Luther, Martin, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, translated by Herbert J.A. Bowman) Luther’s Works, Vol. 16, Lectures on Isaiah Chapters 1-39. St. Louis: Concordia, 1969. Logos Electronic Edition. The lectures are arranged by chapter and verse, which will serve as our referents for citations.
“Isaiah Chapter 2”
In Isaiah chapter two the prophet speaks to the spiritual issues of Judah. Luther affirms that the prophets are considered as “fanatics” but defends their move, as the kingdom comes spiritually (LW 16: 2:1). Verse two identifies the mountain at which Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac, where Solomon built the temple, as the place “where the Gospel would have its beginning and where Christ would come together with His disciples” (LW 16:2:2). The prophet thus moves from the physical to the spiritual description. The kingdom of God seen this way attracts other people to itself. The picture in verse three is of a place of peace and safety (LW 16: 2:3). The work is that of receiving God’s Word. Luther here distinguishes between true Christians who delight in God’s Word and “sectarians” who abandon God’s Word to pursue novelties (LW 16:2:3). God’s Word is our guard against sin. “There is no rest [in this life], and therefore Christianity is most truly a hearing or pondering of the Word, in order that Christ may speak to us at all times” (LW 16, 30). Again, in verse four Luther emphasizes that it is the peace of Christ which results in beating swords into plows (LW 16, 2:4). This leads directly to the call for Judah to be the leader of the return to God in verse five (LW 16, 33). Luther comments that the text continues to speak of those who reject God’s Word and pursue their own ideas, not rare in any age (LW 16, 34). The mention of physical idols likely refers to an earlier time period (LW 16, 35). The call continues in vivid terms to reject faithless deeds which bring destruction. The true object of our faith is Christ (LW 16, 36). Those who reject him may go to hide, but even that will be ineffective. In the end the Lord will come and remove all idols, setting himself up for worship (LW 16, 38, 2:18). In commenting on verse 22, Luther says, “The chief point of this chapter is that Christ will reign through the Gospel over everything lofty on earth, whether external or internal, whether secular or spiritual” (LW 16, 39).