Summary: Pentecost 16(B) - SEPTEMBER 8, 2002 - Isaiah reminds believers to BE STRONG, DO NOT FEAR because Christians have a divine deliverer, One who refreshes and renews.
BE STRONG, DO NOT FEAR
ISAIAH 35:4-7a September 8, 2002
4 Say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you." 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. 7 The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
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Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:
The headlines are filled with horrendous, horrible news day after day. There is terror, there is the stock market, there is disease, there is the West Nile virus, and the list goes on and on. It can lead many to despair, discouragement and despondency. It seems as if there’s nothing good at all happening anywhere in this world of ours. The worst part of it, if you listen to the radio, it’s heard hour after hour and sometimes more than that. The unbeliever wonders what will happen next.
You and I gather together this morning and are reminded that what will happen next is what God wants to happen next. We have the words of the prophet Isaiah before us this morning where he tells them and he reminds us in the text: "Be strong, do not fear.” He re-echoes the words of the psalm writers, the other prophets, and the psalm writer who declares: The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The LORD is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies"(PSALM 118:6,7) No matter the terrifying, horrible headlines, you and I realize that as the Lord says ‘be strong, do not fear’, we can do just that. We use those words of Isaiah as our theme this morning:
BE STRONG, DO NOT FEAR
I. Divine deliverance
II. Refreshing renewal
I. Divine deliverance
We find in these first thirty-four chapters of Isaiah that Isaiah has to come with the bad news to the children of Israel. He reminds them because of their actions of unbelief and disobedience, the Lord would punish them. Their enemies would rise up and take them captive. Their enemies would rise up and defeat them time and time again. In chapter thirty-five it’s almost a breath of fresh air to hear the promises that God also makes. Isaiah is able to tell them, ‘Yes, even though all these things are going to happen, even though you will face God’s righteous wrath, God will also provide for you.’ He would strengthen the feeble hands and steady the weak knees (in verse 3). Verse four goes on to say: “Say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear.” Certainly as they heard about the announcement of God’s punishment, the announcement of God’s judgement, they were scared. The Lord reminded them that His judgment was for their good because they would learn to put their trust and confidence in God once again. They would learn that God is righteous and just in all that He says and all that He does.
He says then, there’s nothing to be afraid of; be strong. Their enemies would not defeat them utterly. Their enemies would only be much like a thorn in the flesh. We have the promise of God in Isaiah. He says: "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come.” He would deliver them eventually. He would deliver them from the hands of their enemies. He would deliver them eventually from all of their enemies. He says: "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution…” Yes, he would come to pay back the enemies who afflicted the children of Israel. He would come to pay back the enemies who stood opposed to God’s people. Those who stood opposed to God’s people would also stand opposed to God. We know that no enemies can stand opposed to God. He described himself as coming with retribution, coming with vengeance. Yes, He would avenge all the wrong that was done to God’s people, all the wrong done in the world. Isaiah concludes by saying: “with divine retribution he will come to save you." That was the ultimate purpose of God’s plan—divine deliverance of God’s people.
Our Lord speaks very strongly this morning. Sometimes we don’t think of Him as a God who is filled with vengeance and retribution, who wants to get even. It’s not that God wants to get even. It’s that God shows His power over His enemies. As God shows His power over His enemies, He shows His power over our enemies. Sometimes that means there is vengeance, there is retribution. We look at Satan. Satan tempted Adam and Eve to sin in this world and ruined God’s perfection. Did Satan win? Is he more powerful than God is? Certainly not! God showed His vengeance, His retribution against Satan, by showing His divine deliverance to you and I as believers. Listen to this from Hebrews: "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil"(HEBREWS 2:14). Here is Satan who destroyed God’s perfection with sin. He is now destroyed because God’s Son destroyed his power.