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Author Topic: Isaiah and Isaiah 2  (Read 900 times)
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« on: June 17, 2004, 06:44:03 AM »

My main interest in Isaiah, and Isaiah 2 in particular would be to try to understand what this message meant to Isaiah's contemporaries, and after this to us. This would include a brief look at Isaiah as a prophet, the king at the time and the contemporary history. After this I would see to what extent this message has a dual fulfilment. The first would be in Isaiah's day or shortly after, and the second either in Christ's day as per Isaiah 53 when speaking of the sufferings of Christ, or in the future as per Isaiah 2:1-4 when it speaks of the kingdom yet to be established, and the judgments immediately before this as per Isaiah 2:10-22.

Isaiah is the first and possibly the greatest of the writing prophets, and in contrast to Amos, Isaiah could well have been part of a prophetic community, sometimes called the school of the prophets. These were nurtured under Samuel initially Acts 3:24, and were God's provision when the priesthood failed under Eli. These prophets were teachers, and as well they sometimes prophesied of future events, and various ones had the Holy Spirit in different measure. Some suggest that Isaiah 1 is a summary or introduction to the book, but I believe Isaiah 1 is as a result of Isaiah's initial teaching and prophesying in the manner of one of these prophets from the school of the prophets.

It is after speaking and/or writing Isaiah 1 that Isaiah receives the major vision of Isaiah 2:1-4 and this is like an anchor to the whole book, and his prophetic ministry. All that follows in the rest of the book is how this vision will ultimately be fulfilled. Later in Isaiah's life, during the reign of Hezekiah, the suffering servant is revealed in Isaiah 53 and elsewhere in Isaiah's prophecy as the one who will overcome sin and death and establish the kingdom.

A brief look at Isaiah 2 in the context of Isaiah's time. If given towards the end of Uzziah's reign, some time before the earthquake Zechariah 14:5, then Isaiah 2 would be a vision of the kingdom and a warning of impending judgment. Uzziah was both godly and prosperous and his kingdom had a time of peace. A few quotes could suffice.
2 Chronicles 26:4-5 (KJV): "4 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah did. 5 And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper."
2 Chronicles 26:15 (KJV): "And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal. And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong."
If Isaiah 2:1-4 is given at this time, then God is saying that Uzziah and Judah should look beyond the present worship, peace and prosperity to the fulness in the kingdom, and realise that the insidious pride and self-reliance that was being generated by these peaceful and prosperous times would soon be judged. This pride was not only evident with the nation of Judah but also happened with the king himself.
Isaiah 2:11 (KJV): "The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day."
2 Chronicles 26:16 (KJV): "But when he (Uzziah) was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense."
2 Chronicles 26:19-20 (KJV): "19 Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar. 20 And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him."
We also live in a time of prosperity, peace and pride. Like Uzziah we may feel confident that our nation has all the cunning  inventions of warfare to defend our nation and all its prosperity, and we trust in these things rather than in God. Compare Hezekiah in his sickness and when facing the Assyrian. Compare Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane and his sufferings. Yes, we will worship and belong to a particular religious community or church, but is our worship shallow or empty like Judah's worship Isaiah 1:11-15. We feel content with the present, and the security that our nation seems to give us, and we possibly aspire to great things. Isaiah warns that the present imbalance and idolatry will be removed Isaiah 2:7-8, Colossians 3:5 and the pride of man will be humbled when God arises to shake terribly the earth.  

Isaiah gives us a glorious picture, that can outshine our present view of our surroundings, no matter how good or poor. A vision of true worship in the Age to Come, and peace and harmony, centred on true teaching, developed out of the sufferings of God's servant. The unique picture of beating a sword  into a ploughshare has captured the imagination of many over the years. This expression is inscribed into a wall of the UN building, as it were depicting the very essence of their aim, and a statue depicting a blacksmith beating a sword and the plough half formed was donated by the former USSR. What the nations, and any other political or religious system has failed to accomplish, will be fulfilled by Christ at his return. And the individuals will not be compelled to worship, they will say, "Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD ...". May each of us look to these things, the love of God the Father, and of Christ revealed in his death and resurrection, and the assurance of this future glory, so that our hearts and minds may be moved to love his appearing.

Kind regards
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