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Hope

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Intro

Thank you to Lance, Yume Euine & Paige for giving our first advent reflection of the season
It is my hope that these advent reflections will be a kind of introduction to the sermons so listen up!
Every year at Christmas time I try to look at the 4 big themes of Christmas
Hope
Peace
Joy
Love
Through a new lens, and this year we are listening to the echos of the prophet Isaiah...
Isaiah wrote a good 700 years before Jesus but if you were to look at a road map for what it would look like for the messiah to come, you would find it here
And here is what I love about Isaiah...
And I’ll just say it like this....
Can you imagine living in a place where you don’t trust any of your political leaders to do the right thing?
Can you imagine living in a place where it seems like you are a great power but maybe just a few short years ago your power was so great that no one ever messed with you…But now you have these other powers threatening you from all sides
Can you imagine living in a world where the economy is uncertain?
Can you imagine living in a world where as all of this is happening all around you, you begin experiencing food shortages and goods shortages
If you can imagine all of this then your in good company…Because Isaiah lived in a world where Babylon and Assyria were creeping in....Egypt was the great power on the other side and Israel was caught in the middle
Many times in Israel the leader was bought off by another foreign power
And it the midst of it all the question was…What do we have to hope for any more?
What hope can we have?
And through it all we have the prophet Isaiah who is doing two things
1. He is exposing all of the sins of Israel and her leadership
2. But he is also announcing that in the midst of all of this wild and crazy situation…There is hope coming
So if you have your Bibles please flip with me to Isaiah 2
Isaiah 2:1–5 NIV
This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.
This passage is just so good, there is so much packed into Isaiah 2:1-6 that we could spend a week on it, its amazing…But what I hope you will see is what the ultimate hope of all humanity is, so lets break it down a little
Isaiah 2:2 NIV
In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.

In the last days:

We hope for God’s good judgment (Isa 2:2;Ps 98:8-9; Ps 96:13)
I know this might sound strange but let me break this down
See when we read “in the last days” many of us might view that very differently. Some of you have these visions of the earth caving in on itself or astroids colliding with the earth
Giant title waves engulfing the world!
And we get these visions from movies and things like this...
But the prophets used this phrase regularly and what they were talking about was this time when all things were set right
When there was no longer any sin or oppression or brokenness
Commonly in the bible this is called the Judgment of God....
What we have to understand about this idea of Judgment in the Bible is that this is a really good thing and that the entire old testament is looking forward to the day of judgment
Psalm 98:8–9 NIV
Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.
See the “Last days” or the days of God’s judgment are something that is looked forward to
because finally there will be a good judge
one who is not corrupt
You sort of get this idea from the psalms that all of creation rejoices at the judgment of God…The rivers clap and the mountains sing
Lets look at one more psalm...
Psalm 96:13 NIV
Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.
So what I hope you see here is that in our American brains the way we might read, “in the last days” is fraught with anxiety
But when someone in Isaiah’s time read this...
It would have been a joyful thing…Like finally God will come and set all things right
So in the last days: (A joyful time)
The mountain of the Lord’s Temple will be established
In biblical scholarship this has a term that is super cool, I don’t know why we don’t use it more...

Its called “The Cosmic Mountain”

This is no small biblical theme…I could probably teach a whole series just called the “Cosmic Mountain.” But for the sake of today…Let me just give you the twitter version
We hope that heaven and earth meet in our life
In the ancient world, the divine always met with humanity on mountain tops or high places...
This is why in the Old Testament the prophets are always so mad about the “High Places” around Israel…Because people were going there to make sacrifices to other gods...
But Israel already had its own high place. It was the temple
The temple was built on the highest hill in Jerusalem
And the temple itself was modeled after Eden
The reason for this is that Eden was the original place where God and humanity are united
So if you were to go into the temple in the ancient world, you’d see these lampstands that Jews still use today…They are called Menorah’s and they are modeled after the tree of life in the garden of Eden
Eden is the place where God and humanity lived in perfect union.
Eden is where heaven and earth meet
Therefore: When Isaiah says that the Mountain of the Lord’s Temple shall be established…He is saying...There is a very impotrant time coming....Almost like we are all going to be able to go into the garden of Eden again
What was lost in Eden will be restored
That Heaven and Earth will be reunited in this future day
And this is the hope of all of scripture…That one day all that is wrong will be made right…that one day there will be no separation between God and humanity that one day all humans can live an existence where sin doesn't hinder them any more
In the book of Isaiah there is this constant tension between Israel and these major world powers...Assyria & Babylon
And the question always was, if we go away from Jerusalem in exile and God lives in that building then will God be left behind...
If that mountain is where heaven and earth meet…and we go away…what does that mean for us?
But years later
there is this little baby that is born in Jerusalem who is both 100% God and 100% human.
And in the manger, heaven and earth meet yet again in the person of Jesus
Jesus grows up and walks around Jerusalem saying something greater than the temple is here and everyone is astounded…Its no wonder Jesus said this, his life is where heaven and earth meet...
Jesus was both 100% God and 100% human, everything he did showed what it looks like to have a union of heaven and earth
But wait there is more…Jesus who is greater than the temple, goes up to another mountain top he goes up to the mountain and dies for all of humanity
Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob.....This all of the sudden takes on new shape as Jesus climbs the hill to Golgatha with the cross on his back......
He becomes the complete embodiment of the temple, a sacrifice for all humankind
The cross is another place where heaven and earth meet, it is the true cosmic mountain, Jesus did on the cross what the temple could never do, by the blood of Jesus the sins of humanity were paid for and the wrath of God was satisfied
...
...
But thats not the end of the story because just 50 days later God’s spirit descends onto his people
And now God’s people are the place where heaven and earth meet…The redeemed of the Lord are the new temple…This is what Paul tells the church....He says hey church, Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and God’s Spirit dwells in you? They are the new high place…They get to experience the cosmic mountain every day
And this is the Hope that Isaiah is pointing to…Not that some building will be built in Jerusalem but that God will build his temple in your life...
That God will take the cosmic mountain and build it within you...
I feel like this is an impotrant point to pause for a second and just tell you that if you don’t have that and you wan’t it...
Its as simple as confessing your sins to Jesus, and putting your confidence in Him…And the work he will do in your life is incredible!
The Holy Spirit in your life is a moving of heaven and earth!
So lets look at verse 2 again
And the nations will steam to it: I love that Isaiah uses the word “stream” because he is talking about a river of people flowing uphill toward the temple.
We hope for the salvation of the world
There is sort of a natural impossibility of streams flowing uphill so it points to the fact that God is going to move.
And what I love about this verse that the Nations will stream toward the mountain of God is that Isaiah is looking forward to the day where salvation will be for all nations and not just the jews
We actually see this in the life of Jesus...
In Matthew 4 Jesus heals a bunch of Syrians, In Mark 7-8 Jesus is all over the gentiles healing them
The pharisees are watching all of these diverse people come to Jesus and it is upsetting to them…In the book of John they notice it and say this

John 12:19

19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

Heaven and earth are found in the person of Jesus
So Isaiah 2:2 tells us what we can hope for
We can place out hope in a time where heaven and earth meet and the whole world moves toward God
Isaiah 2:3 NIV
Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
I love this because when you put it all together it paints a picture of all nations coming together to learn from God
Its this new Eden land...
The hope is that a whole new creation will come out of this old one and where we will learn the ways of God
Because our ways are not making us better off in this world
Our society keeps getting more divided
War keeps on happening
Injustices still abound
But somehow inexplicably…we all still search out the advice of the experts and better human knowledge…When what we really need to be doing is climbing the cosmic mountain and searching out the knowledge that only God can provide
We need to learn how to love our enemies
We need to learn how to love our neighbors
We need to experience redemption and help others to experience it
We need to live sacrificially because our savior did
Only God can provide the true answers there
But Humanity keeps going after the latest guru…the newest philosophy
Lets keep reading
Isaiah 2:4 NIV
He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.
We hope for eden restored
This is the picture of Isaiah 2:4! That God is going to be restoring Eden...
The Original cosmic mountain was Eden..
And what happened right outside Eden?
It was a dispute between two brothers that ended in Murder…Eden is a picture of humanity living at peace with one another and outside of Eden is a wild and waste land where people murder each other
And to take it further, Able was a keeper of the flocks
and Cain “worked the soil”
And when Cain Killed Able…All the bible says is that...”While they were out in the field Cain attacked his brother and killed him”
We don’t know what Cain used to kill his brother…Maybe it was his hands but maybe it was the first time that a plow became a sword or a pruning hook became a spear
What we do know is that outside of Eden, these tools used to provide for humanity ended up killing humanity...
So Isaiah says that the hope is that one day
God will settle disputes.....
And these weapons that humans made to kill one another can actually be used to provide for one another
What Isaiah is saying with this very real and practical hope is that he envisions one day in the near future where humans dont live at the expense of one another...
So when you Put all of Isaiah 2 together there is this vision that is coming from Isaiah that this world is messed up, it is fallen but a new creation is coming...
That one day we will take the weapons of Cain and make them into tools of Eden
One day we will go back to Eden where we see each other as brothers and sisters in Christ rather than enemies
But, I love the vision of this verse....
It envisions a day where humanity walks back into eden and no one lives at the expense of one another
Isaiah 2:5 NIV
Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.
The last fill-in is
We hope to be made new through Jesus
And this I think is my favorite line in Isaiah 2, one in which we have to spend some time on...
Come…Let us walk in the light of the Lord...
So far what Isaiah is saying is that God’s cosmic mountain will be established…Heaven and earth will kiss, Eden will be restored...
But this last little line is what throws me over the top
Come let us walk in the light of the lord...
Let me read Genesis 1:1-3 for you
Genesis 1:1–3 NIV
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Before there was ever a sun or a moon or stars
There was light
Because God is the light...
It is day 1 of creation
What this little verse is confirming is that what we have to hope for is a band new creation...
A day where we walk by the
Day one in creation, there was just the light of the lord...
No sun or moon
But the light of the Lord
Isaiah is casting a new vision to all of humanity that this old creation that we are a part of is dying and that God
In the crescendo of Revelation…in the final visions of heaven this is what the author of revelation sees:
Revelation 21:22-24

22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.

There is no temple because Jesus himself is the temple…He is the place where heaven and earth meet …He is the cosmic Mountain!
There is no sun or moon because Jesus is the Light....He is the author of life and the one who brings about the new creation
And the Nations will stream to it
What Isaiah is looking forward to is a day when Humanity is made new
Revelation 21:5 NIV
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
You see the hope of all humanity is that God can and will make us new…and that our sins wont count against us
The hope of all humanity is not that we “do better with life” But that we are made into a whole new creation
And when the apostle Paul was writing to a church he helped start he wanted them to grasp just who they were in Jesus he said this
2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17–21 NIV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
So as the band comes there are so many good points in Isaiah 2…But the thing I want to leave with you is this
I believe that God wants to flood your life with his life...
So much so that Eden comes flowing out of you
But the only chance for you to become a new creation is to lean into the new creation himself
1. So maybe your here and you need to for the very first time put your confidence and your trust in Jesus
You simply need to say Yes Jesus I trust you with my life…Please forgive my sins and make me new...
God is happy to do it, its actually a load off his shoulders!
2. Maybe your here and you have done all of that before but for you lets be honest…Life has become busy…Your not at church as often as you should be…and your life looks more like a scene from Cain and Able then it does Adam and Eve...
Maybe your here and you just need to confess that you have hoped in Jesus before but lately your hope has been in the stock market or your paycheck
You’ve hoped in Jesus before but lately your hope has been in what other people think about you
You have hoped in Jesus before but your sense of significance comes more from the likes you get on social media then a relationship with the father
Let’s pray
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