And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains…
The text calls our attention —
I. TO A PERIOD OF TIME WHEN THE EVENTS OF WHICH IT SPEAKS ARE TO OCCUR. "The last days." The phrase means, generally, the age of the Messiah; and is thus understood by both Jewish and Christian commentators. The apostle has put this meaning beyond all doubt. "God, who spake in times past unto the fathers, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son."
1. The expression intimates, that the dispensations which the prophets of the Old Testament lived, were but preparatory to one of complete perfection. To the future all these ancient holy men were ever looking. The patriarchal was succeeded by the Mosaic age. Prophet came after prophet; but all were looking forward. All things around them, and before them, were typical shadowy.
2. The emphasis which the of last days, intimates, also, the views they had of the complete efficiency of that religious system which the Messiah was to introduce. On that age all their hopes of the recovery of a world they saw sinking around them rested; and in the contemplation of this efficient plan of redeeming love, they mitigated their sorrows. They felt that the world needed a more efficient system, and they saw it descend with Messiah from heaven.
3. The days of the Messiah were regarded by the ancient Church as "the last days," because in them all the great purposes of God were to be developed and completed.
II. TO THE STATE OF THE GENERAL CHURCH OF GOD IN THE LAST DAYS. "The mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it." Some have considered this as a prediction of the actual rebuilding of the temple, and the restoration of the political and church-state of the Jews, in the close of the latter days of the times of the Messiah. Such an interpretation, if allowed, would not at all interfere with that in which all agree, that, whatever else the prediction may signify, it sets forth, under figures taken from the Levitical institutions, the future state of the general Church of Christ. For the principle which leads to such an interpretation, we have no less authority than that of the apostle Paul, who uniformly considers the temple, its priests, and its ritual, as types of heavenly things; and in one well-known passage, makes use of them to characterise the true Church of Christ. "But ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city" of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. The mountain of the Lord's house is no longer covered with ruins, but established in the top of the hills. We learn from it —
1. That the Church shall be restored to evangelical order and beauty: it shall be as Mount Zion.
(1) Zion was the place of sacrifice. And in the last days the true sacrifice shall be exhibited here.
(2) Mount Zion was the throne of majesty. And in coming to the evangelical Zion we come to God as the universal Sovereign and Judge. In the latter days Gospel law will shine there as brightly as Gospel grace.
(3) Zion was the mountain of holiness. And in these glorious clays holy shall all they be who name the name of Christ.
(4) Zion was the special residence of God. On the day of Pentecost He took possession of the Church; but in the latter days there shall be special manifestations of His presence in richer displays of vital power. To this state we are ever to labour to bring the Church, avoiding, ourselves, all that is inconsistent with truth in doctrine and holiness in life. For the richer effusions of grace we are earnestly to pray.
2. In this state the Church shall be distinguished by its zeal. "Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem." So it was in the best estate of the Jewish Church. The Gospel is to be preached in all nations; and till you send forth the law they will not say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord." We thus see the connection between the best state of the Church and this holy zeal. All history proves it.
III. TO CERTAIN SPECIAL OPERATIONS OF GOD BY WHICH THE EFFORTS OF HIS RESTORED CHURCH TO BLESS AND SAVE THE WORLD SHALL BE RENDERED EFFECTUAL. Without God, not all the efforts of the Church, even in her best state, can be effectual.
1. He shall judge among the nations. The word "judge" is not always used in its purely judicial sense, but in that of government, — the exercise of regal power both in mercy and judgment; and in this sense we here take it. He shall so order the affairs of the world, that opportunities shall be afforded to His Church to exert herself for its benefit. And thus is He judging among the nations in our own day.
2. It is a part of the regal office to show mercy; and thus, too, shall He "judge among the nations." This He shall do by taking off those judicial desertions which, as a punishment for unfaithfulness, He has inflicted. "He shall judge among the nations." He shall do this judicially, yet not for destruction, but correction. Then are two sorts of judgments; judgments of wrath, and judgments of mercy. When grace is given with judgments, then do they become corrective and salutary.
3. It is, therefore, added, "and shall rebuke many people"; or, according to Lowth's translation, "work conviction among them." And may we not hope that this is approaching? Even while waiting for the glorious period described and promised in the preceding prophecy, the Church is called to "walk in the light of the Lord" (ver. 5).
1. Walk by this light of truth yourselves.
2. Set the glory of these splendid scenes before you, and let them encourage you to increasing exertions for the spread of truth, holiness, and love throughout the earth.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.