Beautiful Feet


December 8, 1996 ~ Pickering Standard Church


Isaiah 52:1-15 - Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendor, O Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again. Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion. For this is what the LORD says: "You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed." For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: "At first my people went down to Egypt to live; lately, Assyria has oppressed them. "And now what do I have here?" declares the LORD. "For my people have been taken away for nothing, and those who rule them mock," declares the LORD. "And all day long my name is constantly blasphemed. Therefore my people will know my name; therefore in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I." How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God. Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing! Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the vessels of the LORD. But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard. See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness—so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.


Isaiah is speaking of a time when the fortunes of Israel will be restored and they will be victorious over their enemies. In one sense this may be said to have already happened: Israel is no longer a dominated people in a foreign land inhabits its own land. Yet in an other sense this has not happened yet because, for the most part, Israel has not yet humbled itself before God and still looks for the time when it will joyfully inhabit its own land without fear. What Isaiah has done in this passage is to combine the redemption of Israel with the gospel that has changed the lives of each one of us, for it is the same act that accomplishes both - the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ.


The whole context of this message is very impressive and lays out very clearly that it is God who works out the plan of salvation and makes it work. Isaiah speaks elsewhere that God looked for an intercessor for His fallen people and could find none and that He then became Himself the intercessor between He and His people.


Isaiah 59:16 - He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him.


Now an intercessor is one who will, on behalf of another, plead that person's case before a higher authority. Abraham is a good example of an intercessor in his pleading with God against the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah lest any righteous people should suffer undeservedly.


Genesis 18:20-33 - Then the LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know." The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD.


Then Abraham approached him and said: "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing— to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?"


The LORD said, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake."


Then Abraham spoke up again: "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?"


"If I find forty-five there," he said, "I will not destroy it."


Once again he spoke to him, "What if only forty are found there?"


He said, "For the sake of forty, I will not do it."


Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?"


He answered, "I will not do it if I find thirty there."


Abraham said, "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?"


He said, "For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it."


Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?"


He answered, "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it."


When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.


But the real surprising thing is the manner in which God chose to act as intercessor. He sends Jesus Christ as His only begotten Son to die in our place, to bear on His own shoulders the punishment that so rightly belonged to you and I. We should have died on that cross, and we would have too, except for the love of God because the reason He found no intercessor among mankind was that any man dying on the cross could only die for himself and in dying he would be condemned to hell. No man on earth can save himself, let alone any other. So God, in His infinite mercy, sends us a Saviour. Consider for a moment our condition when the Saviour was sent:


Isaiah 53:1-14 - Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things. No one calls for justice; no one pleads his case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider’s web. Whoever eats their eggs will die, and when one is broken, an adder is hatched. Their cobwebs are useless for clothing; they cannot cover themselves with what they make. Their deeds are evil deeds, and acts of violence are in their hands. Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction mark their ways. The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks in them will know peace. So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead. We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away. For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the LORD, turning our backs on our God, fomenting oppression and revolt, uttering lies our hearts have conceived. So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter.


What should be our response to such a salvation. We who are here, and at other places of the worship of God, have believed this message and have been washed by Jesus' blood; but how should we respond? Paul writes:


Romans 10:8-17 - But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile— the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.


And in His final earthly words to His disciples Jesus told them to spread the gospel as far as possible. He didn't say "Now some of you tell others about my salvation." He gave His disciples a command, as a master would command His servants. We are included in that command. You and I must be witnesses for Jesus wherever we are. Not when it suits our fancy, not when it is convenient, but always. Peter writes in his letters:


1 Peter 3:15 - But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,


We may not all be gifted speakers, we may not have ever spoken in public, but each of us has been saved. We know intimately what our neighbours so desperately need to hear. Let us pray that God will show us how.