Hope: The ideal Jerusalem

Ds J Bruintjes
Jesaja 2-4
Preek Inhoud: 

The word that Isaiah the son of Amos saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.” This is the word which we saw. In scripture it is through the Word that we see. And he saw this concerning Judah and Jerusalem. We are meant to be drawn into these chapters as you are drawn into movie. We are to see these words, and feel these words.

And what is this story that we are about to enter. It is the story of Gods electing love. Gods love that breaks the people hearts, and renews them so that they the become who they were supposed to be.

God's people becoming who he promises they would be.

  1. The ideal Jerusalem
  2. The actual Jerusalem
  3. The new Jerusalem

Hope: The ideal Jerusalem (2:2-5)

In verse 2 we have the fact of what will be, “It will come to past 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 above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.” Dear church in the history of the church, and even in this sermon – this will be a line to hold onto. Why? Because the current situation looks different than the reality that is promised. This is the light that Israel was supposed to be! But as we will see they were not – indeed could not – be. But Gods people always work on bringing the future into the present through prayer and dependence. That is why Isaiah gives them this vision. That is why we have this vision. We live in these latter days. God alone has been exalted. And the inflow of the nations is upon us.

I love it Isaiah says, “And many peoples will come and say, “Come let us go 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!”  All nations (v. 2) Many peoples (v.3). I heard recently that Africa is growing so fast they need 80 new pastors a day! Come! the word is out! There is a mountain of hope, of peace, of love, of righteousness! ! Come with me – so that he can teach us his ways. Wow! Did you catch that? That God may teach them. God himself would come and teach them!

In case you are still wondering Belville that is us he is talking about. You said this morning in your actions, come let us go to the mountain of the LORD. The Spirit has been poured out! Jesus himself says to his disciple in John 14:26, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I told you.” God is teaching them from Zion, from the mountain that is exalted to the heavens where the king reigns! We have come to mount Zion this morning!  

And do you see that promises of peace in verse 4 – again a promise that comes through Gods justice! And O what a promise of peace! Nationalism is set aside-ethnicity is set aside. We struggle still in this country. They say Sunday church is still the most segregated place in south Africa. People from every tongue tribe nation and language come together to learn from the LORD, the means of war, the practice of war, and the mentality of war will be no more. That peace has started here in the kingdom of Christ in the church! We can enjoy the peace of God! As we are taught the way of humble love the way of the king by the king himself through his word and Spirit!

But in order for the nations to come, the people of God must first walk in his light. Notice it does not say walk to his light, but IN his light. His grace and love is already showered out – we don’t have to work to get it. Come, and let us walk in the Light of the LORD! There is no more glorious light to walk in. Bellville. Come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

John 3:19-21 says, 1And this is the judgment: light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Come walk in the light! The light has come into the world!  The holy one has come – Isaiah only saw him from afar. But we behold him. And it is in the light of his holiness that we see who we are. This is the vision toward which we work. God is faithful and he will do it. But so often the reality does not match the ideal. And Isaiah gives this vision at the beginning to show the sharp contrast between who God wanted them to be and who they were.

Judgement: The actual Jerusalem (2:6-4:1)

The invitation is there because the reality is not. In fact, in Isaiah’s time the opposite was true. God had rejected his people because his people had rejected him.

Their Sin

They didn’t trust God with the future, so they went to Philistines fortunetellers (2:6), they did not trust God with provision, so they accumulated money (2:7a), and they didn’t trust God with protection, so they accumulated horses and chariots(2:7b). We can say, how silly. But don’t we do the same things when confronted with world events? When elections come, or war, or corruption – rather than going to the Lord first we go to our financial planner first. Rather than going to a prayer meeting we start thinking of immigrating. Rather than asking the Lord what he would have us do in the future, we quickly make our own plans.

They think they can do better than God. They can take care of themselves. They don’t need God. Sin is pride. And it is pride that is the downfall of man. And therefore, God humbles them. We see their sin in verse. 6-8 and the result of their sin in verse 9-21 and then in verse 22 we have a transition to the next section.

The result of sin

An what is the result of sin in 2:9-21? God comes as judge. The result of sin and impending judgement is the direct work of God. Three times we have the words the people or must hide from before the “Terror of the LORD and the Splendor of his majesty (v 10b,19b,21b)” when he rises to terrify the earth. This is a judgement that will take away the power of man. Will declare the utter foolishness of the wisdom of man. The utter weakness of all those things that man trust in. The utter emptiness of that which man honors.

There is a day that will come as we read in verse 12. History is not circular. Its moving on. Each day a sign of Gods covenant faithfulness. And each day a day nearer to the fulfillment of both the blessing and curse of the covenant.

These words remind us of the words of Revelation – toward which they also point. Revelation 6: Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us f from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”

Everything that they might trust in beside God is dust in the wind. God forces them to cast it all away and strips them bare – so that one of two things are left – either they will have no option but to trust in him alone – so that he alone will be exulted, or they will be utterly destitute.

The lesson they must learn

Stop regarding man he says in verse 22! That is his point in all this! And yet the kings kept going back to man. First Ahaz with the king of Assyria, then Hezekiah with Babylon. God says stop it. I am God. I am sovereign. You can trust me. O that we would realize this today. That God will care for us. That he will build his church. That the church is safe. That it is not people – but God himself holding her! He wants us to trust him wholly.

This judgement reflects the wrath of God against sin – and show us the extent of Christ suffering, but this pride is also a mirror of our hearts. Our hearts are prone to this, unless they too are broken, and shattered. This is why Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). We must understand that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).

It is only when we see ourselves in the light of God’s infinite holiness that we see how truly poor we are. This is what distinguishes the stories of the proud and the humble in Scripture.

In the book of Proverbs, the Lord reveals to us that “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18). We see numerous examples even in the kings Isaiah served under. Pride seemed always to be the downfall.  Of King Uzziah, we read, “But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction” (2 Chron. 26:16). Similarly, we are told regarding King Hezekiah: “But Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud. Therefore, wrath came upon him and Judah and Jerusalem” (32:25). Sooner or later, pride will be followed by destruction. Trust not in man. All we are is dust in the wind.

Chapter 3 then lays out for us how the Lord will strip them bare. It is God who ultimately judges. He takes away all their crutches on which they leaned for support. All provision (v. 3:1) All protection (3:2) all wisdom (3:3). So that the helpless are ruling them.  And oppression and corruption follows where there is no rule of law anymore. When a nation is filled with sin. When a church is filled with sin – It normally started with the leaders. Human leaders lead to a collapse in society. Lead to collapse in the church. Judgement because to show itself in the disappearance of leadership. And the appearance of immature leaders. church becomes divided (3:5a), the age gap opens (5b), those who should be nothing take initiatives. And anyone that looks halfway like an elder is elected to office.  

All sin stems from pride. God wants to crush their pride.  And show them the emptiness of all what they trust in. All sin stems from thinking God is not enough. All sin says I can figure it out. In verse 8 we read, “they stumble… because their speech and their deed are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence.”

God sees it all and he sits as judge. They have been parading their sin for the world to see. And now it is coming back. As verse. 11 says, “Woe to the wicked, it shall be ill with him, for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him.” For what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him. In other words, they will reap what they sow. Just as the righteous in verse 10 will reap what they sow. As Galatians 6:7-9 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

God sees the plight of the oppressed, and he sees right through all the expensive clothes and jewel of the proud. This is the graphic picture we get in verse 3:16-26.  God removes it all. For he himself must clothe his people – but to do that they must recognize their nakedness. And that is what happens in chapter 4:1, ‘They no longer have anything to take away their reproach!’ and it is then that we get the glorious picture that follows in Chapter 4.  

Restoration: The new Jerusalem

Chapter 4:2 says, “In that day the branch of the LORD!” That’s amazing. In the day of judgement. The day of the LORD has come up a few times. We talks about its existence in 2:12, its affects in 2:17,20, and its infliction in 3:18, 4:1. And now one more time, and the feeling we all get is not again! NOOO pastor. Not more judgment!

But behold – just when all has been condemned, the light of the gospel shines through in glory and beauty. The branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious. I love it, elsewhere it is referred to as the branch of David. But here it is the branch of the LORD. He belongs to the family tree of both David and the LORD.  He will be beautiful and glorious! Yes the lord gives a branch which comes to a people that rejected him. Who rebelled. Who wanted to go their own way.

When finally, the people are broken and recognize their shame, God comes to them. And what follows is a message about glory and survival, holiness and life, cleansing, new creation and divine indwelling, and an open shelter!

Everything from the last chapters is turned right side up! The daughters of Zion were haughty and walked with outstretched necks, but now they are cleansed. in verse 4:1 they are desperate for marriage to take away shame, but now their glory will be the bridal canopy of 4:5. They pursued beauty at all costs (3:16, 18) But now they will find satisfaction in true beauty 4:2. The glory of the Lord caused the overthrow of the city in 2:10,19,21 But not the glory of the Lord is within her! Failure of leadership marked the doomed city (3:2-7) but the new city had divine leadership.

The people who are left have been changed. They are holy. And who are they – they are the ones who have been recorded for life, when the LORD shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a Spirit of judgement and by a Spirit of Burning.”

God will wash the filth away himself from his bride. He will cleanse the blood spattered dress! How? By a Spirit of judgement and a Spirit of burning! Who was judged? The people? yes to some extent – but it was the branch himself that was judged! By the very judgement of God, on that cross.  so that his blood might cleanse his people. He suffered the fires of God judgement so that his Spirit might be poured out on his people – making them holy. This is the Spirit Jesus Spoke about that now lives in us, John 16:8: When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.

And when the people are clean he we read in verse 5, “He will create (this word is only used for God – the same word in Genesis 1:1. This is about starting over. A new beginning.) He will create a cloud by day, and smoke and the shine of the flaming fire by now.” This reminds us of God leading his people. Of God dwelling with his people in the desert year. “And over all the glory there will be a canopy.” This word canopy is always used for wedding canopy. The women that were desperate for a husband have found one in the LORD! And we will have fellowship with God.

They will be able to go in and out without fear. A shelter during the storm. In the Exodus the Lord was not directly available because his glory was too overwhelming. But now, in the full reality of the glory, there is open access to shelter. The opposites of heat and rain embrace every circumstance of life. There is a shelter, that you can go to – and that shelter is found in the hope of the branch. He has opened the way through judgement and fire – walking the way that we deserved to walk – so that we might walk in the light of his path.

Dear church – turn and come to Him and be healed. He is the shelter from the judgement that is to come. God himself is the refuge from his own wrath upon sin and be filled with his Spirit – so that this week in full dependence upon him you may be led by his presence, and not your own wisdom. May be empowered with his strength and not lean on your own strength. You can’t. he can. Trust him.