Worry and caution seem to be the norm of the day. “Will the right man become the next President?” “If the economy goes under, will I have enough to make ends meet?” “As Swine Flu cases spread, should I travel?” “Will I be safe?” “Take action now, Congress is set to make various sexual orientations legally protected!”
It’s getting so I don’t want to scan the news (I know, it’s not like I do it much anyway with so much more interesting things to read out there). Every time I read a headline my heart clinches or I catch my breath. “”We’re doomed! I’m sure of it.”
Even as I listen to leader’s stories something in me yells, “what’s this world coming to?” “This is not how it’s suppose to be!!!”
What if Obama sells us out? What if incest becomes legally protected because Congress refuses to define ‘sexual orientation’? What will the world be like when N. Korea has functional nukes at their disposal? Should Rush be allowed to become the next Republican powerhouse? Are we really calling less than 200 deaths from the swine flu a pandemic?
Fear, anxiety, suspicion and a touch of paranoia haunt us as we drive off to work, spend time with our families and head to the grocery store. Why is that? Really, what’s the worst thing that could happen to us? Our job might not be waiting for us. One of our kids could contract the flu… Stores may be low on supply. Is that the worst that can happen?
What do you fear? What makes you catch your breath when reading the news? I dare say, if you can put words to that catch in your throat, you are well on the way to putting words to idols in your heart – the stuff that matters most to you in that moment.
Apparently Isaiah was in a similar situation (see Is. 7-8). Ahaz, king of Judah, discovered a plot against his kingdom by the kings of Israel. God tells Isaiah to let Ahaz know the northern kings don’t stand a chance – “don’t lose heart”, but “if you don’t stand in your faith you will not stand at all”. Ahaz is worried. God encourages him to stand firm in his faith.
Now, here’s the thing that intrigues and encourages me. God says basically the same thing to Isaiah in 8:11-13. In Isaiah’s own words God needed to warn him not to follow the ways of the people. Don’t get caught up in conspiracy theories; don’t be afraid of what frightens them (my paraphrase of the NIV). “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…”
Isaiah, caught up in the intrigue of his day, is in danger of getting lost in it all. He is on the verge of losing perspective, of making an idol of second things – of regarding lesser things as ‘holy’.
This reminds me of another story found in Revelation 4. John was just told that all the churches under his charge were in various kinds of trouble. And upon hearing this news, the Messenger calls his attention to something else – a door standing open in heaven, where John sees a throne with someone sitting on it.
The supreme headquarters of the universe has a seat of authority and someone is sitting on it! (see Rev. 4.2ff) Things are not as they seem. Circumstances look grim but that’s not really real. The world is not in chaos. We are not adrift in the hands of world leaders who don’t share our values. The ruler of the Universe is on his throne and if you continue reading the story, it’s very clear He has everything in hand.
We refuse to live in fear at our house. Some days are better than others in that regard. However, we want to face the mess at the foot of the throne. Will you join us?