How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good reports, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns” (Isaiah 52:7).
This verse is simultaneously stirring and puzzling. Since we all seem to be continually confronted with bad news, we can’t help but resonate with the image of someone who has good news to share—news of peace and salvation. Such a reality, we no doubt think, is a beautiful thing to consider. In fact, we might just be able to look beyond our present circumstances when we consider the beauty of peace, salvation, and the proclamation that God reigns.
Yet before we pursue that train of thought too far, let’s notice what the verse actually describes as beautiful: “How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet…” Feet, you say? First, how could feet be beautiful, especially when compared to the lofty ideals described in the verse? Secondly, why would we discuss feet in preparing for the Advent season?
Let’s take a look at the broader context. To deliver his message of hope to Israel on the backend of exile, the prophet seems to be picturing a besieged city. Surrounding the city are hostile forces scheming their next assault. Inside the city are citizens battered by the ravages of war. While most of the inhabitants hunker down and brace for the enemy’s attack, a few watchmen courageously stand their ground on the city’s walls. Suddenly, in the distance, a running messenger comes into view. Despite the obstacles in his way—uneven, mountainous terrain and sharp rocks—the messenger doesn’t relent. He maintains a steady yet vigorous pace as he makes his way toward the city. Before he even utters a word, the watchmen can tell by his buoyancy that he brings good news—news of peace and salvation! God himself has arrived to save them (cf. Is. 52:7-12).
For those who find themselves feeling overwhelmed, burdened, afraid, discouraged, and hopeless the mere sight of a messenger bringing good news—indeed, even the messenger’s feet!—can be seen as beautiful. Are you looking for such a messenger this Advent season? Take a few moments to stop worrying about whether or not all the Christmas decorations are up, put aside your shopping list temporarily, and focus on the beauty revealed by Christ’s arrival. The birth of Jesus demonstrates that God himself has come to bring peace and salvation, to say, “Your God reigns!” Likewise, consider who in your life right now—family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.—might need to hear about this good news from you. And may we all grow in our appreciation for the beauty of both the message and the messenger.