuke many people because He is the final judge in all matters. Since the nations will come to Zion to learn His law and to walk in His ways, God’s word will be the standard by which all matters are judged. But at the same time God will judge and execute His vengeance on the heathen nations that refuse to bow the knee to him, who refuse His word and reject God’s Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
And this is the problem with the United Nations. They are not a Christian organisation. They do not understand this prophecy. They are striving for peace amongst men by their own efforts. They do not realise that true peace is only achieved by a relationship with God’s sent one, the Messiah the Lord Jesus Christ. Swords to plowshares is idealistic. A plowshare is the metal blade of the plough that cuts through the earth – it is hidden but sharp and an essential piece of farming equipment. Spears to pruning knives – instruments that enable long branches of fruit trees and shrubs to be cut off. This would be wonderful. No weapons of mass destruction – all destroyed.
But, my friends, current world events show us that there are many characters in the world who do not think that this principle is a sound one. And this is simply because of this fact. Isaiah’s prophecy is describing the characteristics of the citizens of the new kingdom. When the Lord comes again and they are all gathered in there will be no more war and they will not learn how to be warriors any more. The prophet is not describing a time when the nations of the world will not fight wars – wars will always be fought – until the King of kings comes!
He describes the character of the kingdom of the last days – the end time – at the coming of the Lord Jesus. And this is the Kingdom that men and women and boys and girls are invited to join today.
Sadly the cart is being put before the horse. Peace amongst men is being strived for, but not peace with God. Isaiah knew, and all of the prophets knew that the Lord God is angry with men’s sin. He is a God who has to be appeased. Reconciliation is needed between God and men. But men in their ignorance and foolishness choose peace rather than righteousness little realising that righteousness through the Lord Jesus Christ leads to peace – amazing and satisfying peace.
Later in this chapter there is a solemn
3. Warning of a terrible Judgement.
Verses 10 – 12 paint a graphic picture of the very last day – when the Lord comes again in judgement. High and mighty men and women will be scrambling for their lives to the mountain caves, to escape from the judgment. Then the poor will be running in every direction when the judgment comes and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. It will be terrifying for those who are not ready to face the judgement. Isaiah seeks to warn the people of what is to come. When the Babylonians came to Jerusalem there was a preliminary fulfilment of this prophecy. When the Romans came to the same city in AD 70 again there was a fulfilment – something that the Lord Jesus had added to in Matthew 24.
But the message for us today is this – make sure that you are ready to meet the Lord God. For when He comes to judge the world in righteousness He will come to welcome His people but to destroy His enemies.
Christians have nothing to fear – unbelievers have everything to fear. Yet there are invitations to be ready, announced so many times through the Bible – and there is one here in Isaiah 2 v 5
O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.
As those others had been invited to join the flow of believers coming to the spiritual Jerusalem in verse 3
And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob;
So now the invitation is repeated. And my friend it is a repeat to you tonight if you are outside of Christ. The Lord God through His word calls men and women to repent of their sins and their confidence in man made devices and schemes for peace. God offers true peace to the genuine seeker and the one who is convicted inside that all is not right – in fact all is wrong.
And the Lord God is tender in this period of time – He is ready to save now – He is willing to forgive sinners and cleanse them from their sins. He loves the sinner even though He hates their sins. But as Isaiah has shown there is a day coming when that offer of mercy will end. Now is the accepted time – now is the day of salvation. Now is the time to consider your position before God and take notice of His very solemn warning – that day will come! Therefore you must come – to Him – to repent and to believe in His Son’s work on the cross.
Will you be one of those who will come to the mountain of the Lord, to be one of the great multitude of redeemed believers? One last warning
22 Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?
What salvation can man offer you? What salvation can the UN offer you my friend? They are impotent when it comes to the mighty judgement of the Lord God and His son the Lord Jesus Christ. You must look to a higher person than man – you must look to the God man – Jesus Christ – for He alone is able to save you from your sins.