Good morning Wstruse,
Originally Posted by wstruse
I am glad you are pursuing this question because it is important that we have a genuine understanding of these prophecies. And I want to thank you for laying out the question so clearly. It really makes it easy to answer point by point:
1. In context this is a prophecy "concerning Judah and Jerusalem."
Yes, the passage was "concerning Judah and Jerusalem" and in the original context we would probably think of nothing but the literal country and literal city. But God has expanded that context over time, and so our understanding must change with it. Originally, the context was just "an oracle concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the book of Isaiah." Then the context expanded and became "an oracle concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the book of Isaiah in the Tanakh" and now it has finally settled into its ultimate context as "an oracle concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the book of Isaiah, the 23rd book of the Christian Bible." It is from this ultimate context that the Christian must interpret. This larger context is essential to understand the prophecy, because without knowledge of Christ and the Gospel, we could never have a correct understanding of His Holy Word. Indeed, without Christ, there is a VAIL over our eyes that blinds us to the true meaning of the Old Covenant:
2 Corinthians 3:14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.Therefore, to understand the reference to "Judah and Jerusalem" in light of the New Testament revelation of Christ and the Gospel we must remember that God ultimately had in mind two Jerusalems - there is the old, earthly, carnal Jerusalem that was in bondage with her children, and there is the new, heavenly, spiritual Jerusalem that is the true mother of us all who are saved in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 4) We know that this is what God had in mind because the prophecy explicitly states "and it shall come to pass in the last days" (Isaiah 2:1) and the NT explicitly states that Christ came "in the last days" (Hebrews 1.2) Thus we know it can not be talking about the old carnal Jerusalem because that Jerusalem was destroyed during the Great Tribulation of the "last days" about 40 years after the New Jerusalem (the Church, the Mother of us all) was revealed.
2. In Judah and Jerusalem YHWH's house will be set up and "all nations shall flow unto it".
Exactly correct, but again, we must understand that Scripture explicitly uses Mount Zion as a symbol of the Chuch, the New Jerusalem:
Hebrews 12:22-23 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,This perfectly coheres with the use of these symbols in Revelation, where we see Christ standing (ruling) on Mount Zion with 144,000 of His redeemed.
3. From this place God will teach the people his ways.
Exactly correct. And where is that place? It is Mount Zion, the New Jeruselam, the Church of God where Christ the Lamb rules the hearts of all believers, teaching them His Ways and leading them to the fount of living waters. It's all about Christ and His Gospel.
4. Out of Zion and Jerusalem will go the word YHWH
Precisely correct. It was through the Apostle and Prophets of Christ that the Word of YHVH - the 66 Books of the Christian Bible - went forth.
5. They will convert their weapons of war to implements of agriculture
As explained by Joe (TheForgiven) God has taught us the meaning of those weapons and tools. We all know that the Sword represents the Word of God, which we use on a daily basis to "till the soil" in preaching and to "trim the branches" in our administration of our congregations so they bear more fruit.
A literal reading is absurd, is it not? Do you really expext people to go through the bother of taking a literal sword and reworking it into an agricultural tool? How many swords do you own? I don't have any. And how many crops are you tending? None? That's me. I'm not a farmer, and neither are most people. The passage is obviously a poetic description and not to be taken literally. It is a symbol of the great transformation that happened when God called out a people for Himself in Christ, the Prince of Peace, and began teaching them the "ways of peace" which they "did not know" before Christ came and transformed their hearts. Is not the transformation of the hearts of believers infinitely greater than some outward political tranquility? And besides, how could there be "war no more" if there is still war in the hearts of men? Therefore I conclude that the passage is clearly "preaching the Gospel" just like all of Scripture (e.g. Gal 3:8).