“The Mountain of the House of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:1-5)
Today we’re beginning a series of sermons I’m calling “Isaiah’s Advent Prophecies.” We’re taking the Old Testament readings for this season of Advent, all taken from the prophet Isaiah, and making them the basis for these messages. Today it’s the reading from Isaiah 2, as we will hear.
In the movie “Field of Dreams,” the main character is told, “If you build it, he will come.” What is it that he is to build? And who is it that will come? That’s what the movie is about. It turns out that what the character is to build is a baseball field, the “field of dreams” of the movie’s title. “If you build it, he will come.” The “he” is rather a mysterious figure; we don’t know for sure who that is until the end of the movie.
There’s another line in the movie where the main character is told “People will come.” He’s being encouraged to go ahead with the baseball field, because many people will come and see games there. If you build it, people will come. And it turns out to be true. People did come.
What made me think of these things is our reading from Isaiah 2. There it’s not “If you build it, people will come.” Rather, it’s “If God builds it, people will come.” And what God will build is, not a field of dreams, a baseball field, but instead the house of the Lord, established on the mountain of the Lord. And people will come there because he will come, namely, the one who will teach us God’s ways and his word. People will come, yes indeed, people will come to “The Mountain of the House of the Lord.”
Now Isaiah lived about 700 years before Christ, and the mountain he would have had in view was Mount Zion, situated in the city of Jerusalem. And on Mount Zion there stood at the time the temple, the dwelling place of God in the midst of his people. That was the house of the Lord at the time of Isaiah.
But Isaiah the prophet is looking ahead to a time beyond his own time. He writes, “It shall come to pass in the latter days,” and so on. The Lord had revealed to Isaiah what is to come. What will happen with the mountain of the house of the Lord will be greater than what had happened up to that point. “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.” This will be the one location in all the earth that shall be preeminent and most prominent. It’s the mountain where the house of the Lord is.
And because it is the most prominent, the most important, what will happen there? “And all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come.” Yes, people will come. Actually, it says, peoples will come, “peoples,” plural. “Peoples” is a biblical way of saying the “Gentiles,” the non-Jews, the nations outside of Israel who did not know God, who worshiped other gods than the one true God. Those peoples, those outsiders, they now will come to the mountain of the house of the Lord. It won’t just be Israel going up to Mount Zion to go to the temple. In the days to come, people will come, peoples will come, from all around. This is a prophecy of the Gentiles becoming part of God’s people. And that has happened in the church.
If God builds it, people will come. What will they come for? “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.’” That’s why you’re here. You have come to the house of the Lord in order to hear God’s word. You want to know his ways. You want to walk in his paths. You want to follow Jesus.
Yes, Jesus. For he is the one who would come. If God builds it, he will come. That’s what we’re looking for in this season of Advent. We’re looking for the coming of Christ. His coming at Christmas, in the flesh. His coming as our humble king, to suffer and die in Jerusalem for the sins of the world. His coming again at the Last Day, when his kingdom will be established in its fullness, a kingdom of peace and life and blessing forever.
What a kingdom it will be, when Christ comes again to judge the living and the dead! “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.” Friends, the mountain of the house of the Lord, that kingdom, will be glorious in that day, and how we look forward to it!
Isaiah foresees the coming of the Christ, both in his first coming and in his second coming. What Jesus would do in his first coming guarantees the grand glories promised at his second coming. For by Jesus taking away the sin of the world, which he did on the cross, Christ has taken away the barrier and the burden of death forevermore. Now God is at peace with us. Now God looks kindly upon us. Christ has made it so.
If God builds it, he will come. And Jesus has come, to fulfill this prophecy of Isaiah. Jesus teaches us God’s ways. He is the Word of God incarnate. Jesus says to each one of us, “Come, follow me. I am the way and the truth and the life. Hear my voice, and I will give you the light of life.”
And so we come. We come to where Jesus is. And he is here, here in this house of the Lord. What the temple was in the Old Testament, Jesus is in the New, and in an even greater way. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.”
So people will come. Why? How? “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” God does the sending out. The law in the broad sense, the Torah, the word or instruction of the Lord–both Law and Gospel, really–the word of the Lord goes forth, inviting people to come. Calling us here: “Come and get your sins forgiven! Come and meet your Savior! Come and receive the gifts he has to give you! Come and be at peace with God, and learn how to love your neighbor, too.” “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.”
If God builds it, he will come. Christ has come, to be God dwelling in our midst. If God builds it, people will come. You have come. Others will come also. For this is no field of dreams. It’s better than that. This is the mountain of the house of the Lord.