(For an explanation of the meaning of the Season of Advent, please see “Introducing Advent to Evangelicals” under the “Advent Devotions” tab.)
Redeeming the City of Man
Isaiah continues his sermon with God’s people in Judah. “God’s people?” you ask. Why, yes. That’s who these people were, but like so many of us, no one could tell. Yesterday, we read where he referred to them under the titles of Sodom and Gomorrah. Today, we read that “the faithful city has become a whore.” (It’s really hard to write that word.) God often describes His relationship with His people as a marriage. The Book of Hosea is perhaps the best example of this. Also see Ephesians 5:22-33. Thus, when His people break their marriage vows through sin, God calls it adultery. God expects His Church to be a chaste bride, and we as individual members of her to be chaste in our behavior, meaning not just being faithful wives and husbands but faithful to God in all of our endeavors – destroying sin in our personal lives and dealing justly with our neighbors. If we do not, then He will come and take matters into His own hands, as 1:24-31 declare. And First Corinthians 11:31 also tells us: “But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.”
But even God’s judgments are signs of grace. His purpose in judging is to redeem and renovate. He turns our hearts to love Him and thereby cleanses away our dross and alloy. Those who refuse to repent are swept away, and he replaces them with righteous judges, so that the city may be called “faithful” once again. But the word of warning is plain. It is the same message John the Baptist would preach seven centuries later: “Repent! For the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
Chapter two provides us with one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture. It is a picture of the “latter days” in which the nations flock to the “the mountain of the house of the Lord,” that they may learn His ways and walk in His paths. As a result of the Lord’s teaching and judgments, they exchange their swords for plowshares and spears for pruning hooks. It is a prophecy that I believe has more than one fulfillment. No doubt, we are dealing here with our Lord’s return. Some believe it a prophecy of a future millennial kingdom on earth and others of the saints in heaven. I will not argue the point and both are desirable. But I also believe that this prophecy was partially fulfilled in our Lord’s first coming in the establishment of His Church, represented as the exalted mountain of the house of the Lord, to which the nations (gentiles) have come to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Two thousand years of history confirm this. O come house of Jacob (now made of both Jew and gentile in His Church), let us walk in the light of the Lord.