Be Strong. Fear Not!
Isaiah 35-36, Revelation 1
Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” – Isaiah 35:3-4 ESV
Judgment was coming against the people of Judah. God had repeatedly warned them that their sin and rebellion against Him would have devastating consequences, and in chapter 36, the reality of their coming destruction began to sink in. But in chapter 35, God gave Isaiah a glimpse into the future. He allowed His messenger to witness a glimmer of hope in the midst of the darkness and despair of his day. God revealed a time when all things would be made right. The eyes of the spiritually blind would be opened. The ears of those who refused to hear would not only hear, but obey. The judgment of God would be turned into blessing. The barren wilderness would blossom. The desert would become fruitful. The people would see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of God. So God tells Isaiah to “strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees” (Isaiah 35:3 ESV). While their current circumstances were less than desirable, they needed to be reminded that God was not yet done. He had a bright and beautiful future in store for them. While everything looked bleak, they had to be reminded that all was not lost. As long as God sits on His throne and rules and reigns over the world He has created, there is hope – “…the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10 ESV).
What does this passage reveal about God?
Our God can be trusted. In spite of all that mankind has done to reject His sovereign rule and reign, He will accomplish His divine plan for their redemption and the creation’s restoration. John was given a glimpse into the future and allowed to see what God had in store for mankind. He wrote, “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen” (Revelation 1:7 ESV). Jesus Christ is coming again some day. And when He returns, He will do so as a conquering King. In the vision given to John, he sees Jesus as “one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength” (Revelation 1:13-16 ESV). What a stark contrast to the helpless baby in a manger. What a powerful difference from the beaten and bloodied body stuffed in a borrowed tomb. This is the resurrected Lord and Savior returning to finish what He began. Later on, in the book of Revelation, John writes, “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment’” (Revelation 19:5-6 ESV).
What does this passage reveal about man?
As we live in this world, it is easy for us to develop weak hands and feeble knees. We can find ourselves sapped of strength and running short on hope. But we must constantly remind ourselves, “Be strong; fear not!” We must never lose sight of the fact that God is not done yet. He has a plan that He has yet to consummate and complete. But He will. We must remind ourselves of the promise that Jesus gave to John. “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18 ESV). Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is not done yet. He has not finished His work. But it is so easy for us to lose sight of the reality of our future glorification and put all out hope in our salvation. As great as it is to be saved from sin and the condemnation of death, I must never forget that eternity is the ultimate reward. God has in store for me so much more than even a saved life on this planet has to offer. Jesus told His disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:1-3 ESV). Salvation, as wonderful as it is, would be incomplete without our ultimate glorification. Yes, He loved us and “freed us from our sins by his blood” (Revelation 1:5 ESV), but “he is coming with the clouds” (Revelation 1:7 ESV). He is going to return some day, and when He does, He will finish what He began. He will complete what He started.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
This life is not all there is. Jesus did not die just to redeem me and then leave me to struggle with the temptations and trials of this world. He has something far greater in store for me. As the old chorus goes, “This world is not my home, I’m just passin’ through, my treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue.” My ultimate hope is in my future glorification. Paul puts it so well in his letter to the believers in Corinth. “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 5:1-5 ESV). We can be strong and fear not. We can have hope. We can stand firm in the midst of all that is going on around us, because we know how the story ends. We know that this is not all there is. God has a future in store for us that will be far greater than anything we could ever imagine. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT).
Father, thank You for this timely reminder of Your plan for us. You are not done yet. Your Son’s redemptive work is not yet complete. While I am saved and my place in Your Kingdom is secure, I am still in this earthly tent, struggling with the reality of sin and the constant attacks of the enemy. But the day is coming when You will make all things right. Your Son will return and put an end to sin and death once and for all. He will establish His Kingdom and we enjoy the reality of a life free from sin, sorrow, disease, and death. Help me stay strong and fearless until that day comes. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men