Rev. Bryant Manning
The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. 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 instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord! Isaiah 2:1-5
I spent my childhood summers visiting our family farm in East Tennessee. The Great Smoky Mountains were about as mountainous as it got for me as a kid; visiting places like Gatlinburg, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove, and more were all I knew of “mountains.” Even to this day, I’ve never seen the great summits our nation boasts of, such as Denali, Whitney, and Rainier, let alone the giant summits of the world. Those summits—large, dangerous mountains that seem to defy imagination—are the ones I envision when I read Isaiah’s vivid descriptions. If the Lord has a mountain, and God does seem to inhabit mountains throughout Scripture, I cannot help but envision it as significant in size.
There is something extra-human about mountains, isn’t there? They seem to defy imagination and help us envision God’s glory. This glory is what Isaiah appears to be getting after as he paints this image of God’s people going up the mountain of the Lord, searching for ways to walk in God’s paths. Ascending the mountain seems to be an ascension away from the world’s courses and an invitation into God’s ways. For Isaiah, it appears to be an invitation to peace. And praise God for that peace!
Our world is more violent now than ever. Even though the advent of stronger, remotely-controlled weapons has made war less casualty-laden, we still sit at the riskiest time in history because of the sheer power the nations of the world hold against one another. We have seen through television cameras the utter depths of humanity through events like the Holocaust in Europe and the destruction one nation can inflict on another in Ukraine.
Isaiah’s word for us at the summit of the mountain is that God would bring an end to violence and an advent of peace. That’s why in this time of Advent, we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Prince of Peace. Use this time of preparation for the arrival of Jesus to march toward the hill. Pray daily for peace and know that God will hold us in God’s hand of peace as we seek God’s way. Walk God’s paths! Seek God’s ways!
Dear God, please give us the strength to climb the mountain toward the peace you have called us toward. Remind us that it is a daily walk, and give us the courage to continue on your path. Be with us, o God, and comfort us along the journey. In your name, Amen.