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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
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
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
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
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
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...
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
I love this because when you put it all together it paints a picture of all nations coming together to learn from God
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