Reading through the Bible together

Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Can you picture it?  A young man running as fast as he can toward his home city to announce good news. Commissioned by the commander on the field of battle, he runs with joy in his heart and a great message on his lips: the king wins! The war against our enemy is nearly over, the king is near the victory, and peace is almost here! Such is the picture of verse 7: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things [in Hebrew, “good news of good”], who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’”

Yes, Northern Israel had been taken captive by the Assyrians, and Judah’s destiny would be captivity by the Babylonians. Yes, they had been made slaves by the Egyptians generations ago (v.4). But in God’s book, the story was not over. “Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem,…for the uncircumcised and the unclean shall no longer come to you” (v.1). The message of good news was fourfold: peace, glad tidings, salvation, and the confirmation that God was still on His throne (v.7).

The joyful response to the young man approaching the city with good news is immediate. The watchmen on the walls break out in song together, for they know now they will see, with their own eyes, their king return to Zion (v.8).

Isaiah then sees in the defeat of Babylon and the triumph of God, the need for God’s people to seize this moment of freedom: “Depart! Depart! Go out from there,…go out from the midst of her….For the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard” (vv.11-12). This is yet another call to come out of Babylon, for she represents death, and God has secured life and freedom for His people.

When I began my ministry in California many years ago, it was as a youth pastor. One of our favorite songs at the time was the scripture song based on Isaiah 52:7, Our God Reigns. What a simple and powerful message it contains! How true is the power of a song of hope in times of distress.  I think it was Martin Luther who said: when I can’t read the Bible, I pray, and when I can’t pray, I sing? I found this to be true more than once in my life. Prone to discouragement, when darkness and depression seem to envelop the soul, singing the songs of Zion will lift the cloud our enemy has placed there to oppress us. Sing. Sing to the Lord a new song! Sing in the morning, sing at noon, and at night. Sing whether or not you can carry a tune. It will bring heavenly angels next to you to silently harmonize your longing for God.

God is able, He is abundantly able! All we need to choose is to look up and sing as if He were there.

Ron E M Clouzet
NAD Evangelism Institute Director
Professor of Ministry and Theology
Andrews University Seminary