"This is a vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
In the last days, the mountain of the Lord's house
will be the highest of all --
the most important place on earth.
It will be raised above the other hills,
and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.
People from many nations will come and say,
'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of Jacob's God.
There he will teach us his ways,
and we will walk in his paths.'
For the LORD's teaching will go out from Zion;
his word will go out from Jerusalem.
The LORD will mediate between nations
and will settle international disputes.
They will hammer their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will no longer fight against nation,
nor train for war anymore."
Isaiah 2:1-4, NLT
Sometimes I think it would be truly grand to have a vision. To see something spectacular and hopeful and encouraging, to see it in living color, larger than life and rich with meaning.
This vision of Isaiah's is a corker, isn't it? Overflowing with such magnificent images! People moving like living water to God's holy mountain, God himself settling any disputes. And this one - no more training for war. Turning weapons into farm implements -- in essence -- turning away from darkness and into the full light of God's glorious presence.
YES! I'd love to have a vision like that.
And then, I realize.
I DO have a vision like that. . . this very one, right here in front of us on this blustery Advent Wednesday. I don't believe Isaiah wrote this one down just for the heck of it -- no, I don't. I believe Isaiah, or someone writing under his grand name, wrote this down at the insistence of the Holy Spirit, precisely so that we could read it today.
Because this is a vision that every generation needs to see, this is a picture that all peoples need to have hanging on the walls of their hearts. This is a painting dripping with the colors of life and hope and expectation. And this is a vision perfectly designed for Advent, these 24 days of paying attention, of stilling ourselves so that we can see more clearly, of expecting God to show up in ways that surprise us and slow us and save us.
This is a vision of God's desired future and this is a promise of wondrous things to come. Wondrous things that can begin now, inside of us, and spreading through us, to larger and larger circles of others who have eyes to see what God is up to in this world. "In the last days..." Every one of us lives in the last days. Every generation since Jesus walked the earth has lived in the last days. Every generation since Jesus has been slowly, slowly, slowly heading, like rivers of water, to God's holy mountain.
And one day soon, we're going to get there. Glory be!
We're looking for you, Lord. We're looking for you on that high mountain. We want to be a twig in that river that will stream upwards toward you! So now, while we wait, while we watch - will you teach us your ways and show us how to walk in your paths? We want to be ready. We want to be ready!