By Connie W. Adams
From the picture of Jerusalem which had become a harlot and the lodging place of murderers (Isa. 1:21), the prophet Isaiah turns to the brighter prospect of the ideal Jerusalem, or Zion where his government will be respected by “many people” who would “flow unto it” (Isa. 2:2-3) and where peace would prevail among those brought under its government (Isa. 2:4). This was Messianic Zion.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, 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 shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isa. 2:2-3).
The Meaning of the Mountain of the Lord
In prophesy mountains were often used to describe the governments of the nations. They tower over the people. Their presence stands for power and might. It was fitting that God would identify his people with mount Zion. Zion was first one of the hills of Jerusalem. In time it came to stand for the city itself as the center of divine worship and government. David built his house there and so the idea of government came to be connected with Zion. Then it came to stand for God’s rule over his people. To the mind of the devout Jew, Zion symbolized all that was peculiar to the Lord’s people. In captivity it was said, “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion” (Ps. 137:1).
Zion and Jerusalem are equated by the prophets. “Thus saith the Lord; I am returning unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain” (Zech. 8:3). Here we have linked Zion, Jerusalem, the city of truth and the holy mountain. It is to a spiritual Zion, a heavenly Jerusalem that Christians have come. “But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb.12:22).
Daniel foresaw a succession of kingdoms terminating with the Roman empire, in which time there appeared a little stone “cut out of the mountain without hands” (Dan. 2:35, 45). That little stone came down and smote the image on its feet, broke it in pieces and “consumed all these kingdoms” that it might “stand forever” (Dan. 2:44). This was the kingdom set up by the God of heaven “which shall never be destroyed” (Dan. 2:44).
The mountain of the Lord’s house is the mighty government of God in his kingdom, God’s rule over his people, his house. Back to Isaiah 2, what is under discussion is the establishment of the Lord’s house. The “mountain” of his house is the government of it. He would send forth his law, his word, from Jerusalem.
The Nature of His Rule
This divine government would not be like the nations over which it would rise in eminence and power. Such mountains (nations) ascend by military force. They are advanced and maintained by human strength. But this “mountain” would be different. It began as a little stone cut out of the mountains “without hands.” That is, it was divine in origin. Jesus said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews” (John 18:36). Jesus said, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).
His rule is advanced by teaching. “He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths” (Isa. 2:3). The only force employed to bring men of every nation under this mountain, this government, is the force and power of truth working within the hearts of those who exercise their own will to obey him. They would “walk in his paths” be-cause they had first been taught his ways. Jesus said “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (John 6:45). Indeed, the gospel “is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). The book of God virtually closes with an appeal for all to come under his government, but by their own will. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).
The Nature of His Subjects
Men of diverse nations and backgrounds would flow unto this mountain of the Lord. Isaiah said “all nations” and “many people” would come. There, in the shadow of “the mountain of the Lord” they would stack arms, learn to love each other and find a common place of service at the feet of the same Lord. That is the meaning of “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 any more” (Isa. 2:4). This has no reference to a lasting armistice among the nations of the earth. The peace described here is the peace of those who have learned the same word, or law, of the Lord and have come to walk in his paths. They have all submitted to the same government. They have learned what Paul said: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1). This is the peace of Ephesians 2. Here were Gentiles who were alienated from God and from the Jews: They have both come to the cross. “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby. And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph. 2:16-18). All of this corresponds to the prophecy of Isaiah 11:9 which said “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Where is the place where they shall not hurt nor destroy. “In my holy mountain.” Where is that? It is under the towering influence of the law of the Lord, the gospel of Christ through which the government of the Lord is now exercised. Notice that this government is expanded as the knowledge of the Lord is extended. The word of the Lord from Jerusalem is to be carried to all nations (Matt. 28:19-20) as the waters cover the sea.
The Responsibility of His Subjects
If the knowledge of the Lord is to fill the earth, and if the Lord will teach us of his ways, then how does he propose to accomplish this? The apostles of our Lord were given a promise that the Holy Spirit would “teach you all things” so that they might impart that to others, who in turn would teach yet others. Paul said, “And the things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). The church is said to be “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). The simple truth is that the Lord uses those who have submitted to this heavenly mountain, or government, to teach others that they might “flow unto it.” Are there yet people among the nations of the earth who have not submitted to the rule of God? Surely there are. Will they all respond favorably to the message? Not likely. But we don’t know which ones will and which ones won’t. That is not our concern. Our task is to do all we can to make known that “word of the Lord” which began to go out from Jerusalem by inspired men, which spread then to Judea, Samaria, and then to the uttermost parts of the earth. We must do our part in our time to press the claims of him who has been given to be “head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). Meanwhile, everyone who has learned of his ways needs to be sure he is walking in the paths of him who is King of kings and Lord of lords.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 22 p.3-4
November 20, 1997