This study continues on from our previous lesson where we compared two verses from Isaiah. First the Lord says, "Do not fear their threats or be in dread."(Isaiah 8:12),Then he says, "The Lord of hosts shall be your fear"(Isaiah 8:13),
2 Second study
Our second study begins with another of those lovely passages of encouragement. "Do not fear for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with my righteous hand."(Isaiah 41:10,14).
The coming flood and fire of invasion and captivity will be a fearful thing, but God’s people are not to fear. God has called and redeemed them and they will survive. "When you pass through the waters I will be with you... when you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched."(Isaiah 43:1-2). This promise echoes the words from king David’s song, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me."(Psalm 23:4).
In telling the people, "Do not fear", the Lord invites them to consider the nature of their God. "I am the first and I am the last. There is no God besides me. Who is like me? ...Is there any God besides me? Is there any other Rock? I know of none!"(Isaiah 44:1-8). Note incidentally that Jesus described himself as "the first and the last" thus claiming to be God (Revelation 1:17, 22:13).
The one who is afflicted and who is plunged into darkness need have no fear so long as he fears the Lord and trusts in him. (Isaiah 50:6-10). This passage has a special application to the suffering of Christ, and a general application to all disciples of the Lord.
Again Isaiah encourages the people, "Do not fear the reproach of man, neither be afraid at their revilings." He goes on to compare man who dies like the grass with God who is eternal. If we trust in God, we need not "fear continually all day long because of the fury of the opressor." Isaiah assures us that "the one in chains shall be set free"(Isaiah 51:7,12-16).
One effect of opression and tribulation is that the victim is humiliated. Isaiah encourages the people in that regard. "Fear not... neither feel humiliated... you will forget the shame."(Isaiah 54:4,14).
A right relationship with God depends on fearing and trusting him. This the leaders of Israel did not do, but Isaiah looks forward to God sending his Son so that people "will fear the name of the Lord from the west and his glory from the rising of the sun"(Isaiah 57:11,Isaiah 59:16-21).
The final chapters of Isaiah confront us with an awful truth. If we go on resisting God’s Holy Spirit and straying into sin, God will harden us and alienate us with his righteousness. Instead of being our redeemer, he will become our enemy and adversary, a consuming fire (Isaiah 63:7-19,Isaiah 66:4,14-16). The Hebrew writer draws on these passages when he puts the fear of God into us by his strong warnings (Hebrews 10:23-31).