Don’t Be Afraid!
Lord, when I am afraid, I know that You are there.
Read Isaiah 41:1–20
“Be silent before me, you islands!
Let the nations renew their strength!
Let them come forward and speak;
let us meet together at the place of judgment.
2 “Who has stirred up one from the east,
calling him in righteousness to his service?
He hands nations over to him
and subdues kings before him.
He turns them to dust with his sword,
to windblown chaff with his bow.
3 He pursues them and moves on unscathed,
by a path his feet have not traveled before.
4 Who has done this and carried it through,
calling forth the generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord—with the first of them
and with the last—I am he.”
5 The islands have seen it and fear;
the ends of the earth tremble.
They approach and come forward;
6 they help each other
and say to their companions, “Be strong!”
7 The metalworker encourages the goldsmith,
and the one who smooths with the hammer
spurs on the one who strikes the anvil.
One says of the welding, “It is good.”
The other nails down the idol so it will not topple.
8 “But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
you descendants of Abraham my friend,
9 I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
11 “All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
12 Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
13 For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
14 Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob,
little Israel, do not fear,
for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
15 “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge,
new and sharp, with many teeth.
You will thresh the mountains and crush them,
and reduce the hills to chaff.
16 You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up,
and a gale will blow them away.
But you will rejoice in the Lord
and glory in the Holy One of Israel.
17 “The poor and needy search for water,
but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
18 I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
and the parched ground into springs.
19 I will put in the desert
the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
the fir and the cypress together,
20 so that people may see and know,
may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
that the Holy One of Israel has created it.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed, For I am thy God and will still give thee aid” (attributed to Robert Keen, 1787).
When we are children there is nothing more reassuring than a friendly adult taking our hand and saying, “Don’t be afraid, I’m with you.” As we grow up, though, we look more intensely at the person offering the protection. Can they really help us? Is their offer really of much use?
Israel in Isaiah’s day was beset with fear. The Assyrian threat was real, and the prophet has already warned them of the long-range enemy, Babylon
(Isa. 39:6). Addressing this situation God says three times, “Do not fear” (10,13,14). He issues this command repeatedly in later chapters, and it appears throughout God’s Word for us centuries later. Who is this God encouraging us in this way? He is not an idol that needs to be propped up (7;
cf. Isa. 40:18–20). Indeed, he is the unique, unchanging God (4). More amazingly, he has actually chosen us and entered into covenant with our
spiritual father Abraham, his friend (8,9; Gal. 3:29). He has promised not to cast us away (9), but instead will hold our hand in his (10,13). This God is the Redeemer (14), the One who rescued his people from Egypt and, more gloriously, has saved us from sin and death. He is not just the Holy One of Israel (14,16,17) but the Lord of the whole earth, who will raise up a deliverer from the east and the north to free his people (2,25).
Looking back, we know that God delivered, raising up Cyrus to do just that!For us, an even greater One than Cyrus has come—the One who says to us,
“Do not be afraid” (Rev.1:18). Knowing this, we can face today and its fears with great assurance!
How do Jesus’ words in Revelation 1:8 and 18 relate to verse 4? What does that tell us about Christ? How should that encourage us today?
Lord, Your faithfulness to Israel encourages me, for I know that You are as faithful to the members of Your Church.