Isaiah begins by saying: ”The LORD spoke to me with his strong hand upon me… (11). God didn’t simply speak to Isaiah with words, but He also ordered the circumstances of his life so as to confirm His verbal message. It is remarkable when we see this happen; when we watch doors firmly close and others open wide as we seek His guidance.
God’s people are called to be different. They are meant to have alternative standards and values, and follow a counter-cultural lifestyle (11-13). This different way of living flows from the worship of God at the centre (13). It is knowing and loving and serving a Holy God that makes all the difference. The fear (reverence) of God will drive out every other unnecessary fear (13). The Lord can be your ”sanctuary” or a stumbling stone (14, 15). He was going to be the latter to ”both houses of Israel” (i.e. the northern and southern kingdoms). They chose not to trust in God. God will either be your Rock of protection or Rock of destruction. You get to decide. ”The Holy can be either a Hiding Place or a Boulder blocking your way, The Rock standing in the willful way of both houses of Israel…Many of them are going to run into that Rock and get their bones broken… ” The Message.
The words of Isaiah in (14) are quoted by several New Testament writers and applied to Christ. Those who trust in Jesus will be saved; but those who do not believe will be condemned (Rom.9:32, 33; 1 Pet.2:6-8). Christ is the ”stone” that the builders rejected; but He has become the ”capstone”, the cornerstone without whom His church cannot stand(Ps.118:22, 23; Matt.21:42-44). There is no avoiding the clear message of judgment for those who reject Christ, as unpopular as such a notion may be. Neither can we evade the implication that the New Testament writers believed Jesus to be none other than God Himself.
I am arrested by the words of (12b). One of the magnetic differences about Christians should be an absence of fear. We are not afraid of the things others so obviously fear. ”Don’t fear what they fear. Don’t take on their worries.” The Message. We have heard and responded to the words of Jesus as He says, ”Fear not”. The inner tranquility we possess will be so attractive in a world where the hearts of so many people are ”shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.” The Message.
”On the prairies men often fight fire with fire. Against the career of the wall of flame there is but one resource; before it reaches the terrified fugitives they must light a fire to sweep the ground bare, that when the advancing horror reaches the spot there will be no fuel left for it to feed on. So with the heart of man, the only true preservation from fear of our fellows is an overmastering fear of our God. Sanctify Him in your hearts. Let Him be your fear and dread.” F.B. Meyer: Great verses through the Bible, p.272 (see 1 Peter 3:13-16).
The alternative to fear is faith. Trust would be Isaiah’s chosen path (17). Even though these were dark days for the people of God, he chose faith over fear and was prepared to wait for God’s activity. It may even be that he withdrew from public ministry for a time. Isaiah’s prophecies (”testimony” ) and teaching (”law” ) were to be sealed up (16). That way, when what he said came to pass, no one would be able to accuse him of later on changing the words to fit the facts (see John 14:29). Isaiah didn’t just speak empty words. He believed in them fervently and believed they would be proved true. They were! And we are still reading them today.
Prayer: Lord God, let there be a lasting legacy from my life for the glory and honour of your Name.