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The New Jerusalem in Isaiah

by Brant Pitre December 13, 2019 0 Comments


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Okay, so that is the Gospel for the day. Now let’s go back to the Old Testament reading and see if we can see how it connects with the New Testament reading. Now in this case it might be a little more difficult, because we’re going to go to some passages that might not be as familiar to us. The first one is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Now most people are familiar with Isaiah's prophecies of the suffering servant who dies for the sins of many, or the anointed one who comes to proclaim good news, but this prophecy is from earlier in the book. It is from Isaiah 2 and it's a description of Isaiah's vision of the future age of salvation, of the of the latter days as the prophets would say, what the age of salvation is going to look like. And this is what Isaiah tells us, Isaiah 2:1-5 say:

The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

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 raised above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it,
and 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."
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide 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 any more.

So what is Isaiah talking about here? Well, on the one hand, it might sound like he's just describing people going up to Jerusalem to the earthly temple to celebrate one of the festivals, like Passover, and that's certainly some the language that he is using. But if you look at it carefully, he's clearly saying more than that. He's talking about a future age that’s in the far distant future, he calls it the latter days. This is where we ge the language of end times. He describing a period of time in which Jerusalem will become the highest of all the mountains of the earth. I've been to Jerusalem, I did archaeology there back in the late 90s, and it is true, the city of Jerusalem is perched on a mountain. You have to go up to get to to Jerusalem, but it is by no means the highest of the mountains of the earth. It is a far cry from that. So what is Isaiah describing here? How can he say that Jerusalem will be the highest of the mountains in all of the earth?

What he is using here is an image of a new Jerusalem, when Jerusalem is going to be transformed, it's going to be exalted, because he's describing the new creation. As we will see at the end of the Book of Isaiah, he’s going to say that God is going to make a new Jerusalem, he’s going to make a new heavens and a new earth. This is Isaiah 64-66, and that’s what this prophecy is about. It's a prophecy of the new creation, and of the fact that, at that time, God is going to come, and he's going to judge between the nations, between the righteous and the unrighteous, and at that time people are going to beat their swords, which would be used for war, into plowshares, and their spears, which would be used in battle, into pruning hooks. In other words, there is going be an end to warfare. It’s going to be a time of peace, a time of salvation, and nation shall not lift up swords against nation, and there shall not be any war anymore. Clearly that is referring to a new creation, a new heavens and and a new earth, in which strife and conflict between peoples will completely cease, and God will judge between the righteous and the wicked.

So this is a prophecy of the future age, and you can see that by beginning with this prophecy, the Church is having us look, once again, to the final judgment, to the new creation, to the new heavens and the new earth, and to the new Jerusalem of the age of salvation. Which, by the way, just as a side note before I move on, notice here that many Christians will say that in the first century A.D., all that the Jews were hoping for was a military Messiah to overthrow the Romans, kick them out of Jerusalem, and reestablish their sovereignty over the earthly land of Israel. While that was true for some Jews, like the zealots, if you look at the books of the Prophets, they’re waiting for much much more than that. They are waiting for a new heavens and a new earth. They are waiting for a new creation and a new Jerusalem, a world totally made new, and that’s what they are hoping for and longing for when Jesus steps on to the scene at the time of the Gospels


Brant Pitre
Brant Pitre


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