Many years ago, the Lord gave me a melody for these verses from Isaiah:

“For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee. Neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee. O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours and lay thy foundations with sapphires” (Isaiah 54:10–11).1

Laurie brought this up to me recently as we were heading out the door to take her to work. I told her that I sang it to her over the phone when she was working at a potato chip factory almost fifty years ago. At the time my thinking was it was the Lord’s promise of comfort when we are in trouble and a promise that He will do something good with precious stones. I had no idea what that meant. But, generally speaking, what I thought about theses verses at the time was true enough.

However, after she mentioned it that morning, I thought about the interesting juxtaposition of the disastrous departure of mountains and hills and God’s kindness in that passage. We live about two hundred miles from the Bitterroots which are part of the Rocky Mountain chain on the western side. We live near the foothills of those mountains. So, I thought about the catastrophe that would affect everyone in close proximity to those hills and mountains if they were to be removed. It is difficult imagine, but it doesn’t take much imagination to realize that such an event would result in the loss of many lives as well as the disruption and discomfort of all those nearby. In fact, in verse nine that proceeded the mountain-removing verses, the Lord brings up the flood during Noah’s time when all living persons, save those on the ark, died. He’s talking some serious business here.

It’s very possible He’s linking the departure of mountains to the end of days. The place in the New Testament where mountains depart is here:

“The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found” (Revelation 16:19–20).2

He told His people that when that happens His kindness would not depart. We are left to contemplate having destruction on one hand and God’s kindness on the other. Although the Lord is kind, the word interpreted as kindness here is not what it means to English speakers today. It is not being polite or behaving like a gentleman or gentlewoman. The word translated as kindness is the Hebrew word “hesed.” The galaxy of words surrounding “hesed” includes mercy and loving kindness, but at the center of its meaning is loyalty and joint obligation. This leads us nicely into the Lord’s next promise that the covenant of His peace will also not be removed. The Lord promised His people through Moses that as long as they obeyed Him, they would be blessed. If they didn’t, they would be cursed. Thankfully, we no longer live under that old covenant. God’s people could not keep their part of the covenant and never have, so a Savior was required to bring a new covenant based upon forgiveness and grace, not law keeping. It is an everlasting covenant and will be in force when mountains depart.

Now we come to the Lord’s last promise in this passage. To comfort those who are afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, He will lay our stones with fair colors and our foundations with sapphires. The best I can come up for an explanation of the meaning for that shoots us directly back to the Book of Revelation.

“The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst” (Revelation 21:19–20).

The Lord was making a promise to His people way back in the time of Isaiah that the mountains and hills are going to be removed. However, He will in the end keep His covenant and bless His people with peace those who live in a city with walls that are beautiful beyond imagining.

In response to this joyous truth, I join my voice with this company:

“And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’ And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped” (Revelation 5:13-14).

1The Holy Bible: King James Version (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., (2009). Logos Research Systems, Inc.

2All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version except where otherwise noted (2016). Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Giphy.