Beautiful Feet

Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation…”

Isaiah is speaking about the messengers who would run from the battle with news of another victory for God’s people. Over the mountains they came to Jerusalem to tell the people that the Lord had given them victory again. No sight could be more beautiful than those messengers, no news more welcome than theirs. Attacks against this people threatened more than a politically insignificant, Middle-Easter nation. These were the people of the promise. Theirs was the land of the promise. Every attack threatened to destroy God’s promise of a Messiah, the Savior from sin. Beautiful was not too strong a word to describe the feet that carried such welcome news of victory home.

How much more doesn’t this apply to those who bring news that God has sent that Savior and given us victory over sin by his death and resurrection! The Apostle Paul understood it this way in Romans 10. He quoted just this verse to describe those who go and share the message of faith in Jesus. That is why we can say 2700 years after Isaiah that you look beautiful in the news he describes.

We still look stunning when we “proclaim peace.” Isaiah’s word for peace describes more than an end to swords, spears, and shields. This is a peace that comes from knowing everything is settled between you and God. No sin stands between you. Your life can be full of blessing, harmony, fulfillment even when it is full of trouble, turmoil, and frustration. This is a “peace which passes all understanding.” Perhaps it will help to illustrate it.

Several decades ago a Lutheran missionary was flying back to the mission field in Africa. A man sitting next to him asked him why we would trouble the people of Zambia with our religion. “Here is the pious African offering his sacrifices to the spirits of his ancestors, keeping his own simple religion. Why would you want to confuse him with yours?” But the missionary pointed out that the pious African offers his sacrifices to the spirits because he lives in sheer terror of them. He has no real confidence in his god. He constantly fears whether he has done enough to keep them happy. We don’t come to impose another religion on him. We come to give real peace in Jesus Christ. We are introducing him to the God who loves him so much he gave his own life to save him. This is peace to which people living in Africa have just as much a right as any Westerner. The popularity and spread of Christianity on the African continent today is evidence that the message hasn’t lost its luster.

Perhaps we may take this peace for granted. It always seems like a good thing, but calling it “beautiful” sounds a bit much. Maybe we even reach the point where we don’t feel a regular need to hear it. The message is still spiritually nutritious, but not all that tasty. We don’t live as though our lives depend on it.

At just such times the Lord may shakes us up so that we feel the hunger again. Usually I am in the business of dispensing God’s good news of peace. But as a pastor, members of my own family have sometimes landed in the hospital with life-threatening conditions. Then I have been on the receiving end of God’s promise of peace. At such times I couldn’t tell you what my own sermon was about the week before. But I can tell you that the devotions we heard in the hospital were a life-line for physically and spiritually weary parents. The feet that brought that peace looked beautiful dressed in that news.

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