Even as I type the title to this post, I can hear all the Reformed eyeballs rolling in their heads. If you have Covenant Theology in your background and are turned off by the title of this post, please realize that you and I are a lot closer than you might think. Take the time to read the post before judging my position. After you have read, then go ahead and slice and dice my views.
The title of this post comes from a prophetic passage concerning the temple in Isaiah 2:2-4. It is interesting how passages in scripture concerning the different temples were all equated with the same temple. In Isaiah 56:7, “my house of prayer” which was Solomon’s temple at the time, was prophesied to be a future place at which all nations could pray. Referencing this passage in Isaiah, Jesus proclaimed at Herod’s temple that “my Father’s house shall be a house of prayer for all nations”. The LORD questions the Israelites through His servant Haggai concerning the temple in Haggai 2:3. It is Zerubbabel’s temple rebuilt, yet notice the continuity with Solomon’s temple in the way the LORD phrases the question. “Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now?” Same LORD, same house, different building material. We need to keep this in mind when we talk about a future temple. In examining the passage from which the title to this post comes from, remember this principle of continuity between what we perceive are different temples. There was a temple standing in Isaiah’s day which has continuity with this future temple.
Come, let us go up to the mountain 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
The idea contained within this passage is that the temple will one day be a center from which God’s laws will go forth to the entire earth. I’m quoting from Isaiah rather than Micah in this post because of the themes woven together throughout Isaiah’s book. The word for law here is the Hebrew word Torah. Documenting the times where this word occurs in Isaiah enlightens us tremendously. I want to avoid being laborious so I will summarize in story form how the theme of the torah is revealed in Isaiah. Here are all of the occurrences of torah in the book of Isaiah.
Nation of Israel, you are as wicked as Sodom; you need to listen to the law of our God, Isaiah 1:10. One day from this very temple the law of God will go forth transforming the nations into peaceful people, Isaiah 2:3. The fire devours the dry grass and one day the judgment of God will devour those in the nation of Israel who have cast away the law, Isaiah 5:24. As the houses of Judah and Israel stumble over the rock of offense, the law will be sealed among the faithful remnant, those that are called His disciples, Isaiah 8:16. We must be directed toward the law because if one does not agree with it, there is no light in them, Isaiah 8:20. Worldwide judgment is coming because Israel has transgressed the law and broken the everlasting covenant, Isaiah 24:5. The nation of Israel is likened to rebellious children who refuse to listen to the law of the LORD, Isaiah 30:9. One day the meek and mild Servant of the LORD will persist until He has established justice in the earth as the Gentile coastlands hopefully wait for His law to go forth, Isaiah 42:4. The LORD was pleased because of the righteousness of this Servant because He magnified the law and made it glorious, Isaiah 42:21. When the LORD gave Israel over to judgment it was because they sinned against the LORD and would not obey His law, Isaiah 42:24. Listen to me my people – because the law will go forth from Me, My justice will be a light to the nations, My arms will judge the nations, and the Gentile coastlands will hopefully wait for Me, Isaiah 51:4. Listen to me my people, those who know righteousness, those which have My law in their heart; don’t be afraid of man because worms will devour them like wool but my righteousness endures forever, Isaiah 51:7.
While all of these references are insightful, I want to spend time in two key passages, Isaiah 42 and 51. The common denominators with Isaiah 2:2-4 are the going forth of the law and the ministry to Gentile nations. In Isaiah 42:1-9, the meek and mild Servant is portrayed as being the chosen one of God full of the Spirit. He refuses to snuff out any smoldering candle that has any hope of being relit. He will not fail nor be discouraged in this way of conduct until two things happen. 1- He establishes justice in the earth. 2- The Gentile coastlands eagerly wait for His law. We know that the Messiah has begun this meek and mild ministry which the church continues to carry out. But these two goals have not been reached. Justice has not been established in the earth. The Gentile nations do not eagerly wait for His law. The church is currently preaching the gospel, but this is the church going forth in the midst of persecution, see Mark 13:9-13, Acts 14:22, II Timothy 3:12. The picture in Isaiah 42 is a Servant, meek and mild, but then promoted to a position of authority over all nations, providing justice for all, with each nation actually wanting to learn His laws. Flipping forward to verses 18-21, the Servant is described as blind and deaf, yet the LORD is pleased with His righteousness sake. Many may balk at seeing this as the Messiah, yet did He come as all powerful, or as a meek and mild servant, taking on our blindness and deafness? Notice His goal is to magnify the law and make it glorious.
In Isaiah 51:4-8, we see the same themes. In this instance, the law goes out from the LORD as opposed to the temple. These references are not at odds, the law can go forth from the LORD and this future temple. The LORD’s justice will be a light to the Gentile nations. His arm is used as metaphor for a righteous judge, which symbol they eagerly wait for. The nations actually want the LORD to rule over them and provide this justice. But now here’s the defining time marker; when does this happen? In verse 6 we see that this current earth and heavens wear out and vanish. This means that there is a new heaven and new earth beyond the current one in which these nations exist as they hopefully wait for the LORD to reign over them. In the phrase “and for my arm they wait” in verse 5, the word for wait is the Hebrew word Yachal which means to wait, hope, and expect. It occurs two times in Isaiah, here and in Isaiah 42:4 in the phrase “and the coastlands wait for his law.” In the phrase “the coastlands hope for me”, the word for hope is the Hebrew word “Qavah” which means to wait, look for, hope, and expect. Summarizing what we see, there will be a new heavens and new earth in which the Gentile nations wait for, look for, hope for, and expect God’s law to go forth.
When Jesus the Messiah came, He stated that He had come to fulfill the law, not abolish it, Matthew 5:17-20. This passage demonstrates the continuity with the law (torah) and the teachings of the kingdom of God. The disciples of the Messiah currently have the law of God written on their hearts, II Corinthians 3:3, Jeremiah 31:33. This is the essence of the new covenant. This should remind us of Isaiah 8:16 where the houses of Israel and Judah stumble at the Messiah, but the faithful remnant has the law sealed within them. A future new heaven and new earth where the law of God goes forth to the nations is what these passages in Isaiah are teaching us. The temple in Isaiah 2:2-4 should be considered a physical building, but I could see where some would say that this is the church, the temple of the living God, with the law of God written on their hearts bringing the message to the nations.
Just in case I’m writing over the heads of certain who browse this blog, let me write plain for a minute. Isaiah writes about two periods of time. The first period is that of the meek and mild Servant. He persists with His meek and mild ways having a few faithful disciples with His law written on their hearts. The second period of time is that of the reign of the Messiah in the new heavens and new earth, see Isaiah 24:21-23 for more details. During this period of time, the law of the LORD goes forth from the millennial temple of Isaiah 2:2-4. The physical nation of Israel has been converted just prior to this millennial reign. The Gentile nations eagerly wait for the law of God to go forth from the temple because they know that His law over this earth means justice for their people. As I’ve stated before, post-millennialists have good things to say, they just place the conversion of the nations on the wrong side of Messiah’s glorious coming. Passages like these make it easier to understand where they are coming from.
For those of the reformed persuasion who made it this far, if you think I have missed the point of the new covenant writings which show that the law has been replaced by grace, see my post on The New Covenant at this link here.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman