(Isaiah 52 v 7 – 12)
One of my favourite Disney animations in recent years was “Happy Feet” about a colony of penguins who face starvation due to a lack of fish.
“Mumble” is sad and lonely because he looks different and can’t sing like the other penguins, but he has a peculiar talent in that he can dance. By strange fate he becomes an ambassador, travelling far and suffering courageously, but finally he gets to return home with great news, that their cry has been heard and help is coming so they won’t perish after all. It’s a happy homecoming and the icy mountains reverberate with the sound of multiple penguin feet stomping as they dance in celebration!
It’s only fiction but it’s a great movie with a feelgood, happy ending. And it’s not unlike the picture being painted by the prophet Isaiah who lived and preached around 700 BC. God had shown Isaiah that his home city of Jerusalem would be overrun and devastated by enemies, and that the Lord would allow it to happen because of His people’s sin and unfaithfulness. Hence many of the early chapters of Isaiah’s book contain solemn messages of indictment and gloomy predictions. But now, looking further into the future the prophet is given visions of comfort. Jerusalem will be restored!
“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!”
How wonderful, for a defeated, disgraced, discouraged people, barely surviving in their ruined city in the hills, to be able at last to welcome happy messengers, skipping up the slopes to announce peace, that the Lord is returning to bless and prosper His people once more!
Those whom God buys back from slavery will inherit a new life of blessing and will celebrate in His presence forever. Our God reigns and He is a God Who refuses to be defeated by evil, or by human sin and failure. He is One Who returns to a place where all seems lost. He is One Who forgives, restores and rebuilds broken cities and people! He is One Who welcomes those who return to Him with the comfort of His peace.
The peace of God has been described as ‘the fullness of wellbeing … of mind, heart and body, individually and communally’ (Henri Nouwen)
Christians, even when facing outward challenge, can know and celebrate a peace from God that ‘passes understanding’. It is the assurance that our Heavenly Father reigns and generously provides salvation and all things necessary for His children. He does this through ‘the Suffering Servant’, His Son, Jesus.
This life is a journey, a pilgrimage for believers, not to a physical destination like Jerusalem, but ultimately to our Father’s house in Heaven, and the resurrection inheritance that awaits us when Christ returns in glory.
Meantime we are to go where He leads, and obediently serve as He gives us opportunity. As we do so, Christ our Saviour and Risen Lord, our Good Shepherd, Master and Friend will accompany us!
‘The Lord will go before you’, says Isaiah, ‘the God of Israel will be your rearguard.’
It doesn’t mean we’ll always get it easy – pilgrims are almost certain to be attacked on occasions by wolves. But we will walk in the company of the prophets and know the comfort of the peace of the Son of God.
We’ll have ‘happy feet’.
Bearing good news of the restoring grace of God.
News worth celebrating!