“Come, Let Us Go Up to the Mountain of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:1-5)

First Sunday in Advent
November 27, 2022

“Come, Let Us Go Up to the Mountain of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:1-5)

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD.” The prophet Isaiah says that this is what many peoples, many nations, will say in the latter days. “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob.” And this is what we say–yes, you and I–this is what we say in these latter days, because this is equivalent to saying, “Come, let us go to church.” Really? Yes, really! Because this now–this place, the church–this is the mountain and the house that Isaiah had prophesied. This is God’s house, the place where God’s word goes forth. And this is why we gladly say: “Come, Let Us Go Up to the Mountain of the Lord.”

In our reading from Isaiah 2, the prophet says that the days are coming when God will establish his house on the mountain of the Lord. And peoples from all over will come there, because that is where the Lord will teach us his ways and his word.

Now Isaiah lived about 700 years before Christ. And the mountain he had in view was Mount Zion, where Jerusalem is situated. On Mount Zion stood the temple, the dwelling place of God in the midst of his people. That was the house of the Lord at the time of Isaiah.

But Isaiah was looking ahead to a time beyond his own. That’s why he says, “It shall come to pass in the latter days.” The Lord revealed to Isaiah what was to come in the future: “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills.” This place–the mountain where the house of the Lord is–will be the one place in all the earth that shall be preeminent and most prominent.

And as the most prominent place in all the world, what will happen there? “And all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come.” Note, “peoples” shall come. When the Bible says “peoples,” plural, it means the Gentiles, the non-Jews, the nations outside of Israel. The Gentiles did not know the one true God. They worshiped other gods. But those peoples, those outsiders, now will come to the mountain of the house of the Lord. It won’t just be Israel going up to Mount Zion. In the future, in the latter days, peoples will come from all around. This is a prophecy of the Gentiles becoming part of God’s people, the church.

And why will they come? What will they come for? “Many peoples shall come, and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’” Friends, this is the reason why you are here. You have come to the house of the Lord in order to hear God’s word. You want to know his ways. You want to walk in his paths. You want to follow Jesus.

Because Jesus is the one who would come and make this place worth coming to. The coming of Christ–that’s what we’re looking for in this season of Advent. His coming at Christmas, in the flesh. His coming as our humble king, to suffer and die in Jerusalem for the sins of the world. His coming to us now in Word and Sacrament. And his coming again at the Last Day, when his kingdom will be established in its fullness and glory.

What a kingdom it will be, when Christ comes again to judge the living and the dead! “He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; 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 anymore.” The kingdom that Christ will establish on that day will be a kingdom of peace and life and blessing forever. It will be glorious, and how we look forward to it!

Isaiah foresees the coming of the Christ, both his first coming and his second coming. What Jesus would do in his first coming guarantees the glories promised at his second coming. For Jesus himself would come and go up to the mountain of the Lord. Jesus made the trek up that mountain. He went from the Mount of Olives and came up Mount Zion, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. “Behold, your king is coming to you!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Christ your king came to suffer and die for the sins of the world. He came to suffer and die for your sins, all of them. No longer are they held against you. You have forgiveness in Jesus’ name. And by Jesus taking away our sins, which he did on the cross, he has taken away the barrier that separates us from God. Now God is at peace with us. Now God looks kindly upon us. Now death has had its sting taken out of it, because Christ has risen from the dead, and you, baptized Christian, you will share in his resurrection. Christ has made it so.

Christ came to fulfill this prophecy of Isaiah. He is the Word of God incarnate. He teaches us God’s ways. Jesus says to each one of us: “Come, follow me. I am the way and the truth and the life. I am the light of the world. Hear my voice, and I will give you the light of life.”

And so you have come here to meet with Jesus. You have not come to Mount Sinai, where the threats of the law would terrify you so that you tremble with fear. No, as it says in Hebrews, “you have come to Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, . . . and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.” Yes, his shed blood on your behalf speaks a word of comfort and peace to your soul.

And so we come. We come to where Jesus is. And he is here, here in this house of the Lord. What the temple was in the Old Testament, our Lord Jesus is in the New Testament, and in an even greater way. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.”

And Christ Jesus has come here on this day, to this house of the Lord. Jesus has come here to this house, in this service, to give us his very body and blood for our forgiveness. We acknowledge his coming in our midst by singing those same words that the crowds in Jerusalem used to greet the coming king: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

Christ has come to the mountain of the Lord, Mount Zion. And so the peoples, the nations, will come also. Why? How? “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” This is the law in the broad sense of the word, the Torah, the instruction of the Lord–both Law and Gospel, really. The word of the Lord goes forth, inviting people to come. Calling us here: “Come to the mountain, come to this house, to get your sins forgiven! Come and meet your Savior! Come to the mountain, come to this house, and receive the gifts that God has to give you! Come and be at peace with God, and learn how to love your neighbor, too.” “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.”

Christ has come to this mountain, Christ has come to this house, to be God dwelling in our midst. And this is why you have come. You and I can say with the psalmist: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” Brothers and sisters, it is a joyous thing to be able to say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob.”

Published in: on November 26, 2022 at 8:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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