• Rev. Mark Tews

Standing on the Promises of God

Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth — everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:5–7).

How many times have you been told, “Don’t worry about it.” in your life? We are often admonished or encouraged with these words. We know, perhaps instinctively, that worry and faith don’t belong together. However, I once read an article on a discussion of these verses from Isaiah pointing out that this phrase is completely useless. Why? Because if you tell someone “Don’t worry about it.” this advice will almost always be ignored.

We all have our personal list of things we worry about. If you watch the news or scroll on social media, you will soon be convinced that there is danger lurking around every corner and you are just one short step away from catastrophe. The news we hear makes us anxious. Generally, I would say none of us ever wants to be anxious. But when you know the root of the word, you will most certainly never want to be anxious again. Did you know that the word “anxious” is from a Latin word that means “to strangle?” Yes, that’s right – if you are anxious or worried, it will choke the life out of you.

But fortunately for us, the news we hear from the world’s media outlets is not the only news we ever hear. The prophet Isaiah has a word from the Lord for us today. “Don’t worry about it” might be a useless phrase, but if you listen to the imploration of “Do not be afraid,” you will find life in those words. Instead of choking, you will find yourself breathing easier.

Let’s look at the situation in this text to which the prophet Isaiah speaks. The Jewish people found themselves in a situation that could easily cause anxiety. A large segment of the population of Judah was dwelling as captives and exiles. They faced devastation, distress, and death. The temple was destroyed, Jerusalem was in ruins, and their liberty was lost. Now what would you say, write, or sing under these circumstances? Isaiah challenged the people, in spite of how matters were, to keep their faith and to stand on the promises of God.

This is not an insignificant message. It is more than just a solution for the present pain. We read in chapter 42 of Isaiah that Israel found itself in this situation as a result of the nation’s refusal to obey God’s law. The message of chapter 43 is a message of hope. The reason for this hope is that God has a covenant with us, not a contract. A contract can be nullified if one party breaks the agreed terms. But a covenant is a promise. No matter what, God will be with you, because He keeps His promises! We know this because, in spite of Israel’s (and our) stubborn refusal to obey God’s law, God keeps His promises regardless of how we behaved or responded, and we can stand on those promises.

Israel needed to hear this because they had been through some very tough times. It is important to remember that Isaiah is written from the perspective of an exile. The prophet says we may be captives and exiles, but we have not forgotten God’s promise. We’ve had some troubles, but the prophet says, Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:1b–2). The imagery of water and fire is often used in Scripture to denote calamity and danger – water because it overwhelms, fire because it consumes. But when we are standing on the promises of God, worry makes no sense.

Always remember and never forget, with your life and salvation secure in Jesus Christ, you can boldly say, “Victory is already mine, so I will celebrate!” When you look at your life in Christ, remember that the water cannot drown you, the fire will not consume you, and the weight that you carry won’t crush you. Lies told about you will prove to be false, you will have light when you walk through the darkness, and you will have strength for the journey that you must take.

Thank the Lord! And sing His praise! Standing on the promises of Christ our King, through eternal ages let His praises ring, Glory in the highest! I will shout and sing, standing on the promises of God. Standing on the promises that cannot fail, when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, by the living Word of God I shall prevail, standing on the promises of God.