What Is One Good Reason Why God’s People Do Not Have to Fear?
BY MAX FERNANDEZ
Notice what Isaiah 41:10 says: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
As we look at this passage, it is important to try to understand what the historical background is. It would appear, based on the passage, that Judah is under attack from a nation just north of them. In response to this, the opening paragraph has a couple of rhetorical questions to remind the nations that he is the one who is in control (Isa. 41:1-5).
Then, within the paragraph of our text, there are three reasons given why Judah (God’s people) do not need to fear. Two of these reasons are found in our key verse of Isaiah 41:10: (1) the presence of God (2) the help of God. Though we might agree that we know or understand these two reasons, how would we explain them? What is the point? It is certain that God’s people do not have to fear because of his presence and his help. But what does this really mean, and how do I make sure I have this kind of help?
I think that when we read a verse like Isaiah 41:10, we might automatically assume that we are God’s people and that we have his presence…but only those who have God’s presence have cause for no fear, which means that we have to ask, “Who really has God’s presence?”
Clearly, the opposing nations here did not have God’s presence, so we have to ask what was it that made Judah, God’s people, have the presence of God?
The Chosen, Covenant-Servant
The answer is found in the opening of the paragraph in Isaiah 41:8-9.
“But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.”
The writer uses very intentional language. It is covenant language. The Lord says:
- You are my servant
- You are chosen
- You are the seed of Abraham (my friend)
What does this mean, and what is the significance of it?
God Is Gracious
First, it means that these people have the presence of God because God had a covenant with Abraham through whom God would produce offspring and make a great nation. Abraham was chosen of God.
What this means is that Israel has the presence of God because of the grace of God. It was not that Israel earned God’s presence or that they deserved it. They had the presence of God as the people of God by the grace of God. Simply, God was good to them.
God Is in Covenant
Second, God’s presence was with them because they were the “seed” of Abraham. This language is important because it not only connects the nation of Israel to the past, but it also connects them to the future. God had covenanted with Abraham many years before this Isaianic account. The Abrahamic covenant was that the LORD would give to Abraham a son in his old age. This promised son was the “seed” of Abraham. The nation of Judah was connected to the past because of covenant, and they were connected to the future because of covenant.
Presently I am in covenant with my wife, and the token of that covenant is my ring. The ring connects me to the past ceremony–the words of the covenant, but it also reminds me of my enduring future responsibility and commitment. In like manner, the covenant “seed” of Abraham also connects the nation of Judah to the future. Over 700 years later, the Apostle Paul makes the explicit connection in the New Covenant book of Galatians 3:16–“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.”
What the New Testament writer Paul understood was that when God made the covenant with Abraham, God was going to preserve the nation of Israel until the actual “seed” or great-great…. etc. grandson of Abraham would be born. That “seed” who was born is Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ Is the Covenant Fulfiller
Thus, when we think about the presence of God, it is something that is given by the very grace of God; and it is something that finds fulfillment in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Two examples: when Jesus was born, they called his name Immanuel, meaning “God with us.” In John 1:14, the Bible says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Both of these passages confirm that Jesus is the very presence of God among mankind.
In Isaiah 41:10, the LORD is telling Judah that he would be with them, but more importantly the verse is pointing us to the greater fulfillment of the LORD being with us—that is the coming of Jesus Christ.
That still does not complete the story though because not everyone has the presence of God. Just as in the story of the nation of Judah, only those who are in covenant with the LORD can say they really have the presence of the LORD.
Just as in the story of the nation of Judah, only those who are in covenant with the LORD can say they really have the presence of the LORD.
So, Who Today Has the Presence of the LORD?
Only those who are in covenant with the LORD Jesus Christ have his presence. This means that there are some excluded from this wonderful promise.
An Implicit Desire
Listen carefully to the statement of a very religious man named Nicodemus in John 3:2–“The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” The statement of Nicodemus implies a question—“How can I have God with me?”
The answer to Nicodemus’ question is found in the rest of the John 3 passage. What you will find is that only those who believe that Jesus Christ died for their sins and believe on Jesus as Lord can be saved. Only those who are in covenant with Jesus can have the presence of God with them. Nicodemus’ implicit desire is answered through salvation in Jesus Christ alone.
The story of Nicodemus is intriguing because it reminds us that no amount of religious or moral activity can earn you the favor of God. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can atone for our sin. God’s presence, which wards off fear, is only real for those who have Jesus by faith and not by their own works.
The story of Nicodemus is intriguing because it reminds us that no amount of religious or moral activity can earn you the favor of God. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can atone for our sin.
In Christ, there really is no reason to fear. When someone believes on Jesus Christ, they do receive the very presence of Christ’s Spirit. What is the consequence of this? The result is that if you are truly saved and in covenant with God, then you truly have no reason to fear. He will never leave you nor forsake you.
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
Only those who have believed on Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior truly have the presence of God. He is either truly with you, or He is not. You either have cause to fear, or you have no cause to fear. Which one are you?
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