I had a close friend who spread lies about me. It was hard, especially because he was my only friend. I said he was my best friend, but I meant he was my only friend.
The point of this story is that when you have only one friend, it gives them a lot of power over you, and that gives you a lot of reasons to fear them. When he started lying about me, I had a hard time recovering from the shock. Most of all, I’ve been struggling all summer with fear of this man–with fear of mortals.
So Isaiah 51 really spoke to me, when I found time to read it. It speaks to Israel amid their fear of their enemies, and outlines many reasons why God saves us from mortal men, so we do not have to fear them. Here are a few.
1. God is our beginning and our end. In the beginning, God reminds the Israelites of their origins: Abraham, Sarah, and ultimately… Him. (Isaiah 51:1-2). God existed before you met the people you fear and he will remain once they exit your life. You lose nothing.
2. The lie: you have to be strong, flawless, and self sufficient to merit deliverance from your enemies. The truth: God remembers you. He mentions Israel’s desolate situation (Isaiah 51:3) before describing his plans to restore Israel. Salvation from anything is 100% God, 0% us.
3. God’s purposes go beyond what we can see. For us, we’re only praying for safety from a person’s malicious intentions, but God thinks differently. He not only will save Israel from its enemies, but use Israel’s deliverance to enlighten the nations around them (Isaiah 51:4).
4. God’s Salvation > Temporary Things. Like he says in verses 5-6, everything in this life will turn to dust. Nothing lasts forever. We can’t rely on any one thing to save us–even human alliances (Is. 51:6). However, he assures us that His salvation lasts forever.
5. God > Men.
If you remember nothing else, remember this. Isaiah 51:12-14 practically jumped off the page at me. Mortal men are made, like he says, from grass. People wither and die. If people do not last forever, neither will their oppression of us last forever. Just as God was in the beginning, before the oppressors entered our lives, so he will be in the end: Remaining, though our oppressors wither away like grass.
“I, even I, am He who comforts you.
Why should you be afraid of mortal man,
of a son of man who withers like grass?
But you have forgotten the LORD, your Maker,
who stretched out the heavens
and laid the foundations of the earth.
You live in terror all day long
because of the fury of the oppressor
who is bent on destruction.
But where is the fury of the oppressor?
The captive will soon be freed;
he will not die in the dungeon,
and his bread will not be lacking.”
-Isaiah 51: 12-14, https://biblehub.com/isaiah/51-14.htm
Have you ever felt oppressed by a mortal? How did God remind you of his deliverance?