Whenever you are trying to accomplish something in life whether it is getting a degree, losing weight or starting a business people always tell you to have a picture of what the end result will be. It is having the end in mind that keeps you focused on why you are doing what you are doing in the first place. All the things you are giving up for a time along with the pain and struggles of achieving anything can only be met when you know that there is an end in mind. God, throughout scripture, continually reminds us of what the end will be and Isaiah reminds the people that a day is coming when Christ will judge the world. We all have a final destination in this world and that means that all people have to make a decision as to who they should live for as well as what should be a priority in this life. If we are to live as Christ followers in a fallen world then we have to keep the end in mind. The Prophet Isaiah was calling on people to heed this call and they did not pay attention. Let’s not be like the people in Isaiah’s day and ignore the warnings from God.
Isaiah 2:1- 4 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.2 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for 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 anymore.
1) The End will include all nations
God will one day transform the world by His presence and it will include people from all walks of life. One of the things that separates the God of Christianity from all other gods is that God is relational. From the beginning of Genesis to all of eternity God reveals Himself as personally involved in the life of His creation. If you study other religions you will see that the Eastern religions do not have you ending with a personal relationship with God and even Islam does not believe you will be with Allah.
The fact that other nations would be with God for all eternity was a shocking statement to the people as they thought that they had a special relationship with God that no one else would enjoy.
Our focus should always be for the entire world and not just the little section we live in. Americans tend to think “Americany” meaning that the rest of the world is seen by our world view. We need to have a global mindset that God is doing things worldwide to reach people and bring them into a relationship with Himself. (John 3:16) Jesus words must be kept in front of us as His disciples that we should care for every nation and our concern should be for all people no matter what color they are or language they speak.
Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Isaiah is showing them that in the future that these nations, that they thought would be separated from God, would actually be the ones who are listening to His commands and worshiping Him. Isaiah goes on to tell them that one day even the people they have been to war with will one day put away their weapons and live at peace with each other at the throne of God. This does not mean that everyone is saved because only those who give their lives to Christ can be saved. (Acts 16:31)
Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
Isaiah 2:5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord
2) The End should change our behavior
If you want to get in shape physically you have to make changes in your diet and exercise. If you want to get a degree you have to change your study habits and priorities because whatever your end goal is it will require actions you need to do and some that you need to stop doing. God is showing us the end and what our priorities should be so we do not waste our lives on unimportant things.
“My Today determines My Tomorrow” Dr. Jay Strack.
Everyone has a world view and a Christian’s world view tells us how we got here, what our purpose is and where we are going after we die. Because we know we will see God when we die we live in a way that is pleasing to Him. To walk “in the light of the Lord” meant that you would obey His commands. Do you live each day as if it matters to the Lord? If not you may be living a life that you will regret one day as you stand before God and realize how many things were not important to Him.
I am speaking mainly to people who are Christ followers because those who are not the wrath of God remains on them and they will be separated from Him forever. (John 3:36) For those who do not know the Lord their destiny is separation from God but for those of us who live for the Lord there will be rewards for the things we have done while on earth.
1 Corinthians 3:12-15 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
The Foundation is Christ and there is no other way we can stand before God by our own good works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) As people that have been made right with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we are going to be judged on what we did after we have been given a new life. God is a gracious and loving Father and He not only gives us eternal life that we do not deserve but He is also going to give us rewards for the things we did for His Glory. These rewards will be with us for all eternity but the only things that will last are the things that pass through God’s flames of judgement. To make sure we are clear this is not about salvation but about what God will reward us with when we sacrifice things in this life.
What will God judge? Our thoughts will be judged (Hebrews 4:12-13) our words will be judged (Matthew 12:36; Luke 12:2) and our motives will be judged (1 Corinthians 4:3-5)
What will God reward? Matthew 6 says that we will be rewarded for praying and fasting. Matthew 19 says that we will be paid back one hundred times for the things we gave up on earth. Matthew 25 talks about how Christ will reward us for what we have done. Everything we do is made acceptable through Christ but He will still reward us for the things done in the body. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Isaiah 2:6- For you have rejected your people, the house of Jacob, because they are full of things from the east and of fortune-tellers like the Philistines, and they strike hands with the children of foreigners. 7 Their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is filled with horses, and there is no end to their chariots. 8 Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made.
3) The End will not be as some had hoped
Isaiah began by promising the people the good things that will happen at the end but then he turned to show them that they are not living in a way to say they believe this to be true. Isaiah says, “You have rejected your people” Why would God reject people that are making sacrifices to Him and worshiping Him at the Temple? Their worship was a combination of how God told them to worship along with the pagan practices from other religions. (2:6) They focused on and depended on their wealth instead of focusing and depending on God (2:7) They relied on the security of a Large Army instead of trusting in God (2:7) They Worshiped Idols instead of God alone (2:8)
The mixing in of other religious practices into their worship was corrupting their worship but the same thing is happening in American churches.
“Over the past 20 years we have seen the nation’s theological views slowly become less aligned with the Bible. Americans still revere the Bible and like to think of themselves as Bible-believing people, but the evidence suggests otherwise. Christians have increasingly been adopting spiritual views that come from Islam, Wicca, secular humanism, the eastern religions and other sources. Because we remain a largely Bible-illiterate society, few are alarmed or even aware of the slide toward syncretism – a belief system that blindly combines beliefs from many different faith perspectives.” (George Barna from Barna.com)
Just like the people in Isaiah’s day we are seeing more and more American Christians allow other religions to become a part of what they believe and part of their worship. Because they do not know Gods word their worship is corrupted and worthless.
Deuteronomy 18:10-12 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering,[a] anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.
Wanting to know the future is tempting but the reality is if we knew the future we would not rely on God. God is a relational God and He wants His children to walk and talk with Him daily. When we try and figure things out on our own we are telling God that we do not trust Him with our future. What God finds acceptable in a Christians life can only be pleasing to God when we walk by faith. (Hebrews 11:6) Our need to be god of our lives and in control of our circumstances tempts us to look to other things to control our environment and future.
They were focused on their wealth. Because of their wealth and the blessings of God they no longer looked to God for their provisions. In America there is a tendency for even Christians to worry more about the things of this world rather than trusting God with our daily needs. We need to make sure we depend on the Giver and not the gifts that we think we can obtain without God.
Deuteronomy 8:10-14 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
The word Idol means nothing or worthless. In America we bow down to many worthless things like Sports, Cars, and Houses that can become Idols when we think by them we will have an abundant life. The Abundant Life (John 10:10) is not found in those things because they will not last but we spend a lot of time, energy and we sacrifice ourselves for them. You may not see them as an idol because you only concept of idol is something you worship but if you cannot give up the gifts of God then it has become an idol in your life. Mark 10 tells of a rich young man who would not part with his wealth because he thought that was the thing that would give him life. When asked to give it up and follow Jesus he simply walked away sad. His idol was his wealth and he did everything he could to keep it. Most of the things we make idols are perishable things yet we continue to bow down to them and worship them thinking they will bring us significance.
Matthew 16:26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
Every generation has difficulty fully trusting in God for every area of their lives but God is calling us to put our hope and trust in Him not just for salvation but our daily needs as well. We can trust in God because He already knows the end and we can trust Him to work in and through our lives to accomplish things that go beyond our understanding. Live with the end in mind and let it change your life and your priorities. What have you made an idol that you worship more than God? Do you believe God is going to reward you for the things you have done on the earth? When you put your trust and hope in Him you will see that the things of this world will one day be gone but the things we do for Him and for His glory will last forever.