Let us start by reading what is written in those four opening verses of Isaiah 2:
(1) The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. (2) Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. (3) Many people shall come and say, ‘Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways. And we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (4) He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; 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 anymore.
What sense can we make out of this message which the prophet Isaiah brought to the people of the Southern Kingdom? With the assistance of other passages, we learn that this is a prophecy which foretells the establishment of God’s church on what the Bible calls “the Day of Pentecost” (Acts 2:1). Here are a few elements of this notable message:
The latter/last days (2:2) – This is the time element. The events which transpired on the first Day of Pentecost after Jesus rose from the dead were part of the latter/last days. Peter’s words prove it. On that occasion, Peter quoted Joel’s prophecy that God would pour out of His Spirit “in the last days” (Acts 2:17). Peter said what took place in Jerusalem on Pentecost – the apostles speaking in tongues, was what Joel’s prophecy pointed to. Peter said, “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel” (2:16). Since what took place was what Joel foretold, then that Day of Pentecost, when God’s church started in Jerusalem, was during the latter/last days.
The Lord’s house (2:2) – The New Testament identifies the church of the living God as the house of God (1 Timothy 3:15). While in the Old Testament era “the house of God” referred to the material temple in Jerusalem, in the gospel era “the house of God” is His church.
The mountain (of the Lord’s house) (2:2) – In the Old Testament, “mountain” sometimes is used as a symbol of ruling/government (Daniel 2:35,44,45). Jehovah spoke of powerful Babylon being a “mountain” (Jeremiah 51:24,25). How is rule/ government connected with Acts 2? On that day, Peter declared that the Christ rose from the dead to sit on David’s throne. He is now Lord and Christ, ruling over His people (Acts 2:30-32,36).
All nations – What would they do? Flow to the mountain of the Lord’s house (2:2). Before our Lord ascended to heaven, He told His disciples that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in the Christ’s name “to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). How do “all nations” fit into the Acts 2 scenario? On that great day, there were devout Jews in Jerusalem “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5).
He (God) will teach us His ways (2:3) – The Jews who assembled on Pentecost were taught plenty. The Lord did the teaching through His apostles. That day Simon Peter exhorted the people to “heed” his words and “hear these words” (Acts 2:14,22), after which he told them what to do to have their sins remitted, then “with many other words he testified and exhorted them . . .” (2:40). Jesus taught that men would hear and learn from the Father, and by that manner the Father would draw men to Jesus (John 6:44,45). That is exactly what happened on Pentecost: the Father through the Spirit through the apostles gave the Jewish audience the words that they need to learn “His ways.” Of course, that educational process has continued way beyond that Jewish feast day.
For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem (2:3) – This appears to be a case where something is said, then restated in different words to emphasize the same message. The “out of Zion” is equal to “from Jerusalem,” and “go forth the law” is equal to “the word of the Lord” going out. Again, under what circumstances did that happen? It occurred on Pentecost. Jesus had said that the saving message would be preached first in Jerusalem (Luke 24:47). That is just what took place. Again, the place of activity on that Pentecost morning was Jerusalem (Acts 2:5,14).
Neither shall they learn war anymore (2:4) – Men still practice war today, and it appears that there is no end in sight of such, but they do not learn it from the God of heaven. Former weapons of war (swords) would be turned into plowshares, instruments that are used to till the soil in peaceful times. Nations which formerly took pleasure in slaughtering one another willingly would cease their warfare. Why? Because they will be brothers and sisters in the Lord, and His way is the way of peace (Ephesians 2:13-18). We recognize that not all people give up their hatred, animosity, and desire to kill. But those who are in Jesus learn to do so.
Without the truth that is revealed in other Bible verses, we only would be guessing what the meaning of Isaiah 2:1-4 might be. The picture, though, is a clear one, as the Messianic prophet foretold the establishment of the Lord’s church. It is exciting to read such a message. The glory is His.
— Roger D. Campbell