I n Isaiah’s great vision of God’s holy mountain, the raising of the temple to new metaphorical heights is the work of the Messiah. On this holy mountain, the Messiah, the anointed one, will establish God’s kingdom. Isaiah predicts two great characteristics of this kingdom to be justice and peace, when he promises of the coming Messiah: “not by appearance shall he judge” but he will “judge the poor with justice… justice shall be the band around his waist” (Isaiah 11:4, 5). Justice means giving what is due. So the Messiah will end the terrible injustices that afflict the poor.

But we notice that, for Isaiah, there is something different about the Messiah’s justice. He doesn’t simply avoid corruption and give to people what is due to them—rather his justice goes farther, and draws out of his subjects a new kind of justice. His justice elevates and transforms things from what they are to what they ought to be. Isaiah describes this transformation in these evocative images:

“The wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid.” (Isaiah 11:6).

This is an image of a higher justice that produces a supernatural peace.  Even now our attempts at justice point to this higher hope of a peace that wildly exceeds our expectations. Anyone who seeks to follow Christ has heard the Isaiah’s call to “climb the mountain of the Lord.”

What does this superabundant justice and peace look like? A separated husband and wife who reconcile; the overcoming of generation-long grudges. Embittered political enemies finally begin to listen to and work with each other. I once met a woman who so forgave the man who murdered her children that, after he repented, she asked him to be the godfather of her next child.  Climbing the mountain of the Lord is never merely about “my relationship with God” but about supernatural justice and peace.  So keep climbing!

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