Summary: There is the way of the remnant. Characterized by fear of God, looking to him for refuge, valuing his Word, putting trust in his Redeemer.
Isaiah 8:11-22 The Rock
1/28/01e D. Marion Clark
11 The LORD spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. He said:
Isaiah impresses upon us the urgency or intensity by which he received the following message. What he is about to say is not the result of quiet reflection. God has given him direct command that separates him from the rebellious society of both Israel and Judah.
He first gives a negative command.
12 “Do not call conspiracy
everything that these people call conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
and do not dread it.
Ahaz and his counselors might fear conspiracy, both inner and outside the kingdom. The king is always concerned about false friends in his court, as many of David’s psalms will testify. He fears the conspiracy of Israel and Damascus. He fears, in other words, the power of man against him.
The positive command.
13 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,
Ahaz and his countrymen ought to be fearing Yahweh, their God. They are to fear him in the context of his holiness. In other words, they are not to fear God because he is big and bad, but because he is the sovereign, holy God. It is not how tough he is that makes us tremble as much as his holiness.
That is what Isaiah feared. In his vision, after the seraphim cried out Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, he cried out, Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.
That is an aspect of God that Ahaz and most of the nation failed to recognize, even though that is the aspect that the Levitical laws intended to make pre-eminent.
That is a good lesson for us today, both nonChristian and Christian. Both tend to boil God down to the one character trait of love. Fear God?
The nonChristian does not fear him because he knows that God is really a nice guy that accepts everyone. Why, he would like to become more spiritual and get more in tune with this loving God. The only difference with the Christian is that he thinks he has already gotten in with God, who is now his kind Father and Jesus his good brother. The problem for the nonChristian is that he is oblivious to the judgment that God has against him. The problem for the Christian is that he has tamed God to be a benign figure who simply does his best to make us feel nice.
God is love and he does desire to give us joy. But God is also holy. We may have peace in God and trust him, but God is never presented as the kindly old man who just wants to be nice. He is the Sovereign Ruler over creation and in his inner being is found holiness – the one who is pure, perfect, set apart from all of creation. And it is right and good for we, his people, to have a holy and loving fear of him.
Jesus, as always, says it best. I am going to read a long passage that conveys well to Christian and nonChristian alike about how we are to both fear and trust God.
4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows…
22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.