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For Bible Study Nerds

Matthew 5:35 quotes Jesus as reaffirming the declaration of Isaiah 66:1, saying very plainly that the earth is God’s “footstool.” But what does that mean exactly?

In Old Testament usage, the concept of “footstool” or “under the feet” carried a few important meanings. First was the assumption of ownership or full possession of whatever was “under the feet.” An example of this is found in Deuteronomy 11:24 where God promised the Israelites that, “Every place where you set your foot will be yours.”

Second, and similar to the idea of possession, was the assumption of absolute dominion or rule over whatever was “under the feet.” One Ancient Egyptian drawing illustrates this concept in a casually-cruel way: It shows a child Pharaoh sitting on his nurse’s lap. His feet rest firmly on the heads of bound and groveling enemies. They are a literal footstool of conquered foes over whom he now exercises complete dominion.

The idea of the earth being God’s footstool is not as cruel as the Egyptian imagery, but Jesus’ meaning here appears to be much the same. God is Lord of all, period. He not only created our earth—he possesses every inch of it. And what’s more, he is complete and total master over our world and everything in it. Therefore using his earth—or anything he possesses, including our own heads—as a pretext for frivolous oaths is both presumptuous and offensive.

 

Works Cited:

[DBI, 906]

 

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