12“I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid Of a man who will die, And of the son of a man who will be made like grass? 13And you forget the Lord your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens And laid the foundations of the earth; You have feared continually every day Because of the fury of the oppressor, When he has prepared to destroy. And where is the fury of the oppressor?
Jesus warns in Revelation 20 that “the cowardly” will not inherit the kingdom of God but will instead be cast into the lake that burns with fire. As we meditated on His warning, we said that cowardice is shown whenever we turn away from a good purpose in the face of opposition because of fear. And we have begun to explore the different types of fear that make us cowardly. Last week we examined the fear of death; this week, the fear of man.
In Isaiah’s day there was much to fear. All Judah had been overrun by the Assyrians and the city of Jerusalem had only been delivered when God sent an angel and slew 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. While the Assyrians had now departed, the country was still suffering. Judah was weak, exposed to the competing influences of Egypt in the south and Babylon to the north. There was much to fear.
In our day there is much to fear as well. Eroding trust. Government overreach. New variants of Covid. Loss of employment. Inflation. Political turmoil. The rise of China. The corruption of the Church. The criticism of friends and family. The advancement of the LGBTQ agenda. The erosion of our historic liberties. The breakdown of the family. There is much to fear.
But in our text today, God reminded our fathers and reminds us that when there is much to fear from men we are to saturate ourselves with the fear of God. We are to meditate on the goodness and greatness of God. First, we are to meditate on His goodness. The Lord says through Isaiah, “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid Of a man who will die, And of the son of a man who will be made like grass?” The Lord is our Comforter and our Redeemer. In Christ, He has delivered us from our sin, reconciled us to Himself, and granted us access into His very presence through the blood of Jesus. At any and all times we have access to Him who loved us and gave His Son to die for us and who will, with Jesus, freely give us all things. So why are we afraid of a man who will die, and a son of men who will wither like grass?
Second, when we are tempted to fear man, we are to mediate on the greatness of God. “Who are you that you should be afraid Of a man who will die…? 13And you forget the Lord your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens And laid the foundations of the earth?” The power of man is as nothing compared with the power of God. God is the Creator and Sustainer of all. And since we are in the hands of Almighty God, need we be afraid of a man who will die? Does He fear the plots and schemes and actions of the wicked? No! Therefore, we need not fear.
The way to fight the fear of man, therefore, is by feeding our souls on the greatness and the goodness of God. God is great – His power is beyond anything that any man can do to us. And God is good – He promises to work all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Hence, we need not fear man. Jesus reminded the disciples:
28And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
So what of you? Have you feared man? Have you neglected to meditate on the greatness and goodness of God? I have. So reminded of the greatness and the goodness of our God and of our calling to shun the fear of man, let us confess our fear to the Lord. And as you are able, let us kneel before the Lord as we confess. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.