For this is what the Lord said to me with great power, to keep me from going the way of this people: Do not call everything an alliance these people say is an alliance. Do not fear what they fear; do not be terrified. You are to regard only the LORD of Hosts as holy. Only He should be feared; only He should be held in awe.
It is always essential to at least try to understand the context of a verse of the Bible before blithely applying it in any which way. However even when some verses have a very clear primary historical context, it is often still reasonable to apply some if not all of the concepts in a contemporary way as well. Many Biblical principles are introduced to us through historical narrative, and the fact that they are being applied to a specific situation does not mean that they are not generally applicable as well. So what have we got in these three verses that I read in Isaiah this morning?
We have God talking to His prophet Isaiah about how he should deal with what he sees happening to the people all around him. The Israelite people of the Kingdom of Judah are afraid they are going to get severely thumped by the allied armies of Israel and Syria, and their King Ahaz is stubbornly trusting in his own alliance with the Assyrians to protect them rather than trusting in God. So God tells His faithful prophet Isaiah to keep trusting in God’s wisdom rather than blindly follow the direction that the rest of the people are taking.
The first thing that struck me is that God spoke to Isaiah withe great power. Basically, whenever God whispers – we should listen with all our might. What, then, ought we do when God jumps up and down and roars at us? As a Christian, I know that God is right and that (in comparison) everyone else around me is wrong. I know that – but I still often listen to others more than I listen to God! I must be crazy.
As I look around this country I live in, I see turmoil everywhere. Regardless of political or religious belief, it seems that nearly everyone is looking to a Barack Obama or a Ron Paul or a Rick Warren or a Joel ‘Oprah’ Osteen to tell them what is going on and what to do about it. Christian or not, it sadly seems as if we are all placing our hope in the wisdom of certain leaders within our society. Perhaps Christians think that they are trusting God through certain political or church elite. They have faith that the person they have faith in has faith in God.
Well it’s time for us to cut out the middle (wo)man and return to a direct, abiding, personal faith in God Himself. Great and terrible things are going to be happening closer and closer to home here in America. The world at large is reeling from shock after shock, and America is slowly waking up to the fact that these things that are happening MEAN something. 9/11 was devastating, but compared to the natural disasters that are steadily increasing in impact and strength the loss of life it caused was minimal. The Middle East is in even more upheaval than usual, and don’t expect that to settle down anytime soon. One world leader says one thing, and another says another. Some start agreeing with each other for a while, and we all get excited that problems are going to be solved and the stock markets will continue climbing. And then another brick gets thrown through our worldview window, and we get all scared again.
Stop it. If we are Christians, we need to start thinking, speaking and behaving like Christ. Do not fear what the world fears. Pay no attention to who is allied with who. Do not tremble at what is happening. Gaze at God, and His awesome holiness will fill you with worthwhile fear. And when we Christians start to give God the respect, attention and awe that He deserves and demands, we will suddenly find that we have peace within, even as the world falls apart without.