“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” Isaiah 52:7
Isaiah 52 is a chapter regarding the restoration of Jerusalem. Though the prophets often foretold of the destruction and calamity that was coming on Israel if they did not repent, there are also passages of restoration. These zoom forward to the time when Jerusalem would be reestablished and God’s people would be released from captivity. God would call Zion to “loose thyself from the bands of thy neck” (Isaiah 52:2). Messengers would run over the mountains surrounding Jerusalem to tell of the victory. Though Judah was able to return to rebuild Jerusalem after 70 years of Babylonian captivity, the ultimate salvation of Zion would come later in the person of Jesus Christ.
Nahum mentions similar imagery in telling the news of the fall of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. Assyria aggressive war atrocities were well known in the ancient world; their cruelty caused a cry to go out to God to take vengeance on such a wicked nation. Assyria destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC. The southern kingdom of Judah narrowly escaped destruction from the Assyrian king Sennacherib because of God’s intervention (2 Kings 18:13-19:36). Nineveh fell in 612 BC, and Nahum gives the scene of the spreading message of victory in 1:15 by stating, “Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.”
When we read passages like Isaiah 52:7 and Nahum 1:15 today, we think of a New Testament text that gives the full significance of the good news of salvation. Romans 10:15 uses the image of the beautiful feet of him that brings good news of salvation in regard to the preaching of the gospel of Christ. The salvation in Romans 10 is more significant than deliverance from any physical captivity. It is salvation from sin. Jesus said in John 8:34, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” The word committeth in the KJV reflects the present tense of the original Greek, which indicates a continuous action. If a man is in the continual habit of sin, it ensnares him to its bondage. Sin is a cruel master, yet many do not realize it. If not stopped sin will slay its captives with eternal death (Romans 6:23). The Assyrians who destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel and threatened Judah were cruel. The Babylonians who took the southern kingdom of Judah were also cruel, but sin has taken everyone of an accountable age captive (Romans 3:23), and it is the cruelest master of all. Jesus said he came to preach deliverance to the captives (Luke 4:18; cf. Isaiah 61:1-2).
Thanks to what Jesus Christ did, we do not have to remain captive to sin, but can be delivered from it to serve righteousness by submitting in baptism to the pattern of teaching concerning His death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-7, 17). 1 Corinthians 15:56-57 proclaims the victory over sin has been given by Jesus Christ, “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We should want to run over the mountains and tell it.
Legend has it that in 490 BC, when the Athenian army defeated the Persians, Pheidippides, an Athenian soldier, ran from the battlefield in Marathon, Greece twenty six miles to Athens to proclaim victory. Upon arriving in Athens he proclaimed “Niki!” (Victory!), then collapsed and died. God has given the victory over man’s greatest battle: sin. What is at stake is the eternal wellbeing of our souls. As we run this marathon of life, let us proclaim the most significant message of victory the world has ever known, the good news of Jesus Christ.