This chapter and the next few that follow it are classed together as one prophecy or “sermon” – probably given around the time that King Ahaz took over the throne of Judah (circa 740 BC). The promises in the beginning of this chapter (verses 1-5) were to train God’s people to live upon the hope of things future and unseen, and to trust His Word and wait. They refer, as the second verse expresses it, to “the last days” – that is, the days of the Gospel, in which we are now living. We are led to expect that one day, the time will come when the Jews shall recognize Christ as their long-awaited Messiah. He Who once came in sorrow and humility will then appear as a glorious King, and the nation that once despised and crucified Him will then gladly acknowledge His authority and submit to His rule. But in the meantime – during these New Testament times – all the other nations of the world (the Gentiles, as the Scriptures call them) shall be Christianized, and “the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea!” These “last days” in which we live are the time when Christ’s complete triumph over Satan is being continually displayed more and more, and when the results of His great Gospel-work of redemption are being gloriously manifested!
This passage teaches us how in these “last days,” all the nations of the world shall flock to “the mountain of the Lord’s house” – there to learn the ways of Christ, and to enjoy the peace and happiness that shall be enjoyed under His rule. Men are spoken of as transforming their weapons of war into farm implements, for the Gospel of salvation brings a general spirit of peace among those whom it influences. The prophet Micah foretells these same things, in the very same words! (Mic. 4:1-3)
How beautiful is the exhortation in verse 5: “O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord!” The wicked walk in darkness, for they hate the light (John 3:20). But sadly, many of the Lord’s own children are walking in the dim twilight! They are uncertain about their Father’s love, they doubt their own salvation, they have no clear or abiding sense of their union with Christ, and they have no assurance that they are the children of God. The message for such persons is, “Come, and let us walk in the light of the Lord!” Leave the dark caverns of unbelief; cease from the contemplation of self; lift your eyes to Christ, the Sun of Righteousness! (Mal. 4:2) Look at His character, His work, His past sufferings, and His present intercession! Behold His glory until, by that sight, you are transformed into the same image (2 Cor. 3:18); and by the change, you will find all your doubts and difficulties vanishing. Bring your daily work into the light of God’s countenance! Bring your daily trials into the sunshine of His presence! Thus, by walking in the light, you will find your path shining brighter and brighter until it ends in perfect daylight (Prov. 4:18).
In the rest of this chapter, we first have some particulars of the sins of the people in Isaiah’s time; and then, we have a prophecy of the judgment that was about to fall upon them – a prophecy expressed in such a manner that it is applicable to every instance in which God visits sin, and yet it will find its complete accomplishment in the future and final judgment of the ungodly.
The description of the terror of sinners leading them to seek shelter among the rocks and the caves (which both Hosea and our Savior repeat, in Hosea 10:8 and Luke 23:29-30) occurs again in Revelation 6:16-17, in reference to the Great Last Day of the wrath of God and the Lamb. The Lord appeared on Mount Sinai with thunders, fire, blackness, darkness, and tempest; and the people stood afar off, and begged that the voice would not speak to them anymore. That voice shook the earth at that time; but now the Lord has said, “Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven!” (Heb. 12:18, 19, 26) In that Great Last Day – “as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be!” (Matt. 24:27) The coming of the Lord for judgment – like the march of the storm, and like the rolling of thunder – is also described in several other passages (particularly Ps. 18:7-15; Ps. 97:2-7; Hab. 3:3-16).
Let us endeavor to gather the practical lessons which are taught by the passage before us. And the first of them is found in the declaration which is twice repeated (verses 11 and 17): “the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” If we wish to be able to meet the Lord in peace when He comes, then we must pray to Him now and ask Him to take the loftiness and haughtiness from our hearts, to empty us of self-righteousness and self-conceit, and to teach us how to rejoice in Christ Jesus, without having any confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3:3). But here is a second lesson from verse 20. Just as in a shipwreck, sailors cast all their merchandise into the sea (Jonah 1:5; Acts 27:18, 19, 38); and just as in the panic of defeat, soldiers leave behind all their booty (2 Kings 7:15) – so also, in the day of God’s judgment, all the possessions for which men have toiled will become valueless and contemptible. But happy are those who cling to the cross of Christ! They will not need to hide in the ragged rocks; for in that day, they shall be hidden safely in the Lord Jesus!
Lord, we give thanks that on that great Last Day, we will have no need to seek a refuge in the caves and rocks; for we have a sure hiding-place (Ps. 32:7) in our Savior – upon Whose love and power we have placed all our hope and trust! Amen.
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