BIBLE SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (FEET)

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When asked where feet appear in the Bible, most people are likely to point to Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.” Following the principle that we usually go where our feet go, the most common symbolic use for feet in the Bible is to represent our lives. The psalmist repeatedly praised God because “he makes my feet like those of a deer and gives me sure footing on high places” (Ps. 18:33) and because he

makes “a wide path for me to walk on so that my feet do not slip” (18:36). When the apostle Paul wants the Ephesian Christians to understand what God expects of them, he writes, “I, a prisoner in the Lord, encourage you to live [literally, walk] the kind of life which proves that God has called you” (Eph 4:1).

A FRESH TAKE ON TRADITION

In Bible times, most people walked barefoot or with simple sandals that left most of the foot exposed to whatever was on the road. Even today in most Middle Eastern cultures, entry into a home or worship space involves removing footwear. One of the most basic acts of hospitality in these cultures was to wash the feet of guests when they arrived. Such a task was assigned to the lowest member of the household servants. This makes Jesus’ actions at the Last Supper all the more startling. During a special Passover celebration in the upper room, he got up from the table, put on a servant’s apron, and washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:4-17). The disciples, particularly Peter, were shocked at Jesus’ action and ashamed at their oversight. And we see this interaction between Peter and Jesus: “Peter told Jesus, ‘You will never was my feet.’ Jesus replied to Peter, ‘If I don’t wash you, you don’t belong to me'” (13:8). In true Peter fashion, what he misunderstood one way he quickly misunderstood another way: “Lord, don’t wash only my feet. Wash my hands and my head too!” (v 9). After lovingly correcting Peter, Jesus made clear that he wanted the disciples to understand the importance of serving one another in the most mundane and truly servant-oriented aspects of living: “You call me teacher and Lord, and you’re right because that’s what I am. So if I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you must wash each other’s feet” (vv. 13-14). Here Jesus used a daily task and turned it into a symbol for the way we should serve one another.

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Jesus washed his disciples’ dusty feet- taking the position of a slave-as an expression of his love for them.

 

 

FEET AS SYMBOL

When the apostle Paul wants to describe the significance of a person sharing the gospel with someone else, he recalls the words of Isaiah and writes, “How can people tell the Good News if no one sends them? As Scripture says, ‘How beautiful are the feet of the messengers who announce the Good News'” (Rom 10:15, quoting Isa 52:7). Again, The feet of the messenger become beautiful because of the value of the message being delivered. They are a symbol for the traveling and effort required in bringing the Good News to others.

In Daniel 2, feet are one of the parts of a statue that symbolize a succession of kingdoms. The feet made of clay and iron were crushed by a stone that was cut out but not by human hands. In this case, feet represent the weakest in a succession of kingdoms that will be overwhelmed by the rolling stone, which we now know was a picture of Christ’s arrival in history. This symbolism is also related to the idea of a person being put under the feet of a conquering army-it shows authority (Josh 10:24; 1 Kings 5:3; Ps 8:6, all NIV). That is why Scripture tells us that one day all things will be put under Christ’s feet (Matt 22:44 NLT; 1 Cor 15:25 NLT; Eph 1:22 NKJV; Heb 2:8 NKJV). And this is why we fall at his feet in worship (Rev 1:17).

Feet that slip or stumble are a symbol for falling into sin (Job 12:5; Ps 37:31; 56:13; 66:9; 73:2; 116:8; 121:3). People may even have their feet caught in a trap or be put in shackles (Ps 25:15; 57:6; 105:18). By contrast, God makes our feet secure, keeping us on firm ground so we will not sin (1 Sam 2:9; Ps 17:5; 26:12; 31:8). He is the One who makes our steps sure as we walk through life.

(THE A TO Z GUIDE TO BIBLE SIGNS & SYMBOLS, Understanding Their Meaning and Significance Pg 96 &97)

 

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