How Beautiful on the Mountains are

the Feet of Those Who Bring Good News

52: 7-12

   DIG: What generation is this prophesy directed to? What is its purpose? Who are they afraid of? Why? What two messages could the watchman bring? How sure was Isaiah of this prophesy? How do we know? What anthropomorphism does Isaiah use to describe God’s power? How is this departure similar or dissimilar to the exodus?

   REFLECT: What does Paul say about beautiful feet in Romans 10:14-15? How do you best share your faith: (a) As an example to others? (b) Friendship evangelism? (c) Openly and boldly? (d) Silent witness? When is it helpful for an unbeliever to be confronted with a picture of how he or she appears to the LORD? When might this be harmful? What can you learn about sharing the gospel from these verses? If you were put on trial for being a believer, would there be enough evidence to convict?

    These verses continue the far eschatological prophecy to the believing remnant at the end of the Great Tribulation, in anticipation of the Good News. In his commentary on Isaiah, J. Vernon McGee comments on Jerusalem today. “One of the things you will not see about present-day Jerusalem is the lack of songs of joy. Around the Mosque of Omar (which stands on the Temple site) everything is in a minor key. If you go to the wailing wall, wailing is what you hear, and the Jews are knocking their heads against it. But in the Millennium, everybody is going be joyful – they will burst into songs of joy and they will sing together. It will be such a joyous time!”

    He goes on to say, “Even today I don’t think God likes to see [believers] walking around with long faces, complaining and criticizing. He wants us to have joy. The apostle John wrote, We write this to make our joy complete (First John 1:40). The Millennium will be a time when ADONAI answers the prayer that our Lord taught His disciples: Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (6:10). The tears and the sorrows will be gone; no longer will there be weeping on the earth. Instead there will be joy, and they will know that the millennial Kingdom has come.”

    A Day is coming when Isra'el will be redeemed, but not with money (see Eu – The Rapture and the Great Tribulation for the different names of the Great Tribulation). Isaiah hasn’t said who will redeem her yet; that will come in Chapter 53. But how will Isra'el know about this redemption? Someone will proclaim the Good News. The Jews living during the Great Tribulation were to stand firm in the face of possible destruction by the antichrist. Would Satan crush them (see my commentary on Revelation Ds – The Woman and the Dragon), or would ADONAI fulfill His promises of deliverance? Suddenly, on a symbolic distant hill, a runner is seen. What is the news? As he comes nearer and nearer it can be seen that he is waving a victory palm like that used in building booths during the Feast of Sukkot (Zechariah 14:16-19). ADONAI has won. Let the singing begin!

    How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news (52:7a). Specifically, this will be the good news of God’s salvation. What beautiful feet this symbolic runner has! The word those in the Hebrew, means the one. It should not suggest a group of runners, but a lone representative runner who comes with a radiant face and a spring in his step because he arrives with good news. That figurative runner will proclaim peace, he will bring good tidings, and he will also proclaim salvation (52:7b)! How is that salvation provided? We are told in the next chapter.

    Peace, or shalom, with God signals the end of His wrath because Isra'el’s warfare had been completed (49:1 to 57:21). Rabbi Sha'ul would later take this verse and use it when describing the armor of God, saying: Stand firm with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:14-15). What Gospel, what good news is being delivered? It is specifically the Good News of God’s salvation.

    Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns” (Isaiah 52:7c; Psalms 93:1, 97:1, 99:1)! What does His reign lead to? It is a condition where everything is in its proper relation to each other. There is peace. There is freedom from sin. In short, the Messianic Kingdom was at hand. Proclaiming the good news with simultaneous peace, goodness and salvation. There is a two-fold response.

    The first response is by the watchman. This is poetry, and therefore figurative speech and imagery are seen here. Although the term watchman is elsewhere applied to the prophets (Isaiah 56:10; Jeremiah 6:17; Ezekiel 3:17, 33:2 and 7), here it is merely part of Isaiah’s figure of speech (Isaiah 21:11-12; Second Samuel 18:24). The first person to see any running figure, and deduce his message correctly, was normally the watchman. Both the symbolic watchman and the figurative runner shout for joy as they see the evidence of ADONAI’s coming to Zion in victory. The people of the City hear the clamor of their voices and say to each other: Listen! The two of them are lifting up their voices; together they shout for joy (52:8a). The prophet envisions a Day when faith will pass into sight and when the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes, literally eye to eye (52:8b). This does not imply being “in agreement,” but with total clarity.

    The second response is seen in the ruins of Jerusalem. Once again, the figurative runner, as if anticipating a great revival says: Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem. Thus, the ruins of Jerusalem are now called upon to join the watchman, and the running messenger and shout for joy (52:9a). Are the ruins of Jerusalem physical or spiritual? Probably both. On the one hand, a horrific battle will have just taken place between the antichrist, his armies and the Jews in Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2 and 16a), but we also know that there will be tremendous changes in the Land during the Messianic Kingdom (35:1-4). We know that the antichrist will have set up his image in the Tribulation Temple to be worshiped by the whole world (see my commentary on Revelation Dr – The Abomination That Causes Desolation). But during the millennium Yeshua Messiah will rule and reign from the Most Holy Place in the Millennial Temple. So whether physical or spiritual, the ruins of Jerusalem will have plenty of reasons to shout for joy and burst into songs of joy.

    For the LORD has comforted His people (40:1, 49:13, 51:3 and 12), He has redeemed Jerusalem (52:9b). The two verbs, comforted and redeemed are both prophetic perfects. These verbs show a past completed action pictured as if it had already happened. They are at the heart of Isaiah’s message, they speak of restored fellowship, deliverance from bondage, encouragement from despair, strength in weakness, and forgiveness of sin. When will all Jerusalem be redeemed? When all Israel is saved (Romans 11:26a) at the end of the Great Tribulation when the Jewish leadership recognizes who Yeshua was and pleads for Him to return as the Messiah (see my commentary on Revelation Ev – The Basis for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ).

    As John Calvin comments, all this rejoicing is in anticipation. The evidence points to the victory of ADONAI. The signs show that he has defeated the enemy and is coming to set them free. But as of this moment, He is not yet here. Nevertheless, the people are called to participate in the hymn of thanksgiving and praise. Why? This is the faith and belief about which the prophet has been speaking throughout the book, and especially in this section. To give thanks in advance is the highest form of faith. The person praising God for what he or she does not possess is the person who truly believes in the promises of ADONAI.211

    The LORD will lay bare His holy arm (the expression, roll up our sleeves and get to work would be an equivalent term today) in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God (52:10). This verse precludes this section being a description of the return from the Babylonian Captivity. When we take an objective look at history, it is obvious that all the ends of the earth did not see the salvation of ADONAI at that time. However, right before the Second Coming the Servant is pictured here as being ready for action, His sleeves are rolled up and the nations will see Him soon. There is a great deal of anticipation in this verse. Now it is about to be realized! Look, He is coming with the clouds (see my commentary on Revelation Ai - Look, He is Coming With the Clouds), and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen (Revelation 5:5, 19:11-21; Titus 2:13).

    These are critical concepts to understand. What two things are connected here? God’s holy arm and salvation. When God bares His holy arm (Isaiah uses an anthropomorphism so that we can see this concept more clearly), the earth sees salvation. And what is the Hebrew word for salvation? Jesus. There is constant interplay between God’s arm and salvation. Isaiah introduced this concept earlier: My righteousness draws near speedily, My salvation is on the way, and My arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to Me and wait in hope for My arm. But My salvation will last forever, My righteousness will never fail (51:5 and 6b). This is the fifth of nine references to the arm of the LORD (30:30-32, 40:10, 50:2, 51:5 and 9, 53:1, 59:1 and 16, 62:8, 63:5).

    After Israel’s national salvation and redemption, comes her final restoration. But there is a seventy-five day interval following the last day of the Great Tribulation and the start of the Messianic Kingdom. Several things will take place at that time (see my commentary on Revelation Ey – The Seventy-Five Day Interval), and afterwards there will be a call for all of Zion to depart from wherever they are in the world in purity and holiness: Depart, depart, go out from there! They are to touch no unclean thing. Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the vessels of the LORD (52:11).

    The root of depart, swr, has the meaning of turning aside, or taking away, and is used in connection with the absolute separation from evil (Jeremiah 4:4; Second Chronicles 32:12; Isaiah 36:7; Ezekiel 11:19). Something has happened to change them from defiled to clean. The central issue here is not physical bondage, but the bondage of evil with its corruption and defilement. If the return from the Babylonian Captivity were in view here, only the Levites would be permitted to carry those implements. But here all of Zion participates. They are all to purify themselves on the way to Jerusalem so that they may carry the vessels of the LORD. Because we know that the vessels commonly associated with the Tabernacle in the desert, or Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, will not be present in the Messianic Temple (see Db – The Nine Missing Article’s in Messiah’s Coming Temple), apparently other vessels will be needed for a purpose we do not know at this time. But what ever they are, they must be very important because those who carry them back to the Land need to be pure.

    Then a distinction is made between the future final restoration, when Israel departs from all the nations of the earth back to the Land (see De – God Is My Salvation, I Will Trust and Not Be Afraid), and the exodus from Egypt. Whenever Isaiah, or any other Hebrew prophet begins to talk about the deliverance, it is the exodus to which their minds turn to sooner or later, and that is the case here. Back in 51:9-10, God was reminded by the prayer concerning His miracles of the exodus. Now God returns to the exodus motif and draws a distinction between the exodus and the final restoration.

    There are two dissimilarities. First, ADONAI says that at that future time the Jews will not leave in haste or go in flight (52:12a). In the exodus, however, the Jews did leave in haste. They were told to eat the Passover with their cloak tucked into their belts, their sandals on their feet, and their staff in their hands. They were to eat in haste (Exodus 12:11). Secondly, Jews had to flee as a result of persecution from Egypt, but unlike the former deliverance, this one will not be in the middle of the night, scurrying away from potential pursuers. They will not have to flee persecution from anyone in the final restoration.

    However, there are two similarities. In the exodus, God was present, both before and behind His people (Exodus 13:21; 14:19-20; Isaiah 42:16; 49:10 and 58:8). In front, He will lead, and behind, He will gather up the stragglers and be sure that they do not fall prey into the hands of their pursuers. So it will be in the future final restoration. For the LORD will go before you, and the God of Isra'el will be your rear guard (52:12b). Thus, there were two dissimilarities and two similarities with the exodus.

    When Ahaz was king of Judah, the Assyrian threat to God’s people was very real. The reality of an attack and the fear that it brought was also very real. Therefore, ADONAI sent Isaiah to meet him and relay this message: Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid (7:4). Little did Ahaz know that the supposed attack would never take place (see Gw – Then the Angel of the LORD Put To Death a Hundred and Eighty Five Thousand Men in the Assyrian Camp). Isaiah prophesied the same message to the persecuted believing remnant at the end of the Great Tribulation. Because they will be just as terrified of the antichrist as Ahaz was of the Assyrians, ADONAI reminds them: Don’t be afraid. Little will they know that their utter destruction would never take place (see Kh – The Eight Stage Campaign of Armageddon). Because the LORD will be with them and protect them, they need not fear. Is it any less true for us today?

 

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