Beautiful feet hiking up a steep mountain trail is the unlikely but striking image that Isaiah offers. The passage from Isaiah 52, verses 7 through 12, gives insight on how we are to participate in God’s kingdom work of peace and salvation. Take time to read this passage now.
Why feet? Could this image refer to the need to be active in our service for the kingdom? Feet imply going somewhere and doing something.
Why the mountain? The mountain image refers to somewhere other than home for most of us. Sometimes mountains are where we go for recreation, but usually they’re something to cross while getting from here to there. (In our case, the Bolivian mountains were our actual destination!) God asks his servants to go out to where the needs are greatest. All service involves some kind of leaving home (even for those who never travel) to enter another reality. And somewhere along the way, there’s a mountain to cross.
Why beautiful? Feet are not usually considered the loveliest part of the body. And the feet in the Isaiah image were not on a recreational mountain climb, probably not clad in expensive hiking boots. Dirt, wounds, calluses more aptly describe these feet. Yet obedient service beautifies them, according to the aesthetics of the kingdom of God.
What about the combination of mouth and feet? This is the most striking aspect of this passage. The feet are beautiful, but the work to be done is to “proclaim peace, bring good tidings, proclaim salvation, and say that God reigns.” These all involve words. An important part of our peace work is to give verbal witness, to testify, to converse, even, when appropriate, to preach. Some of us (myself included) have become enamored of the words supposedly spoken by St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” A recent article in Christianity Today entitled, “It’s necessary. Use words,” pointed out the problem with settling for a less than holistic approach to our service among the peoples of the world. Any service that leaves out words is as lopsided as one that is all words and no action. That’s the beauty of this passage, its integration of feet (action, deed) and mouth (word).
What about the combination of peace and salvation? This again underscores the holistic nature of kingdom work. The servants/messengers of the Lord go out to proclaim, in word and deed, a message that includes conversion, peace, justice, healing, and restoration on both personal and social levels. The Lord reigns, indeed.
The passage ends with the encouraging words that “the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” Let’s get going!
How can doing and saying wisely combine in what God might be asking of you?
What are the mountains you need to cross?
Are your feet beautiful yet?
Contributed by Nancy Thomas, North Valley Friends