“Being Confident in Fear”
Threats are continually present but God’s power is sufficient to save.
Peace Comes from God
Strength Comes from God
Hope Comes from God
Peace Comes from God
Isaiah 36:13-20, NKJV
Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out with a loud voice in Hebrew, and said, “Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you; nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, “The Lord will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” ’ Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make peace with me by a present and come out to me; and every one of you eat from his own vine and every one from his own fig tree, and every one of you drink the waters of his own cistern; until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards. Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Indeed, have they delivered Samaria from my hand? Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’ ”
The Rabshakeh was one of the field commanders in the Assyrian army. It was his duty to get the people of Judah to surrender to the Assyrian army rather than get involved in a long, expensive siege of the city of Jerusalem. Diplomacy is always preferred since it is quicker, bloodless, and convinces other enemies to refrain from resisting their conquest of their lands. The Rabshakeh also spoke in Hebrew which all the people would have understood to prevent the leadership from diminishing the seriousness of his threats he was about to make to all who would be able to hear him.
This tactic is used by lawyers each day in dealing with their clients who are paying them to stand in their place to get a favorable ruling for them. Satan uses these same tactics on God’s people. Threats and force is often used to manipulate God’s people to stop them from resisting sin and giving a proper testimony to those who are lost and dying in their sins.
The first example of this technique is recorded in Genesis 3:1-7 when Satan cast doubt in the hearts of Adam and Eve concerning what God had commanded about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Rabshakeh was placing doubt into the hearts and minds of the people as well as the leadership with his proud and boastful words about Assyria’s conquests prior to coming before the gates of Jerusalem. The people of whom the Rabshakeh was speaking of were stronger and larger than Israel at the time. Their fall militarily was merely a matter of time in everyone’s eyes against the brutality of the Assyrians.
There has always been opposition to the people of God. Jesus promised that opposition would be ongoing and the Apostle Paul reminds those who wish to live a Godly life will be persecuted (John 15:18-16:4; 2 Timothy 3:12). There are times that persecution comes into the life of God’s people due to sin that has to be repented of which is allowed to exist unchallenged in the heart of God’s child (Isaiah 5:1-7). At other times persecution is the result of following God which sheds light upon the sin of someone around God’s child which causes that person to lash out in anger against God’s people (John 8:42-47). Still other times persecution is the result of God calling His child to be a witness to His mercy and grace through the strength and peace of the child of God going through the persecution (Acts 16:25-34).
The threats and persecutions will be part of the life of God’s people, but the fear and anxiety that normally comes with these things must be nothing more than a fleeting feeling. Jesus has promised His peace would be given to those who follow Him (John 14:27). This peace is what the disciples experienced continually after the day of Pentecost when God poured out His Spirit upon all who trust in His name as the Prophet Joel had proclaimed centuries before Christ came into the world (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:1-4). Between Jesus’ resurrection and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon them, they struggled with fear and anxiety. They shut themselves behind closed doors for fear of the Jews (Matthew 28:16-17; John 20:19).
Once they received the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ in their lives, His perfect love had driven out all fear except the fear of the Lord which must be present in all God’s people (Proverbs 9:10; Luke 12:4-5; 1 John 4:18). The apostles rejoiced in the realization that they suffered along with Christ as He did for the revealing of God’s glory (Acts 5:40-41; 1 Peter 4:12-13). The body of Christ has the Spirit of God residing in them as well as the promises of God which is twice as much as those in Jerusalem had who heard the arrogant threats of the Rabshakeh.
This Assyrian officer made it sound like there was nothing to be done. He had peace in his strength the strength of His army who he led. The gods of the other nations which he proclaimed to have defeated would have been impossible without the Lord having chosen to use Assyria as His tool to discipline the northern tribes of Israel (Isaiah 10:5-19). There is only one God and there is no other god like the God who created all things (Deuteronomy 4:35; 1 Samuel 2:2; Psalm 86:10; Matthew 4:10). The people had peace that the promises of God were true and faithful. This allowed them to have confidence even though they felt fear at the words cried out by the Rabshakeh.
The murderous threats and lies which are spewed out from the enemies of God are vain attempts to make those who know the truth about God to doubt what the Lord has said. The enemies of God continually try to make people depend upon themselves rather than God; they try to bring glory to themselves rather than humbly submitting to the Lord in all things; they seek to divert worship of God to the worship of other things. The enemy of God repeats these same things in various ways to destroy those who love God and trust in Him alone.
Adam and Eve fell prey to His lies, but Christ saw right through them with the peace of God which comes from fully relying on God the Father rather than self. Christ has given us His peace, by giving all who believe upon His name His Spirit to live within them, so they too could have access to the same power He did to resist the temptations of the devil and his legions of followers. They are desperate, angry, and doomed to eternal damnation. They are a defeated foe who has not laid down the fight even though the victory has been won in Christ Jesus.
Therefore, it is essential that the people of God rest in His peace and draw their strength from Him. Satan may be doomed, but he is still a very powerful and deadly foe that can only be overcome as people submit themselves to God so they have the strength to resist the devil which will cause him to flee.
Strength Comes from God
Isaiah 36:21-37:4, NKJV
But they held their peace and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, “Do not answer him.” Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.
And so it was, when King Hezekiah heard it, that he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. Then he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz. And they said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah: ‘This day is a day of trouble and rebuke and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth. It may be that the Lord your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the Lord your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.’ ”
Strength must have a source. Like wisdom and knowledge, strength too is found in something that is greater than self if it is to be of any help at all. Being strong in oneself is to be only as strong as the weakest part of who a person is in themselves. A chain is as only as strong as the weakest link that makes up the chains. When the weakest link in the chain fails and breaks, the entire chain fails. Therefore, strength is never determined by power or purity of the strongest part since its integrity is damaged by the things that is in the weakest object or chain.
The world acknowledges that weakness will bring the mightiest of people down. In Greek mythology, Achilles' heel is a perfect example of this. His strength and ability on the battle field far exceeds any who challenged him. He seemed invincible until a poisoned arrow hit him in his heel and brought an end to him.
The enemy of God wastes no time with fighting God’s people in areas where they are strong, but patiently seeks out the weakness of each person and attacks them there continually. This can only be combated by acknowledging weakness and looking to God to provide the therapy that will fortify even those areas of His child’s spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical life. The armor of God provides protection to the people of God throughout their lives since there is never a time when a person will ever be strong enough to stand in their strength against the enemy of God and of their souls.
Jesus illustrated through His ministry here upon the earth what it means to live in total dependence upon the Spirit of God residing within the people of God. Jesus revealed this when He proclaimed He did nothing on His own but only what He was directed to do by the Father (John 5:19, 8:38, 12:49). Reliance on the Spirit of God is essential since there is no weakness in God for He alone is all-powerful (Isaiah 45:5-7; Jeremiah 32:17; Revelation 18:6). God is the only source of strength that has no weakness. His ways and laws are perfect, but mankind is weak and unfaithful which caused the first covenant to become obsolete and to be replaced by the blood of Christ who fulfilled the law of God perfectly in Himself (Hebrews 8:7-9:28).
The flaw of the first covenant was in mankind’s inability to keep the law of God perfectly. The success of the second covenant was in Christ’s ability to fulfill the law of God without failure. The sinless life of Jesus was proof that He was indeed God in flesh. His sacrifice being accepted by the Father as payment for the sins of all mankind is proof that Jesus was completely human as everyone else.
The life of Christ is the standard of what it means to be perfect before the God who created all things. Those who trust in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins have been washed in His blood and are justified before the Father as if they too are blameless and perfect in His sight, acceptable to be adopted as His child. It is for this reason that Jesus is the only means that a person is justified and can receive salvation from the wrath of God since Jesus alone has satisfied the wrath of God with His atoning death (Romans 5:6-6:14).
Strength that is drawn from any source other than God is lacking the ability to sustain and help the one who draws from it to overcome and be victorious. The enemy misunderstood Jesus’ death on the cross as defeat, when in reality it was the crushing blow to the power of sin, death, and the grave which ruled over mankind until Jesus overpowered and destroyed these things in His death and resurrection. Now, eternal life with God in His kingdom is possible once again through the reconciliation which Christ provided to all who will surrender to Him and draw from His strength day by day.
The people of Jerusalem heard the words of the Rabshakeh and refrained from replying to any of his words. King Hezekiah had commanded them to give no answer to anything which they heard. Responding to the one who is attempting to cloud issues with vain arguments and feed into a person doubt and fear will be more successful with dialogue. The Rabshakeh was never going to be turned aside by anything the leaders or people would have had to say. Rather than throw wisdom and truth to those who would merely twist it and refuse it, the people listened instead to their king and remained silent before the Rabshakeh.
The king sought out God’s help and strength by turning to the Prophet Isaiah who represented the Lord before the people. Since Christ is now High Priest in the heavens, there is no need to run to a mere human, but the way has been made for each child of God to enter into the presence of the Father and share their praises, confessions, and burdens with Him personally. Jesus said He would not mediate the prayers of His followers but they would go directly to the Father having been redeemed by His sacrifice (John 16:26; Hebrews 7:25-28). The intercession Christ supplies is in His identification of them as having their sins forgiven by His sacrifice, but each child of God speaks directly to the Father as Christ did and does since they have been made one in Him as He is one with the Father (John 17:20-23).
It is only when people come to the understanding that their strength is not sufficient to help them and carry them through that they will seek the strength of another. When all else fails, is often the moment even the most resistant to God will turn to Him. Unfortunately, there are many who will stubbornly refuse the strength of God in their lives because they simply cannot bring themselves to the authority of God over them (Genesis 4:3-7, 6:5-12; Numbers 14:1-10; Revelation 6:12-17).
The confidence God’s people need to have in these times where fear should be overtaking them is possible with the peace and strength that comes from God. This confidence is certainly not arrogance but the evidence of the hope they have in the promises of God which are eternal and faithful just like the One who made them.
Hope Comes from God
Isaiah 37:5-7, NKJV
So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah. And Isaiah said to them, “Thus you shall say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.” ’ ”
“Do not be afraid of the words you have heard...” is something that God’s people need to be reminded of daily then and now. Hopelessness of the future has gripped people to the point that they are doing anything to escape reality. Drugs and alcohol force a person to forget the present reality. Entertainment, virtual reality games, and social media allow people to create reality as they desire it rather than accepting and dealing with their present circumstances. Fear, worry, and doubt paralyze people from engaging in life with all its difficulties and struggles. When people cannot escape reality any longer and hopelessness overwhelms them many take matters into their own hands and choose to end their lives.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention one hundred and twenty-three people choose to end their lives each day in America with men being approximately three and a half times more often taking their life more than women (https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/). God created life and all life belongs to Him. Taking one’s own life is the greatest act of violence against the image of God which all people were created to reflect. People still bear the image of God even though sin has marred the perfection that once existed in mankind.
Hopelessness is most likely the underlying cause of desperate acts like the taking of life. The loss of hope is truly detrimental to life. Hope is one of the greatest advocates for life when it is present in the worst of circumstances that people have encountered and dealt with throughout the centuries. Hope, like peace and strength, are only found abundantly in the God of all creation since He is sufficient in all these things and lacking in nothing. Hope which God gives is different than hope that is derived from other sources because it is based upon truth and the character of God. The Lord tells Hezekiah’s messengers to not be afraid, but also explains why he should not fear.
God explains how He is going to remove the threat but also bring an end to the king of Assyria. The rumor God placed in the king’s heart would cause him to turn attention to his own land and forget about the conquest of Jerusalem and the region of Judah. Hezekiah was given reason to hope because it was grounded in the promises of God rather than the wishes and imagination of mankind.
The hope which the followers of Christ have is in the evidence of things that are not seen (Hebrews 11:1). What is this evidence and why is it not seen? Apostle Paul explains in his letter to the Roman believers that, “...hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Romans 8:24. NKJV). The presence of the Spirit of God in His people is the guarantee of the hope of salvation which is unseen by physical sight, but is evidenced in the changes He brings about in the life of the one He indwells within (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8).
The writer of Hebrews was inspired to reveal that, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever...” (Hebrews 6:19-20, NKJV). The peace and strength to remain calm and trusting the Lord in the worst of circumstances is evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and assurance of the salvation that is obtained through faith in Christ. These are not things that can be seen with physical sight but is no less a reality. There is an expectation of what is about to come when the people of God are revealed at the second coming of Christ which provides the strength needed to endure present hardships as bearable (Romans 8:18).
Those who place their faith and hope in Christ do not do so in vain, but they are given evidence of the truth in which they have believed through the changes in their character, perspective, and lifestyle which reflects the image of God more than the selfish, self-centered, hopelessness of those who are dying in their sins. No threat will be able to shake the person who looks to Christ in the power of His Spirit dwelling within them.
The Rabshakeh attempted to fill all those who heard him with fear, doubt, and defeat. His attempts were brought to nothing because the people had chosen to look to and trust in God rather than themselves and their own understanding. It is only when a person turns in submission to God that they will overcome or be able to endure anything that comes into their life.
God is working in the world in a way that people will never be able to fathom. The Lord had begun the rumors and the word was already spreading which would reach the king of Assyria’s ears and enter into his heart. It also did not hurt that the Lord sent His angel in to the Assyrian camp to kill one hundred eighty-five thousand of their troops. (Isaiah 37:36-37). God is moving people to come to Him long before they realize their need. He has been working on things ahead to bring what is needed in the exact measure and in the perfect time.
The confidence that is had by those who trust in the Lord reveals their trust in Him rather than themselves. It is relying on His provisions rather than personal resources. God has never asked people to have blind faith or unproven trust in His promises or in His character. The Lord has demonstrated His faithfulness, righteousness, and trustworthiness from the beginning. God is faithful to His promises of blessing in obedience to Him and in discipline and destruction in disobedience to His commandments (Deuteronomy 28:1-68). God did to His people exactly what He promised without fail.
Therefore, God’s promises and faithfulness are given evidence of when the people of God stand firm in Him confidently in the midst of fear. This is possible as those who trust in the Lord for their salvation draw from His endless resources of peace, strength, and hope which never disappoints. The Lord put it best by inspiring Apostle Paul to write, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5, NKJV). Amen!