Israel in the time of Isaiah—just like today—was a tiny nation surrounded by enemies sworn to her destruction. Assyria, the 900 pound gorilla of that day, was advancing towards them, and every nation that had stood in their way was torn apart like wet cardboard. The most obvious strategy in a time like this was to make alliances with whomever you could find. Egypt looked like a good candidate. They were militarily strong, and if Israel allied with them, then they just might survive this.
Please don’t misunderstand the point here. It’s not necessarily wrong to make alliances. But God had specifically told them not to go back to Egypt for anything. Once upon a time, Egypt had been a refuge for God’s people (in the days of Joseph). To go back there was a step backwards, not forwards.
But people wanted security, and Egypt was one of the most powerful nations on the planet. Egypt they could see and touch. Egypt had chariots and horses and armies and weapons and a history of military victories. And they seemed to be willing to be allies.
Another thing that people could see? The Assyrians. They also had horses and chariots and armies and a history of military victories. And they were coming.
In stark contrast, they couldn’t see God. Sure, they might've heard stories about him, but they certainly couldn’t see him right now. He wasn’t visible. He seemed to be silent.
Is that how it feels for you today? The bills are real enough. The threat of losing your job is all too real. But God doesn’t seem to be.
Here’s the message of the prophet: He is real, and you need to trust in him and fear him. In case you missed it when I talked about it before, when I talk about “fearing” God, I don’t mean it in the sense of “being afraid of him.” It’s reverence mixed with an awe mixed with a desire to please him and know him.
Notice that we aren’t either to fear men (either be afraid or in the biblical sense), and we aren’t to entirely put our trust in them either. They can neither send you to Hell nor deliver you to Heaven. The Lord can do either one.
But what about the fact that I can’t see him or hear his voice? Well, that’s where faith comes in. You either believe that he’s real or he’s not. You’ve undoubtedly seen evidence of him at work in your life, right? You’ve seen how his word is proven right time and time and time again, correct? You’ve seen in peoples’ lives what happens when they don’t stick to God’s plan, right?
So act on that faith. Do what God tells you to do, even if it sounds crazy at times. Don’t give in to the fear that people have around you. They’re afraid of what the Stock Market is going to do tomorrow. They’re afraid of who’s going to be sacked in the next round of lay-offs. They’re trusting in their own sound judgment to bring them through this next financial crisis. And just like the people of old, their idols are going to fail them in the end. Don’t be like them. "Do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it."
You’re going to fear something. It’s either going to be what the crowd fears, or it’s going to be fear and trust in the Lord God Almighty. Which will it be?
Father, I’m going to trust in you and fear you. That means that ultimately I trust in no one but you. I’m making that commitment, and I’m trusting you to help me keep it.