“Do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.
The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.”
Intimidating people can easily steal the place in our hearts that is to be reserved for God alone. God reserves the right to have the final say over our lives. It is the only position of power fitting for who he is. Giving him this place in our heart is the clearest expression of his lordship. God is not given his full place when we keep him as a mere advisor whom we can take or leave. He is not to be usurped by pretenders to the throne of our life who would claim our total allegiance. Some of these pretenders are those who could inflict on us much hurt. In these verses God calls Isaiah to resist the tendency to fear the brutal Assyrians. He is teaching Isaiah to keep people in their rightful place no matter how intimidating they are. Isaiah’s countrymen have not kept this perspective and sinned as a result. They placed their trust in the foreign armies, mediums, and spiritists (Is 8:19) rather than in the protection of God.
It is here where fear becomes folly. Fear can take the place of God in our hearts. It can easily claim our full allegiance. It can control our thoughts, actions and attitudes. It can keep us from carrying out our God-given purposes and assignments. We need to guard against this theft of the “God place” when we are living in threatening circumstances with fear inspiring people. Yet it happens so easily.
It happens because we know the harm others can do to us. Israel knew very well the brutality of the Assyrians. Their reputation was one of vicious violence. So too we know the impact fearsome people have. We can see tangible harm in the lives of other people they have brutalized. We see that it may happen to us, and so we begin to be afraid. Here God’s rightful place can easily be stolen. Fear can become all-consuming and controlling. Here we must choose who will control us. Let us keep the God place for him alone. The Apostle Paul reminded us of this truth when he wrote, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear,’ do not be frightened. But set apart Christ as Lord” (1 Pt 3:14-15). Peter is teaching us to make sure we do not allow fear to rule us. We are to keep the throne of our heart for Christ alone.
Prayer starter: Lord, help me guard the control center of my heart. Enable me to keep it for you alone.
About the Author: Lyndon Wall served as a pastor in Alberta, Canada for fourteen years. He has also served the Jos, Nigeria mission community by providing pastoral care. Lyndon is the founder of Refresh Ministries, which is dedicated to helping people in ministry enjoy “healthy souls.” Lyndon earned a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
This excerpt is from Lyndon’s devotional book “Refresh“. Lyndon wrote “Refresh“ specifically for pastors, missionaries, and ministry workers whose souls have been parched by the stresses and tests of life. Stress is a reality of life. It can harm and drain us of vital energy. It must be responded to wisely. This devotional book was written to help you encounter Jesus Christ, the great refresher of the soul and give insights that will help you live with a renewed and joyful heart.