Do Not Fear What They Fear

I wonder how many of us wish we had the power to turn back our clocks to a day, a week, a month, or even a year or more, to the time when we had never heard of the virus-that-shall-not-be-named nor the upheaval it would bring to our lives.

Would you like to make that wish?

Of course, we cannot. We are impotent in the ways of time alteration. And as each day passes, we are becoming more aware of what is true of all time and space. We can never return to what once was. For us, the life we knew before this cataclysmic viral wave submerged our world under its dreadful, chaotic infirmity is gone. And the problem is, experts believe we’ve only experienced the first wave, another wave, possibly more dangerous, could be coming.

What do we do with this conjecture?

We cannot turn back time. Yet, I wonder. Is there a lesson from history, from Scripture, that could help us, encourage us, now?

I believe so.

I discovered a word of hope when I read a chapter from the book of Isaiah. 

Thousands and thousands and thousands of years ago, the nation of Judah was trapped in a precarious situation. The ten tribes of Israel had joined forces with the warring nation of Assyria against Judah. This small nation of just two tribes, had been infiltrated by her enemies.  The clock was ticking. In just a matter of days, Israel and Assyria would conquer the walls of Jerusalem, and Judah’s capital and center of power and her people, would be annihilated.

The passages of Jerusalem were walkways of despair and dread. How could Israel and Assyria be overcome?

Into this melee of confusion, terror, and panic, the word of the Lord came to the people of Judah through the prophet Isaiah:

This is what the Lord says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people:

“Do not call conspiracy
    everything this people calls a conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
    and do not dread it.

 The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
    he is the one you are to fear,
    he is the one you are to dread.
He will be a holy place;
    for both Israel and Judah he will be
a stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall.
And for the people of Jerusalem he will be
    a trap and a snare.
Many of them will stumble;
    they will fall and be broken,
    they will be snared and captured.”

 Bind up this testimony of warning
    and seal up God’s instruction among my disciples.
I will wait for the Lord,
    who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob.
I will put my trust in him.

New International Version, Isaiah 8: 11-17

In their encroaching despair, Judah’s leaders and its people were besieged with fear. Over the years, the nation of Judah had placed its hope in anything and everything but the Lord Almighty. These image-worshippers offered jackals, owls, cats, crows, vultures, dogs, lizards, the sun, moon, and stars, dreams, evil spirits, disease and death power and control over their lives. The whole spirit and adulating tone of this Judaean society centered upon superstition. It’s no wonder the armies of Israel and Assyria sent this idolatrous lot into a frenzy. Their impotent idols offered no help or comfort. And rather than look to the LORD for solace, assistance and victory, they focused their attention on the imminent attack of their enemies and the defeat that was sure to come. According to most people on the Jerusalem streets, “They were doomed.”

The prophet Isaiah challenged this fearful appraisal.

He cried, “Do not fear what they fear!”

Isaiah beseeched the people to repent of their idolatrous ways and seek the Lord. What would this mean? Instead of ambling along the same, worn, all-to-familiar pathways of fear, distrust and confusion, Isaiah called the nation to return to their LORD Almighty for protection, hope, and redemption. Their superstitious practices opposed the wisdom and counsel of the Lord thus, denying them confidence and hope.

For the people of Judah, enemy invasion was imminent. However, if they would trust and obey their forgotten God, a promise was offered to both friend and foe. The nation of Judah and the nation of Israel could become a righteous remnant:

He will be a holy place;
    for both Israel and Judah he will be
a stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall.

Jesus Christ, the Rock, the immovable foundation of faithfulness, truth and redemption would provide everlasting sanctuary. This is a place of peace, a place of prayer and a place of praise for all who would trust and believe in God. It is a holy space in which believers may draw near to the Father and experience His refuge and His strength.

Would they do it?

Would they trust and obey God and leave the ways of man behind them?

Some would.

A righteous remnant, at Isaiah’s call, diverged from their idolatrous path. They sought the way of Christ, Emmanuel, God with Us, the Victorious One to be their asylum from distress and danger.

Instead of being afraid of, superstitious of, and attentive to the ways of their frightening world, this believing remnant would attend to the LORD and seek Him for their hope, safety, and salvation. Dangers would remain. Assyria, a society of cruel and ruthless warriors, would continue to conquer much of the Middle East – the nation of Judah would be subjugated and one day, the Assyrians would betray, defeat and destroy Israel as well. The future would bring other conquering empires; Persian, Greek Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and more would test and threaten their faith.

Throughout this time, this holy remnant of people would honor their God and wait upon Him. Separated from their sin-filled society to follow the ways of God, their trust would be the faith model for future believers. During a similar season of danger and threat, the Early Church separated to share the Gospel and build the church of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

We find ourselves in a similar situation today.

We are all susceptible to walking in the ways of the times and living as most people do – afraid and anxious. We can fear what everyone fears. We can be tempted to place our focus and attention on the enemy at hand and believe there is no hope. We can attend to idols of our making.

We can believe that we are doomed to destruction – just like the nation of Judah.

Yet, if we believe in Jesus Christ, if we choose to trust Him, we can offer others something more.

Hope in Christ

Peter encourages us:

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…. 

New International Version, 1 Peter 3: 14-15

As we follow Christ, read and meditate upon His holy words, and seek Him in prayer, we can be encouraged and empowered to swim against the combative, viral waves of fear and worry. Unless the tides change, the virus-that-shall-not-be named could worsen as different strains develop and multiply. This viral pandemic could continue for months, years, even decades – even as enemy empires continued to invade and conquer in centuries’ past. It’s an awful thought. Yet, despite its many threats and dangers, this pandemic has not thwarted the will and purpose of the LORD Almighty and His kingdom to come for His people. It has not.

We shall not fear what others fear because we trust in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We shall not be afraid of evil tidings nor concern ourselves with tantalizing news headlines.

We shall pay no attention to superstition or conspiracy.

We shall renounce our idolatrous ways – our pattern of thinking and behavior that fails to honor and glorify our God.

We will not fear what may or may not happen tomorrow – like everyone else around us.

Instead, we will fear God.

 “The believing fear of God is a special preservative against the disquieting fears of man.” Matthew Henry

We will wait upon our Lord.

We will place our hope and trust in Him.

We will make the LORD Almighty the attention and focus of our honor and reverence.

Will give God, the Father and Jesus Christ, his Son, the glory due their Name.

We will ask Him to show us how-to live-in hope during these times and live strong regardless of the imminent dangers. We will be a righteous remnant of faith.

What fear obstacles are in your pathway to living in confident trust during this uncertain season?

Do you have an idol in place that is preventing you from placing your trust in Jesus Christ?

Seek the Lord and call upon the name of Jesus to be your sanctuary, your security and your peace. He will answer you.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

New International Version, Romans 15:13

Image retrieved from First MBChurch

2 thoughts on “Do Not Fear What They Fear

  1. This was very good. I am screaming conspiracy with all that is happening 8n the world around me…..Thank You for reminding me if I need to fear anyone it is The Lord….I do not fear Him. He loves me, and always reaches to warn and protect me. 🤗

    1. May the Lord bless you and keep you, Nancy. May He be your peace and your joy. In Christ, heather

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