But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains…
"But in the latter days it shall come to pass" The prophet lifts his eyes away to the latter days to gain refreshment in his present toil. He feasts his soul upon the golden age which is to be, in order that he may serve himself in his immediate service. Without the anticipation of a golden age he would lose his buoyancy, and the spirit of endeavour would go out of his work. Our visions always determine the quality of our tasks. Our dominant thought regulates our activities. What pattern am I working by? What golden age have I in my mind? What do I see as the possible consummation of my labours? There is your child at home. You are ministering to him in your daily attention and service. What is your pattern in the mind? What sort of a man do you see in your boy? How would you fill up this imperfect phrase concerning him, "In the latter days it shall come to pass"? Have you ever painted his possibilities? If you have no clear golden age for the boy your training will be un certain, your discipline will be a guesswork and a chance. Our vision of possibilities helps to shape the actuality. There is the scholar in the school. When a teacher goes to his class, be it of boys or girls, what kind of men or women has he in his eye? Surely we do not go to work among our children in blind and good humoured chance? We are the architects and builders of their characters, and we must have some completed conception even before we begin our work. I suppose the architect sees the finished building in his eye even before he takes a pencil in his hand, and certainly long before the pick and the spade touch the virgin soil. That boy who gives the teacher so much trouble, restless, indifferent, bursting with animal vitality, how is he depicted as man in your chamber of imagery? Do you only see him as he is? Little, then, will be your influence to make him what he might be. Let me assume that your work is among the outcasts. When you go to court and alley, or to the elegant house in the favoured suburb, and find men and women, sunk in animalism, trailing the robes of human dignity in unamiable mire, how do you see them with the eyes of the soul? "In the latter days it shall come to pass..." What? To the eye of sense they are filthy, offensive, repellant. What like are their faces, and what sort of robes do they wear in the vision of the soul? Are we dealing with the "might-be" or only with the thing that is? Sir Titus Salt was pacing the docks at Liverpool and saw great quantities of dirty, waste material lying in unregarded heaps. He looked at the unpromising substance, and in the mind's eye saw finished fabrics and warm and welcome garments; and ere long the power of the imagination devised ministeries for converting the outcast stuff into refined and finished robes. We must look at all our waste material in human life and see the vision of the "might-be." Surely this was the Master's way! He is always calling the thing that is by the name of its "might-be." "Thou art Simon," a mere hearer; "Thou shalt be called Peter," a rock. To the woman of sin, the outcast child of the city, He addressed the gracious word "daughter," and spoke to her as if she were already a child of the golden age; her weary heart leapt to the welcome speech. And so we have got to come to our work with visions of the latter days. I am not surprised, therefore, that all great reformers and all men and women who have profoundly influenced the life and thought of their day have been visionaries, having a clear sight of things as they might be, feeling the cheery glow of the light and heat of the golden age. In the latter days the spiritual is to have emphasis above pleasure, money, armaments. In whatever prominence these may be seen, they are all to be subordinate to the reverence and worship of God. Military prowess and money making and pleasure seeking are to be put in their own place, and not to be permitted to leave it. First things first! In the beginning God." This is the first characteristic of the golden age. "And many nations shall come and say: Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths." Then the second characteristic of the golden age is that people are to find their confluence and unity in common worship. The brotherhood is to be discovered in spiritual communion. We are not to find profound community upon the river of pleasure or in the ways of business or in the armaments of the castle. These are never permanently cohesive. Pleasure is more frequently divisive than cohesive. No, it is in the mountain of the Lord's house the peoples will discover their unity and kinship. It is in the common worship of the one Lord. "And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks." Then the third characteristic of the golden age is to be the conversion of merely destructive force into positive and constructive ministries. No energy is to be destroyed; it is all to be transfigured. The sword is to become a ploughshare; the weapon of destruction an implement of culture. After the Franco-German war many of the cannon balls were remade into church bells. One of our manufacturers in Birmingham told me only a week ago that he was busy turning the empty bases of the shells used in the recent war into dinner gongs! That is the suggestion we seek in the golden age: all destructive forces are to be changed into helpful ministries. Tongues that speak nothing but malice are to be turned into instructors of wisdom. All men's gifts and powers and all material forces are to be used in the employment of the kingdom of God. "They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree." There is to be a distribution of comforts. Life's monotony is to be broken up. Sweet and winsome things are to be brought into the common life. Dinginess and want are both to be banished. There is to be a little beauty for everybody, something of the vine and the fig tree. There is to be a little ease for everybody, time to sit down and rest. To every mortal man there is to be given a little treasure, a little leisure, and a little pleasure. "And none shall make them afraid." And they are not only to have comfort, but the added glory of peace. The gift of the vine and fig tree would be nothing if peace remained an exile. And now mark the beautiful final touches in this prophet's dream: "I will assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out and her that is afflicted." They are all to be found in God's family. "Her that halteth," the child of "ifs" and "buts" and fears and indecision, she shall lose her halting and obtain a firm and confident step. "And her that is driven out," the child of exile, the self-banished son or daughter, the outcast by reason of sin; they shall all be home again. "He gathereth together the outcasts." And along with these there is to come "her that is afflicted," the child of sorrows. The day of grief is to be ended, mourning shall be the thing of the preparatory day which is over; "He shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
WEB: But in the latter days, it will happen that the mountain of Yahweh's temple will be established on the top of the mountains, and it will be exalted above the hills; and peoples will stream to it.