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 it shall be lifted up above the hills;
and peoples shall flow to it,
Snow capped mountains serve as the headwaters for many rivers. The phrase “fresh as a mountain stream” refers to snow melting and running cold and clean down a mountainside flowing into the valley below and watering it. Water doesn’t flow up a mountain. It flows down.
Except in today’s passage.
There is a metaphor here to which we must pay attention. The house of the Lord is painted as a mountain—the highest mountain— reaching above all hills. But instead of water running down the mountain and flowing from it, the verse says instead that people shall flow to it.
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.
He shall judge between many peoples,
Another puzzling thing happens in these following verses. The people flow up the mountain like a stream running backwards, but what goes forth from the mountain? The law. Parallel to that, the word of the Lord goes forth as well. Then it says he shall judge between many peoples. This refers to the God of Jacob first mentioned, but is it merely referring to him?
The word of the Lord seems to be personified here as the judge of many peoples. The “word of the Lord” is not merely words spoken by God. How could the word also be the judge? The gospel writer John gives us the answer: The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh. He is the judge of many peoples. He is the perfect fulfillment of the law of God. In his incarnation he went forth from heaven among the people giving us a true vision of what it means to have God with us.
On this side of the cross and resurrection story we know him as the Mediator between God and man. We know him as the one who bore our sin and makes us holy. Those who receive Jesus and rest on him alone for salvation are the people flowing toward Zion, the holy mountain pictured here.