Text: Isaiah 2:1–5
Theme: The mountain of the house of the Lord
Other Lessons: Psalm 122; Romans 13:(8–10) 11–14; Matthew 21:1–11 or
A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The Old Testament lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
(1) A Song of Ascents. Of David. I was glad when they said to me, “Let us
go to the house of the LORD!”
(2) Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!
(3) Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together,
(4) to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for
Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
(5) There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.
(6) Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you!
(7) Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!”
(8) For my brothers and companions’ sake I will say, “Peace be within you!”
(9) For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.
A. Isaiah 1:2 “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has
spoken: ‘Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled
against me’ ”
B. So begins the Book of Isaiah.
1. With the heavens and earth as jurors, God the Almighty Prosecutor
presents his closing argument against the defendant, his own people,
A. They have abandoned their Maker and Redeemer.
B. Their worship is insincere.
C. Their rulers are corrupt.
D. They lack mercy.
E. They oppress the weak and live solely for pleasing themselves.
2. The just sentence for their crimes?
A. Their land shall go desolate,
B. they shall be burned with unquenchable fire.
C. Similar words of judgment and condemnation immediately follow our Old
Testament Reading for today.
C. But here in Isaiah 2 verses 1–5, the prophet abruptly shifts to words of
mercy and a description even of Israel’s future glory.
1. Verses 2-4 “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain
of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the
mountains. . . .
2. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from
Jerusalem. . . .
3. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn
war anymore” What does all this mean?
4. From the prophet’s day to the present time, Isaiah’s prophecy about a
mountain that God would one day establish high above all other mountains—to
which the peoples would stream to hear the Lord’s teaching and out of which
God’s Word would flow to the rest of the world, bringing peace and
harmony—has been misunderstood and abused.
5. Where then Is the “Mountain of the House of the Lord”?
I. Jews, Muslims, and even many Christians have mistakenly identified the
mountain of the house of the Lord according to their own worldly
A. For many of the Jews living during Jesus’ humble ministry, the mountain
Isaiah was talking about was Jerusalem.
1. That’s where God would come and deliver his people from their physical
enemies and establish a literal kingdom on earth that would rule all other
2. Convinced of this, they rejected Jesus, thinking he couldn’t possibly be
the Messiah, the one sent by God to bring about such an earthly kingdom,
since Jesus brought not glory but a cross, not political freedom but
B. Where then is the mountain of the house of the Lord?
1. For Christian millennialists, such as the authors of the popular Left
Behind books, the answer is much the same as the old Jewish one.
2. They, too, believe the mountain of the house of the Lord refers
literally to Jerusalem and that one day, before the resurrection of the
dead, Jesus will come to set up there a central government and rule all the
nations of the world for a thousand years.
3. The godly of the world will be in charge and the ungodly will be
4. No wonder our Lutheran forefathers rejected such teachings as “Jewish
opinions” (Augsburg Confession Article 17, paragraph 5).
C. Where is the mountain of the house of the Lord?
1. For modern Judaism, it is the land of Israel.
2. However, unlike the picture Isaiah gives us of the nations of the world
streaming to Jerusalem, those who hold on to modern Judaism treat Israel as
the exclusive possession of the Jews.
3. The conversion of Gentiles to Judaism is hardly a priority, and to the
extent that there are Gentile converts to Judaism, distinctions remain.
4. A Gentile is still a Gentile.
D. Where is the mountain of the house of the Lord?
1. For Muhammad, the mountain was Mecca, the center of the Muslim empire
and the future capital of a world converted to Islam.
2. But unlike the pleasing picture of peace that Isaiah paints, Islam has
always been a religion of bloodshed.
3. When Muhammad first received his “divine revelations” in the early 600s,
few in his hometown believed him.
4. So, he took his new religion north to Medina, where he found converts
willing to wage war against his enemies back in Mecca.
5. Thus began Islam, the so-called religion of peace.
E. Where is the mountain of the house of the Lord?
1. For many of the medieval popes:
A. it was either Jerusalem, the holiest of pilgrimage destinations,
B. or Rome, the center of Christendom and home of Christ’s representative
on earth, the pope himself.
2. Yet unlike the voluntary streaming of people and the conditions of peace
which Isaiah describes, the popes sought to establish the kingdom of God by
force—during the Crusades through war and during the Inquisition through
instruments of torture.
II. Christ, by his first Advent, has inaugurated the latter days, in which
the peoples of the world are brought into God’s kingdom.
A. Where then is the mountain of the house of the Lord?
1. A key to help us unlock the mystery is the phrase “in the latter days.”
2. The error of first-century Jews and modern millennialists lay in
thinking that the “latter days” to which Old Testament believers looked
forward are still way in the future.
3. How did the author of Hebrews put it?
A. Hebrews 1:1-2 “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to
our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by
4. Did you catch that?
A. “In these last days.”
B. Every day since Christ’s resurrection and ascension until his second
coming is one of the last days.
C. There is nothing yet to be accomplished for our salvation between now
and our Lord’s coming again in glory!
D. As St. Paul said in our Epistle this morning: Romans 13:11 “You know the
time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep.”
E. We do know the time!
5. We are living even now in the last days.
B. Isaiah also spoke of people freely streaming to the mountain of the
house of the Lord to be taught by God and to walk in his paths.
1. So much for an earthly kingdom brought about by force of arms.
2. Remember what Jesus told Pontius Pilate: John 18:36 “My kingdom is not
of this world”.
3. Jesus said that from the days of John the Baptist the kingdom of heaven,
instead of committing violence, suffers violence, and he warned against
those who would try to “take it by force” Matthew 11:12.
C. The mountain of the house of the Lord is the place where God dwells and
is enthroned and reveals himself to his people.
1. The mountain of the house of the Lord is where God gathers his people
around his Word and Sacrament.
2. In short, the mountain of the house of the Lord is here, in this place,
God’s Church, where two or three have gathered in his name.
3. You and I are part of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s 2,700-year-old
D. Imagine a first-century Palestinian, thanks to some time-traveling
technology, transported into the present.
1. He might argue that today’s world hardly resembles Isaiah’s picture of
peace—swords being beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.
2. But what did the Christmas angels declare?
A. Luke 2:14 “Peace on earth and goodwill toward men!”
3. A modern millennialist might argue that understanding Isaiah 2 in terms
of the Christian Church does not take the text literally or seriously
4. But Isaiah says:
A. Isaiah 2:3 “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the
Lord from Jerusalem”.
5. Must the nations make pilgrimage to Jerusalem to hear the Word of the
Lord, or does the Word itself go out from Jerusalem to the nations?
6. The risen Christ commanded his disciples to proclaim repentance and
forgiveness of sins:
A. “to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).
7. And that’s exactly what happened:
A. The Word—the promise of salvation through Christ’s atoning sacrifice on
the cross—went out from Jerusalem, starting with the apostles, and spread
to sinners around the world.
B. Even today, around the world, people of every nation, language, and
tribe come to the house of the Lord and are being converted to faith in
Jesus Christ, taught by God and walking in his paths.
III. Still waiting for the consummation, we rejoice that even now the peace
between God and sinners and among the redeemed is a reality.
A. That Word which began in Jerusalem comes to you today.
1. Although you and I fall under the same judgment which God spoke to his
people in Isaiah, God has graciously pardoned us.
2. He has issued a stay of execution.
3. He has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. Why?
4. For the sake of the one who was condemned in our place—his Son, Jesus
5. Risen from the dead, God’s Son declares to you this day, “Peace be with
6. Your sins are forgiven.
B. It’s true that, just as did the believers of Old Testament times, we
still look forward with a sure hope to that Last Day, when God will put an
end to all earthly war, remove all sin, wipe away all tears, when there
will be only peace and joy in the presence of our Lord forever.
1. But unlike the Old Testament believers, we know that the age of Christ’s
second coming is the culmination of what has already begun.
2. Isaiah got to view the mountain from a distance.
3. We’re actually dwelling on it!
4. These are the last days.
5. The Light has come into the world!
6. Even now there is forgiveness of sins and peace, peace with God and
therefore with one another.
7. And the Word of the Lord draws the nations to itself.
A. In the 1960s, having outgrown the space in which its members had
worshiped since 1941, the leaders of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in
Dallas, Texas, set out to find a new location for their church.
1. They chose for their site what was, according to surveyors, the highest
elevation in the city of Dallas.
2. Now, for the relatively flat prairie land of Dallas, this wasn’t saying
3. Some members jokingly say that Our Redeemer Lutheran Church is “a city
shining” not so much “on a hill” as on a knoll, that is, a small hill or
4. Still, the slightly higher position relative to its surroundings serves
as a visible reminder that the mountain of the house of the Lord:
A. where God’s Word is preached and the gifts of salvation are given
B. It has been established as chief among the mountains (Isaiah 2:2)!
B. What a note on which to begin a new church year!
1. Today, on the First Sunday in Advent, Isaiah reminds us that the Lord is
faithful to his promises.
2. Though we still live in a world ravaged by war and disease and other
calamities, a world still in bondage to sin and death and far from glory,
God dwells even now in his house—this house!—and reveals himself to us.
3. “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah
C. Let us pray:
Our hearts are glad and our souls rejoice before You, Lord, our God,
because by Your Word of truth You have made us members of Your Holy Church,
in which You daily and richly forgive the sins of all those who build their
trust on Jesus Christ. Grant us grace to abide in the love of Your Word, in
purity of faith and in piety of life, even to our end. Amen.
D. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
E. In the Name of the Father…Amen.