The Expository Files


The Word of the Lord Shall Go Forth 

Isaiah 2:1-5

"The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. Now it will come about that In the last days, The mountain of the house of the Lord Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. And 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; That He may teach us concerning His ways, And that we may walk in His paths.' For the law will go forth from Zion, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war. Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the Lord." (Isaiah 2:1-5).

It was about 700 B.C. when Isaiah prophesied that the word of the Lord would go forth from Jerusalem. But he also prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed. He then predicted that it would be rebuilt by Cyrus, yet unborn, and then centuries later from a rebuilt Jerusalem the word of the Lord would go forth unto the earth. All these things came to pass as history unfolded precisely as Isaiah said it would, event after event, through the coming years. But Isaiah was not the only prophet to speak of the word of the Lord going forth from Jerusalem.

Three Prophets Speak
There are at least three different prophecies about the event that would take place many centuries later when the apostles stood in Jerusalem and began to preach the gospel of the Risen Savior for the very first time.

First, there is Isaiah, as we have already seen. "And 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; That He may teach us concerning His ways, And that we may walk in His paths. 'For the law will go forth from Zion, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." (Isaiah 2:3). This is a wonderful description of what would occur on the day of Pentecost following Jesus' death, burial and resurrection.

Second, there is the prophet Joel. "And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the Lord has said, Even among the survivors whom the Lord calls. " (Joel 2:32).

Third, there is the prophet Micah who also spoke about the deliverance of the Lord. He said, "And many nations will come and say, "Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths." For from Zion will go forth the law, Even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." (Micah 4:2).

The Fulfillment
These three prophecies, as well as others, were fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost following Jesus' ascension into heaven. His chosen apostles rose and preached the word of the new kingdom, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Isaiah had said that the Lord would "teach us concerning His ways" and how we might "walk in His paths" promising that the "law will go forth" and "the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Here we have four different descriptions of what the gospel of Christ would be. The gospel is God's "ways"; God's "paths", God's "law" and God's "word."

When the apostles preached the gospel on Pentecost, this is what they were preaching. When they took the gospel from Jerusalem into all the world, they were taking God's "ways" and "paths". When we preach the same gospel today, we are preaching the Lord's "law" and "word."

The gospel of Christ consists of telling of "the mighty deeds of God" (Acts 2:11). The people on that day were told to "call upon the name of the Lord" just as the prophecy had stated (Acts 2:21). When they were brought to faith by the message taught, they asked what this all entailed. They wanted to know exactly what to do (Acts 2:37). They were told the Lord's "law", or "word", on the subject, just as the prophets had said. They were told, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38). Listen! This is not some idea of man. it is the "way", the "path", the "law" and the "word" of the Lord.

The Church is the Product of Saving Souls
This brings us to another point. Some wonder if it is necessary to be a member of the church to be saved, it is difficult to answer such a question because it is based on a flawed premise; a misunderstanding of the relationship between the church and salvation.

First, the church does not save anyone. The church is the product of salvation. When a person is saved, he or she is added to the number that makes up the Lord's church by the Lord Himself (Acts 2:47). When people are saved, they are saved from their past sins; "set apart" from them. You see, being a member of the church is not a requirement for being saved, but being saved is a requirement for being added to the church, and by definition, when one is saved, the Lord adds him or her to the church. This means that there are no saved people outside the Lord's church, because the Lord adds those who are being saved to His church.

Second, we need to understand that there is just one church to which the Lord adds the saved. The church is also referred to in the New Testament as the Lord's body, flock, family and kingdom. As the Lord adds to His church, He is building it (Matthew 16:18; 1 Peter 2:5,9). So, when the Bible uses the term "church" in this sense, it is not talking about a physical structure, or a human organizational structure, or even a local congregation, or church. God does not add us to these things when we are saved. But rather, to His spiritual body.

One final point: all three of the prophecies we noted referred to the church as a "mountain." Isaiah (2:3) called it "mountain of the Lord" and "Zion" and Joel (2:3 2) called it "Mount Zion" and Micah called it "the mountain of the Lord" The New Testament has plenty to say about this as well (Ephesians 1:22,23; 2:16-20; Hebrews 12:22,23). As Isaiah's prophecy says, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord!"

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 12.11; November 2005