First Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5

See What the Lord Will Do

How does doubt and depression keep us from looking forward to the holidays? What can we do to address these emotions?

1 This is what Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

2 It shall happen in the latter days
that the mountain of YHWH's house shall be established on the top of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
and all nations shall flow to it.
3 Many peoples shall go and say,
"Come, let's go up to the mountain of YHWH,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
and he will teach us of his ways,
and we will walk in his paths."
For out of Zion the law shall go forth,
and the word of YHWH from Jerusalem.
4 He will judge between the nations,
and will decide concerning many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
5 House of Jacob, come, and let us walk in the light of YHWH.

World English Bible

Isaiah was a court prophet in Judea during the reign of kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (701 to 740 B.C.) His court service began with a peaceful, independent Judea. But it ended with the domination of the small state by the rising Assyrians. Isaiah saw the glory and the shame of Judea under four different kings. His writings (chapters 1-39) reflect the extent of those experiences, but not in sequential order.

This reading is a case in point. While the passages lay early in the book, the prophet's point of view seemed to be the destruction of Jerusalem. After an introductory title [5:1], Isaiah looked ahead into what scholars call the "theological passive." In later days (a reference to the Day of Yahweh?), the house of the LORD would be established on the highest of mountains [5:2b]. Who would establish it? God, of course (hence, the "theological" passive). After God raised up the house (a reference to the Temple or to the royal "house" of the king?), peoples from every nation would come to hear the divine teachings and learn the divine way of life [5:3]. His teachings and ways would be peaceful (in the famous verse about turning instruments of war into farming tools) [5:4]. Finally, Isaiah shifted away from his vision to an appeal to the king. The prophet appealed to the "house of Jacob" (i.e., the royal line) to live a pious life ("walk in the way of the Lord").

So, Isaiah wrote words of encouragement for a king and a people in a spiritual funk. "Look up to see what will happen," Isaiah seemed to say. "See what the Lord will do. Walk with him and he will bring you glory!"

Advent is a time of anticipation. These few verses from Isaiah should fuel our spiritual anticipation. For beyond the presents and the lights and the festivities of the holidays, there is a deeper truth. We have a bright future that God will provide. All we have to do is look and walk in faith.

See what the Lord will do!

How can faith help us fight off negativity and keep us focused on the positive?