Isaiah's Vision of the Holy Mountain
God’s Promised Hospitality
Many people get nervous before a fancy social occasion - a wedding or a dinner where you have to dress up properly. There can be a sense of fear - what if I’m not expected or what it I’m wearing the wrong thing… A sense of trepidation - what If I don’t fit in? Of course there are others who are super excited and giddy as they look forward to the importance with delight. It can be interesting when these two views dwell in the same house…
God promises us a feast.
A feast which is more important than any wedding dinner, any formal occasion or invitation for Her Royal Highness - exciting as going to the Palace would be… This feast will be in response to the most important invitation we will ever receive - will we enter into the promise of his salvation and join him on Zion?
Instead of the pastoral narrative form of the 23rd Psalm, Isaiah’s writing is elevated, full of prophetic vision and a distinct understanding of the nations being under God’s judgement with a clear route for salvation.
In the passage, we begin with ‘you are’ statements which are followed by ‘you have been’ in verses 1, 4 & 5. Here, we are reminded of the strength and safety of God as well as the hope and faithfulness we find in God. Isaiah praises God for who he is - and so should we. Remembering his Law and his promises which are being fulfilled. This is easily patterned with the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want etc … as a credal statement - a statement of faith which both honours and reveres God as well as hers witness to his work in our lives…
In verse 2, however, we see a more apocalyptic vision - the destroyed city. The sophisticated and elevated - the wise and the powerful - the well-built and the unassailable are destroyed in God’s judgement.
The judgement that is real and terrible to those whose Godlessness has waged war in direct opposition to the values and the Law of God. Those who destroy the innocents, those who make laws that oppress the poor and the fatherless. God will destroy. Now I’m not looking to pattern this onto any current affair - people have been ‘second coming spotting’ since the year after Jesus ascended - we know that God’s timetable is set in eternity and we have no access to his schedule… we would do better to remember that God’s wrath against those who do such things is consuming and powerful. It is a heart question… is your heart rooted in the world and in the self-progression of the world or is it rooted in God and in God’s priorities and purposes for his world??
This probably means more than bringing the stuff for food bank - and we DO need the goods for food bank… it is about the motivation for the desire to act in support of the poor and the outcast.
Because God acts positively on their behalf and so should his people.
Verse 3 is narrative along with verse 9
Because of the power of God to reduce even the city - the godless and sophisticated places of the earth to rubble, God will be respected.
Verse 9 too is a response to verses 6-8 which outline the Gospel of good news which God is bringing in. The feast itself is the place of hospitality, of refuge and of rest. God has all the good foods and wines that are out of the reach of ordinary people. This is a picture of salvation. Entering into the joy of the Lord. Receiving abundance from the Lord. Sharing the feast of the Lord and it points us to Jesus - especially as we see him in Luke’s Gospel, eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners - the world’s outcasts who are given a seat with God where no one else is even inviting them to have subsistence that will see them through another year. The death which they avoid may be physical or spiritual. For Zacchaeus, it was restoration and renewal of his soul, a Godly priority which set him back into society. For the disciples, it was a mandate of stepping beyond the routine of earthly expectations to fulfil God’s expectations. Jesus destroys the shroud that holds people captive to the death of this earth’s bonds and releases those who are captive into new life - or fulness of life as John’s Gospel describes it.
The judgement of God is one which separates. It is his own work and not something which he calls his children to do - it is work for eternity and not for earth.
The message of God’s hospitality is that he will establish a new order - a place where death itself will have no rule or authority. The place of Zion is the place of God’s own dwelling.
Verses 10-12 describe what is coming to those who do not go up to God’s mountain. The feast, the salvation, the wiping away of tears is only for those who will approach God and choose to sit down with him… Those at the foot of the mountain - not there… those who were too busy to come - not there … those whose family used to know God - not there … the invitation to the banquet and the blessing - the invitation to be saved is to make the journey to God and to dwell in his presence and under his rule.
We do this by approaching Jesus. By choosing to enter the kingdom of God through the death and resurrection of the Son of God. The one who sets the banquet before us and invited us to dine with him.