Mountain Top (Isaiah 2:1-5)
There are some church buildings that are very special to me.
There’s an old building in Kentucky that was built in 1906 and the church building I remember from my childhood. That’s the building where I obeyed the Gospel and the building where I preached my first sermon. If you know much about the Restoration Movement, it might interest you to know that J. W. McGarvey dedicated that building. McGarvey was a professor at the College of the Bible in Lexington, Kentucky a little over a century ago.
There’s the old Main Street building in Pikeville, Kentucky. That’s where I had my first office and where I met the love of my life for the first time. Tammy and I were married in that building (but, they have torn down that old auditorium where we married).
There’s the Mars Hill building in Florence, Alabama. That building is special because that’s where both of my boys obeyed the Gospel.
I have no doubt but that you have church buildings that are special to you.
Perhaps it’s where you grew up. Maybe you can remember dinner on the ground with friends and loved ones. Maybe you can remember sitting with a father or mother who is no longer in this world. Maybe you can close your eyes, see the inside of that building, smell the old musty carpet and be flooded with pleasant and sweet memories.
Perhaps it’s where you married. You can see the building decorated for your special day. You can still see your beautiful bride or handsome husband waiting there for you.
Perhaps it’s the building where you took your children for the first time or where you married or where you were baptized into Jesus.
The Lord also has a very special building. Isaiah is privileged to glimpse into the future and to see the church of our God. Isaiah, from the standpoint of prophecy, sees the church and has an important message for the Jews: “The Lord’s house is a special place.”
Some folks might immediately object to this sermon, for we know that the church of our Lord is not a building, it’s not a place–i.e., we know that this building is not the church. That’s as true as it can be.
However, in this poetic image, Isaiah sees the church as a building–He refers to the church as the Lord’s house. This is by no means the only text that refers to the church as a building. “On this rock I will build My church” (Matt 16:18)–the church has a foundation and a builder. “We are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building” (1 Cor 3:9). The church at Corinth was in a symbolic way the building of God.
This morning, we want to see how the Lord’s house sits on the mountain top and learn why “The Lord’s house is a special place.”
Scripture (Isaiah 2:1-5)
The prophet gives four reasons that “The Lord’s house is a special place.”
Reason Number One: The church is chief, i.e., the church is higher, v 2.
The mountain of the LORD’s house would be established on the top of the mountains and exalted above the hills. The temple was built on Mount Moriah (2 Chr 3:1)–also called Mount Zion–which is about 2,400 feet above sea level. Mount Moriah is not the tallest mountain in Jerusalem–the Mount of Olives is taller.
The prophecy is that the Lord’s house will sit on the tallest mountain–this mountain will surpass every other mountain. What does that mean? Obviously, Isaiah is not writing literally–the church is not a literal building and it’s not on a mountain.
I think the idea here is that the church is spiritually elevated above everything else. It’s elevated above Judaism and that old, physical temple. It’s elevated above Jerusalem and every other nation. It’s elevated above everything else in this world.
The church is that important. I know that some in this world say the church isn’t really that important–you can be saved but you don’t need to join the church (but, the Lord adds to the church those who are being saved). Consider, however:
- Jesus died for the church (Acts 20:28).
- Jesus loves the church (Eph 5:25).
- Jesus is the Savior of the church (Eph 5:23).
Reason Number Two: The church is comprehensive, i.e., anyone can come to the church, vv 2-3.
All peoples would flow into the church and many people would come. Only Jewish males could enter the actual temple–women and Gentiles were permitted in certain parts of the complex, but not within the actual temple itself. In the new temple–the church of our God–anyone can come. Acts 10:34-35. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28).
Reason Number Three: The church has code, i.e., law is found in the church, v 3.
The law would go forth from Zion. In my Sunday morning class, we have noticed how on the Day of Pentecost God gave the new law to the twelve apostles who in turn gave it to the church. That seems to be what Isaiah is prophesying.
Notice, however, what else Isaiah says, “We shall walk in His paths.” It is not enough simply to know the will of God or to acknowledge that the law was given at Jerusalem. We need to walk in that law–we need to be an obedient people. The church is composed of people who are committed to obeying the Lord God. It is, after all, the one who does the will of the Father who will enter heaven: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt 7:21). The obedient one is part of the family of God: “Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matt 12:50).
Reason Number Four: The church has concord, i.e., peace, v 4.
You hear sometimes that this refers to some millennial kingdom to come. However, I want you to notice very, very carefully what Isaiah does here. At verse 1, the prophet says that “all nations” would come to the new temple; here he says that nation would not lift up sword against nation.
The idea seems to be that in the church there would be peace among the different nations. Jews and Gentiles would be able to worship side by side. Blacks and whites and Hispanics and every group imaginable would be able to worship side by side.
Is it any wonder that Isaiah declares that “The Lord’s house is a special place“? What application can we make to day to day living? That’s the question we want to answer, and we’ll look at four ways we can apply this truth.
One: Because the church is chief, we need to give priority to the church in our lives.
Do some self-examination and see what, if anything, takes priority over the church. Do your friends take priority over the church? Are you willing to run and gossip and run down the church? Does some activity take priority over the church? Are you so wrapped up in some activity that you have no time to give to the assembly of the saints or the cause of Christ in His church?
Brothers and sisters, you need to make the church chief in your life. Jesus came to this earth, gave His blood for the church and demonstrates that the church was chief in His life. How can we not demonstrate that the church is chief in our lives?
Two: Because the church is comprehensive, we need to welcome the stranger.
All nations would flow into the church. By the time you get to the end of the New Testament, you see that Jew and Gentile alike are part of the church. There were problems from both sides in certain congregations, but you see the realization of this prophecy.
We need to be welcoming of all people. I don’t at all mean that we accept sin. You can’t accept sin in yourself or anyone else. But, you also know that the Gospel has the power to change and to transform even the worst of sinners: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
You do well at welcoming guests to our assembly and new members, but I want to challenge you to go a step further. If you were walking into this building for the first time, what would you like to know? Help guests to know those things and create a welcoming environment.
Three: Because the church has code, we need to know that code.
We need to be a studying people, a people who know Scripture. At one time, it was said that we in the churches of Christ were walking Bibles. I fear that in many congregations of the people of God that day has come and gone.
We need to get back to knowing the book. I have no doubt but that many of these new movements that are sweeping people asunder is a result of people not knowing Scripture.
We need to be a studying people. Only that word provides light in a dark world: “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path” (Ps 119:105). The Word of God will judge us at the last day: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (Jn 12:48).
I urge you to spend serious time this week studying the Word. Because the context is a context of the church, I’d like to see you spend serious time studying the church this week. Maybe the best way to start is to read through the Book of Acts, where the church begins and continues to spread.
Four: Because the church has concord, we need to live in peace with our brethren.
Living in peace is a great mark of Christianity. “Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor 13:11). “Be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thess 5:13).
We need to make every effort to create an environment of peace within this congregation. We need to be quick to apologize, quick to accept apologies. We need to make sure that we do nothing to create an environment of strife.
Are you a part of the Lord’s house this morning?