"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord"

An Advent meditation by Jeanne Kun

Scripture: Isaiah 2:1-5

1 This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 In the days to come, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills.  All nations shall stream toward it; 3 many peoples shall come and say: "Come, let us climb the Lord's mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, That he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths".  For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  4 He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples.  They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.  5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!
Meditation:  This first reading from the liturgy for the First Sunday of Advent invites us to be a pilgrim people, reminding us that we are on the way to the messianic kingdom: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob" (verse 3). Isaiah was rousing the fallen kingdom of Judah from her moral stagnation, rallying her with the reminder of her messianic destiny and the promise of the triumph of God's kingdom on earth; we cannot comfortably settle in and stagnate like the people of Judah.  While we know that Jesus the Messiah has already come, we also know that he has not yet come in glory.  We await the fullness of the messianic kingdom still to be revealed.

 Isaiah's oracle envisions the future glory of God's kingdom on earth, associating it with Mount Zion where the temple was located. This vision portrays Israel as a light to which all nations will stream, gathering together in Jerusalem. The temple, the "house of God," is recognized as the seat of God's presence on earth, and Jerusalem is given moral and religious preeminence (verse 2), not just political and military importance as the capitol. Gentiles will seek the God of Israel and throng to his throne in Jerusalem for instruction (verse 3). From there God's reign and a universal peace will extend to all peoples (verse 4). The prospect of nations streaming to Mount Zion is often associated  by scholars with the pilgrimages of the Jewish exiles to Jerusalem.   Even before the exile, however, Mount Zion was considered to be a sacred mountain and the center of the earth (see Psalms 46-48). Christians see in Zion the prefigurement of the heavenly Jerusalem.

 For reflection: Do I recognize God's rule and the authority of his word over every area of my life?   Do I honor my church as God's house, a place of God's presence on earth?

 Prayer starter: Lord, throughout this Advent, increase my joy at the thought of being with you in heaven. Whet my appetite for eternal life with you in the heavenly Zion!

This meditation originally appeared in God's Word Today,
Volume (20), Number (12), December 1998, published by The University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN.

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