Your God Reigns / Isiah 52:7-12
-from "International" to "Inter-Personal"-
by Masaharu Asayama
How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."

What an exquisite verse of poetry! Delightful, and yet forceful. This is the way in which good news should be proclaimed. Which makes me think how tedious our words and our sermons must seem.
We find a variation of this verse in 40:9

Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good tidings;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
"Here is your God!"

Yes, these lines have even become a well-known verse in Handel`s "Messiah", sung by an alto-soprano solo who is then joined by the choir. "O thou that taleth good tiding to Zion, arise, arise, say unto the cities of Judah,..."
As you may be aware, these lines are found in the works of the so-called Second Isiah ( Isiah chapters 4o to 55). Chapter 40 begins with the famous first verse of Handel`s Messiah, sung by a tenor solo.

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people
saith your God, saith your God,
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem,
This is the chord the Second Isiah strikes.
This prophet-poet reveals his message at a great turning point in history. Babylon has collapsed, allowing Persia to take over, and thanks to Cyrus, the Israelites, exiled in Babylon, were freed and permitted to return to their homeland, Jerusalem.
By means of poetic verse, the prophet conveys the great elation felt by the Israelites. Mere prose would never suffice to express such acute emotion.
How I wish OUR words would ring out when we preach about the Gospel! Let us read 52:7 once again.

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."
This continues in verse 8 with:
Listen! Your sentinels lift their voices,
together they sing for joy,
for in plain sight they see
the return of the Lord to Zion.

When the sentinels hear the voice of Good News, they exclaim with joy.
The sentinels stand guard on the castle walls. In an era when there were no phones, faxes or email, the responsibility of delivering news was the sentinels`. Now, as they receive the Good News, they shout it out for all the people to hear.
Moving to verse 9,

Break forth together into singing,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the Lord has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.

You ruins of Jerusalem, it says.
The return to Jerusalem is an event of great happiness. The Israelites are freed from their exile. They are on their way home. But Jerusalem is in ruins, after its destruction by Babylon. The Israelites in exile are hastened to return home, return to the remaining skeleton of Jerusalem. They journey back in order to restore this once flourishing city. There is certainly a lot of arduous labor awaiting them. However, even knowing this there is still a great sense of joy, accompanied by promises and hope for the future.
As I hear the words "You ruins of Jerusalem", I am reminded of the city, Armenia in Colombia. After the General Assembly in June, last summer, my wife and I had the fortune to visit Colombia for 2 weeks. During our stay in Armenia, a lady looked after us, kindly taking us to many of the Cumberland Presbyterian churches where we met many lovely people. At the end of January this year, a fatal earthquake suddenly shook the area near Armenia. Many houses disintegrated, hundreds lost their lives. I heard that one such person was from our own Cumberland church. On top of this, many thousands of people became homeless, forced to live in the streets and ruins.
I believe the words of the prophet,
"Break forth together into singing,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the Lord has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem. "
allude to the devastated area around Armenia, as well.
Even as history was rolling out, the prophets conveyed God`s word, spreading his Good News. They spoke out in the course of their contemporary history. We too are listening to the voice of God in our own phase of history. We too, like the sentinels in verse 8, are singing out for joy.
"Your God Reigns!" is the message we bring to the people.
Let us inform the people in Armenia "the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed" Armenia. "Your God Reigns!"
How extraordinary these words are!
Nebuchaderezzar`s era has come to its end. King Cyrus guides the next. The Israelites` fate undergoes huge changes, but the greatest development of all is that "Your God Reigns!"
God`s governance and rule have finally been revealed.
The prophets describe a new form of governance that is radically different from the old rule of Nebuchaderezzar and Cyrus. It is said that God`s authority which surpasses the framework of history, has become evident at last. In verse 10 it states,

The Lord has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all nations;
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.

This is what was envisioned during the period of great change, an alternative reality experienced by the prophet, or maybe a vision of the very near future. In this sense, these lyrics may be described as a prophecy. And what better way to express an event containing both the present and the future than by poetry.
We are experiencing that what the prophet has conveyed through this poetry has actually been realized in Jesus Christ.
We are living in the reality of the Kingdom of God, realized in the coming of Christ.
The Christmas story reveals another illustration that our God reigns in Jesus. The Shepherds listened to the throng of angels` voices singing the Good News. The wise men from the east realized that a true and radically different King had finally succeeded the old rulers such as the Roman emperors and King Herod. They knew that all the kings till now, wielding their power with violence, had finally been dethroned. Even in the midst of their hardship, they could believe they were finally under the leadership of a new king ordained by God. The same thing may be said about John of Patmos Island. Imprisoned on an island far from the continent, John gazes at the heavens and is aware that a true king has ascended to the throne. Standing by this firm belief, John waits for the new Jerusalem to descend from heaven.
Finally, Ifll take a brief look at verses 11 and 12. The prophet urges the people, "Escape this worldly rule! Donft involve yourself in its corruption! Hurry!" However, at the same time, he tells them, "There is no need to rush, no need to run away!" We are invited to lead a new way of life, where we will enjoy an alternate reality. Still, there may be some people who fear they will be abandoned because they are unable to convert themselves, to adapt themselves to this new reality immediately. But these verses indicate that this is simply not true.
Our God, who gave us his only son Jesus Christ, delivers the following message in 42:1-4.

Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be crushed
until he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his teaching.
We believe that what is said here has been realized in Christ. In Jesus Christ, God walks ahead and brings up our rear as guard. Emmanuel!, God is with us. We live from the Kingdom of God, in the Kingdom of God and to the Kingdom of God.

IPCC is meant to be a world-wide Christian action(witness) 
toward the 21st century which proclaims the gospel of 
reconciliation to all people of the world.IPCC acts to build
 the inter-personal Christian community which is made up
 of individual persons.
People are invited to join the Council(IPCC) as a person 
representing none other than her-or-him-self.
IPCC,incidentally,could also stand for Inter Personal Computer Church.
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Chair - Masaharu Asayama
(Pastor,Kunitachi-Nozomi Cumberland Presbyterian Church)
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BGM "Our God Reigns" by Lenny Smith