Isaiah 51:12-13 (ESV)
“I, I am he who comforts you;
of the son of man who is made like grass,
and have forgotten the LORD, your Maker,
who stretched out the heavens
and laid the foundations of the earth,
and you fear continually all the day
because of the wrath of the oppressor,
when he sets himself to destroy?
And where is the wrath of the oppressor?
In this chapter God reminds his people of who they are and who he is. They are the descendants of Abraham, a man called and blessed by God for no other reason than that God chose him. He is the God who calls and blesses according to his own will (see verse 2). He is the God who “laid the foundations of the earth” (Is 51:13). He is the God who offers salvation that outlives creation itself (see verse 6). This is who God is and who they are. Why then do they fear?
“Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies” (Is 51:12). We live in a world engulfed in fear. We are afraid of those who are different than us. We are afraid of those who believe differently than we do. We are afraid of change. We are afraid there will be no change. We are afraid of our neighbors. We are afraid of what our friends will think. And so God says to us, “Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies” (Is 51:12).
Take a look at your practices, private thoughts, attitudes, and decisions. How many of them are based on fear? Experience has shown that most policies adapted by churches are policies driven by fear. When churches look for new leadership they almost always spend more time looking for someone who does not have the same weaknesses as previous pastors/leaders rather than watching and listening to the Spirit and looking to the future God has for them. They are victims of fear. We spend more time and effort trying to argue against past issues and avoiding past mistakes then in looking toward God’s intended purpose for us. As believers, we have been chosen in Christ, loved, forgiven, accepted, empowered, and given eternal life. Why then so much fear?
Rather than looking at the giant, David looked at the past faithfulness of God. God’s faithfulness gave him courage to face Goliath rather than giving in to the fear that paralyzed the rest of the army (see the story of David and Goliath in 1Samuel 17). That is exactly what God is calling his people to do in this chapter of Isaiah. God tells them to look to their past (vs 2), pay attention to who God is (vs 4), be reminded that this earth will perish but that God is eternal (vs 6), and listen to God rather than looking at sources of fear (vs 7). Why are you so afraid?