Early Messages Of Isaiah (2-5)
OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS SECTION
1) To survey several messages of Isaiah, possibly presented in the early years of his ministry
2) To consider the first prophesy that looked forward to the age of the Messiah in which we now live
3) To introduce "foreshortening" and "figurative language" as concepts to understanding Biblical prophecy
Chapter one (Introduction To The Entire Prophecy) provided an example of the message God gave Isaiah to proclaim to Judah. The next four chapters (2-5) contain messages which speak of both the future and present of Judah and Jerusalem. Edward J. Young (The Book Of Isaiah) proposes that they were Early Messages Of Isaiah presented near the beginning of his ministry.
The first message is one of great hope, in which Zion's Glorious Future is foretold. The mountain of the Lord's house will be established in the latter days, in which the word of the Lord will go forth from Jerusalem. Many will want to go up to the mountain of the Lord to learn of His ways and walk in His paths of peace. This message is clearly Messianic and its fulfillment began with the coming of Christ (cf. Lk 24:46-47) and the establishment of His church, the house of the living God (cf. 1Ti 3:15; also He 12:22-25). The culmination of the prophecy may extend even beyond the second coming of Christ, to the eternal destiny of the redeemed, depicted in Revelation as the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven (Re 21:1-7,10-11,23-27). If so, then we have an example of what has been described as "prophetic foreshortening", in which events far removed in the future are spoken of as if they were close together (like looking at distant mountains; they may appear close together, but actually be far apart). It is in the fulfillment that we learn various elements of a prophecy may be separated by a long period of time (e.g., Joel 2:28-32). Even so, the prophecy like Zion's Glorious Future would encourage those of Isaiah's day to look forward with hope (2:1-4).
The future hope of Zion (Jerusalem) is tempered, however, by Isaiah's message concerning Zion's Inglorious Present. The people of Judah in Isaiah's day were being forsaken by God because they had left him to go after worldliness, materialism, and idolatry. Thus the "day of the Lord" was about to come upon them, a time in which the arrogant would be humbled, good leadership would cease to exist, and the women of Israel disciplined for their wantonness. Yet the purpose of this judgment was to purify, and the remnant could look forward to blessings of "The Branch" (the Messiah, 11:1), described in figurative terms that could be understood by and give hope to Isaiah's original audience (2:5-4:6). The reality of impending judgment is driven home by a message that begins with a song depicting the relationship between God And Judah. The Beloved (God) has built a vineyard and planted a choice vine (Judah) that produced "wild grapes" (sin). The Beloved is therefore forced to lay waste the vineyard. After categorizing the sins of the people upon whom woe is to befall, judgment is described as nations from afar coming to carry them away (5:1-30).
OUTLINE I. ZION'S GLORIOUS FUTURE (2:1-4) A. THE MOUNTAIN OF THE LORD'S HOUSE... 1. A message pertaining to Judah and Jerusalem - 2:1 2. Events to occur in "the latter days" - 2:2a; cf. Dan 2:28, 44-45; Ac 2:16-17; He 1:2 3. The mountain of the Lord's house to be established - 2:2b a. On the top of the mountains b. Exalted above the hills c. All nations shall flow to it - cf. He 12:22-25 B. THE WORD OF THE LORD FROM JERUSALEM... 1. Many will want to go up to the mountain of the Lord - 2:3 a. To the house of God Jacob - cf. Ac 15:14-17 b. To learn of His ways, to walk in His paths - cf. Mt 11:28- 30; 28:20 2. Out of Zion shall go forth the law - 2:4 a. The word of the Lord from Jerusalem - cf. Lk 24:46-47; Ac 2,8 b. He shall judge between the nations, rebuke many people 1) They shall beat their swords into plowshares, spears into pruning hooks 2) Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor learn war anymore - cf. Ep 2:11-22; Col 3:11; Ro 12:18; 14:17, 19; also Re 21:10-11,23-27 II. ZION'S INGLORIOUS PRESENT (2:5-4:6) A. DESCRIPTION OF THE PEOPLE... 1. Perhaps in view of the glorious future, a plea to walk in the light of the Lord - 2:5 2. For God has forsaken them, and for good reasons a. They are infatuated with pagan customs and peoples - 2:6 b. They are filled with symbols of wealth and power - 2:7 c. The land is filled with idols, to which they worship and bow down - 2:8-9a 3. Even Isaiah has lost his patience - 2:9b B. THE COMING OF "THE DAY OF THE LORD"... 1. Coming upon all that are haughty and their idols - 2:10-18 2. The fate of the people and their idols - 2:19-21 3. An admonition to cease trusting in man - 2:22 C. THE REMOVAL OF GOOD LEADERSHIP... 1. The Lord will deprive the nation not only of supplies, but of good leaders - 3:1-7 2. Because of Judah and Jerusalem's blatant wickedness - 3:8-9 3. The righteous will be cared for, but not the wicked! - 3:10-11 4. So poor leaders will be given to the people, and leaders who misused their power will be judged - 3:12-15 D. THE WOMEN AND THEIR COMING TRAGEDY... 1. Judgment to come upon them for their haughtiness and wantonness - 3:16-17 2. A detailed description of their loss - 3:18-4:1 a. The Lord will take away their finery b. Their men will fall by the sword and war c. They shall be left desolate, and desperate to remove their reproach E. THE RENEWAL OF ZION... 1. "The Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious" - 4:2 a. "In that day" - in the time of the Messiah b. For the Messiah is often depicted as a "branch" - e.g., Isa 11:1; Jer 23:5; Zech 6:12 2. Blessings for the remnant, in figures giving hope to Israel - 4:3-6 a. The fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing b. They shall be holy when the filth and blood has been purged by judgment c. Above every dwelling place, a cloud of smoke by day, shining fire by night, a covering over all the glory d. A tabernacle for shade in the daytime heat, a place of shelter from storm and rain III. GOD AND JUDAH (5:1-30) A. THE SONG OF THE BELOVED AND HIS VINEYARD... 1. The Beloved planted a vineyard, but it produced wild grapes - 5:1-2 2. The Lord tells Judah and Jerusalem that He will lay waste His vineyard - 5:3-6 3. The vineyard identified as the house of Israel and the men of Judah; what the Lord wanted was justice and righteousness, what He got was oppression and cries for help - 5:7 B. WOES TO THE "WILD GRAPES"... 1. The rich who overbuild the land, they shall become desolate - 5:8-10 2. The pleasure seekers, who shall go into captivity; they shall be humbled while the Lord will be exalted - 5:11-17 3. The blatant sinners, who dare the Lord to do anything - 5:18-19 4. The confused moralists, who call evil good and good evil - 5:20 5. The arrogant and self-righteous - 5:21 6. The mighty at drinking wine, taking bribes, depriving the righteous of justice - 5:22-23 C. THE IMPENDING JUDGMENT... 1. For rejecting the law of the Lord, and despising His word - 5:24 2. The Lord's anger is aroused against His people, He has already struck the land - 5:25 3. He will call for mighty nations to invade the land - 5:26-30 a. Nations from afar, that will not stumble nor sleep b. Whose weapons are ready, and will devour like the lion c. Who will take them away, while the land is left in darkness and sorrow REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THIS SECTION 1) What do chapters 2-5 likely contain? - Early messages of Isaiah 2) What is foretold at the beginning of this section? (2:1-4) - Zion's glorious future 3) When will it happen? When did it begin? (2:2) - In the last days - With the coming of Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit (Ac 2:16-17; He 1:1-2) 4) What will happen in those days? (2:2-3) - The mountain of the Lord's house will be established on the top of the mountains - All nations will flow to it, to learn the ways of the Lord - Out of Zion shall go forth the law, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Lk 24:46-47) 5) What will the Lord do? What will His people do? (2:4) - Judge many nations, rebuke many people - Beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks 6) What does Isaiah describe in the rest of chapters 2-4? - Zion's inglorious present 7) What was the moral condition of the people in Isaiah's day? (2:5-9) - They are infatuated with pagan customs and peoples - They are filled with symbols of wealth and power - The land is filled with idols, to which they worship and bow down 8) What was coming, and upon whom? (2:10-22) - The day of the Lord of hosts - Those who were haughty and trusting in idols 9) What would the Lord take away from them? What would He give them in return? (3:1-12) - Good leaders; inexperienced and weak leaders 10) What is said concerning the righteous that is comforting? (3:10) - It shall be well with them, they shall eat of the fruit of their doings 11) Whose is then condemned by the Lord? Why? (3:16-23) - The daughters of Zion; for their haughtiness and wantonness 12) What will happen to them? (3:24-4:1) - Their finery will be taken away, their men will fall by the sword 13) What is promised for the remnant who survive? (4:2-6) - The Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious - The fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing - They will be called holy - Above every dwelling place of Mount Zion and her assemblies, a cloud of smoke by day and a flaming fire at night - A tabernacle for shade in the daytime heat, a shelter from the storm and rain 14) What song does Isaiah then sing? What is it about? Who is it about? (5:1-7) - A song of his Beloved and His vineyard - His Beloved built a vineyard and planted the choicest vine, but it produced wild grapes - His Beloved would therefore lay waste the vineyard - The house of Israel and the men of Judah 15) Upon whom were "woes" to come? (5:8-23) - The rich who overbuild the land - The pleasure seekers - The blatant sinners - The confused moralists, who call evil good and good evil - The arrogant and self-righteous - The mighty at drinking wine, taking bribes, depriving others of justice 16) In summary, what was the reason for their impending judgment? (5:24) - For rejecting the law of the Lord, and despising His word 17) How was the Lord's anger aroused against His people? (5:25-30) - He has already struck the land - He would call for mighty nations to invade the land