- For Whom and When
- A Prophecy About Worship
- The Temple Rebuilt
- Exalted Above Hills
- All the Nations
- Peace Among All Nations
- The Opposite of Creation
- References and Footnotes
- Other Pages to View
Isaiah 2 continues the pronouncement of judgement on Israel, but now, Isaiah is concerned with the "last days" or the end times, not just a period of captivity. Some of the events mentioned in Isaiah 2 are repeated in Revelation, confirming an expected fulfillment near the very end of time. Isaiah gives us sings to look for by describing the attitude of the people when all of this is set to take place.
For Whom and When
Isaiah starts off the chapter by letting us know that the prophecy is for the people of Judah and it's capital Jerusalem. However, this prophecy is for "the last days." While one might assume it means the last days of Judah, after reading the whole chapter it becomes obvious that Isaiah is talking about Jesus' second coming and the last days of the world.
Since this passage is talking about the literal end of time, the people of Judah and Jerusalem may be a reference to spiritual Judah (i.e., all of God's people) as opposed to just the Jewish nation.
A Prophecy About Worship
At the time the prophecy was written, I imagine Israel was a bit like we are today in terms of their relationship with God. There were probably many who professed belief in God and went through traditional customs that backed up their statements; they gave their sacrifices at the appointed times and they attended the feasts, just as people today bless their food and attend church. However, sin and idolatry were rampant because the people weren't making a connection to God. Instead of building a relationship, they were just going through the motions. Going through the motions, however, means you'll cut corners where it's easiest and drift away. Just as people today try to rationalize ungodly behavior, so did the Israelites back then.
The Temple Rebuilt
God says that in the last days, however, worship of Him will commence again in Jerusalem. God's house, which is the Temple, is to be established at the top of the mountains and He is to be exalted above hills. This is likely where people get the idea that there will be a third temple before the end of the world (despite Messiah telling us that in the New Testament that the third temple is not a physical building).
Since the Temple's destruction in 70 AD, there have been several attempts to rebuild the Temple over time. There was the Bar Kochba Revolt in 132 AD in which Simon bar Kokhba attempted to build a new temple. Roman emperor Julian attempted to rebuild the temple as well. Attempts have continued into the present. It is important to note that the New Testament can be interpreted as telling us that Jesus is the new temple (John 2:19 and 1 Corinthians 6:19).
Exalted Above Hills
Isaiah tells us that God will be exalted above hills, which is a little odd, because we don't normally exalt hills. We are more in awe of mountains. Besides, shouldn't we be magnifying God above the highest thing we know, since He is the Highest of Highs? So, why does God tell Isaiah to use this phrasing? I think it might be related to something we see in Revelation 17.
In Revelation 17:9, we learn about the whore of Babylon. The King James Version says that she sits on 7 mountains, but modern translations such as the New International Version use the word hill instead of mountain. The Greek word used in the original text could mean mountain or hill. Similarly, the original Hebrew word used in Isaiah can also mean hill or mountain.
What is important is that a woman in prophecy represents a church. The whore of Babylon is a church that is contrary to God's church. If we put the passage in Isaiah with the verse in Revelation telling us that this false church is set atop a hill, it begins to make sense. Isaiah is telling us that God will triumph over this false church.
All the Nations
Another indicator that this is speaking to the last days is Isaiah's proclamation that all nations would come to worship God and learn His ways. Before Jesus' first coming, the gospel had not been preached to all nations. Only the Jews and the nations that integrated with them heavily would have known much about God at the time Isaiah penned these words.
Peace Among All Nations
Isaiah 2:4 says that all the men will convert their weapons into useful tools, symbolizing the end of wars and violence. Not only is the phrase "neither shall they learn war any more" paraphrased and found in many gospel songs today, a portion of this verse seems to be the motto of the United Nations (UN). It is actually inscribed in a concrete wall, known as the Isaiah Wall, in New York City. Some sources say that this is part of the UN building, while others say that it is across the street from the UN building. Nonetheless, the UN possesses a statue meant to commemorate this same verse which is found in the gardens of the building; the statue shows a man using his hammer to beat a sword into a plowshare. The UN notably leaves out the part about God judging the nations and rebuking the people. It must be remembered that we will never reach a point of absolute peace without the help of God.
One of Israel's reoccurring troubles was falling into idolatry after marrying outside of their nation. The issue wasn't racial, as people try to make it seem today; it was spiritual. As we tie ourselves to people with different faiths, morals, and priorities, or we make compromises to keep the peace. This is what led the Israelites astray on several occasions. In Isaiah 2, God's people have once again married into pagan families and become "soothsayers." Soothsayers attempt to foretell the future with various methods, which could be as rational as statistics or as irrational as magic.
The difference between a soothsayer and a prophet is the involvement of God. God tells the prophet what He wants to reveal about the future and these prophecies will always come true. Soothsayers do not get their messages from God and will not always be right in their predictions.
In addition to soothsaying, the people of God would fall to outright idol worship. Instead of worshiping God, the people would worship their own creations. When I was younger, I used to assume idol always meant a statue of a pagan deity; when I read verses like Isaiah 2:8, I assumed God was referring to something created with the intent to represent a god. However, we turn many things in to idols, even though it was never its intended purpose. We become dependent on our creations (think about modern technology). Once mankind landed on the moon, people began to think there was nothing we couldn't do. With each discovery we make, the more arrogant we become. Instead of worshipping pagan idols like the Roman or Egyptian gods, we are worshipping ourselves.
Another problem amongst the people during the last days is the love of money and war. Before God executes judgment, the land is rich with silver and gold and there is a vast army for self defense. This indicates that the people are self reliant. They don't feel the need to pray to God for help because they have everything they need. It's also important to note that Revelation 13:17 tells us God's people won't be able to buy or sell during the end times, so the people who have money will have acquired it through ungodly means.
In Isaiah 2:10-21 , it sounds like a group of people will be forced to hide in caves. People are also forced to hide in caves after the sixth seal, as told in Revelation 6:15. Mark 13:14 is an example of God's people being told to flee into the mountains, as well. I believe Isaiah 2 is most closely aligned with the event in Revelation 6; both coincide with the great earthquake.
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
In ancient times, people lived in caves the way we live in houses and apartments; it was completely normal. Today, we think of that as primitive, and most of us can't imagine living such a lifestyle. There is no electricity, no running water, and probably not much in the way of cozy furniture. You'd have to build a real fire during the cold, since there's no way to wire a cave for heat, and you'd have to find other ways to stay cool during the summer, since you can't wire a cave for air conditioning either. Let's not even think about the mosquitos or other creepy crawling that you'd have to share the space with. Most of us have no desire to return to this style of living.
However, there are benefits to cave living, and I've seen photographs of some awesome views taken from inside a cave. As one of God's creations, caves are much sturdier than homes. Since caves are located inside the rocky body of mountains, it's much less likely to suffer damage than a man-made home. Aside from rockslides blocking the entrance, a cave is one of the safest places you could be during a storm. They could also make decent hideouts for someone under persecution. Despite the prevailing image in our minds of dark, dank, caves, there are many beautiful caves in our world.
The Opposite of Creation
Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?
The final verse in Isaiah 2 makes the poet in me gleeful, but at the same time, it makes me shiver. In Genesis 1:6 we learn that God breathed into into the nostrils of man to create a living soul. Here, God is executing the second or final death on those who have not surrendered to His will. When this time comes God will draw out the breath of life from mankind and only those who have chosen to follow Him will be permitted eternal life in a new body. For this reason, we aren't to put our trust in man; our existence is dependent upon God and thus, our trust should be in Him as well.
References and Footnotes
- "52 Breathtaking Caves From around the World". Places You'll See; visited January 2018
- W. E. Davies and I. M. Morgan. "Geology of Caves". US Geological Survey Western Earth Surface Processes Team and National Park Service; visited January 2018
- "Revelation 17:9: Text Analysis". Bible Hub; visited January 2018
- "3735. oros". Strong's Geek Concordance via Bible Hub; visited January 2018
- “Third Temple". Wikipedia; visited January 2018
- Ben Sales. "Laying the Groundwork for a Third Temple in Jerusalem". Time of Israel. July 2013
- William MacDonald. Believer's Bible Commentary, pg. 991. 1995
- Evgeniy Viktorovich Vuchetich. "Art in the Christian Tradition". Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University. December 27, 2010
- "Ralph Bunche Park: The Isaiah Wall". NYC Parks; February 2018
- Matthew Henry. "Isaiah 2 Commentary". Bible Study Tools; visited February 2018
- "2022: has". Bible Hub; visited February 2018
- "Isaiah 2: Interlinear Bible". Bible Hub; visited February 2018
- "Soothsayer". Merriam Webster; visited February 2018
Other Pages to View