One of the most famous creatures in Greek mythology is the Phoenix. The Phoenix was a bird of fire that supposedly lived for over 500 years. At the end of its life it was believed that it would create a nest of cinnamon sticks and set it aflame so that the bird would then be consumed by its own fire. However, the death was thought to be a regenerating process. The ashes that were left would congeal into a new egg. Thus, the Phoenix would arise again with new life.
From the shadows of death Christ arose with new life. So they sort of adopted the bird as their own in order to help portray the hope we have in Christ.
In a similar way we can apply the symbol of the Phoenix to the kingdom of God and the church. For Isaiah here sees a vision of the future. He relays for us what that vision is. And it is one of resurrection. It is one of revival among God’s people. Isaiah sees the kingdom of Christ rising from her ashes.
For the last several weeks we’ve been looking at chapter 1 of Isaiah, and we’ve seen that it was a pretty dreary picture. Isaiah portrays the kingdom as one in complete ashes. God had swept through and destroyed it. But Isaiah reminds us here that this will not be the end of the story. Out of the rubble, the kingdom will rise again. Under the Messiah’s governance the kingdom of God will be restored.
Really, in his own way, Isaiah tells us what Christ told us in Matthew 16, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Ultimately, Isaiah wishes to renew our hope in God. He wants us to trust Him. That’s why he has the exhortation in verse 5, “Come let us walk in the light of the Lord.”
Just as the ashes of Jerusalem may cause the people of God in the OT to give up hope in God, the dismal state of the church today can get us down. If we gaze too much on the brokenness of the kingdom, we’ll be tempted to say, “All is lost! It is not worth walking in the way of God!” So to boost our spirits and give us the confidence we should have to keep the faith, the Lord wants to view the climactic zenith of the messianic kingdom.
The passage begins, you might say, on a high note. It foretells the primacy or the preeminence of the Messianic kingdom.
I. Its preeminence [2a]
Isaiah speaks of “the mountain of the house of the Lord” (which is mount Zion, which is where the city of Jerusalem was). As the capital city of Judah and the place where the temple resided, this city was representative of the whole kingdom of God. But this mountain bulges and sprouts like a beanstalk so that it eventually comes to tower over all the other mountains of the earth. When the transformation is done, none of the other mountains in Palestine can compare with it. You almost think that the Himalayan mountains or the Alps or the Rocky Mountain range out west look like mole hills.
The meaning of this comes to be realized when you remember that mountains were places where the gods were worshipped in olden days. If you are familiar with the OT, you know that Baal, and the other false gods, were worshipped on the “high places.” If you are familiar with Greek mythology, you might know that Mt. Olympus was where Zeus was supposed to be worshipped.
So here we find that the kingdom God would one day become be the preeminent religion. It would come to tower over all the other religions of the earth. The Lord would be recognized as the only true God, and the false gods would be looked upon as nothing.
And what a wonderful reminder this is for us. We are living in a day where there seems to be a smorgasbord of religions. Everyone says that all religions are basically the same and you can get to heaven by any road you want to take. As a matter of fact, in America, you are even free to make up your own religion and add it to the melting pot. And everyone is supposed to regard it equally.
Yet, the Lord reminds us here that there is only one name under heaven given among men by which you must be saved. There is only one true and living God, and He is the triune God of the Bible. All the other religions are nothing more than the products of men’s imaginations. They are satanic in their origin, and, on the day when Christ comes back, they will be cast down.
I know that the religion of Islam is growing at a rapid pace. They say that the Muslim population will soon be the majority religion in Europe in just a few years. I know that there is a growing interest in the Eastern religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.). And you probably are not surprised to hear that the Mormons are rapidly spreading throughout the world. But their growing numbers are not a testimony to their legitimacy. It is simply a testimony of how depraved we are, and how we will embrace any foolish notion that comes our way.
The truth is that there is only one true religion in the world. And it is the religion of Jesus Christ. And there will come a time when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Granted, it might not look that way now. By all outward appearances, it may seem that Christianity is nothing but weakness. The other religions of the world will always seem more appealing and more worth while to follow. Nevertheless, in time the truth will be revealed. Christ will return and his reign will be established. People will look at the gods that they worshipped and see how worthless they really are and how foolish they have been to trust in it.
Our duty now though is to cling solely to Christ. Despite what the media tells us, He is God. He is the way, the truth and the light. No one comes to the Father but by him. As a result, it behooves you, if you have not already, to seek membership in his kingdom.
And if you do, you will find yourself in good company. That’s what the passage goes on to affirm. After stating the preeminence of Christ’s kingdom, it elaborates on its popularity.
II. Its popularity [2b-3]
At the end of verse 2 it says that all the nations shall flow to it. What a beautiful way to talk about how the multitudes are going to be found in God’s kingdom. Isaiah uses the terminology of a mighty river to show how Jerusalem will end up teeming with people. The kingdom of God will one day be flooded with a deluge of Christians who wish to give praise to God.
If you recall 9/11 you may remember seeing the thousands of people crowding the streets, fleeing from the twin towers. The streets were packed with people. Now picture that in reverse and multiplied by the thousands and ten thousands more. Millions upon millions of people pouring towards the temple of the Lord.
Of course, this is a picture of what was begun on the day of Pentecost. It is a picture of the church age and how the gospel is now being proclaimed throughout the world. Like never before the gospel is going out, and it is being embraced by the masses.
I know that I frequently come down hard on the church. Probably not a Sunday goes by when I don’t talk about how the church in America is turning away from the Lord. But I don’t want you to think then that all is lost. Christ continues to claim souls throughout the world. As a matter of fact, Christianity is growing at an incredible rate.
It is like a wildfire in Asia. The church there might be invisible to the eye because it is oppressed by the government, but it is rapidly growing. While it is difficult to give an accurate count because it must operate in secret, some believe that the protestant church could number upwards of 50 million people. It could soon outnumber the 70 million communists in the land.
The church is also exploding in places like Latin America and Africa. For instance, in 1900 there is said to be 19 million Christians in Africa. Today it is believed that there are approximately 400 million people who claim to be Christians. “The statistics from the World Christian Encyclopedia say that in 2025 there will be 633 million Christians in Africa.”
As well, when we think of foreign missions, we typically think of people going to Africa. But most of the evangelistic activity is done by African pastors now, and no longer by foreign missionaries.
These are just a few testimonies to the massive increases in Christ’s kingdom throughout the world. The peoples are already streaming to Christ. And the book of Revelation tells us that when time is finally done, there will be gathered before the Lord a multitude so great that it cannot be counted. Myriads will be found there, all joining together to worship the Lamb who was slain.
I remember back in high school, my basketball coach held a Bible study. And there was one time when we were gathered together and he was talking about the promise keepers event that he had been to not long before. He said it was amazing. He said, “Matt, there is just something amazing being in a stadium chuck full of guys who are all lifting their voices together in praise.” Yet, that will not even begin to compare with what we’ll experience in heaven.
Do you ever think of this? Do you ever try to imagine what it is going to be like when Christ comes again? One of my questions is, how am I going to see him? I’m going to want to cast my crown down too, but I wonder if I’ll even be able to get close enough to throw the thing.
Can you imagine what it will be like when Christ comes again? It says in the book of 1 Thessalonians that all those who have died in the Lord will return with him when he comes back. Can you even begin to fathom it? It is going to be like the millions of Israelites that came flooding out of the bondage of Egypt. That’s not even to mention those Christians who are still living who will be caught up to meet him in the air!
The new world is going to be swarming with people. And it is my hope that you will also be among that sacred number who has walked in the light of the Lord.
Our passage goes on to tell us what it will be like in that day. After acknowledging the preeminence and popularity of Christ’s kingdom, he says something of its peace.
III. Its peace 
Verse 4 says that all the disputes people have will be settled, and the spears will not be needed anymore. They’ll beat them into pruning hooks and plowshares. Nations will no longer go to war or even train for it.
Now, I believe that it is at this point that we should pause and ask, when exactly is this peace going to come? I’ve sort of been implicitly giving you my take on it all through here. But there are other opinions out there, and perhaps it would be good to mention them.
What we’ve been talking about is eschatology. That is, we’ve been looking at the end times. And, those of you who participated in our end times study know that there are different views on the end times. There is what you call the pre-millennial, post-millennial, and the a-millennial positions. All of these have to do with when Christ is going to come back and the 1000 year reign he will have on earth as mentioned in Rev. 20. And as we think about this peace that is talked about in this passage, you might ask, where does it fit in?
The pre-millennial position is that Christ will come back before the millennium. And when he comes back he will establish his kingdom of peace. So you will have 1000 years where Christ reigns on earth. Believers and unbelievers dwell together in perfect peace. After that 1000 years is up, then a rebellion breaks out, the battle of Armageddon occurs and the final judgment then immediately follows.
The post millennial position is that Christ comes back after the 1000 years of peace. So, those who hold this position believe that the gospel is going to go out into all the world so that it eventually pervades every corner. They believe that virtually all the world will be converted. And once this occurs, because unbelief is (for the most part) extinct, there will be such a high morality that there will be this period of 1000 years where there is nothing but unbreakable peace.
Then there is what is called the a-millennial position. And I will be honest with you, this is the position I take and the one that I’ve been assuming all throughout this message. The a-millennial view holds that we are currently in the 1000 year reign of Christ. Obviously the number 1000 would be regarded as a symbolic number as it has already been 2000 years since the time of Christ. But you can understand that Christ is now exalted to the right hand of the Father where he rules in a spiritual way over his church. Though it be a spiritual rule, it is nonetheless a real/legitimate rule. Christ is now protecting his church, guiding her, and subduing all her enemies as any king should do.
Once this period is ended (which no one knows the time or season of) Christ will return. After he returns, then you will have this peace. All those who are God’s enemies will be cast into hell. The church will be purified and free from sin. Being that there is no more sin, there will be no need for war.
That is somewhat of an excurses, but hopefully you find it informative. The point is, there will one day be perfect peace. Christ will indeed come again. All the selfishly inclinations and spirits that are set against the ways of God (which is why peace does not now permeate the world!) will be gone. Peace will then endure.
This is why I give the final exhortation to walk in the light of the Lord. If you put your faith in God and seek to obey him, you will participate in this peace. When Christ comes to establish his kingdom, you will enjoy the everlasting harmony that will be here.
So I encourage you to put away all unbelief. Those of you who have not put your trust in Christ yet, it is time to do so. It is time to number yourself among the throngs who will be going to Zion. Look to Christ and seek his kingdom. And those of you who now profess Christ, your job is to abide in him. Do not let your spirits become discouraged. Do not let your life be guided by what you see around you. Even in the high times of the Spirit, the church will always appear weak. Our job is to live by faith. We must trust that the kingdom will come. We must live in such a way that shows that we believe that this vision will one day become a reality. So come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.