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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Isaiah 2

Verses 1-5

Introduction

The four chapters that follow now, Isaiah 2-5, form a coherent whole. It is one speech to Judah and Jerusalem. A new section begins with Isaiah 6, which is indicated by a new time indication (Isaiah 6:1). Isaiah 2-5 contain a new vision that begins with the realm of peace.

However, this realm only comes into being after the day of the LORD (Isaiah 2:12) has come. The day of the LORD is the period when the LORD brings about His counsel concerning the glorification of Christ, the Branch of the LORD (Isaiah 4:2), the restoration of Israel and the judgment and blessing of the nations.

The first part of this chapter (Isaiah 2:1-Deuteronomy :) is largely verbatim similar to the description of the realm of peace by a contemporary of Isaiah, the prophet Micah (Micah 4:1-Deuteronomy :). This does not mean that one has copied it from the other or that one of the two would not have been inspired. The one Spirit of God simply inspired them both to write the same thing. It is therefore a twofold testimony underlining that what has been said will be fulfilled.

The Coming Realm of Peace

In Isaiah 2:1 Isaiah sees “the word … concerning Judah and Jerusalem” (cf. Isaiah 1:1 where he sees a vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem). Here he sees a word or message concerning Judah and Jerusalem (cf. Amos 1:1). This indicates that it is a supernatural message containing both visible and audible elements.

This verse is also an introduction to Isaiah 2-5 and also indicates that it is about the cleansing of Judah. This is indicated by “the word,” for it is represented in the Word of God as a picture of the water that cleanses (Ephesians 5:26). This cleansing takes place on “the day of the LORD” (Isaiah 2:12) through “the Branch of the LORD”, which is the Lord Jesus (Isaiah 4:2).

It also indicates that the Word is living and active. It will be seen and heard by someone who lives in fellowship with God. Isaiah sees as a “seer” with the eyes of God and sees “the Word” of God at work (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Therefore, what he transmits are the words of God and not imagination or the representation of his own thoughts.

In Isaiah 2:2-Numbers : we have a wonderful description of the beginning of the millennial realm of peace. It is also the glorious end of a sad history. The word Isaiah sees relates to the end time, “the last days” (Isaiah 2:2). This is a special expression that occurs fourteen times in the Old Testament, here the only time in Isaiah. This expression refers to the period when the Messiah will appear and God’s ways will be brought to completion (Hebrews 1:1; 1 Peter 1:20). The expression here refers to the glory of the millennial realm of peace.

The temple, “the house of the LORD”, stands on Temple Mount and will be exalted, both literally and spiritually (cf. Isaiah 66:23; Zechariah 14:16). This is the temple described by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 40-43). Mountains are often a picture of powerful kingdoms and hills of smaller earthly powers. The fact that the Temple Mount will be higher than all other mountains also means that Israel will be more powerful than the other nations and will be the head of all nations (Deuteronomy 26:19).

“All the nations will stream” now to the mountain of the house of the LORD. This description evokes the picture of a peacefully flowing river. It stands in contrast to the raging of the peoples before that time, which is compared to the raging of a wild sea. Since the temple is located on Mount Moria or Sion, here referred to as “the highest of the mountains”, the remarkable picture of a river flowing upwards is created.

In the realm of peace, the nations will exhort one another “to go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob” (Isaiah 2:3). That place is the center of the realm of peace. All nations will gather there. They will go there together, not to fight against it, but to receive teaching from the LORD. By building the tower of Babylon (Genesis 11:1-1 Samuel :) man has wanted to make his own gathering point to honor himself. God prevents this and scatters the nations. Now the nations acknowledge His reign and find their center in His house.

The house of the LORD is here meaningfully called “the house of the God of Jacob”. It shows how God will then have openly triumphed over the selfish turnings that characterized Jacob and that have continued and proved themselves in his offspring. This will be so clear that all nations will go to God’s house to learn from Him, so that they will walk in His law. When the judgments have been carried out, people will be characterized by obedience to God and, as a result, by peace among themselves.

They also come because they long to receive teaching from Him “concerning His ways”, so that they will no longer go their own ways, but “walk in His paths”. Then the promise God makes in Genesis 22 is fulfilled (Genesis 22:14; Isaiah 51:4; Micah 4:2; Zechariah 8:3). This fulfillment occurs because of the sacrifice that God Himself gives in His Son and of which the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham is a picture. The teaching concerns the law by which the kingdom of heaven will be ruled, as laid down in Matthew 5-7.

From Zion will not come forth the gospel of grace, but the teaching of the law. This underlines that it is not about the church, but about Israel. The law will be in the heart of Israel according to the new covenant (Hebrews 8:10).

Hunger for God’s Word, the desire for spiritual food and instruction, is one of the proofs of conversion. Everyone who has come to faith in the Lord Jesus will want to know God’s Word. The truth of God’s Word is nowhere else on earth but in what is now His house, “the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).

Every heart that longs to walk in God’s ways will therefore also go to the church meeting to hear about it. He will encourage others to do so with the words: “Come, let us go” (cf. Hebrews 10:25). Of course, this does not mean that there is no need for personal Bible study. Real hunger for the Word, stimulated by the teaching in the church, will encourage daily personal Bible study.

The LORD, that is the Lord Jesus, shall judge between the nations (Isaiah 2:4). The disputes between the nations do not disappear automatically, but are resolved by Him. The result is peace on earth. Everyone will be at peace with His decision. It is not a restless, fragile peace, but peace based on righteousness.

By eliminating any cause of conflict there will be no more wars. All war weapons, “swords” and “spears”, can be converted into tools that work as blessings for man, “plowshares” and “pruning hooks” (cf. Joel 3:10). No one will be instructed how to wage war anymore. There is no longer any reason to do so. When walking on the paths of the LORD there is peace in the heart and peace with all fellow walkers who also walk on those paths.

The fact that they will no longer “learn war” is full of meaning. The war is still being learned and also very efficient. The fear that characterizes people drives them to fight for their rights. As soon as someone thinks he is being wronged, weapons are seized, sometimes literally, sometimes in a battle of words. It is beyond the human capacity to abolish and banish war. There will come a time when people believe they have achieved this goal and attribute it to their own efforts. They will say, “Peace and security”, and then be struck by “sudden destruction” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

Any discontent between believers can also be removed if we want to be taught by the Lord Jesus (cf. Philippians 2:5). If we go to Him with our disputes, He will judge. He can resolve any dispute. By bowing to His solution, peace will return and we will be able to use our strength for His work. That gives blessing. Lawsuits in the church today will be solved when thinking about the future described here (1 Corinthians 6:1-Ruth :).

After this glorious perspective, Isaiah can, as it were, not hold back. He calls upon the “house of Jacob” to return directly to the LORD and to “walk in the light of the LORD” (Isaiah 2:5) and no longer in the false light of the idols. It is a call to walk in the light of the teaching that God’s Word spreads. Walking in the full light of the LORD they will do in the realm of peace. That light gives a view of the future (Isaiah 2:2-Numbers :).

Already today we may walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8-Proverbs :), looking forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus. We see elsewhere in the Bible that reading about the future and taking it into our hearts has a sanctifying and cleansing effect on our lives today (2 Peter 3:10-2 Chronicles :; 1 John 3:2-Leviticus :).

This section therefore shows us what God’s purpose and God’s standard are for the people of Israel. Since Israel does not meet this goal and standard, God must necessarily judge the people and cleanse them through His word. This is described in the next section.

Verses 6-9

The LORD Has Abandoned His People

Isaiah returns to the current situation. The contrast with the future, described in the previous verses and described again in Isaiah 4 (Isaiah 4:2-Joshua :), is enormous. The actuality compels him to call to walk in the light of the LORD (Isaiah 2:5) and to pronounce judgments that must precede the establishment of the realm of peace. He also makes clear what the reason for these judgments is. In Isaiah 2:6-1 Kings : we read the judgments on Israel and in Isaiah 2:12-Song of Solomon : we read the judgments on all nations.

After the call to walk in the light of the LORD, Isaiah renews his complaint about the miserable apostasy of the people (Isaiah 2:6). With his complaint he turns directly to the LORD. He expresses it to Him that He has abandoned His people, through which the light does not shine upon His people. The expression “the house of Jacob” indicates here, as the sequel shows, that the people go their own way and do not count with God.

Simultaneously with his complaint Isaiah justifies the actions of God. God had to abandon His people because they opened themselves to demonic influences “from the east” (cf. Numbers 23:7). They are even “filled” with it, so that there is no more room for the LORD. Also the Philistine influence, coming from the west, is great, because they are “soothsayers” just like the Philistines. The people open themselves to a form of fortune-telling that is done by looking at the shape of the clouds or changes in the sky and making decisions based on that. In doing so, they are radically opposed to what is strictly forbidden by the LORD in the law (Deuteronomy 18:10-2 Kings :; Leviticus 19:26; 2 Kings 21:6).

In Christianity, the same influences from the east and the west have been allowed entrance. In the Bible, the east is the direction that indicates that someone leaves the LORD (Genesis 4:16; Genesis 11:2). Influences from the east means influences from people who want have nothing to do with God and live in rebellion against Him. Have not they got much influence in Christianity?

In the west of Israel, that is in the land itself, live the Philistines. They are a picture of ritualism, a religion of rituals with superstitious practices linked to it. This has also gained wide acceptance in Christianity. It has mainly taken shape in roman catholicism, but also in protestantism it is gaining more and more acceptance.

The LORD has not abandoned His people because He would not love them, but because they have become equal to the nations around them. Their practice shows it. They “strike [bargains] with the children of foreigners”. They join them – they go, so to speak, with them under the same yoke – and adopt their habits. In this way they nullify their separation (Hosea 8:8-1 Samuel :). They shut God out and turn against Him in enmity (James 4:4; 2 Corinthians 6:14).

The possession of “silver and gold”, those endless treasures (materialism), the “horses” with which the land is also “filled” and the endless row of “chariots” (military strength) they undoubtedly attribute to the idols worshiped by them and the demonic practices performed by them (Isaiah 2:7). At the same time, they show their rejection of God’s commandment (Deuteronomy 17:16-Esther :). By the way, this commandment does not concern being rich, but wanting to be rich (1 Timothy 6:9) and the abuse of power that is made of wealth once one is rich.

Also the possession of horses is not forbidden, but the multiplication of horses is, because of that, the danger is great to start relying on them and not on the LORD. The land is also “filled” with them. The greed of the people leads them to bow down to tangible things, the work of their own hands. Greed is closely related to idolatry. God’s Word even links them and speaks of “greed, which amounts to idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).

Here also greed is directly followed by the charge that “their land … has also been filled with idols” (Isaiah 2:8). Again we hear the word “filled”. While man attaches himself to his possessions and boasts of his achievements and worships them, this idolatry is in fact a humiliation for man (Isaiah 2:9). Idolatry lowers his dignity as a human being – who is after all the head of creation – down to below matter (cf. Romans 1:21-Isaiah :). It does not matter if that person is a person of stature or someone of the working class. All sections of the people are permeated by this idolatry.

The (disdainful) word for idols here is elilim. That resembles the word for God, Elohim, but elilim means ‘worthless, empty things, nullities’. The land of Israel is full of worthless things, nullities, things that are fleeting and will disappear (Isaiah 2:18). How is it with us? Do we have such things in our lives?

This situation brings Isaiah to the prayer: “Do not forgive them” (Isaiah 2:9). The text is literal: “You will not forgive them.“ It can also be read as the reason why God must judge and reject them (Isaiah 2:6; cf. Hosea 1:6), because if God does not forgive, He must judge. The intercessor for the people here feels compelled to plead against his people. This prayer is the right expression of a heart that feels how much God is grieved by this attitude and action of His people. The only thing that fits is judgment because God cannot endure this evil of His people.

Materialism and enjoyment are as present among Christians today as they were among God’s people then. Consider how much attention and money is paid to material things and how little attention God and His Word receive. If we notice this, we should not ask for forgiveness for it, but pray that through God’s grace there will be sincere confession, self-judgment, and conversion.

Prophetically we find here the spiritual characteristics of Israel at the time of their idolatry under the government of the antichrist. The measure of their sins is then full. The judgment is inescapable.

Verses 10-18

The LORD Against All Pride

The judgment is inevitable, because they have left their Rock, the LORD (Isaiah 17:10), and replaced it with the idols. Because of the “terror of the LORD”, which is for His Person, and “the splendor of His majesty”, which is for His radiance (Isaiah 2:10), they are now called to resort to the natural rock.

‘The splendor of his majesty’ is a favorite expression of the Assyrians who use it for themselves. But the use of this expression belongs only to the LORD. The Assyrians must hide “in the dust”, the matter from which they have been formed and where they belong, because they have robbed the honor of their Former and banned Him from their lives.

Here, as in so many other places in this book, we find the going together of the judgment through the Assyrian invasion, the disciplinary rod in the hand of God for His people, and the judgment in the last days, shortly before the thousand years of peace. In both cases the pride of man is humiliated and the LORD alone will be exalted (Isaiah 2:11).

Here people are forced to humiliate themselves. John the baptist, on the other hand, humbles himself voluntarily. His words: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Every knee will bow in the Name of Jesus (Philippians 2:10), either now voluntarily out of love for Him, or in the future forced with acknowledgment of His majesty. The more we humble ourselves, the more room the Lord is given to make Himself visible in us, so that people will glorify Him in us.

From Isaiah 2:12 we are moved to the second coming of the Lord Jesus, which is His coming as Messiah for His people and as Judge of the whole earth. When He comes to execute righteousness on earth, the valuations that man hangs on will be reversed. The things that people have considered valuable up to that point will then become unimportant to them, and what they have previously considered to be side issues will then become main issues.

He comes as “the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 2:12), a name Isaiah uses more than sixty times for God. It is a military name, indicating the military power and strength of God. When this all-powerful LORD comes with His armies, nothing can stand against Him. The opposition is shown in the following verses in symbols and in various other ways.

“The day of the LORD” indicates a period in which the Lord Jesus – He is the LORD – will exercise all authority given to Him by the Father (Matthew 28:18; John 13:3). It is the day when He openly turns against all self-glorification of man and against all idols. It is the day when everything will come to light and be judged by Him (John 5:22; John 5:27). Then He fulfills the word He has spoken on earth: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled” (Luke 14:11). The expression “the day of the LORD” is further explained in detail in Isaiah 13 (Isaiah 13:6-1 Chronicles :).

When the Lord Jesus appears for the second time, He will first pass judgment on all man’s pride. In Isaiah 2:13-Nehemiah : Isaiah uses seven examples from nature and society to describe what the LORD will act against. The trees as “cedars” and “oaks” (Isaiah 2:13) can be seen as symbols of the leaders, such as kings and princes, of the peoples who will rise up against the Jews at the end of time.

“The lofty mountains” and “the hills that are lifted up” (Isaiah 2:14) represent large and small earthly powers, counties that rise above other countries. They have built high towers and fortified walls (Isaiah 2:15) to defend themselves against possible attacks. They also trade by sea to increase their economic power (Isaiah 2:16). This wealth also includes “beautiful craft”, a unique expression in Hebrew derived from the word “image”, where we can think of the power of the entertainment and visual culture of our time.

When the LORD appears, man’s self-exaltation will have to give way to the exaltation of the LORD. They will not be able to maintain their pride, but will be bowed down with irresistible power. In that day “the LORD alone will be exalted” (Isaiah 2:17).

And what happens to the idols they have now put their hopes in and expect their salvation from (Isaiah 2:18)? They “will completely vanish”. With that everything is said about their fate. The idols are the root of the calamity that is coming over them. They have left the LORD and replaced Him with the idols (elilim, see explanation of Isaiah 2:8). In just three words what happens to them is shown as in a flash. Literally it says: “Nullities to nothing.” They are worthless and will disappear altogether.

If only the Lord Jesus has the say in our lives, if we exalt Him alone, no form of idolatry will get a foothold with us (1 John 5:21).

Verses 19-21

The Terror of the LORD

Then comes the moment that the LORD arises (Isaiah 2:19-Ecclesiastes :). What a frightening reaction that gives! Panic breaks out. All those little creatures who want to be like God will not hide among the trees in paradise (Genesis 3:7-Ruth :), but flee into caves and underground holes (Isaiah 2:19). “Terror of the LORD”, that is of His Person, seizes them. “The splendor of His majesty”, that is His radiance, overwhelms them. For a long time it seemed that He did not interfere with the earth. He had no place anymore in man’s thinking. When He arises in His full size, they understand to their dismay that they have made a mistake and a strangling fear seizes them.

In the light of the splendor of His majesty, all their trust in their idols shrinks and disappears. “In that day” they will realize their deception, their uselessness and their worthlessness (Isaiah 2:20). “That day” is the day of the LORD (Isaiah 2:12), the day in complete contrast to the day of man. Man’s day is the present evil century in which God allows man to do his own will and to go his own way apart from Him.

With horror, “man”, and especially religious man, will “cast away” the so-called good works of his hands on which he has spent his good gold and silver, to “the moles and the bats”, those unclean animals. Those “idols” on whom they put their trust are now lying like old dirt between unclean moles and bats. Man discovers that having and carrying along all those world religions, such as islam, buddhism and hinduism, gives no advantage at all. On the contrary, dragging them along only causes run delays. Run is the watchword, and as quickly as possible. That is the end of their reliance on false religions.

They are chased in their run by “the terror of the LORD” and “the splendor of His majesty” (Isaiah 2:21). Once they have found a crevice or rift in the rocks, they will enter it to shelter themselves from the burnt anger of the LORD (Revelation 6:12-Esther :; Hosea 10:8).

But “when He arises to make the earth tremble”, fleeing and hiding is a foolish, pointless, yes, laughable action. There is no escape, no more than there was for the first couple of men (Genesis 3:8; Psalms 139:7). Nothing will protect them from His anger. They cannot escape judgment. Man’s day comes to an inglorious, shameful end.

This is the end of the highly acclaimed culture and technique of the people and their efforts to make this world a safe place of rest. This is the end because they have ignored Him Who created everything to His own glory. Instead of rejoicing in Him, man has rejoiced in himself. Everything that has been given to him, he has used not for the glory of God, but for the glorification of himself. He has become proud, arrogant, and presumptuous of everything God has given him. That is why judgment comes on him.

Verse 22

Stop Regarding Man

The prophet summons them to stop regarding man, to no longer trust him (Psalms 118:8-1 Samuel :). After all, who is man, that puny creature, opposite to the Almighty (Psalms 104:29)?

By “man” is meant here in particular “the man of sin”, that is the man who wants to be like God (2 Thessalonians 2:4), the antichrist, the false messiah. After his extraordinary deception by exercising power and signs and false wonders, he will be nullified by the Lord Jesus at His coming (2 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-1 Samuel :). His depravity is so obvious, that he will be thrown alive into hell without any form of trial (Revelation 19:20).

In summary, we can say that the sin of idolatry – man who wants to be like God – is the consequence and the climax, expressed in the number six hundred and sixty-six (Revelation 13:18), of man’s proudness and pride.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 2". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/isaiah-2.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.