Summary: In a time for fear, trust in the Lord and hope in His promise.
A woman in Arkansas was sitting in her car in a parking several years ago when she heard a loud bang and then felt a sharp pain in the back of her head. She was holding her hands behind her head when someone walked by and asked, “Are you OK?”
The woman answered, “I've been shot in the head, and I'm holding my brains in.”
Well, it wasn't her brains.
It was dough. A Pillsbury biscuit canister had exploded in the back seat, apparently from the heat, making a loud explosion and shooting the dough onto the back of the woman's head. (“Strange World,” Campus Life, Vol. 56, no. 2; www.PreachingToday.com)
Like that woman, a lot of people are running scared these days. They hear about explosions all over the world and worry that they too are going to be hit. Since the Paris attacks, the number one concern among American voters is national security. It trumps the economy and every other issue voters usually worry about. It’s the reason why Donald Trump has risen in the polls recently. His perceived ability to deal with the bullies of the world has made him a very likeable candidate right now.
So what does God have to say to a world running scared today? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Isaiah 7, Isaiah 7, where God speaks to a group of people shaking with fear like leaves on a tree.
Isaiah 7:1-2 In the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not yet mount an attack against it. When the house of David was told, “Syria is in league with Ephraim,” the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind. (ESV)
Two nations have come from the north to conquer Jerusalem, and they have surrounded the city. 2 Chronicles 28 describes the horrors of that siege: 120,000 men of Judah were slain in one day, including King Ahaz’ own son and other important leaders; 200,000 men, women and children were taken away captive, and the land was stripped of its wealth. The people of Judah were terrorized 700 years before Christ when Israel and Syria formed an alliance and attacked them.
And that’s the state of many people today in the early part of the 21st Century. Vladimir Putin is flexing his muscles, trying to revive the old Soviet Empire. ISIS strikes with impunity, not only in the Middle East, but now in the West, which is uncomfortably close. And an American president seems clueless and impotent to do anything about it. Add to that the concern many people have about their own finances, their own health, and their own families in such a world, and no wonder people are terrorized today.
Charlie Brown expressed it well when he said, “I have a new philosophy. I’m only going to dread one day at a time.” (James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, p.107).
I don’t know about you, but I’m tempted to feel like that at times. So what do we do about it? How do we overcome the fear and terror of our day? Well, listen to what God has to say.
Isaiah 7:3-4 And the LORD said to Isaiah, “Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field. And say to him, ‘Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah. (ESV)
God says don’t be afraid of your enemies, because they are but “smoldering stumps of firebrands.” In other words, they are like a couple of short sticks left over after a campfire. Oh, there might be a little smoke yet, but the fire is gone and soon they’ll be forgotten. The fact is, the two men leading the attack against Jerusalem died just a couple of years after this.
So what does God say to those of us feeling terrorized today? He says, don’t be afraid of your enemies, because they’re nothing. They’re here today and gone tomorrow.
Do you remember when the whole world was terrorized by the Krushchev, Brezhnev, and the Old Soviet Union? Do you remember when the whole world was terrorized by Saddam Hussein? Do you remember when the whole world was terrorized by Osama Ben Laden? What happened to all these men? They’re dead and gone! So don’t be afraid of your enemies, because they’re nothing; and their plans are nothing.