One of the passages I like to share when visiting the institutionalized is Isaiah 2:3:
Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. Then he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths. For from Zion the law will go out, and the Lord’s word will go out from Jerusalem.
In Glacier National Park, in western Montana, there is a mountaintop named Heavens Peak. It is visible from the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which cuts through the park. The Gear Jammers (tourist bus drivers) and tour guides of the park will often tell tourists a story about this nearly 9,000-foot-high mountain in Glacier. The story goes like this: “Whenever a Jammer dies, they climb to the top of Heavens Peak. Once they arrive, St. Peter immediately welcomes them into heaven because they’ve scared the devil out of so many tourists while driving on the fifty-mile-long alpine road.”
Isaiah’s words above share a very different story about a very different mountain. His readers were directed to Mount Zion in Jerusalem, where the temple was located. God’s Word promised a coming Messiah who would bring eternal salvation for believers. It would be another 700 years before the Messiah, Jesus, was born. How would eternal salvation become possible? Not through good works, and certainly not by “scaring the devil out of tourists,” but rather eternal forgiveness through faith in Jesus. The Messiah would keep the law perfectly in our place, suffer the punishment we deserve for our sins, and then offer complete forgiveness and the assurance of eternal life in heaven through faith.
Isaiah, writing 2,700 years ago, directs us to the truth of God’s Word. The promise, here, is God’s message – God’s truth: Forgiveness is ours as a free gift, by grace through faith in Jesus, not by works, and not by “scaring the devil” out of people and “earning” God’s love and forgiveness!