So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah is one of my favorite prophets of the Old Testament. He not only speaks to the ancient kingdom of Israel, but it's as if he has broken through the barrier of time and is speaking to our nation today. Isaiah was true to his calling as a messenger from God; he never backed away from telling them what they needed to hear. Like today, Isaiah wrote during a turbulent time in his nation's history; a time when they were caught between the expansion of their enemys' empires and their own decline. Isaiah warned Israel of God's coming judgment at the hands of the Assyrians, and predicted that Judah's sins would also see her suffer captivity in the land of Babylon.
It was not easy for him. He had to confront the people of Judah with the truth: they had broken the covenant with the Lord and rebelled against their God. They would eventually have to face the consequences of their sins.
So it is with our nation. From the beginning, this country has been blessed and touched by the hand of God. No other nation on earth has enjoyed such prosperity and freedoms as the United States. Once, like ancient Israel and Judah, we acknowledged the sovereignty and calling of God on our lives. But, we too, eventually strayed from our worship of Him and abandoned our covenant. We are seeing the wages of those sins.
But I want to encourage you to take today's Scripture and Isaiah's words to heart. He may have warned them of coming judgment, but he never quit encouraging those who repented and sought the Lord. He was forever telling them to place their hope in God. He continually reminded them that while the Lord is a God of judgment, He is also the God of salvation.
God's message to His people, through this Scripture, is that we are not to be afraid, because He will be with those of us who praise and glorify Him as our Redeemer. He tells us that he will strengthen us and help us; we are not alone in these times of distress. He will uphold us with his righteous right hand. The Greek Concordance defines "uphold" as "to stand firm", "to make stand", "to establish." Our modern dictionary defines it as "to confirm or support (something that has been questioned)", while synonyms for the word are "sustain, champion, defend." Get the picture?
For those of us who remain in our faith and do not abandon our covenant with our God; He is true to His end of the bargain. We will not be uprooted. He will be our Champion and our Defender. And as if we needed further convincing, I like the Jewish Bible's rendering of this last line: I support you with my victorious right hand.
He will be Victorious! And so will we through the outstretching of His hand to His faithful. Do not be fearful! Do not despair or become alarmed. He is with us and will sustain us through all that He has ordained.