God’s Kingdom is Coming!
One of my favorite movies of all time is a baseball movie (surprise, surprise!) called: Field of Dreams. In the movie, we meet a man by the name of Ray Kinsella. Ray was an Iowan farmer, but his heart wasn’t really into farming. As he was walking through his cornfield one day, he heard a voice coming out of the field: “If you build it, they will come,” the voice told him. And while Ray was hearing this voice, he saw a heavenly vision of a beautiful baseball field, standing in the place of his corn. Moved by the voice and the vision, Ray plows his corn under and constructs a baseball field in the middle of the Iowa countryside. And then he waits for “them” to come. And he waits. And he waits. And nothing happens. Meanwhile, all his neighbors are snickering and ridiculing him for plowing under his only source of income. His banker brother-in-law shows up threatening foreclosure on the farm if he doesn’t get rid of the ball diamond. But Ray doesn’t listen to them. He keeps on believing that “they” will come. And then, just when it seems that all hope is lost, they come. Ball players from the disgraced Chicago Black Sox appear out of the corn. They’ve come to play a game they lost. Bit more importantly, among those ball players is Ray’s father. And Ray is able to play catch with his father again, something he didn’t realize he missed so much. And rather predictably, as the movie closes, the camera pans out to show hundreds, even thousands of cars streaming toward the field. “If you build it, they will come.” For a baseball fan and someone who loved playing catch with my dad and with my kids, the movie is an instant favorite. But I’m sure there are some who might think the whole thing is a little corny and certainly unbelievable. Perhaps. But the prophet Isaiah saw a similar vision and heard a similar promise in his words for us this morning. Listen to what Isaiah says: “It shall happen in the latter days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, and all nations will flow to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let’s go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.” But what is Isaiah talking about here? Where is the mountain of the Lord’s temple? Why will people stream to it? What does that have to do with me today? May the Holy Spirit guide us today as we aim to answer those questions as Isaiah promises: God’s Kingdom is Coming! “This is the message that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.” This is what Isaiah saw. This isn’t something he came up with by his own imagination. It’s not some poetry he sat down to create. God showed it. Isaiah watched and recorded it for us. And it’s important for us to note how Isaiah describes it. He saw it. It’s a vision. And just like with the other prophetic visions we read about in the Bible, these vision are filled with pictures that aren’t literal. They represent something else. Isaiah tells us that this particular vision is about the “latter days.” So when are these latter days? Peter made it clear in his Pentecost sermon that the prophecies about the “latter days” or the “last days” were being fulfilled in that day. He said, “This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my spirit on all people.’” The writer to the Hebrews says the same: “in these last days [God] has spoken to us by his Son.” In other words, the last days or latter days have been going on since Jesus walked the earth. We are in the latter days. You know that means, don’t you? What Isaiah is talking about is happening right now! But what is Isaiah talking about? “It shall happen in the latter days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, and all nations will flow to it.” Mount Moriah is the physical mountain where Solomon built the Lord’s temple. In these latter days, has it grown bigger than other mountains? Hardly! When compared to Mt. Everest, Mt. Moriah barely qualifies as a hill! Are people streaming to Jerusalem during these especially politically charged times when Jerusalem and Israel is a hotbed of turmoil, unrest, and terrorism? No? So, what is Isaiah talking about here? Remember this is a vision. We can’t interpret everything we read in this section literally. In fact, Jesus himself pointed out that these words were not to be taken literally when he said to the Samaritan woman at the well, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem...a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” Isaiah is describing a picture for us using the mountain of the Lord’s temple as his illustration. Like through the rest of Scripture, Isaiah uses Mount Zion and the Mountain of the Lord to describe the true Christian Church, the Holy Christian Church. It’s the true worshipers of God that Isaiah sees as he describes this mountain. With those interpretive glasses on, look again at the mountain Isaiah saw. Can you see why he describes it the way he does? Wherever someone trust the gospel, there is the Mountain of the Lord’s Temple. Wherever there are believers, the mountain is there! It covers the whole earth! And this mountain is higher, it’s more important, it’s chief among the mountains. Why? Because every other “mountain,: whether it be other religions or other philosophies or other ideals; every other mountain fails to save. Every other mountain fails to reach heaven. Only Mount Zion reaches into heaven. “...all nations will flow to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let’s go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. Then he will teach us from his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” Like people rushing to the stores this past Friday to get those once-in-a-lifetime deals, so people from around the world rush to this mountain to hear the good news of forgiveness. Literally, the word “peoples” in verse three is Gentiles. That means that this mountain of Salvation is for us too! But how often do we stream to it? Don’t we sometimes run away from it instead? We run towards our beds and away from worship. We run toward our phones and away from our Bibles. We run our dollars to the stores to get those great deals forgetting to run to the altar to bring our thank offerings to Jesus. And when we are confronted with the mountains of our sin, wouldn’t we rather run toward some other mountain to find a solution? Perhaps we’d choose the mountain of “I”m not that bad..” “I may not be perfect, but I’m not that bad. God will surely see that I could be a lot worse and there are a lot of worse people out there, so he’ll let me into heaven.” Or perhaps we run toward, “Mount Try Hard.” We strive and strain and struggle to climb to the top. “If I try my hardest to be good and make up for my mistakes, that’s all anyone can ask, right? That I do my best?” However, trying to climb those other mountains is like trying to climb a ladder into heaven. They are never going to be tall enough. We are never going to be perfect by comparing ourselves to others or by trying harder. And that’s not something we like to hear, is it? We don’t like to hear that we’re not good enough for God and that we can never be good enough, no matter how hard we work. But it’s only when we realize we can’t get there on our own that what Isaiah says to us will have any meaning. God’s Kingdom is Coming! It comes through the preaching of the Word! It comes from the Mountain of the Lord’s Temple. And when we, through the power of the gospel, stream to that mountain; when we turn to God through his Word, the gospel holds out to us the gifts of salvation purchased by the priceless blood of the God’s Son. Through the gospel, God offers us Christ! He gives us the gifts of forgiveness, the removal of guilt, deliverance from death and hell, peace, joy, hope, confidence, and courage. “For from Zion the law shall go out, and the Lord’s word shall go out from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations, and he will mediate for many peoples. Then they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, and they shall not learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.” Every year, millions of people go to New York City to see all of the sites. One of those sites that people like to see is the United Nations building. If you’ve ever been there or seen a picture of it, it’s really a site to see. Hundreds of flags stand in front of the building, all in a row, all representing the nations that are part of the UN. But as impressive as the flags are, there’s another part of that plaza that stands out. Across the street from the plaza are these words of Isaiah, engraved into stone: “Then they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, and they shall not learn war any more.” The world longs for peace. They want an end to terrorism. They want an end to war. They want an end to the murder and bloodshed they read in the paper every day. Yet, even though they quote him, that’s not the kind of peace Isaiah is describing in his vision. JEsus tells us that these last days will be marked by war and rumors of war. No, the nations and the peoples that are at peace in Isaiah’s vision are the people who have come to mountain of the Lord, they are the people of the Church. So what gives them this internal peace? What brings an end to their guilt and their regret? What tells them that God loves them? “For from Zion the law shall go out, and the Lord’s word shall go out from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations, and he will mediate for many peoples.” It’s God’s Word. It’s the gospel of the Lord that brings the peace the world can only long for. The gospel shows us the peace that we have in Jesus’ work, which he accomplished for us. He climbed the Mountain for us. He went to Jerusalem to be tried and condemned for us. He went to Mount Zion—Mount Calvary—to be crucified and suffer hell for us. And as a result of his work, Jesus says: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Because of Jesus, we are perfect and holy in God’s sight and we’re at peace with him. “O house of Jacob, come, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.” Because of the peace our Savior brings, Isaiah urges us to walk in the light of the Lord. Let the light of Christ shine in our lives so that the world may know him and may know that God’s Kingdom is Coming! Walking in the light of the Lord means letting the peace of Christ shine forth in our lives. After all, what does it matter to me if I do more than my fair share of the work? Jesus did all the work in winning my salvation. What does it matter to me that I’ve been hurt? Jesus has forgiven me for when my sins put him on the cross. What does it matter that others hate me? Jesus died for me when I was his enemy. Christ’s Kingdom has come in our hearts as he rules us through his Word. So, continue to stream to the Mountain of the Lord—here in worship and at home in your Bibles. We are in the Latter Days! And one day soon, Christ will come again to take us home to heaven. We may not know exactly when, but we do know: God’s Kingdom is Coming! Amen