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! Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:7-10)
This passage references the restoration of Jerusalem, it speaks of a time when the Babylonians would be defeated and the Jews would be allowed to return to Jerusalem, rebuild their temple to God, and worship him (see Isaiah 52:11). 1
Like many passages in Isaiah, this can also be applied to us in our day. Those that publish salvation bring tidings of good and are beautiful! They show mankind that the Lord’s arm is revealed in our day.
The prophet Nahum makes a similar statement in Nahum 1:15 when speaking of the fall of the capital of the Assyrian empire in 612 B.C. He states:
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. (Nahum 1:15)
The defeat of the Assyrian empire can be seen throughout Nahum chapter 2, something that can be seen as a type of the destruction at the end of the world. The destruction of Assyria and its capital Nineveh, would be seen by the readers of Nahum as vindication to those who chose to believe in God and follow their prophets.
In ancient times, messages were carried by runners who raced between leaders or cities with important information. I like the story of Pheidippides, the runner associated with the ancient Battle of Marathon near Athens, Greece.
Legend tells us that in 490 BC the Athenians had miraculously defeated a much stronger force of invading Persians, numbering on the Plains of Marathon. Pheidippides was selected to carry the good news back to Athens. The fleet runner ran the grueling 25 miles as fast as he could. Upon reaching the walls of the Acropolis. Pheidippides cried out, Rejoice, we conquer! and promptly fell dead. 2
Other historians emphasize that it wasn’t just 26 miles that Pheidippides ran, but over 300! There are those that say he ran from Athens to Sparta, then from Sparta back to Athens, a distance well over 12 times the simple 26 miles in a marathon. 3
When it comes to Isaiah 52:7, one group of commentators has written:
52:7 beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him. This expression is found six times in the scriptures (1 Ne. 13:37; Mosiah 12:21; 15:15-18; 3 Ne. 20:40; D&C 128:19). The singular pronoun him may refer specifically to Christ, the ultimate source of the gospel’s good news. In addition, all those who preach the gospel are beautiful because of the wonderful message they take to others. By the Lord’s definition, mountains describe the place where the gospel is preached, regardless of the actual physical location in the world. As we read in latter-day revelation: “Thou shalt declare glad tidings, yea, publish it upon the mountains, and upon every high place, and among every people that thou shalt be permitted to see” (D&C 19:29). 4
The idea that the feet of the messenger are beautiful is fitting in the context of Isaiah’s prophecy. As this prophecy is found throughout scriptures used by the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is useful to see how this passage can be understood. Truly, all the messengers of salvation who bear the name of the Savior Jesus Christ are truly beautiful, making it known all over the earth that through following the Savior Jesus Christ into the waters of baptism and by making and keeping covenants with him, they can have peace in this world. These messengers are like Pheidippides from ancient times, bearing the most important message of our day. Truly Jesus is the answer to the problems that plague modern man, and it is only in listening to the messengers of peace that we can ever hope to have the peace that we seek.
- Commenting on how this relates to the Jews returning to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem and restore their worship of God, the Jewish Study Bible makes the following point: “God’s won Presence will return to Jerusalem; the prophet imagines that the lookouts in Jerusalem’s higher buildings or fortifications will see God’s Presence as it comes toward the city… An exhortation to exiles still in Babylonia to come to Jerusalem, bearing the Temple vessels hat the Babylonians had taken from the Temple. Because they will accompany the divine Presence in Its journey, they must maintain ritual purity.” Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, The Jewish Study Bible, The Jewish Publication Society, p. 872.
- Webster’s Word Histories, Miriam-Webster, Inc., 1989, p. 291.
- Runner’s World (UK) 3 March 2017. See: https://www.pressreader.com/uk/runners-world-uk/20170303/281608125162878
- Donald W. Parry, Jay A. Parry, Tina M. Peterson, Understanding Isaiah, Deseret Book, 1998, p. 464.