This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: "In the last days, the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.' The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord." - Isaiah 2:1-5
Sometime last summer, I came across a link somewhere to the Emergent Village podcast for Christmas 2006. I don't remember where I found it, or why I downloaded it, but I did. You can find it here, tho! And while it's a couple of weeks past Christmas, I would still recommend giving it a listen if you get a chance. There's a second part, located here - I haven't had a chance to get to that one yet, and I won't let myself listen to it till I finish my homework. Which means I might get to it sometime next year.... :) (just kidding)
All of what I've heard thus far has been inspiring, but the last 18-20 minutes of Part I were excellent. It's a sermon from Tim Keel, pastor of a church called Jacob's Well, about Advent, and preparing our hearts. He preached out of Isaiah 2, and what he had to say was terrific. I will try to recap the bit that got me thinking, but he said it ever so much better than I will...
Verse 3: "'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in in His paths." "So that..." These are words worth paying attention to. How often I forget that there's a point to all that God asks of us! And how often I go about things so totally backwards...
As I listened to Tim teach on this verse, I became aware of something unhealthy in the way that I sometimes function ... it seems that I expect myself to simply be able to walk in God's paths and forget on a routine basis that it's sitting at His feet and letting Him teach me that enables me to walk in the first place. And I wonder why I burn out and get frazzled.... duh, Hap. Did you take time to listen today?
Well, yes. Today I did. But I don't always. This needs to change. Isaiah says there will be a day when we will go to the mountain of the Lord and He will teach us... and later in the Book, Jesus tells Martha, who is busy doing all sorts of things for Him (that need doing!), that Mary has chosen what is better... Listening to the Lord is important; time spent with Him is essential. It's not that all the doing isn't important - but there's something better, something that needs to precede and feed and become part of the doing... we need to go the mountain; we need to be trained in God's ways so that we can walk in them.
Tim Keel illustrated it by talking about some of the greatest baseball players in history. He said, they don't just walk up to the plate, swing the bat, and hit the ball out of the park. They've trained. They've swung that bat thousands of times, they've prepared, they've practiced, they've done the work it takes to be good at hitting that ball when it comes over the plate so that in the moment, when it's critical that they hit it, it's almost second nature. They just do it.
How much more so can it be with us. The more time we spend with Jesus and the more we learn from Him, the more like Him we will become - and one day, we will no longer need to ask, "what would Jesus do in this moment?" It will simply be second nature to us to behave as He would. The reality of the world - before the nations go to the mountain - is that people are training for war; they are training to fight (v.5). But once we go to the mountain, that changes, and no longer do we train to fight, but rather - we train to follow. And I wonder, with the whole "now and not yet", "kingdom come and kingdom coming" thing - while it's true that there will be a day when He comes back and the nations really do go to the mountain, if maybe it hasn't already started? I don't know...just late night - oh! not late - well, tired, end-of-the-day thoughts, then. :)
At any rate... I love it that God is so willing to teach us His ways so that we can walk in them.