The Arrival of a Glorious Kingdom (2:1-5)
Isaiah begins a new prophecy describing the coming of the glorious kingdom, offering hope to the people of God. God describes his future kingdom to present a vision of what God would ultimately do in Zion so the people can choose to either be part of the plan or not. The “last days” or “latter days” point to the arrival of the Messianic age, a new era, when God’s glorious kingdom would arrive. In this new era God will bring about a new relationships with Israel and with the world. Isaiah says that the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the highest of the mountains. The mountain carries a symbolism of a kingdom or power (cf. Jeremiah 51:25). Therefore, there will be a time when the kingdom of the Lord will be greater than all other kingdoms. This is what Daniel prophesied also.
31 “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32 The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. (Daniel 2:31–35 ESV)
40 And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. 41 And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.” (Daniel 2:40–45 ESV)
Notice that the vision is of a stone striking and shattering the statue. Then the stone becomes a great mountain that fills the whole earth. Isaiah continues to picture the nations flowing to this glorious kingdom. Isaiah pictures streams of people coming to Zion. People from all the nations and many peoples will be thronging to Zion. Why are they going there? The people will go to Zion because they will have the desire to be taught by God and walk in his paths. This is a contrast to current Israel in the day of Isaiah who are rebelling against him. When this restored kingdom comes, the people will desire to participate in it. People will flow to this kingdom (Zion) because it will be the place where instruction goes out. God will teach the people so that they can obey and have proper conduct in the ways of God. God will be the teacher and people will flow to him to listen to him. When the people come to him, they will trust God and submit to his just decisions. God’s word will be the standard by which all matters are judged. This kingdom would not be defended or extended by fleshly warfare (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-17). Rather, the kingdom is defended and extended by the preaching of the message of peace and reconciliation (cf. Ephesians 2:17). We see Luke record the arrival and fulfillment of this great prophecy.
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:44–49 ESV)
The name of Jesus would be proclaimed to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem. In Acts 2 we read about devout men from every nation at Jerusalem (Acts 2:5) as the Holy Spirit falls upon the apostles and the instruction of the Lord is preached (Acts 2:14-41). So the call is made: “Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.”
When Glory Is Misplaced (2:6-11)
Unfortunately, we glorify the wrong things. Rather than glorify God and his kingdom, we glorify ourselves. Verse 6 begins with the solemn, sorrowful words that the Lord has rejected the people. God tells us why he rejected his people.
The people are filled with worldliness (2:6).
Verse 6 describes the people acting like the surrounding nations. They are embracing the pagan customs of the nearby nations. The scriptures repeatedly warn against conforming to the thinking and actions of the nations. Do not be like them. Do not act like them. Do not adopt their practices. We are called to be a holy people, which by definition means that we are separate and different from the world. The apostle Peter says that we will be different to such a degree that the world will think we are strange for not doing the same things they are doing (1 Peter 4:3-5).
The people are filled with wealth (2:7).
Isaiah declares that the land is full of silver and gold and there is no end to their treasures. Their hearts had been stolen away from the Lord. They have found their satisfaction in their wealth.
The people are filled with armies (2:7).
Isaiah also notes that the people have put their trust in their military might rather than the Lord. God warned of these problems in Deuteronomy knowing that when we have such physical security we lose our reliance on the Lord.
“When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ 17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. (Deuteronomy 17:14–17 ESV)
So the very warning that God gave to avoid these things because their hearts would turn away from the Lord had happened. Their trust was to be in the Lord and not in the power of the country in which they lived (cf. Psalm 33:17).
The people are filled with idols (2:8).
The people are not seeking the Lord. Their hearts have turned to idols and they worship them. How foolish to put our trust and confidence in things that humans have made! Therefore God is going to humble the people through judgment. There is no forgiveness because the people will not change. I want us to notice what God attributes these idolatrous ways. Verse 11 points out that the problem is pride. It is arrogance to think that acting like the world is going to bring us the happiness and joy that we are seeking. It is arrogance when we trust in our wealth, as if we have any way to control our prosperity. It is arrogance when we trust in our nation’s armies, as if this nation will last forever or has matchless power. It is arrogance when we trust in idols, which is any object or any pursuit that takes our attention away from the Lord. It is arrogance because we think these idols will bring us satisfaction. Sadly, we fill ourselves with everything but God! God says he is going to take our pride and shatter it. The Lord alone will be exalted in that day! (2:11)
God Must Be Exalted (2:12-22)
Verse 17 declares this truth again to drive it into our hearts. “The Lord alone will be exalted in that day!” No one is in this promised glorious kingdom who does not exalt the Lord alone. God declared that he will judge against all these physical false gods. God will show everything that we put our trust in to be false hope and a false deliverer. These idols always disappear; they always let us down. The promises of our idols always turn out to be empty and lacking. Cast away these idols from your lives.
Finally, what value do humans have as an object of trust? You are worshiping the gods you have made rather than the God who made you. Relying on ourselves and our works does not make any sense since all that we have is the last breath we took. Glory belongs to the Lord, not to ourselves. There is nothing within us deserving of glory or attention. Why would we ever trust in ourselves or in others? We do not have control over anything in this world.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that we are living in that glorious kingdom now if we will choose to not be filled with false gods.
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22–24 ESV)
As Isaiah pleaded with his people, we must put God’s ways into practice in our lives. The people who come to glorious kingdom come wanting to be taught the ways of the Lord and thus walk in the paths of the Lord. “When we cherish his word, the Lord will teach us Christlike ways” (Motyer). Then put your trust in Jesus. It is easy to say we trust in Jesus. But does it look like we trust in Jesus in practice? Whose wisdom do we trust? Where do we turn for guidance? What do we value? What matters most to us in this world? These questions test the truthfulness of our words.