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July 23 Today’s Reading: Isaiah 39-41
The purpose and object of God in the last chapters of Isaiah is to silence the fears of his people and encourage us to confidently trust him in the teeth of trouble and adversity. It is contrary to the will and glory of our God for his people to be a timid, fearful, anxious people. In order to suppress our fears the Lord God graciously assures us of his constant presence, power, and provision.
Cease from Fear
How many times our great and gracious God says to our poor, trembling hearts, “fear not.” How dishonoring to him it is for his people to be fearful! Our doubting, fearful hearts dishonor our God and Savior. O Holy Spirit, give me grace to trust my God in all things and cease from fear!
Child of God, join me in that prayer. O my brother, O my sister, O my soul, cease from fear and believe God! Though your enemies are many and mighty, “fear not.” God is greater than your enemies. Though your afflictions are painful and protracted, “fear not.” The Lord will deliver you. Though your path of duty is demanding and dangerous, “fear not.” Your God will uphold you and help you. Though the fulfilment of God’s promises cannot be seen, “fear not.” Not one promise of God shall fall to the ground.
Anticipating all the fears that we would encounter in this world, the Lord our God here gives us five great promises, by which he says to every believer faced with danger and trouble, “Fear not...be not dismayed.”
(1.) “I am with thee!” — Were we left to ourselves to face our enemies (the world, the flesh, and the devil), we might well fear; but God says to our trembling souls, “I am with thee.” Shall we not take refuge in him and be comforted? Take time to read Psalm 46:1-3, 5-8, 10-11.
(2.) “I am thy God!” — The Almighty, triune Jehovah is ours, as truly ours as we are his! If God is my property, who or what shall I fear? A stranger might see a person injured and pass by indifferently. But a husband cannot be indifferent to the pains of his wife. A father cannot be indifferent to the troubles of his child. And our God is never indifferent to the troubles of his children (Zephaniah 2:8; 2 Chronicles 16:9).
(3.) “I will strengthen thee!” — We are told that the Lord will “put strength into his people” (Psalm 29:11). He will strengthen you with might in the inward man. Can he be in danger whose hands are made strong “by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob”? Your God will strengthen you to bear your troubles (2 Corinthians 12:5-9), endure temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), and do his will (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
(4.) “Yea, I will help thee!” — He “helpeth our infirmities” (Romans 8:26). That means when our burden is so heavy and cumbersome that we cannot with all our exertions support it, our God will take hold of it at the opposite end and bear it together with us. In other words, to imagine that any burden is too great for us to bear is to say that it is too great for God to bear! “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” No! And nothing is too hard for those to whom God says, “I will help thee.”
(5.) “Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness!” — What more can we want? The eternal God is our Refuge! Beneath you are the everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27-29; Isaiah 51:12-13). If God be for us, not all the powers of earth and hell combined can, with any effect, exert themselves against us (Romans 8:31-39). With such a God and Savior as we have in Christ Jesus, we have every reason to be comforted and fearless, even in the face of great trouble and in the midst of great enemies. Our safety is our God! — “Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel!”