Mike preached from Isaiah 2:1-5. He began by saying that Isaiah is known as the fifth gospel. It is not just a collection of sermons. The opening chapter brings Isaiah’s message to the kings of Judah and Jerusalem.
The prophet begins his message on what we would call a bit of a ‘downer.’ He has the Lord in a courtroom scene. The Lord has a word against the people. He sets the word quite sharply. Mankind is in a desperate state because he does not know God. We were created to be in a relationship with God. The prophet goes on to talk about man’s lost state, a degenerative condition. The implications of sliding into sin has an effect on the nation. The nation is also under condemnation; we have a terrible picture of Zion as a little shack in a vineyard. ‘Daughter Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a cucumber field, like a city under siege.’ (Isaiah 1:8). People don’t know God and are falling into sin. ‘Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations – I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.’ (Isaiah 1:13-14). Mankind’s condition is centred in greed and rebellion. It is a lost condition. These people are outside God’s care and concern. In John 3:36 we read, ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.’ The Lord is inflicting judgement on those outside of His love. ‘Therefore the Lord declares, the LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, “Ah, I will get relief from my enemies and avenge myself on my foes.”’ (Isaiah 1:24).
Isaiah chapter 1 is all about the lost state of man. In chapter 2 Isaiah speaks about the second coming of Jesus, the day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:10-21). In Isaiah 2:10 we see an appeal to enter into the rock – an appeal to put their trust in Christ, ‘Enter into the rock and hide in the dust from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendour of his majesty.’ The terror of His majesty will be such an awesome occurance people will be throwing their silver and gold away to flee the terror of God. ‘In that day mankind will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats, to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendour of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth.’ (Isaiah 2:20-21). This image is also seen in Revelation. It is a righteous revenge (Isaiah 2:12-18).
Woven throughout these passages in chapters 1 and 2 are the promises of God. ‘Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.’ (Isaiah 1:18).
So the contest of this is that man is lost, judgement is sure, God has a plan.
‘It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it and many peoples shall come and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.’ (Isaiah 2:2-5).
‘But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.’ (Hebrews 1:2)
‘But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.’ (2 Timothy 3:1).
We are in the period of the last days. Isaiah 2:2-5 points to the gospel age, the days in which we live. God has set His blessing upon the mountain and his house. God has set His blessing upon us but we must not be proud, we should have the mind of Christ, we ought to be servants. The Lord spoke about Himself as being lifted up, ‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.’ (John 3:14). He was pointing to the cross. Christ is the suffering servant. We are children of God, yet we should be humble servants. The kingdom of God has come in Christ (Isaiah 2:3-5).
What is it like to live in the gospel age? Isaiah 2:3 we are told to ‘Come.’ If you’re someone who says ‘Come’ you are inviting someone to an event. ‘Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.’ (Psalm 46:8). For us, this event is Christ crucified. It’s a celebration, there’s enthusiasm. In this gospel age many people will say, ‘Come.’ There’s an excitement and joy, there is no time to wait or delay, there is an urgency. ‘The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.’ (Revelation 22:17). There is a sense of welcome. Do we go out and invite people into chapel? We may welcome them when they’re inside, but what about outside? We have a great gospel and a great Saviour. We should be enthusiastic and welcoming about saying, ‘Come!’ We need, as a church, to be much more inviting by being out in the world.
‘Let us.’ (Isaiah 2:3). This is corporate, not just individuals, but the whole church. It’s our job to go into all the world and preach the gospel. There’s a sense of inclusiveness. All of us are created by God in His image. There is unity in that there is only one way of Salvation. This is our one hope. We all have different talents and gifts – with the aim of getting others to know who Christ is. We are in the world as salt and light.
We need to be forgiving. There should be a humility about us. Christ came down from heaven and mixed with sinners, with the outcasts. You and I are ambassadors and ought to be representing Him in the world. We’re to be heavenly minded, to go up and think about heavenly things.
The people were called to the mountain of the Lord’s house (Isaiah 2:2). We need to tell people about this wonderful person we love – Immanuel, God with us. God has come down and is ready to receive man. You and I are also a temple of God. We are inviting people to come to the house of God – to Christ Jesus Himself – it is not a place.
He will teach us His ways (Isaiah 2:3). Even in the difficulties, He is the one who will teach us. ‘It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.’ (John 6:45).
God’s word will go forth from Jerusalem. You and I have been commissioned to take it out. If we do not do it, God will find a way. It is His mission. He will teach us His ways. Spend more time with Christ. After Pentecost nothing could stop the disciples, they could not stop speaking of Christ.
So what’s it like in the gospel age?
Come – the central important thing – to the Lord Jesus Christ. Come because He is going to teach us. He will judge and make us right. Come let us go to the house of the Lord Jesus Christ. We invite people to come because we know He has done wonders for us. Follow the Lord, let us walk in the light of the Lord.