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They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
If you were to be asked, “What is the world full of today?” what might you say? Perhaps, “The world is full of activity” or “The world is full of adventure” or “The world is full of suffering” or “The world is full of danger.” As you think about this world, what would be the very best thing to fill the whole earth?
The prophecies of Isaiah weave together judgment and forgiveness, doom and hope. God’s judgment is coming on Israel for her persistent disobedience, but that’s not the end of the story. In the future, God will raise up a new ruler, a shoot out of the stump of David’s family (11:1). This ruler will be empowered by God’s own Spirit. He will be a king who executes justice and righteousness. In the day of the messianic ruler, not only will former enemies live in peace, but also “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD” (11:9).
I would suggest that this is perhaps the best thing to fill the world. Remember, the knowledge of the Lord includes more than simply belief in God’s existence. When the Bible speaks of knowing God, this is not just true knowledge about God, but also an intimate relationship with God. It’s the kind of knowledge that a child has of its mother, for example, or a husband of his wife. In Isaiah’s vision, people throughout the world will trust in the Lord and know him personally. And this knowledge will change everything, ushering in an age of God’s peace, justice, and righteousness.
More than the other Hebrew prophets, Isaiah’s vision includes the blessing, not just of Israel, but also of all nations. We’ll see this again and again throughout the book of Isaiah. His prophecies are a precursor to the mission of Jesus, as well as the followers of Jesus, who are to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19). Thus, Isaiah reminds us of the wideness in God’s mercy. The prophet encourages us to yearn for the day when the earth will be filled with the intimate, personal, transforming knowledge of the Lord.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do you yearn for the earth to be filled with people who know the Lord? What contributes to this yearning?
What part do you play in helping others know God?
How do you bear witness to the Lord in your daily life? In your work? In your relationships?
Gracious God, the day will come when the whole earth will be filled with knowledge of you. People throughout the globe will know you personally. What a day that will be! Finally you will receive the honor you deserve. Finally your name will be glorified rather than mocked. Finally your kingdom will come in all fullness. Finally you will make all things right.
How I look forward to the day when, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11). What a privilege and joy it will be to join with people from all nations as we bow before you, Lord Jesus. Until that day, may I be part of your effort to let the world know about you. In my words and deeds, in my private life and my professional life, whether I’m at church or at work, may I bear witness to your good news. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Peace and Prosperity (Isaiah 9ff.)
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