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“Fear the Lord, Not Man”

This week is the fourth of seven prophetic readings that contain the theme of “comfort” for Israel. The message however speaks to everyone who believes in the coming Kingdom of the Lord. In order to find comfort, one must develop an eternal perspective on life and realize that whatever takes place in this world is only temporary. One must also understand the futility of man compared to the Living God. The passage opens up with the Lord revealing Himself as the God Who comforts and that one should fear Him and not man. In other words, the Lord is addressing how so often one allows his priorities to become inverted and place others before one’s responsibility to the Lord.

Ultimately man will die physically and be “planted” in the dirt like grass, yet it is God Who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth. Therefore the Lord asks why are you and I constantly in fear of man and ignoring the reality of God?  The passage literally says,

And you forget the Lord your Maker (Who) stretches out the heavens and lays the foundation of the earth and you fear continually all day long before the wrath of the oppressor when he prepares to destroy; where is the wrath of the oppressor? Isaiah 51:13

This verse points out that so often the things that you and I fear and lose sleep over never come to pass. It may also teach that compared to the wrath of God, the oppressor is pale in comparison.  In the next verse (fourteen) there is a unique word used. The meaning of this word is “to walk” or “to pace back and forth”. Many Bibles translate this word “to wander”. The idea from the context is to flee from the oppression of one’s enemy. Even if the oppression is real the passage is making an important promise. This promise is that the God Who comforts will ultimately bring deliverance and the oppressor will not be successful in his attempt to bring destruction. It is most important that one pays attention to the language of the next verse.  It says that “…he will not die in the pit nor will he lack his bread.”

The word translated pit means the place of eternal destruction. Hence, even though at times the enemy does kill, he does not process the authority to send one to the pit (hell). This verse sounds a great deal like the instruction of Yeshua when He said,

Do not fear from the one that kills the body, but is not able to kill the soul, rather you shall fear the One Who is able to destroy both the soul and the body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

The verse from Isaiah closes with the statement, “…nor will he lack his bread.” The use of the word “bread” implies one’s needs. Hence, despite the oppression that one may experience the Lord is faithful to meet our needs in the midst of our darkest times. As David reminds us in the famous Twenty-Third Psalm,

You prepare before me a table in the presence of my enemies.” Psalm 23:5

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