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Isaiah 2:1 This is what Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem- These prophecies were about the Judah and Jerusalem which Isaiah had before him; this was the potential which could have come about at the time, had they repented. It didn't, but God's word will finally come true in essence, although not necessarily in every literal detail envisaged in the primary fulfilment.

Isaiah 2:2 It shall happen in the latter days, that the mountain of Yahweh’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it-
God's intention was that all nations (a phrase which usually refers to all nations around Israel, those within the eretz promised to Abraham) would come to worship in the restored temple. It would be raised up above the mountains and hills in that the nations would 'raise up' Zion in the sense of worshipping. The nations would "flow" as a broad stream; later Isaiah in Is. 66:12 sees this as the possibility which could come about after the exile, if the exiles repented and restored Zion and the temple as Ezekiel 40-48 commanded.

The Ezekiel prophecies of Ez. 40-48 had an intended and possible fulfilment at the time of the restoration under Ezra, but this was nullified by Israel’s lack of response; and therefore, at least in principle, the prophecies had their fulfilment delayed until the second coming. This enables the prophecies to fit in with others which speak of some kind of centralized worship system after Jesus returns (e.g. Is. 2:2-4; 56:7). Or it could be that these prophecies of Isaiah are likewise talking about what was potentially possible for a restored, obedient Israel; particularly at the time of the restoration from Babylon. The lesson that comes out of all this is the extent to which God is willing to work with us, to tailor His purpose according to how far we are prepared to work with Him, and in that sense to allow Himself to be limited by us. There could be no greater inspiration to a maximal commitment to His purpose and His work. 

The returned exiles didn't build according to Ez. 40-48. And their behaviour meant that the small temple they did build was not exalted in the eyes of the nations around. And so these prophecies come true in essence in a spiritual sense. The New Testament quotes several passages evidently prophetic of the future Kingdom as having their fulfillment in the preaching of the Gospel today. Is. 2:2-4 (the word of Yahweh will go out from Jerusalem) is alluded to by the Lord as the basis for the ecclesia’s witness to the world today, “beginning at Jerusalem” (Lk. 24:47). This, the Lord said, was in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophets- and He could only be referring to those like Isaiah.


The Jews mixed with the people of the land, they didn’t teach them the Name, and so the restoration prophecies like Jer. 12:14-17 didn’t come true- they weren’t built up in the midst of Israel as intended. Prophecies like Is. 19:18,24 were thereby disabled from fulfilment at that time- “In that day there shall be five cities in the land of Egypt that… swear to the Lord…in that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria”. Is. 2:2-4, Zech. 8:21-23 etc. speak of how Gentile nations would desire to learn the ways of God and come up to a temple in Zion for this purpose. Could it not be that these passages are to be read in the context of Jer. 12:14-17- that all this was only possible if at the time of the restoration the nations had learnt God’s ways from the Jews? In this case these passages are not to be taken as ‘proof’ that there has to be a future temple built in Zion. And the 'establishing' of God's 'house' is the language of the promises to David in 2 Sam. 7:13,16,26; and that finally speaks more of the establishment of the 'house' in the sense of family, through the great seed, the Lord Jesus.

Isaiah 2:3 Many peoples shall go and say, Come, let’s go up to the mountain of Yahweh, 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 the law shall go forth, and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem-
This has the ring of psychological reality to it. People learning the Gospel very  often share their new found knowledge with others. Time and time again this happens. And here we see the same; people will spread the good news to each other as they begin to understand  the Gospel (Is. 2:3; Jer. 50:5; Mic. 4:2; Zech. 8:21). Their response to having heard the word is to go up to the temple to receive more teaching there. The Mosaic law will surely not function after the Lord returns; it ended at His death. So this initially describes the potential possible after Judah had repented. The temple system could have been exalted, and the surrounding peoples taught God's law. But it didn't happen. The Gentiles came to Hezekiah in Jerusalem, but he didn't teach them God's law, and the people continued in idolatry; and so the people were condemned to exile in Babylon, and then later Isaiah speaks of the reestablishment of the Kingdom. At that time, all peoples were envisaged as coming to the rebuilt temple. But these things didn't happen, because Judah didn't build the temple as outlined in Ez. 40-48, nor did they repent. And they were not welcoming to Gentiles. The essence of these words is fulfilled in people coming to the temple of God, which today is the people of God; and perhaps when the Lord returns there will be a place of centralized teaching in Jerusalem. The only other use of the phrase "the law shall go forth" is in Is. 51:4, which clearly speaks of this happening at the restoration from Babylon. But it didn't. Perhaps the prophetic potential therefore never will come true; or it may be fulfilled in a reapplied and rescheduled manner.

Isaiah 2:4 He will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plough shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more-
The Mosaic system featured a system of justice whereby those with issues against others could have them resolved. The Gentile nations around Israel were to have access to this same system, if they accepted the God of Israel. "Decide" is literally 'to plead' (s.w. Mic. 6:2). His judgments are in order to plead with them for repentance. The result of that judgment will be positive, as the judgment upon Israel was intended to have a positive spiritual outcome. God's judgments lead to the nations learning righteousness (Is. 26:9), or 'being taught righteousness'. The practical outcome of that judgment will be that therefore they will beat their swords into plough shares; and devote themselves to learning of God (:2,3) rather than of war. This is the revere of the latter day situation in Joel 3:10, where the enemies of Israel beat their plough shares into swords. The connection could be in that we are to understand Is. 2:4 as saying that the enemies of Israel, her previous invaders referred to as "the nations" around her, will reverse their aggression against Israel and instead come to accept Israel's God.

Isaiah 2:5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!-
The rest of the chapter, and indeed the whole prophecy, beseech Israel to act as they should as “the house of the Lord” in view of their future glory. Gentiles would come to worship in God’s house, i.e. in the community of His people, and therefore they ought to live the Kingdom life themselves. Thus following straight on from the prophecy of how Gentiles would come to “the house of the God of Jacob”, there is an appeal in 2:5 for the “house of Jacob” to walk in God’s ways themselves. This was Isaiah's continued appeal to Judah to repent; to walk in the light so that this wonderful potential restoration could come about. In Hezekiah's time, Judah generally wouldn't walk in the light; but the restoration prophecies spoke of a restored Judah after the exile doing just this, along with the surrounding nations also walking in Zion's light (Is. 42:16; 58:8; 60:3). But again, Judah didn't do this, they walked in darkness (Is. 59:9), and :6-8 suggests they preferred idolatry to walking in the light; and so the prophetic potential wasn't realized at the time.

Isaiah 2:6 For You have forsaken Your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled from the east with those who practice divination like the Philistines, and they shake hands with the children of foreigners-
This idolatry (:8) went on at the same time as great apparent zeal in Yahweh worship, offering expensive animal sacrifices (Is. 1:11-13). Isaiah and other prophets were stating clearly what would be Judah's fate; and yet they turned to divination and the wisdom of the East to try to tell the future, acting no better than their historical enemies the Philistines- who were renowned for their claims to foretell the future by divination (1 Sam. 6:2; 2 Kings 1:2). See on Is. 3:2. "Filled" is the same word we find twice in :7; they were totally committed to these things. It was this rejection of Yahweh's word which led Him to forsake His people; and He likewise is just as sensitive towards our attitude to His word today. Striking hands with foreigners refers to the making of alliances with other nations, which was the prostitution noted on Is. 1:21.

The LXX is more concrete as to what was going on. Judah had returned the land to how it was before Israel had first entered it, acting like the Canaanites, marrying them and having children by them: "For he has forsaken his people the house of Israel, because their land is filled as at the beginning with divinations, as the land of the Philistines, and many strange children were born to them".

Isaiah 2:7 Their land is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures-
In the midst of Judah’s prosperity, with a land “filled with silver and gold” perhaps from the control of the Red Sea trading posts (2 Kings 14:22), visions of doom haunted Isaiah’s soul; he couldn’t just go along with the swing of things, knowing that all that wealth was an illusion and being used as an antithesis to faith. Now that’s something we see all the time around us and in the brotherhood; but is our soul touched like his was? Do we know the spirit of the prophets? The land full of wealth parallels the land full of idols (:8). The idols were nearly all connected with fertility cults. The idea was that by serving them, prosperity would be experienced. And it appeared to work. But in fact this was all a reflection of deep unspirituality rather than faith. The same may be true of the apparent blessings of unspiritual people today.

Their land also is full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots- Multiplying horses and chariots was explicitly forbidden to Israel (Dt. 17:16,17; 20:1), because they were to trust instead on the cherubim Angels fighting for them. Is. 31:1 is explicit that these horses and chariots were Egyptian; they had turned to Egypt for help against Assyria rather than trust in God's heavenly armies.

Isaiah 2:8 Their land also is full of idols, they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made-
See on :7. The essence of idolatry is a worship of human works rather than simple faith in God. And that is why the challenge of idolatry is real for all human history.

Isaiah 2:9 Man is brought low, and mankind is humbled; therefore don’t forgive them-
It makes a good exercise to go through Isaiah 2 and look at all the times when words like ‘bow down’ and ‘lift up’ are used. Judah are condemned for ‘bowing down’ before the idols, when in fact they were ‘lifted up’ in pride (Is. 2:9,11). We seem to have in :6-9 Isaiah's prayer to God after his appeal for Israel to repent in :5 went unheeded; he asks God not to forgive the people, because they bowed down to their idols rather than to God, despite having the prospect of the Kingdom placed before them in :2-4.

Isaiah 2:10 Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust, from before the terror of Yahweh, and from the glory of His majesty-
Having asked God not to forgive Judah because of their impenitence, Isaiah now appeals again (as in :5) for their repentance. He asks them to act as if the theophany of judgment day is upon them; then they would repent, and Isaiah asks them to do so right now. They did not respond, because the same appeal is made to the judged and exiled community in Is. 40. The whole purpose of the Gospel is to bring down the mountains of human pride and lift up the valleys of those who lack any self-respect (Is. 40:4), thereby making an equality of attitude amongst God's people. The vision of the Kingdom in Is. 2:2-4 was used as an appeal for humility amongst Israel (2:10-12). And it should so appeal to us today.

At the day of judgment, we will all go through the Moses experience; hiding in the rock in the presence of God's glory (Is. 2:10 cp. Ex. 33:22). And our vision of that glory in the face of the Lord Jesus even now should have the same humbling effect. For the manifestation of glory to Moses is alluded to in John's gospel as pointing forward to the glory of God now perceived in the face of Jesus Christ. Isaiah besought men (in the present tense): “Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty”, and then goes on to say that in the day of God’s final judgment, “[the rejected] shall go into the holes of the rock... for fear of the Lord and for the glory of His majesty when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth” (Is. 2:10,11,19-21). We must find a true, self-condemning humility now, unless it will be forced upon us at the judgment.

Isaiah 2:11 The lofty looks of man will be brought low, the arrogance of men will be bowed down, and Yahweh alone will be exalted in that day-
If this is to happen "in that day", then we are to humble ourselves now. See on :10. John the Baptist’s message was that the valleys are to be lifted up, and the mountains made low, thus creating a plain. I read this as meaning that those with too low a view of themselves are to be lifted up, and the heights of human pride brought down. The over confident and under confident alike are to leveled so that they can be a path for the Lord’s glory. “Made low” in Is. 40:4 is surely in the spirit of Is. 2:11, which predicts that in the day of judgment, “the lofty looks of man shall be humbled [s.w. ‘made low’], and the haughtiness of man shall be bowed down”. The experience of condemnation in the coming day of the Lord will mean that “the proud and lofty” will be “brought low” (Is. 2:12,17; 5:15). In fact, Isaiah is full of references to the proud being ‘made low’ by judgment- the same Hebrew word is common: Is. 10:33; 13:11; 25:11; 26:5. Perhaps Paul had this in mind when he said that our preaching is a bringing down of every high thing that is exalted against God (2 Cor. 10:5). Our message is basically that we must be humbled one way or the other- either by our repentance and acceptance of the Gospel today, or through the experience of condemnation at the day of judgment. We’re calling people to humility.

Isaiah 2:12 For there will be a day of Yahweh of Armies for all that is proud and haughty, and for all that is lifted up; and it shall be brought low-
If everything and everyone proud is going to be brought down "in that day", then we should live today as if that future day is upon us. For it is, in essence. We have to note the huge emphasis upon the need for humility. Israel had lost their hold on true doctrine, many scarcely knew the Law (Is. 57:4,5; 59:3). They got drunk at the temple feasts (Is. 36:10-12; 58:3,4), like Corinth they had an "eat, drink, for tomorrow we die" mentality (Is. 22:12,13); they committed all manner of sexual perversions, along with almost every other form of doctrinal and moral apostasy (Is. 5:11-13,24; 8:19; 9:15; 22:12,13; 24:5; 27:11; 28:7; 30:10; 31:6; 44:8-20; consider the similarities with Corinth). This list is worth reading through. And consider the terrible implications of their perversion in Is. 66:17. But the early chapters of Isaiah sternly rebuke Israel for their pride- there is not a whisper of all these other things until later (Is. 2:11-22; 3:16-20; 5:15; 9:9). And even throughout the later rebukes, there is the repeated criticism of their pride (Is. 13:11; 16:6; 23:9; 24:4; 25:11; 26:5; 28:1,3,14; 29:4; 30:25; 50:33; 57:15). This is why Isaiah's prophecies of Christ stress His humility (Acts 8:33), and the "lofty", "high", "exaltation" of God. These words, common in Isaiah, are those translated “pride" in Isaiah's condemnations of Israel's arrogance; as if to say that God was the only one who could be 'proud'.

Isaiah 2:13 for all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up, for all the oaks of Bashan-
The cedars of Lebanon in the temple became iconic, to the point that they are put by metaphor for the temple itself (Zech. 11:1). Judah were so proud of the temple (see on Jer. 7:4). The destruction of the temple was required to humble Judah. "High and lifted up" is the same phrase used of the exaltation of Yahweh in glory in Is. 6:1. What is high and lifted up in human eyes is to be brought down before the glory of Yahweh. It is used in Ez 10:16 about the cherubim, which appear to morph into the seraphim of the Is. 6 vision (see on Is. 6:2). And it is used in Is. 37:23 of how the Assyrians were high and lifted up against Yahweh, and would be brought down- just as the pride of Judah was to be, before the high and lifted up glory of Yahweh. Both Jews and Gentiles would thereby be humbled and the intention was that together they would form part of a restored Kingdom of God in Judah.

Isaiah 2:14 for all the high mountains, for all the hills that are lifted up-
The "high places" of Israel are typically associated in the prophets with idol worship. But in Is. 2:14 they are spoken of as places of pride which needed to be brought down. There is therefore a connection between idolatry and pride; believing in one God is associated with no idolatry and thereby humility.

Isaiah 2:15 for every lofty tower, for every fortified wall-
The defences of Jerusalem were legendary; and they too were to be brought down, continuing this theme of humility being imposed everywhere and in every way.

Isaiah 2:16 for all the ships of Tarshish and for all pleasant imagery-
I suggested on :7 that Judah became a land “filled with silver and gold” perhaps from the control of the Red Sea trading posts (2 Kings 14:22). But the trading ships, "the ships of Tarshish" and their "watchtowers", standing proudly on the ships, were to be brought down. LXX  and GNB have "fine ships" for "pleasant imagery". Note that ships of Tarshish mean simply long distance trading vessels. "Tarshish" may have been Tartessus in Spain, and so a long distance vessel would have been called a Tarshish boat; just as in 18th century England, an "Indiaman" referred to a long distance trading boat, so named because the longest distance vessels sailed to India.

Isaiah 2:17 The pride of man shall be bowed down, and the arrogance of men shall be brought low-
If we don’t humble ourselves now, then God will do this to us through the process of condemnation at the judgment. In this lies the insistent logic of humility. The theme of ‘bringing down’ pride is a major one in the first half of Isaiah (Is. 2:17; 13:11; 25:5,12; 29:4; 32:19). These passages pave the way for the announcement that in man’s response to the Gospel of Christ, “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain” (Is. 40:4). By the hills of human pride being brought down, and the giving of confidence to those so low in the valleys of hopelessness and lack of self respect, there is a leveling of all those who respond to Christ. But more than this; in this lifting up of the hopeless and bringing down of the proud, there is a foretaste of what will happen in the future day of judgment. In essence, “we make the answer now” by whether or not we bring down our pride, or whether we summon the faith in God’s grace and imputed righteousness to believe that we, who are nothing, are lifted up in His sight. “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low” (James 1:9-10).

And Yahweh alone shall be exalted in that day- The idea may be, 'exalted as one'. There will come a day when all the world realizes that God is one (Is. 37:20 Heb.)- in that they will realize that He alone is God and all else is pure vanity. Because God alone is holy, only He will be worshipped then (Rev. 15:4). "The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day" (Is. 2:11,17). There is a connection therefore between the unity of God and humility in practice.

Isaiah 2:18 The idols shall utterly pass away-
In :19, the AV reads "And they shall go into the holes...". The worshippers of idols are spoken of as if they are the idols; people become like the gods they worship (Ps. 135:18).

Isaiah 2:19 Men shall go into the caves of the rocks and into the holes of the earth from before the terror of Yahweh, and from the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily-
See on :18. This was what Isaiah foresaw as coming upon Judah in his day. But it didn't; the full extent of judgment was averted, by the repentance and intercession of a minority. But the essence of these words, as of all prophecy, will come true in the last days. This passage is therefore alluded to in a latter day context in Rev. 6:16.

This hiding in the rocks is the language of condemnation; Is. 7:19 says that even hidden there, they would be attacked by the Assyrians and Egyptians. But it seems many of them were saved from this by grace, and by the repentance of a remnant. Later Isaiah applies it to the judged exiles in Babylon (Is. 42:22); but with the good news that even from that humbled, condemned position- they could be exalted and returned to the restored Kingdom.


Isaiah 2:20 In that day men shall cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold which have been made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats- The wealthy will hide in caves and throw their gold and silver to the animals before the awesome presence of Yahweh's glory, with unclean moles and bats gawping at all the discarded wealth of the humans. Dynamically translating this into our terms, I think we can speak of men being ashamed of their bank balances, stock portfolios, expensive cars and furnishings, holiday homes... when finally (and all too late for many) the penny drops, that all this is shameful, all the pride, wealth and human armament / defenses of man are things to be terribly awkward about before God. But for us, the essence of judgment day is now, as we face up to God's glory in the face of our Lord Jesus.

Isaiah 2:21 to go into the caverns of the rocks and into the clefts of the ragged rocks, from before the terror of Yahweh, and from the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily- The allusion is to Moses and Elijah; perhaps both of them went into the rocks with a sense of penitence, as they came close to Yahweh's glory. Moses was brought to cower in the rocks, just as the unworthy will do (Ex. 33:22 = Is. 2:21); and he only saw the back, not the face of God, which is the attitude God adopts to those He rejects (Jer. 18:17). And only in this position could Moses see the vision of God's moral glory. Those visions of glory are alluded to in John's Gospel as what we too can see in the face of the Lord Jesus; and we likewise should be thereby convicted of our sin, and yet also of His glory and certain salvation.

Isaiah 2:22 Stop trusting in man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for of what account is he?-
Our faith in God is mitigated against by our misplaced faith in humanity. We would rather trust a doctor, a repair man, a kind neighbour, before throwing ourselves upon God as a last resort. "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of" (Is. 2:22) compared to the great God of Israel?