The Futility of Fear, 1


Don’t Fear the Future

Isaiah 41:13 

For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’  (NKJV) 

Fear is a big problem today.  America, once “home of the brave,” has become “home of the fearful.”  We fear everything these days.  We’re afraid of living; we’re afraid of dying.  We’re afraid of warm weather; we’re afraid of cold weather. We’re afraid of driving our cars; we’re afraid of riding our bikes.  We’re afraid of eating too much; we’re afraid of eating too little.  Honestly, we have become a nation in desperate need to getting a grip!

The Bible has a lot to say about fear and the need to “fear not.”  It’s important for Christians to understand that the opposite of fear is faith.  We are called to have faith, not fear.  Fear not only robs us of joy and the anticipation of all that life has to offer, it’s also a sin; it shows that in spite of what we may say, when the rubber hits the road, we just don’t trust the Lord.

Let’s take a look at our very first “fear not” and discover that as far as the future is concerned, God’s got it all under control.

The setting 

Our “fear not” occurs in verse 13, but verse 13 doesn’t occur in a vacuum.  We need to establish the context—what was going on that necessitated God telling His people not to fear.

In chapter 41, God’s attention is on the idolatrous nations surrounding Israel.

“Keep silence before Me, O coastlands, and let the people renew their strength!  Let them come near, then let them speak; let us come near together for judgment.”  (Isaiah 41:1  NKJV)

That’s quite a contrast with the last verse of chapter 40:

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.  (Isaiah 40:31  NKJV) 

The promise of renewed strength was for the people of God, and the nations surrounding them were warned to leave His people alone; to let them rest and get strong once again.  It’s helpful to remember that this prophecy has to do primarily with the deliverance of Israel from Babylon.  Even though this whole address was to the nations, the message was really intended for Israel to hear.  God wanted to encourage His discouraged people; they needed to know that He had not abandoned them and that He would renew their strength.  The gods of all those heathen nations were impotent.

A human deliverer, 2—4 

“Who raised up one from the east? Who in righteousness called him to His feet?  Who gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings?  Who gave them as the dust to his sword, as driven stubble to his bow?  Who pursued them, and passed safely by the way that he had not gone with his feet?  Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning?  ‘I, the Lord, am the first; and with the last I am He.’ ” (NKJV)

The Lord, the Righteous Judge in the courtroom of the universe, directs the attention of all these heathen nations (and the attention of Israel) to Himself, as the great Sovereign of this world and the Author of its history.

The identity of this “one from the east” is unknown.  Some have thought God is referring to Abraham, but that seems unlikely.  More likely, God is actually referring to Cyrus, one whom God would raise up to fulfill His purpose for His people.  Here we see the absolute sovereignty of God in action.  Cyrus would be God’s instrument of deliverance.  God would choose His deliverer.  Cyrus was the right man at the right time and it was by God’s design.  He may not have been the man the Jews would have chosen, but he was born for this purpose:  to deliver God’s people from their Babylonian captivity.

Verse 4 is a statement of God’s sovereignty over history.  From the beginning of time, God is the One behind the ebb and flow of the history of the nations of our world.  Earthly kings, prime ministers, and presidents only think they are in control.  It is really God calling the shots.

What is true of the world is true of your life.  If God can keep this world on course, do you think He’s incapable of managing the comparatively puny affairs of your life?

The arrogance of man, verses 5—7 

The coastlands saw it and feared, the ends of the earth were afraid; they drew near and came.  Everyone helped his neighbor, and said to his brother, “Be of good courage!”  So the craftsman encouraged the goldsmith; he who smooths with the hammer inspired him who strikes the anvil, saying, “It is ready for the soldering”; then he fastened it with pegs, that it might not totter.

All these nations were aware of Cyrus; they could see his armies on the move.  The “coastlands” were afraid of him.  All these nations were coming together in fear and turning to their idols for strength.  Perhaps they were making a new idol to deal with Cyrus.  In their superstition, they met together—all the scientists and political leaders and religious leaders and came to a consensus, honestly thinking they could stop God from accomplishing His will for His people.  And in a deft touch of irony, the idol had to be nailed together so as not to fall over.  The twilight of the gods had come!  In an atmosphere of panic, these arrogant, thoughtless nations discovered Dutch courage.  They had deluded themselves into thinking another god—or more gods—could save them.  But that kind of thinking is just plain vanity.

Indeed they are all worthless; their works are nothing; their molded images are wind and confusion.  (Isaiah 41:29  NKJV) 

Hope for the future, grounded in the past, verses 8—10 

“But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham my friend.  You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away:  Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”  (NKJV)

During Cyrus’ day, the Jews were living and many were prospering in Babylon.  It wasn’t home, but many had built lives and were doing well.  But now, Cyrus’ Babylon is being threatened by outside forces.  In time, Cyrus would fall, as all political leaders do.  The fear the surrounding nations felt for Cyrus was creeping through Babylon.  The exiles, far from home for decades, were now facing the possibility that they would lose their homes in Babylon.  Fear and uncertainty were on the rise.  God reassured them that their future was in His hand, and He did this by pointing to the past.

In spite of its present exile, the election of Israel through Abraham guaranteed that Israel would prevail no matter what was happening or would happen.  God chose Israel for a purpose and that purpose had nothing to do with being lost forever in exile!  God chose Israel and set Israel apart from all the nations on earth to serve Him, and that’s why they would have a future.

Recall the words of the old song:

He didn’t bring us this far to leave us
He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown
He didn’t build His home in us to move away
He didn’t lift us up to let us down. 
There are some promises in a letter
Written a long, long time ago
They’re not getting older, they’re getting better
Because He still wants us to know.
I read those promises in His letter
And now I claim them for my own
Filling my heart and making life better
And I just wanted you to know. 

As Christians, we are not Israel.  Their future is not ours.  But, like Israel, we have been called and set apart and God has a purpose for each one of us.  Our future is assured because, like Israel, we have a job to do and a purpose to fulfill.  God didn’t save us to just let us struggle in fear.  God didn’t call us to Himself then hide, like He’s playing some kind of game on us!

God is not afar off.  Someone put it like this:

No distant God have we,
Who loves afar to be!
Made flesh for me,
He cannot rest until He rests in me! 

Seven mercies and blessings of God’s Hand 

God holds us close; His grasp on us is firm.  What does that mean?

  • Salvation, Psalm 18:16 

He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters.  (NKJV)

When we read that verse we think about Peter, sinking in the water.  He called out to Jesus to save him and our Lord reached down and grabbed his hand.  It doesn’t matter what those “many waters” in your life may be, God can and He promises to reach down and pull you up out of them.

  • Security, John 10:28 

And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  (NKJV)

Nothing can pull us away from Him!  He holds us in a vice-like grip.  He loves us that much—this is what eternal security means.

  • Friendship, Isaiah 41:13 

For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’

The “right hand” of friendship.  Can you imagine God as your friend?  You can stop imagining it, because He is!  God is your friend and He won’t let you go.  He’s the One you can depend on for all eternity.

  • Confidence, Hebrews 13:5, 6 

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?”  (NKJV 

What can a mere man do to a child of God?  Now that’s confidence!  And, unfortunately, this is what is missing in so many Christian lives.  So many of us live in fear because our confidence isn’t in the right person!  It must be in God.  Imagine what we could accomplish for Him if we weren’t afraid of offending somebody, or of what so-and-so would say, or of not having the right words.  The Lord is your helper.  You either believe that or you don’t, and if you do, then you’ll live fearlessly.

  • Assistance, Isaiah 41:14 

I will help you,” says the Lord.  (NKJV)

God’s hand is extended to help.  How can we think of failing in His work if He is helping us?

  • Strength, Genesis 49:24 

…the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob… (AV)

Imagine unlimited strength at your disposal!  It’s there; it’s inside of you.  God’s presence in you guarantees that you will have the strength to get His job done.


God’s people were scattered throughout a godless empire; they were making the best of it, many of them, but it wasn’t home.  Many of these folks felt as though God had abandoned them; that He had forsaken them—or worse, forgotten them.  This may be you.  Maybe your “rough patch” has turned into way of life.  Maybe good times are a dim memory.  Worst of all, maybe you’re riddled with fear—fear of the future; fear of the past.  God wants you set free from those fears.  Fear is a word that should not be a part of any believer’s vocabulary!


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