Isaiah 2: Come, let us walk...
Updated: May 5
"This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many people will come and say, “Come let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways so that we might walk in His paths.” Isaiah 2:2-3a
If I were to pick a favorite passage in Isaiah, this would be it. Drawn here, in Isaiah’s beautiful poetry, is a picture of God’s greatest desire fulfilled: King Jesus sitting on the throne, and the nations, now recognizing true Wisdom, streaming to it. I fully expect to be there to see it, but in the meantime, I can learn what the “many“ will learn once there.
I have a tendency to gather information. And one day, while sitting in the midst of books and Bibles, with so many Web pages open the tabs were barely a quarter-inch wide, I heard the Spirit say: “What do you love more? To study or to learn?” Because they’re not the same thing. Do I want Him to teach me so I can know more, or so I can follow more closely? Is a face buried in a book an acceptable substitute for feet that follow Him? I think not. The value of knowing His ways is in walking them out. Lord help me.
I once decided I needed to know where Seir was. I was sure that knowing the geography around Israel would help me understand Isaiah. I found a website full of history and geography, timelines and maps. (Maps. I love maps!) It was a beautiful site, a useful site, but a frustrating site. I could barely see the content for all the ads popping up. But they promised, for $10, I could access a plethora of information, and best of all, it would be ad-free. So I paid the money. I received an e-mail. I received a receipt. I was happy.
Later, I went back to the site to see what I could find. I entered my e-mail, I entered my username, I entered my password and clicked. And clicked, and clicked, and clicked again. Nothing. Nothing but pop-ups. Finally, one pop-up popped up far enough for me to see the message beneath: “Incorrect password.“ I doubted it -- Google had populated it for me -- but maybe we'd made a mistake. So I tapped “Forgot your password?“, navigated around the ads, retyped my e-mail address, entered my username, and tapped “Reset.“ Their response? “There is no account associated with this e-mail address.“ Really?? They had sent a receipt to an e-mail address they didn’t have?!? I looked for their contact information. There was none. No Help menu. No customer service. Nada. So I composed an e-mail, complete with screenshots of the e-mails they had sent to an e-mail address they didn’t have, knowing full well that the address they used to confirm the address they didn't have may very well be an address that can send but not receive, and the e-mail I was sending was ending up out there somewhere where no one would ever see it – the digital “black hole.”
By this time I was exhausted. Mad. My fists were clenched, my chest constricted. I was saying nasty things to careless people who couldn't care less that their ads were covering the information I needed to get to the information I wanted. And now, not only did I not know the location of Seir, I couldn't remember why I cared. And in that moment I gleaned a bit of information far more valuable than where Seir was: I realized where I was, and it wasn't on His path.
Before we go on, a side note: It's usually helpful when reading Scripture to ignore the verse numbers. They're not inspired. They weren't on the scrolls. They were put there to help us find the verse, not understand it.
Verse 3 continues: "The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples." Before I started this study, I had a picture of the LORD judging the nations, pronouncing them guilty, and sending them away. But it doesn't say that! Isaiah says the LORD will judge between them, settling disputes for them—like a civil court, where the judge's purpose is to mediate, to settle disputes between parties, to bring an end to the argument. There is no sending away! Instead, the nations are sent to the fields to work and to watch, not to war. From there they will do what they came there to do: learn His ways so they can walk in His paths.
Isaiah then turns his attention to the people of God: “Come descendants of Jacob (that includes us), let us walk in the light of the LORD.” Isaiah 2:5 Isaiah's instruction is not a plea but rather the “ten-hut“ of a sergeant calling his troops to attention.
When my son graduated from National Guard AIT (with honors, I might add), the families were sent to a parking lot to wait in the dark. I really didn't know why we were there, but suddenly there came a sound like none other: the sound of hundreds of boots marching in rhythm at the direction of a sergeant calling out instructions. By the time they stood before us, my husband and I could hardly speak. I'm crying now as I remember it. It was breathtaking, powerful: a troop of men and women in formation, eyes straight ahead, ready to move at the command of their leader. We were spellbound.
Way back in the wilderness, Moses told his troops their time would come: “See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'" Deut. 4:5-6 Moses was addressing those standing before him, but he was speaking to a thousand generations. That generation in the wilderness missed their invitation. As did the next, and the next, and the next, until those God first chose to be His image-bearers had to be set aside. Today the invitation still stands. If the nations are ever to say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,“ His people must answer their call, “Come...let us walk in the light of the LORD.“
God has called us near so we can learn His ways and walk in His paths. And while we are growing in wisdom and understanding, God's Spirit is calling to the nations. Can we receive this: that while our eyes are fixed on Him, the nations have their eyes fixed on us? Don't be so quick to say, “It's not me; it's Jesus.“ If they don't know Him, they can't see Him. They see us. Reluctance on our part to accept that keeps us from fulfilling our calling. Because by His invitation, we are here, as we will be there, to display His glory as He calls the nations to Himself. Lord, help us.