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Feb 21 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

February 19, 2012 – Present Your Bodies

How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Isaiah 52:7 (read vv. 7-12)

INTRO: Some of you know of Walter Martin

He popularized Christian apologetics in his book, Kingdom of the Cults
– Walter Martin lived here in San Juan Capistrano and occasionally I would run into him around town
– he suffered from diabetes and nearly lost his feet to the disease
– in one of our encounters, he told me about a masseuse who worked on, “She saved my feet,” he said

Few of us were ever taught importance of taking care of our feet
– we abuse them with shoes that are too tight or worn out and also with bad posture
– this can create muscle tension and over compensation that results in pain in our legs, back,  and neck
– we pay for abusing our feet as we age – mangled feet can misalign the body and diminish its ability to balance, causing us to lose stability
If you are ever tempted to say, “My feet are killing me,” it is probably because you are killing them

Each foot is like a tripod – it is meant to rest on two places on the pad (inside and outside) and one on the heel
– massaging our feet can relieve some of our aches and pains and give us better balance
– there are also exercises we can learn to do that will improve our balance

The body has an internal mechanism for discerning balance
– proprioception – body recognizes its relation to space
– receptors in the muscles warn us if we are twisting our ankles too much

Our bodies have a way of knowing that is independent of thinking
– a knowing that comes from moment-by-moment experience
– like learning to balance on bicycle –it easier to feel than explain
In scripture, people brought attention to the information that their bodies knew
– it gave them a way to understand their life-situation — a way to listen to their body, their world, and to God
• a way to be awake and aware in the present moment

Isaiah’s prophetic poem begins with an odd subject: lovely feet

As a side note: The Hebrew word for the feet is also used for the legs, so we will include knees and ankles in our survey

I hope everyone can see it is obvious that Isaiah’s comment about feet is not to be taken literally – “foot aesthetics”

Hans Wolf gives a clear explanation of what Isaiah means:

“When the prophet cries (Isa. 52.7):
How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good tidings (Is. 52.7),
it is not the graceful form of the feet that he means, but their swift movement: ‘How beautiful it is that the messenger is hurrying over the mountains!’ Feet, says the Hebrew, but he is thinking of the approach by leaps and bounds.”

It is the message of good news that is lovely to the person who receives it

As a metaphor, the feet have a lot of potential meanings:

Ge. 30:30, Jacob to Laban, “The LORD has blessed you according to my foot”
– that is, the steps he had taken to increase number of livestock
– “keeps the feet of His godly ones” also refers to their steps, their balance and safety (1 Sa. 2:9)
De. 28:65, “no resting place” for the sole of the foot refers to endless wandering – homelessness
Job 28:4, a place “forgotten by the foot” is a lost trail, a deserted place
Eze. 6:11, people stamping their feet expresses their intense frustration
Pr. 26:6, the person who “cuts off his own feet,” is one who self-destructs
– if others try to “trip up my feet,” or catch my feet in a net (Ps. 25:15; 104:4), they are trying to ruin me
Is. 60:13, “the place of My feet” – footstool, home (sanctuary)
Jer. 38:22, feet “sunk in the mire” – stuck, helpless
2 Sa. 22:39, people “under my feet” are those that I’ve conquered
– Jos. 10:24, leaders of Israel placed their feet on necks of defeated kings
– Paul talks about God crushing Satan under our feet, Ro. 16:20 and putting everything into subjection under Jesus’ feet (1 Cor. 15:27)
– the flip side of having a person under ones feet is to fall at a person’s feet (surrender, 1 Sa. 25:24)
Ps. 31:8, when our feet are “set in a large place,” we have stability
– on the other hand, we can also lose our stability
– Ps. 73:2, “my feet came close to stumbling”–i.e. close to the breaking point psychologically and spiritually

Ge. 50:23, “born on Joseph’s knees,” means he was the first one to hold his newborn grandsons
-“upon the knees to look upon” is to cuddle an infant or small child (Is. 66:12)
Job 4:4; Ps. 109:24, weak or strong knees — to be discouraged or encouraged
– knees knocking refers to panic or terror, Da. 5:6; Nah. 2:10

2 Sa. 22:37, “have not slipped” – to limp, be unsteady

Other instances where the feet are implied: stand, walk, run, dance, leap
– the various times someone washes the feet of another

All these metaphors are about what we experience through our feet
– what our feet feel, what they do, and what they express
– paying attention to our feet is one of the ways of becoming aware of the physical way we experience life in this world

The Feet and legs are also used in metaphors with spiritual meaning

First, when Psalm 147:10 says of God:

He does not delight in the strength of the horse;
He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man,

– it doesn’t mean God doesn’t appreciate the beauty of the body, rather he doesn’t depend on its strength, speed, or agility
– God does not look to our human resources to determine if he can solve a problem or rescue us

Pr. 1:16, feet that “run to do evil” indicate a person with no restraint or impulse control
– in the previous verse (15) we read:

My son, do not walk in the way with them.
Keep your foot from their path

– God told Jeremiah that the people of Israel had not kept their feet in check (14:10)
– the psalmist, however, could say,“I restrained my feet from every evil way” (Ps. 119:101)
– it’s a way of saying, “Refuse to take your life in a wrong direction”

Ps. 119:59, “I . . . turned my feet to Your testimonies”
– make life decisions based on God’s word
– the same idea is found in 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet . . .”
– Zacharias, John’s father, prophecy regarding Jesus, “To guide our feet into the way of peace” (Lk. 1:79)
Ex. 3:5, Moses had to remove his sandals from his feet, because the ground was holy
Mt. 10:14, “shake the dust off your feet”
– don’t carry anything away from that place
– it is like taking back their peace (vv. 12-13)
Mt. 18:8, “if your foot causes you to stumble,” get rid of it
– sometimes it’s necessary to make severe sacrifices
– whatever you lose by not going to the wrong place is worth the loss
Ex. 30:17-21, the priests washed hands and feet before entering tent
Lk. 7:38-46, a woman washed Jesus’ feet
– Jesus made a whole teaching from this
– of course, it was a profound moment when he washed his disciples’ feet

Lk. 8:35, Legion sitting at Jesus’ feet — the place of a student – an act of devotion – seeking closeness
Lk. 10:39, Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet
– in John’s gospel, it is the theme of her life, 11:2, 32; 12:3
I Ki. 18:42, kneeling in prayer (also NT, Ep. 3:14, etc.)
– to pray with our whole person
– to conform the body to the will of God

CONC: There is something interesting in this Isaiah passage I don’t want you to miss

Isaiah likes to double words to give them greater emphasis (we would use a bold or italicized font or exclamation marks)
– 26:3-4, peace, peace (“perfect”), Yahweh, Yahweh
– here, in v. 1, “Awake, awake” – 51:11, “Rouse yourself! Rouse yourself!”

That is what I am after – for myself and all of us
– to awaken to God’s presence, grace, and work that is going on around us all the time, everywhere

Our feet are our point of contact with the earth
– they put us in touch with our world
To focus attention on them is a way to be present to the moment
– to awaken to life and to God
Our feet can provide us a way to be more mindful of God
– standing in line, walking (anywhere), exercising
– pay attention to your connection with the earth and your place in it

Feet are “lovely” in respect to what they bring, the purpose they serve
– being reminded that our “God reigns” is often a wonderful and encouraging message
– we are that reminder

The Christian method for making your feet beautiful:
Go into the world and be the good news

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