Sermon on Isaiah 2:1-5 以赛亚书 第2章 第1节至5节November 17, 2019, More from this speaker 更多关于此讲员: Elder Lui Yook Cing (Isaiah 2:1-5) For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: Isaiah
Preached at a Bilingual (Mandarin-English, Sunday) service
Title: Sermon on Isaiah 2:1-5
Preacher: Elder Lui Yook Cing
Hi, my name is Shear-jashub.
My father is Isaiah.
Some 700 years before the birth of Jesus, we lived in Jerusalem of Judah.
My father Isaiah was a great prophet of the bible.
He was a ‘visionary’.
He received visions from God to tell our people what the future would or could be like.
Those of us who attends organizational training will know
the importance of having a vision or big-picture of what we want the future to look like.
Without such perspective, we are not clear about our destination.
And we will not know what directions to head.
Isaiah’s work spanned more than 60 years.
He was a prophet during the reigns of 4 Judah kings: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah.
Today your nation is ushering in your 4G leadership too, no?
Isaiah tells me many stories of these kings’ dramatic experiences with God.
When the great grand-king Uzziah disobeyed God by burning incense in the temple, God struck the king with leprosy.
He remained a leper for the rest of his life and was forced to live in a separate house.
Isaiah never claims to serve great kings.
Rather, he always says that he serves a great God, the King of kings.
I was Isaiah’s eldest son.
When I was a lad, my father Isaiah took me to see king Ahaz.
King Ahaz was a miserable leader with little faith in God.
At that time our city was threatened by the northern neighbours Israel and Syria.
Ahaz was very scared and he trembled with fear.
Isaiah told Ahaz to chill because God would not let this happen.
Instead, these northern enemies would be destroyed by a greater enemy of the east called Assyria.
I lived to witness this took place.
Not long afterward, Assyria invaded our neighbours.
After this, Ahaz readily gave in to the glamor and prestige of Assyria.
Under his leadership, Judah adopted Assyria’s corrupted practices – socially, religiously and politically.
My father repeatedly counselled Ahaz to repent and turn to God, but his words fell on deaf ears.
After Ahaz’s death, his son Hezekiah was king of Judah.
Hezekiah was different.
Faced with threats from enemies, Hezekiah rallied his people to pray and trust God.
God miraculously delivered them from the hands of the enemies.
Many years later, our nation Judah would fall into the hands of a southern superpower Babylon.
My name has a prophetic meaning.
Shear-jashub, means “a remnant shall return” 7:3
I am the sign that God still loves us.
Our people will survive and one day return to re-populate Jerusalem.
We know that this has happened in history.
God is trustworthy, hallelujah!
YHWH – my father’s God – is not just the god over Israel and Judah.
The LORD is god of all empires.
With absolute control over how the world history and human affairs play out.
Verse 1: This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
Isaiah’s vision concerns the Future.
It depicts what will take place “in the last days”, how the world will look like.
While this may not happen immediately,
Everyday is a day close to its actualization.
It is an imminent reality.
… the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as chief among the mountains;
It will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.
To understand this future, first please visualize a plateau of mountains.
In ancient mythical beliefs, mountains were homes of gods.
For example, the pagan deity Baal was believed to reside in Mt Zaphon.
In Isaiah’s vision, mount Zion rises high above all peaks.
On it was the Jerusalem temple.
Interestingly, Isaiah uses the term 'house of God’ rather than temple.
A temple is primarily a place of worship.
God's house, on the other hand, is where God lives among His people.
In the course of human history, there was a time that the Lord God chose to dwell in the Jerusalem temple.
In Isaiah’s vision, God’s House was “chief” – exalted above all places of worship.
This implies Isaiah’s God was above all the deities on earth.
None are comparable or even come close to Him.
When God’s House is prominently exalted, stranger things appear in Isaiah’s vision.
Take a closer look into the vision and you see this: “all nations will stream to the house of God”.
Wow, multitudes of people are flocking to Zion to God's house like mighty streams.
What a strange sight!
Mighty rushing waters flowing uphill to the mountain top where God’s house it.
Surely this is not something that happens naturally.
In the law of gravity, water flows downhill, no?
Indeed, Isaiah’s point is that what is taking place – people streaming to God's house – is primarily the work of God.
Not the work of human efforts.
In the Last Days, like a huge magnet, God will powerfully draw people to Himself.
Throngs continually march up to His place of worship - voluntarily and joyously.
To Isaiah’s astonishment, this massive migration comprises people of all nations, not just Israelites.
They come from all ends of the world, regardless of gender, age, race, social, economic or educational backgrounds.
No walls, no discrimination.
To the people Judah at that time, this is unthinkable!
In their understanding, God’s blessings is exclusive to Israel.
People of other ancestry have no access to the privilege.
Isaiah was bold and radical to declare the vision as he sees it, even though he may no know how this can take place.
God has revealed that He is God of all nations, not just Judah or the middle east region.
God’s salvation extends to all humanity.
Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
I was curious. What motivates the people to do so?
Afterall, it’s quite an effort to climb uphill.
I eavesdrop their conversations.
What draws the people was not anything the world could offer.
Not entertainment, or the promise of status, power, wealth etc.
In Isaiah’s vision, people come in order to learn, to receive, to obey.
In the last days, people have real hunger to know who God is.
They want to learn about God, from God.
They know that in the house of God, they receive what cannot be found elsewhere on earth – true knowledge of God.
This teaching is nothing like human wisdom.
It goes forth from God.
True knowledge brings about a changed outlook of how to live life anew.
Once people know God and His ways,
They fall in love with God.
They desire to obey God, to “walk in his paths”, to please Him in the way they live.
The vision is astounding in its universal scope.
In the last days, there is global recognition of God is.
There is universal desire to seek Him,
To submit to Him. To remain faithful to Him.
He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.
What else is in the vision?
Isaiah sees God ruling as judge of the international tribunal.
In our situation today, nations covet and fight over resources such as talent, technology, land, oil, water.
Leaders believe that to own these is to gain the upper hand, to have power and control over the rest.
Often, world leaders cannot settle disputes.
Everyone puts their self-interests as priority.
In Isaiah’s vision, God is the ultimate Arbitrator of the international court.
God overrides and overrules lousy decisions made by lousy leaders.
Under God’s governance, the entire world is transformed!
Injustice or animosity no longer exist.
What does this look like?
This is the climax of the vision.
All ideals of international politics are beautifully encapsulated in this verse:
Verse 4b: They will beat their swords into plowshare and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.
In 1948, these worlds are emblazoned on the granite curved wall that faces the headquarters of the United Nations in New York.
People call it the Isaiah Wall.
It depicts the vision of world peace and human security.
In 1959, Soviet Union donated this bronze statue to the United Nations.
It stands in the garden across UN’s HQ.
The credo of this statue is “Let us beat swords into plowshares.”
It represents the human wish to put an end to wars by destroying all weapons of death and destruction
And convert these materials into instruments of tools that contribute to life.
Instead of swords, metals are reconstructed into farming tools for livelihood.
Instead nations aggressively developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of warfare for self-preservation,
Nations share research on safe energy for fuel and support needs;
they develop medical advances to improve health and wellbeing;
they use technology to improve food production, end starvation and poverty.
This is Peace.
Peace such as the world has never known.
Peace that we have long lost since the days of Eden.
Though our current experience is starkly in contrast to this ideal vision,
Praise God, it is already happening although we do not see more of it.
In the last days, this becomes the norm rather than the exception.
We live with assurance that this will surely happen because it is promise of the LORD proclaimed through Isaiah.
In the bible, peace is not just the absence of war, laying down of arms or peace treaty.
The biblical notion shalom is holistic.
It is intrinsically linked to prosperity and security, both of which are the product of justice.
Shalom signifies wellbeing and wholeness:
The restoring or reuniting what has been divided.
It designates a state of affairs or a relationship in which things are balanced out, where rightful claims are satisfied.
This can only happen in a society governed by justice and with mercy.
How does Isaiah’s vision impact how we perceive domestic security and international relations?
You will recall that Isaiah's prophesies took place when Judah’s leaders were going through actual crises in foreign policy.
Superpowers like the Assyria and Babylon empires were dominating world powers during that era.
For self preservation, small vulnerable states like Judah engage in alliances, arms race and espionage.
They navigate precariously to sustain an order where world power is somehow better balanced.
Is not Singapore facing similar challenges? What are our options?
It is interesting how Isaiah judged the quality of his Leaders with regard to foreign policy.
Not on the basis of their oratory skills, diplomacy success, economic growth or military strength.
In Isaiah’s narrative, kings were judged based on their trust and obedience in God.
So king Ahaz was deemed a poor leader because he did not have faith in God to safeguard Judah.
King Hezekiah, on the other hand, was regarded as ‘good leader’ because he relied on God to deliver his people.
Isaiah is not just interested in what a leader should do in a given situation.
Before we get overtaken by demands so seemingly urgent,
Isaiah exhorts us to re-discover the purpose of why God places us in certain situations.
What does Judah exist for? What do you and I exist for?
What are we called to do as individuals and collectively as a community?
For Judah, the nation’s identity is linked to it being the house of God.
Isaiah points us back to our covenant with God.
This covenant is filled with wondrous promises and requirements.
It dates back to Abraham the forefather of blessing for all nations.
Like Judah, our identity as God’s chosen covenantal people,
Is to be recipients of God’s promises and grace.
And at the same time to be channels of God’s salvation to the world.
In Isaiah’s vision, upholding the order of shalom is part and parcel of true worship.
To do so involves obedience to the Word and faithfulness to God
We are instructed to be a society that cares about widows, the orphan, the poor, and the oppressed.
Isaiah would go on to rebuke the rich and powerful who obstructs the flourishment of shalom and justice.
When elites of the society abuse their privilege
And put in place policies and systems that serve their own interests rather than common good, they face God’s wrath and judgment.
We may not be directly involved in national affairs and foreign policies.
Yet to some extent, each of us manage our personal ‘international relationships’ daily.
On a personal level,
At work, I live amid power struggles and datelines all the time.
The superpowers I navigate around includes in internal and external stakeholders.
My bosses, partners, subordinates, customers.
Outside of home, there are other relational orders to maintain –
The parents, kids, extended family, church responsibilities.
My workplace sends me for trainings on building good relationships:
How to lead effectively, form successful teams, manage change, improve growth.
I enjoy learning from the gurus who offer very practical advice.
Yet I need to be mindful of the higher wisdom of God.
To face my challenges and fears, I remind myself to look at the bigger reality and purpose.
What am I here for?
As an employee, leader, parent, citizen, church member, how do I contribute toward building the kind of community or society that reflects Isaiah's vision?
Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.
The final verse of the Isaiah’s vision is a call to action.
When we see people of all nations coming to God, saying "Come, let us go up to the House of God!“
We must respond with "Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord."
The light of the Lord is the Word of God.
Praise God! You are in possession of it now.
God’s Word illuminates us to interpret situations from His perspective and made informed wise decisions.
God has given us the vision of how things should be, and instructions on how to get there.
The distance between dreams and reality is called Action!
We can choose to be part of God's plan or reject it.
May God bless us through the hearing of His word today.
And grant us courage to trust Him, faithfulness to obey.
Today, the Jerusalem temple is no longer physically present.
Just as Isaiah has prophesized, Jerusalem was eventually raided.
In face of surrounding enemies, God gave Judah a further sign.
Isaiah shall have another son.
His name shall be called Immanuel, meaning “God is with us.”
No matter uncertainties and dangers loom ahead, God promises to go with us all the way.
This sign was for our people to take courage and not lose heart.
It encourages us to trust God for his protection and salvation.
Even today, God is with us – now and always into eternity.
The birth of Jesus ushers in the fulfilment of God’s promise and the completion of Isaiah’s vision.
Isaiah’s name means “the Lord is my salvation”.
In Jesus Christ, the salvation has been fulfilled.
What a privilege to be a witness and part of all this!
Glory and praise be God!
Isaiah 2:1–5 (Listen)
2:1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2 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,
3 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 forth the law,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
4 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.
5 O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the LORD.