Sunday, May 16, 2010

Isaiah 2:1-4:6 -- Our Pride and His Glory

Bartolommeo's Isaiah
Contextual Notes: Isaiah was a prophet in the southern kingdom of Judah which had David’s descendants as their kings. Isaiah was of the royal family and keenly aware of the geopolitical realities of the day. The 
Assyrians were hungry for world domination, and they would take out the kingdom of Israel’s ten northern tribes by 722 B.C.
Chapters 1-5 of Isaiah form a preface to the book and draw attention to the sad state of affairs in Judah and Jerusalem. Chapter one draws attention to the nation’s illness giving its diagnosis (1:2-9), its prescription for healing (2:10-23), and its prognosis (1:24-31).
Chapters two through four are a well-structured unit which may have been uttered toward the end of Uzziah’s reign (2 Kings 15:5) or during Jotham’s (2 Kings 15:32-38). We find bookending this passage is a vision of the last days of the Mountain of the Lord and world peace (2:1-5) and the Bringer of Peace, One whom Isaiah calls the Branch of the Lord (4:2-6). In the middle we see plunge from the Mountain to the very dregs of civilization which comes out of man’s pride and arrogance.
Isaiah warns his own people of the danger of walking in arrogance, that one day all arrogance and pride would be laid low and the Mountain of the Lord and His Branch would be raised up for worship and glory. Isaiah in this passage gives us a glimpse of what the Last Days will be like, and how Jesus Christ will rule and reign from Jerusalem.

Key Truth: Isaiah wrote Isaiah 2-4 to warn Israel of the danger of arrogance and predict the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to bring cleansing and glory.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about pride and Christ’s coming.

Sermon Points:    In the Last Days . . .
  1. The Mountain of the Lord will be exalted (Isa. 2:1-5)
  2. The arrogance of man will be humbled (Isa. 2:6-22)
  3. The pride of Israel will be collapsed (Isa. 3:1-4:1)
  4. The Branch of the Lord will be glorious (Isa. 4:2-6)
Exposition:   Note well,


a.   Jerusalem’s future: This prophecy also found in Micah 4:1-5 (written 928 BC). Joel likely mentored Isaiah as a prophet if not in person at least in his prophecies. Joel 3:10 quotes these two passages later, all affirming that Scripture does not become God’s inerrant word over time as people revere it. It is inerrant Scripture as soon as it is written because it is immediately within similar time periods recognized immediately as authoritative Scripture.[1]
b.   “All nations” 2:2-5 – Although Israel is God’s chosen people, salvation’s blessings are intended for all. Isaiah affirms this powerful truth. Here Jerusalem is the capital city of the Earth, with nations eager to walk and learn God’s ways, with peace worldwide and the Lord Himself handling international disputes. Those who spiritualize OT prophecy have taken this vision to portend the ultimate triumph of the Gospel of Christ and universal conversion, i.e., an a-millennial or post-millennial view of the End Times. Some of them, like Reformed or Calvinists, say that the Church is the “New Israel,” a teaching found in the writings of Augustine and John Calvin. Those who take OT prophecy literally believe it pictures the future rule of Jesus after His return. In Christ’s first coming, all the prophecies were fulfilled literally in minutia. By precedent, why should we not therefore expect the prophecies for His Second Coming to be fulfilled literally and not simply spiritually?

c.   APPLICATION: Christ is coming back. Christ will set up his throne. Are you ready? Do you have a personal relationship with him? At the end of this sermon, I will invite you to respond to him and make him your Lord.


  1. 2:6-9 – Judah’s sins – The house of Jacob is involved in alternative spiritualities (2:6); glutted with wealth (2:7) and pride in what they have manufactured, built, and created for themselves leading to idolatry (2:8). What Judah needed most was a dose of humility. This is a total reversal of what God intended. Isaiah 1:1-5 shows God intended knowledge of the Lord to flow from Judah, but instead paganism, its corrupt values, and idolatry have flowed into Judah from the nations![2]
  2. Rev. 3:17, 19-20: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. . . . Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I Am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.”
  3. 2:11-12 – The Day of the Lord – This phrase (here “that day”) occurs often in the OT prophets, and always identifies a critical period of time when God personally intervenes in history to accomplish His purposes for the ages, most of them at history’s end, and much of it in the context of wrath, distress, darkness, and gloom. (see Isa. 7:18-25; Zephaniah 1:14-15; Isa. 22; Jer. 30:1-17; Amos 5:18). God’s intervention involves delivering a remnant of Israel, bringing about a national conversion, forgiving sins, and restoring his people to the Promised Land of Abraham (Isa. 10:27; Jer. 30:19-31:40). The day of the Lord is a day of darkness, but at evening there will be light.[3]
  4. 2:10-17 – Punishment must come, and it would come through the Assyrian armies. Soon the Northern Kingdom of Israel would fall.
  1. 2:22 – The point – Stop trusting in man. Jeremiah says something similar (Jer. 17:5)
  1. APPLICATION: Are you full of pride yourself? Do you put your trust in yourself or your business? Do you put all your trust in your government or completely in our military for your protection? Isaiah says that our trust should be in the Lord and we should walk humbly before him.

a.   3:4 – Boys their officialsBreakdown of National Leadership. This breakdown unites three separate prophecies here (2:1-9; 10-11; 12-15). Here Isaiah’s gift for powerful imagery. Hebrews associated age with wisdom. Boys pictures headstrong, immature leadership sure to make foolish decisions and lead the nation to disaster.[4]
b.   ILLUSTRATION: This is the sad cycle we see in Africa. In Liberia, West Africa, where Amanda and I lived for a while and which is still in our hearts, the nation began a descent from the most prosperous, advanced nation on the continent in 1980 to ranking by Money Magazine in Jan. 2004 as the worst place to live in the world, the month we arrived, ranking behind Iraq and Afghanistan. What happened? In 1980, an illiterate Army sergeant named Samuel Doe stormed the Presidential palace with a few men, assassinated President Tubman, and took over the country. When another rebel leader named Charles Taylor threatened to oust President Doe in 1989, he famously said to Liberian citizens in an effort to get support, “Better the devil you know than the angel you don’t know.” Charles Taylor eventually did take the government over. Today he is being tried before the Hague’s International Court for war crimes.

c.   3:8-9, 11-12 – ‘parade their sin like Sodom” in the streets – The state of their nation is because of this sin against the Lord (3:8) so that they come to disaster like Sodom did (3:9; Gen 19:4-11). Now those who should be leaders in Jerusalem are failing to take their responsibilities (3:12).

d.   3:10 – The righteous – Whatever happens here and now, the righteous can be confident. They will surely be rewarded for the good they did (i.e., trusting Christ)
e.   3:13-15 – “in court” – Frequent courtroom images are in the prophets. Here God is pressing formal charges against sinners. The charge is found in verse 15-16: exploiting the poor rather than caring for them. God is concerned about the poor and the alien.

f.    ILLUSTRATION: That is why it is interesting what is being said about the Arizona immigration law. Do people need to obey the law? Yes, of course. We have people boycotting a whole state because it decided to expect people to obey the law. But what is more important here are the people who are crossing the borders. They are simply looking for a way to provide for their families, much like many of our ancestors who came to this country. The problem is that they are being exploited because they are poor. They must pay the coyote, a human trafficker, to get them across the border, and then they are often sold, abused, put in bondage in abandoned houses or in low-rent motels, for cheap labor or as mules for the drug cartel or for human sexual traffic. These people are the great reason why an immigration law is important. The drug cartels and coyotes must be targeted and taken out, but unfortunately it is the poor man or woman trying to earn some money for their family who are here illegally and being forced to do illegal activity who are punished.

g.   3:16-4:1 – Isaiah addresses Judah’s women, their pride (3:16) and love of finery (3:18-23) for flirtation and seduction (see Prov. 6:20-7:27; 31:3). Verses 16-17 with the women parallel 3:6-7 of the men. It is not that being attractive is a bad thing. The Song of Songs demonstrates that to be a lie. The question is the role of the attraction. A woman’s unique gifting is to attract others to the Lord (Prov. 11:22-23; 31:30; Matt. 19:3-6). When attractiveness is used to woo someone to yourself and not to the Lord, you are misusing your gifts of attraction. You are making yourself an idol. The outcome of this misuse of attraction is to make women objects of desire and exploitation to be used and abused rather than appreciated for their gifts and talents.[5]

  1. APPLICATION: Ladies, do you dress to call attention to yourself? What kinds of pictures of yourself have you posted on facebook? How is your conduct with men? Have you bought into the lie that women are sexual objects meant for the pleasure of men and you act accordingly, or are you wise enough to have learned that your purpose is to attract others to Christ Jesus your Lord through your manner and grace and cheerfulness and kindness and the way you care for yourself and make yourself beautiful?
  1. And what about the aliens among us? We are commanded to be kind to them but also to expect everyone to follow the law. One of my hopes is to plant a church for Latinos. Would you be interested in reaching out for Christ in that way in our community?

a.   4:2 – “in that day” – phrase is repeated 30 times in Isaiah. Disaster for the wicked but comfort and renewal to upright and oppressed (Isa. 2:17; 11:10; Jer. 30:8; Ezek. 20:6; Joel 3:18).
b.   4:2-6 The Branch – This metaphorical title indicates a person who will “spring up” or “sprout” from David’s line. Christ will give a new identity and holiness to his people (4:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:17-19); an assurance of God’s presence in cloud and fire (4:5; Exod. 13:21; 24:16-17; 2 Chron. 5:13; Matt: 18:20; 28:20); and peace and comfort despite internal threats (4:6).

c.   Six OT passages use this term of the coming Messiah (Isa. 4:2; 11:1; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zech. 3:8-9; 6:12). In them the Messiah is associated with washing away the sins of God’s people “in a single day” (Zech. 3:9) and with the kingdom glory to follow. The Branch, empowered by the Holy Spirit, will bring justice and righteousness to earth and fulfill the covenant promises given to David (Jer. 33:15-22).[6]

  1. APPLICATION: This passage is a clear picture of Jesus Christ who has washed away our sin and given us a new identity and a new holiness and will one day bring righteousness and justice to this earth while fulfilling his promises to David and Abraham.

Do you know the Branch? Is he your Savior? Has his righteousness washed you of your sin? Today is the day to make the Branch, the Lord Jesus Christ, your Lord. You see, He is Lord whether anyone likes it or not. But if you will make him your Lord, you can be part of the remnant that enjoys the Day of the Lord.

Tokunboh Adeyemo, gen ed. Africa Bible Comentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006.
David F. Payne, “Isaiah.” International Bible Commentary, F.F. Bruce, ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986.
Lawrence O. Richards, Bible Reader’s Companion. Wheaton: Victor, 1991.

[1] IBC, 721. Some commentators speculate that both Micah and Isaiah took the vision from a familiar hymn sung at the Temple. If so, the song became inerrant Scripture when it was inspired through the writer.
[2] Richards, BRC, 413.
[3] Richards, BRC, 413.
[4] Richards, BRC, 413.
[5] ABC, 812.
[6] Richards, BRC, 413.