Be Not Afraid
Contributed by Robert Leroe on Dec 28, 2014 (message contributor)
Summary: Let’s not fear what nature or nations may do to us. Sometimes the Lord calms the storm…sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms us.
The most often repeated command in Scripture is “fear not.” It is given 114 times…that’s not just something an angel says in a Christmas play!
God tells us in verse one, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.” We have no fear of judgment because we are redeemed--our salvation is secure--so it stands to reason with eternity secure, we should have no fear of tomorrow. God is in control. He is our Redeemer who loves us. Our standing is rooted in relationship; we are His. Isaiah reminds us that God is also the One who “formed” us out of nothing, and this word implies painstaking care. God has called us by name, which indicates He has a specific plan and place for us. We are His cherished, rightful possession, and He is our present help in any danger.
We may pass through trials, through waters of difficulty and fires of oppression--verse two--but without fear. God is with us. “Hope is holding out your hand in the dark” (Anon). We live by hope in Divine Providence. Let’s not fear what nature or nations may do to us. Sometimes the Lord calms the storm…sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms us.
God may seem remote at times, yet He promises to be with us. Why should He even care? Yet He does. He initiates a caretaker relationship with us. He is passionate about His people. In verse three, He will pay any price for us, even the whole of Africa. Grace is love that pays a price.
Isaiah is writing to people in exile, far from home, and in verse six the prophet assures them that God will gather His own and return them back to their promised land. God commands, and the world must do His bidding. He sent Israel into exile and is able to bring them home. Likewise we will be gathered up when Christ returns.
Why were we created? Verse seven--for the glory of God. This is why we exist. John Piper writes: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
Those who are blind and deaf--verse eight--are about to see and hear the wondrous working of God. When God seems absent, we need to wait and trust that He will respond in His time. He’s the One who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light!
A New Year’s resolution is found in verse ten: “You are my witnesses.” Are we sharing our faith with others? Are we looking for opportunities to tell people about the hope that is within us? Isaiah paints a picture of a courtroom drama, urging us to testify in behalf of our God.
In this verse and the next, God points out that He alone is the Answer to our needs: “Before Me no god was formed, nor will there be one after Me. I, even I am the Lord, and apart from Me there is no savior.” Pagan idols offered no guidance and no deliverance. Likewise, “one does not look for signs of hope in the newspapers or the pronouncements of world leaders” (Thomas Merton). Our hope rests in God alone. C.S. Lewis noted, “If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God, it will make in the end no difference what you have chosen instead.” There is no one else but God; no substitutes, no other Name, no hope of salvation apart from Him…and, verse 13, no one can snatch us out of His hand.
In verse 14, God reminds Israel that they were sent to Babylon in exile for a reason. They had been following other gods, intermarrying with gentiles, and were not keeping the Sabbath. Wherever God puts us, He has a purpose. It will always be for our good. Had the “Babylonian Captivity” not occurred, the Jewish nation would have been assimilated. This harsh action proved to be a severe mercy, as it preserved the ethnic and spiritual identity of Israel. God is holy in both acts of mercy and acts of chastening. And it was the hand of God--not a shifting political climate--that ended the captivity.
God reminds His oppressed people of the Exodus in verse 16…just as He miraculously led the captives through the Red Sea, He will again liberate them. The deliverance from Egypt, however, is nothing compared to what He is going to do, verse 18. As God made a way through the waters, He will make a way in the desert, verse 19. The Lord will provide. It will be a new Exodus--emancipation from Babylon. Our faith is rooted in ancient miracles that affirm God’s involvement in our lives. He delivers us from bondage to sin, giving new life to hopeless people and direction to people without purpose.