Summary: When adversity comes in like a flood, don't fear the flood; fear the Lord and keep His Word.
Alan Wright, in his book God Moments, talks about an old-time preacher who once experienced a bad, bumpy flight. So for the rest of his life, he hated airplanes. On one occasion, he sat down next to a calm passenger who noticed the preacher's nerves.
“Why are you afraid, Preacher?” the passenger asked him. “Doesn't that Bible of yours say God is with you always?”
“No, that's not exactly what the Bible says,” the minister responded. “The Bible says, ‘Lo, I am with you always.’” (Alan D. Wright, God Moments, Multnomah, 1999; www.PreachingToday.com)
Low or high, God is always with us, so we don’t have to be afraid. That’s the message of Christmas. Did you know that no less than four times, the Bible declares, “Do not be afraid,” when it tells the Christmas story? You find it in Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:13; Luke 1:30; and Luke 2:10.
We don’t have to be afraid, because Jesus has come! He is Immanuel, God with us, and God’s presence means our protection. It means our security. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Isaiah 8, Isaiah 8, where we see this played out in the little nation of Judah as she was being terrorized by foreign invaders 700 years before Christ.
Isaiah 8:1 Then the LORD said to me, “Take a large tablet [a billboard, if you will] and write on it in common characters, ‘Belonging to Maher-shalal-hash-baz.’ (ESV)
“Maher-shalal-hash-baz” – the name means “swift is the booty, speedy is the prey.” It was a battle cry that soldiers shouted to each other as they defeated and plundered their enemies.
Isaiah 8:2 And I will get reliable witnesses [God says], “Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah, to attest for me.” (ESV)
In other words, these men will faithfully declare my Word.
Isaiah 8:3 And I went to the prophetess [Isaiah approached his wife] and she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said to me, “Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz.” (ESV)
Poor kid. He was probably in the 8th grade before he learned how to spell his own name. Maher-shalal-hash-baz – Swift is the booty, speedy is the prey. Now why give the boy such a name?
Isaiah 8:4 …for before the boy knows how to cry ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria.” (ESV)
Before the boy is a year old, Judah’s enemies will be wiped out. The king of Assyria will carry them away.
In the context, Syria and Israel had formed an alliance against Judah. They were killing tens of thousands of men in Judah, capturing hundreds of thousands of women and children, and stripping Judah of its wealth.
However, God declares that a larger nation would come in and wipe Syria and Israel out, and that’s exactly what happened. Less than a year later, the king of Assyria sent his armies in to conquer Syria and Israel. They were “swift to the booty, speedy to the prey”, as they took away Syria and Israel’s wealth and people.