Isaiah’s Redemptive Imagination, Part 3

By Mark D. Roberts

May 22, 2023

Imagination: Redeemed and Redemptive

Scripture — Isaiah 52:7-10 (NRSV)

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.”
Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices;
    together they shout for joy,
for in plain sight they see
    the return of the LORD to Zion.
Break forth; shout together for joy,
    you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the LORD has comforted his people;
    he has redeemed Jerusalem.
The LORD has bared his holy arm
    before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
    the salvation of our God.


Isaiah’s redemptive imagination helps us to see God as the one who reigns over all things. As we worship, our own imaginations are expanded and inspired. As theologian James K.A. Smith writes, “Christian worship shapes our orientation to the world precisely by priming and calibrating our imagination.” Through worship we come to a deeper and truer experience of God the King, which shapes everything we do in life.

This devotion is part of the series, Imagination: Redeemed and Redemptive.


Last week we began to explore Isaiah’s redemptive imagination as revealed in chapter 9 and chapter 53. Chapter 9 reveals the One who is “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6). Chapter 53 depicts the Suffering Servant of God who “was wounded for our transgressions” (53:5).

Today I’d like to examine another passage from Isaiah that reflects the prophet’s redemptive imagination. In chapter 52 we are introduced to a messenger who announces peace as a consequence of God’s kingdom on earth (52:7). This passage celebrates the fact that God has “comforted his people” and “redeemed Jerusalem” (52:9). The whole earth will witness “the salvation of our God” (52:10). That’s about as redemptive as a prophetic vision can be.

In response to what the Lord is doing, the “sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy” (52:8). Isaiah urges redeemed Jerusalem to join in: “Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem” (52:9). When God redeems, restores, and reigns, God’s people will break forth in joyful worship.

James K.A. Smith, in his book Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, shows that through worship we can imagine the kingdom of God in all of its fulness. He writes, “[M]y point is that Christian worship shapes our orientation to the world precisely by priming and calibrating our imagination” (p. 199). In worship we celebrate God the King, filling our hearts and minds – including our imaginations – with the truth, justice, and glory of God’s kingdom.

One of my favorite hymns invites us to worship God as king, thus filling our imaginations with images of God’s kingdom. “Rejoice, the Lord is King” is not the most familiar of Charles Wesley’s hymns, but its kingdom vision is truly inspiring. The precise words of this hymn vary from hymnal to hymnal. I’ll close today’s devotion with a version we used in my church in Irvine (from The Presbyterian Hymnal, 155).

Rejoice, the Lord is King!
Your Lord and King adore!
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing,
And triumph evermore:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

God’s kingdom cannot fail,
Christ rules o’er earth and heaven;
The keys of death and hell
Are to our Jesus given:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Rejoice in glorious hope!
For Christ the Judge shall come
To glorify the saints
For their eternal home:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!


As you think about your experience of worship, how do you think worship has shaped your imagination, if at all?

What does it mean for you to picture the Lord as king?

When you imagine God as king, what do you see?


Read slowly the lyrics of “Rejoice, the Lord is King.” See if one of the words or phrases of this hymn strikes you in a particularly strong way. Take time to reflect and pray about this.


Gracious God, you are indeed King of kings and Lord of lords. In due time, all the earth will recognize your sovereignty and bow before you in worship.

Thank you for being, not just the King over all, but my King. As I worship you, may my mind and heart be expanded by visions of your sovereign majesty. May what I do, say, think, and feel in worship shape what I do, say, think, and feel in every part of life. As I imagine your kingdom through worship, may I see all of life through this lens.

To you be all the glory! Amen.

Banner image by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Earthquake Poem by Thomas Merton, Based on Isaiah 52.

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Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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