So far this Advent we have focused on Isaiah 52 verses 1-4. How come? Because we wanted to spend time responding to the series Look At The Lamb by getting practical and by getting bold. The metaphor of ‘beautiful feet’ depicting the victorious church who ‘bring good news to the lost’ is a familiar one to most of us. But what does it mean considering that many of us might relate more to the metaphor of ‘cold feet’ when it comes to evangelism?
We are more than joyful and bold, right? Isaiah 52:7 doesn’t ask, ‘how happy are the feet…? or ‘how strong are the feet…?; it just asks ‘how beautiful are the feet…?’
The picture that God gives us to understand our identity as gospel-carriers by is a goat on the summit of a mountain. Not the whole of the animal but rather specifically their feet.
We have to think about what this imagery represents…
How beautiful and delightful on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace,
Who brings good news of good,
Who announces salvation,
Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7
“The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights” Habakkuk 3:19
“He makes me as sure-footed as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights” Psalm 18:33
“Listen! My beloved! Behold, he is coming, Climbing on the mountains, Leaping on the hills! “My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag…” Songs 2:8-9
The Bible is likening the essence of our identity in Him to the ability of a goat to climb and balance within the extreme environmental conditions of mountain summits. Why?!
I am convinced that, as Christians, the most important thing we are called to do is regularly live on spiritual mountain summits before we tread evangelistic valleys. As a picture of our prayerful lives of devotion, our ‘summits’ are places of encounter with the Holy Spirit, with the living heartbeat of God, with the power and Presence of Jesus Christ. This is divine exchange; this is the currency of evangelism.
Without Summit Climbs in God we are bankrupt to evangelise and we become more like cows in fields than gazelles on mountains
A Theory of Holiness and Balance
I’m prayerfully thinking as I’m writing and I’m wondering if, in part, the beauty and *delightfulness* of our feet to God is meant to be understood in terms of these ‘summit places’ being places of holiness that only the privileged and *highly favoured* in God can climb to?
Recall Exodus 3:5 where God says to Moses,
“Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”
It’s a bit like the branch and vine in John 15 where it’s all about vital connection to Jesus – like the union of the feet of a goat and the (mountain) Rock of Ages.
I think we need to understand the place of prayer and the ‘higher places’ in God to be immensely privileged places that not everyone can climb to. This knowledge should make us want to climb more!
Especially for our brothers and sisters in the persecuted third-world church, there will always be risk involved in evangelism. So part of our beauty in fulfilling this call is BALANCE: Balance to live in this world but not conform to it; balance to live motivated by the Great Commission but not in crippling fear of man; balance to gently share the gospel in love and not live cowardly lives that shirk back from telling people about Jesus.
Look at the risk these goats go to in order to get some salt into their diet:
In John 15 Jesus said,
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
And in the next chapter, John 16
They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.
And in Matthew 5,
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”
So our feet are beautiful to God because they are feet that can go to privileged holy places of prayer and feet that can navigate the dangerous pitfalls of this world including making sense of the extremes of passivity and legalistic irrelevance.
You might have noticed that the only verse in the *Some Bible* section above that pictured God as the gazelle, rather than us, was in Songs 2.
I believe the significance of this is that we only have beautiful feet in holy places like this, capable of fine balancing on rough terrain, because Jesus Himself did.
He frequently withdrew to lonely places to pray and then entered the fray to take on the schemes of Satan and the blindness of man.
This Christmas, this advent, let’s make room in our hearts to again climb the summit of the glorious Mount of God. Let us purpose in our prayers to receive the courage and freedom from fear to simply tell other people about Jesus.
We were born for this – not to have cold feet but to live in the beauty and courage of our feet and those of others.