Isaiah 2

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

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 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2006 James Melough

2:1.  “The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.”


The word “saw” indicates that the revelation given to the prophet was in the form of a vision, a mode of communication which God frequently employed when imparting information to His servants in the OT age.  Today’s equivalent is the enlightenment given by the Holy Spirit, which enables the diligent student to comprehend the deeper spiritual truth woven into the fabric of the Bible’s literal language relative to colors, numbers, compass directions, metals, etc. 


2:2.  “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it.”


In the present context “last days” refers to the Millennium; and it is axiomatic that “mountain” is to be understood here, as frequently in Scripture, to represent a major center of government (hills represent lesser governments), so that the truth being taught is that “the mountain of the Lord’s house,” i.e., Jerusalem, will be the center of world rule during those thousand years which will bring earth’s turbulent history to a glorious peaceful close.


“... and all nations shall flow unto it” means that it will be not only the world center of government, but also of worship, the people coming from the ends of the earth to keep the great national religious feasts: Passover, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets, Feast of Tabernacles, and Day of Atonement.


It is to be noted that in the Millennium the Levitical ritual will be the universal mode of worship, for as in the past that ritual pointed to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, so in the Millennium will it point back to that coming, and to His perfectly completed work of making atonement for sin. 


2:3.  “And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”


The “many” obedient people is in sharp contrast with conditions in the world today and in all the centuries past, for in all that time it is the rebellious who have been in the majority, believers being a very small minority.  Nor will it be then as it is now and as it has been in the past: even though rebellion will lurk in their hearts, the unconverted will be compelled to yield at least outward obedience under pain of death, see Isaiah 65:20, “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.”  The compelled obedience will be a cardinal factor in the peace and happiness of the Millennium, for it is man’s rebellion that has made the past six thousand years such a time of trouble and wretchedness.


As discussed already, the mountain represents government, but the house of God represents all that is associated with the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.  In the Millennium there will be a general seeking after God, and a desire to know and obey His laws. 


It is significant that Zion, a synonym for Jerusalem, means parched place, and is associated with the law; while Jerusalem, meaning dual peace shall be taught: lay (set) ye double peace, is associated with “the word of the Lord,” the primary purpose of that “word” being to present the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.  God’s word is as both Zion and Jerusalem: it warns men of their need of a Savior because of their having broken God’s law, and it presents the Lord Jesus Christ as that Savior.


It is instructive also to note that God is referred to as the God of Jacob, rather than of Israel, the name given Jacob following his conversion.  The lesson being taught is that while the Millennium will begin with only believers on the earth, the children born during that era will be spiritual Jacobs, i.e., unbelievers just as it has always been, and while many of them will become believers, there will also be an escalating number who will remain unbelievers, and who will be permitted to live only as long as their sin remains covert; but overt sin will bring instant death.


2:4.  “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”


God’s judging among the nations means that in the Millennium disputes will no longer be settled by war: the Lord Himself will adjudicate each case, rebuking (teaching) many people His truth.


The material and labor that have gone into the production of weapons will then be devoted to the pursuits of peace, so that the poverty and hunger which have ravaged large areas of the world for so long will be unknown.


2:5.  “O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.”


The continued use of the name Jacob, rather than Israel, reminds us that the old nature remains with us even after we become believers, the exhortation to Jacob being the reminder that even conversion doesn’t change the old nature.   In fact it is conversion that reveals the evil character of the old nature, and begins the conflict between it and the new, a strife that will continue as long as we are in these bodies of flesh, it being written that, “the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would,” Galatians 5:17. See also Romans 7:24-25 relative to this conflict, in which Paul bewails the activity of the flesh against the Spirit, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” but exults in his deliverance from the dominion of the flesh, in his triumphant cry, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”


To walk “in the light of the Lord” is to walk in obedience to His Word, for it is written that, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” Psalm 119:105.


2:6.  “Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers.”


“... replenish” means to make full or complete again, the evil of this refilling being disclosed in its having come from the east, i.e., Assyria and Babylon, for in Scripture the east is always synonymous with departure from God, note for example that Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden eastward, Genesis 3:24; and in Matthew 2:1 the wise men came from the east, but relative to their return to their own land Scripture is careful to record not that they returned eastward, but that “they departed into their own country another way,” Matthew 2:12.  In all of Scripture there is not one good reference to the east.


Philistine means wallowing, and in the seven Scriptural references to wallowing it is instructive to note that not one has a good connotation.  Here it is associated with soothsaying, i.e., the alleged ability to foretell future events, but God’s hatred of soothsaying is declared in Micah 5:12, “And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers.”


The Judahites’ “pleasing themselves in the children of strangers” is generally understood to mean that they had made treaties with unbelievers, and cultivated their friendship; and it isn’t difficult to see in this the symbolic revelation of the very same evils which have infected the professing but apostate church.  She too loves the friendship of the world, in defiance of God’s command, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.


2:7.  “Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots


In the symbolic language of Scripture silver represents redemption; gold, glory; horses, strength, see Job 39:19; and chariots, military might; but here the language is literal, not symbolic.  These were all the actual things that fostered Judah’s haughty independence of God, and no one should fail to see in that hauteur the very same arrogance that marks today’s world.  Affluence and military might have fathered contempt for God, and rejection of His authority.


2:8.  “Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made:”


Because we don’t see them, except in what we call heathen countries, we are deluded and spiritually blind if we fail to recognize that our affluent western world is full of idols: money, education, social position, pleasure, art being but a few of the gods we worship: nor are the offerings presented paltry: consider, for example, the salaries paid to athletes, the stars of stage and screen, sportsmen, to name but a few.


2:9.  “And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not.”


The language of the KJ version here is completely ambiguous, better translations being: The commoner will be bowed down and humbled, and the great men brought low and abased; mankind shall be brought low and humbled, and unable to raise himself up again; and it is God Who says that He will not forgive them.  These judgments will occur in the now imminent Great Tribulation.


2:10.  “Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty.”


The fulfillment of the terrible judgment mentioned here is recorded in Revelation 6:15-17, “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?”  This will occur in the Great Tribulation.


A still more terrible judgment is that which will see each unrepentant sinner cast into the eternal torment of the unquenchable flame of the lake of fire.  He is a wise man who delivers himself from that judgment by confessing himself a sinner, and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior.


Relative to “the glory of his (God’s) majesty,” we read in Revelation 20:11, “And I (John) saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.”


2:11.  “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.”


The men of our sophisticated western society look superciliously on those of less fortunate nations, forgetting that all they themselves possess has been given by the grace of the God they ignore.  But He reminds us that all we have has been given by Him, for He asks, “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” 1 Corinthians 4:7.  We would do well to remember that the brains and bodies of those we may be tempted to despise were given them by God, and that He might instead have chosen to give them to us!


This day of judgment appears to be that of unbelievers at the great white throne mentioned in Revelation 20:11-15.


2:12.  “For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:”


This “day of the Lord” is generally understood to refer to the era that will begin with the rapture of the Church and conclude with the purgation of the present heavens and earth, and their replacement with the new heavens and new earth at the end of the Millennium, Revelation 21:1


The title “the Lord of hosts (armies)” speaks here of Jehovah as the omnipotent Executor of judgment against unbelievers; and reiterates the certainty of the judgment of the great white throne.


2:13.  “And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan,”


Lebanon means whiteness; and Bashan the shame of them: the fertile: the one in sleep, so that these cedars of Lebanon may refer to the proud and haughty unconverted religious leaders; while the oaks of Bashan may represent their political and military counterparts.  The Lord will execute impartial judgment against all of them.


2:14.  “And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up.”


As has been noted already mountains and hills represent centers of government, see verse 2.  God will execute judgment against all of them.


2:15.  “and upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall,”


Tower and wall are used here as symbols of military might.  The terrible weapons of mass destruction in which nations put their trust today, will be powerless against the judgments of the Almighty, see 2 Samuel 22:16, “... the foundations of the world were laid bare, at the rebuking of the Lord, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.”


2:16.  “And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures.”


The “ships of Tarshish” represent the world’s commerce; and “all pleasant pictures,” portray its godless religion, refinements, and the arts.  The judgments of the Great Tribulation will destroy all these things, and leave the world in chaotic ruin.


2:17.  “And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.”


Loftiness is a synonym for pride; and haughtiness means arrogance.  The Tribulation judgments will destroy both, and compel men to acknowledge the supremacy and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is a wise man who now gladly owns that ascendancy, and trusts in Christ as Savior, and obeys Him as Lord, for the day is fast approaching when every unbeliever will be compelled to make that acknowledgement, for it is written, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” Philippians 2:8-11.


2:18.  “And the idols he shall utterly abolish.”


There will be no idols in the Millennium simply because the very attempt to make one would be overt rebellion, which would bring instant death to the perpetrator.


2:19.  “And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.”


This is the OT description of the judgment that will devastate the earth following the opening of the sixth seal described in Revelation 6:12-17, the language of verse 16 being almost identical with that used here.


Some understand the reference to be to nuclear destruction.


2:20.  “In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats.”


Since moles live in darkness underground, and bats inhabit the dark recesses of caves, the statement of this verse is that when the Lord visits the earth in judgment during the Great Tribulation, the idolaters will try to evade His wrath by hiding their idols, not realizing that nothing can be hidden from Him Who is omniscient.


2:21.  “To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.”


Having cast away their idols, they themselves will attempt to find hiding places from the effulgence of the Lord’s glory, but neither the highest mountains nor earth’s deepest recesses will furnish a place of refuge.  One cannot hide from Him Who is omnipresent.


“... to shake terribly the earth” refers to the appalling convulsions that will rend the earth in the Great Tribulation.


2:22.  “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?”


This is God’s warning against putting any trust in man who lives only as long as God gives him breath, and who knows not the moment when he will breathe his last.  The only One worthy of trust is the eternal God.

[Isaiah 3]

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
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