There is fairly broad opinion among Bible commentators that Isaiah 41 refers prophetically to God’s future deliverance of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon. It is a word of comfort to His oppressed people when they find themselves in their time of bondage.
The principles of God saying "Fear Not" or “Don't be afraid” to His people are timeless. In the King James Version of the Bible, the phrase “fear not” occurs 71 times from the first to the last book of the Bible (from Genesis 15 to Revelation 1). The Scripture portions we’ll look at give us at least 12 good reasons why God exhorts us to have no fear. Read them, and be encouraged! “God hath not given us the spirit of fear” (2 Timothy 1:7, KJV).
Fear not, because God has chosen you, He has called you to be His own. You are “a people belonging to God.” Dads and moms, just think of all you do to prevent your family from living in fear. God will do far more! The Jews were God’s called, “chosen people” under the Old Covenant. All followers of Jesus Christ, Jew and Gentile alike, are God’s chosen and called people under the New Covenant. You are very special to God, so fear not!
Israel went into Assyrian Captivity for her idolatry and faithlessness to God. More than a century later, about 586 BC, Judah went into Babylonian captivity for the same sins. Most scholars believe God is here speaking prophetically to the (future) captive Jews in Babylon and saying, “I have not rejected you.” And indeed, in God’s timing, the Jews were eventually freed from that captivity and reoccupied Jerusalem and its surrounding lands.
Apply God’s vs. 9 encouragement to yourself today. If through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ you are a son or daughter of God, nothing from the evil you have done in your past will cause God to reject you. Perhaps you’ve experienced rejection by other people, perhaps even by someone once close to you. No matter. Fear not and remember, God loves you and has accepted you, so man’s opinions need not be feared or even be an item of concern.
KJV: "Fear thou not; for I am with thee"
I know how secure I felt as a child when Dad was there. All was well with the world. Dad was big, strong, loving, and—oh, so wonderful in the eyes of a young boy—Dad was an FBI agent! If Dad was with me, nothing could make me fear.
How much more should the presence of God Almighty dispel any fears we might have. God says, “Do not fear, I am with you!” When fears may try to come upon you, remember the Scripturally sound words I once heard a pastor say. Don’t be afraid, because “you’re never alone. There’s always a minimum of four—you, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
Amazing! Almighty God, the creator of the universe, is my God! All His power, love, and blessings are there for me and for you. Come to Him through Jesus, “the [only] way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), serve Him faithfully, and He will eternally be “your God.” And your God says to you again and again in His Word, "Fear not!"
Perhaps you’re crying out in fear or dismay, “Lord, I’m going under; I can’t make it.” He replies, “Yes, but I can, I will help you.”
Or like Peter sinking under the waves, you feel, “Lord, I’m sinking. Everything around me is going wrong.” God says, “I will uphold you.” And just as Jesus reached out and took sinking Peter by the hand (Matthew 14:31), God will take hold of you and rescue you.
Think of any dangerous situation. Then think of God standing there holding your hand, saying, “It’s OK! I’ve got you.” Most likely, your fears would disappear.
One of my children as a toddler used to reach up to me with the childlike appeal: “Carry you me.” That was security for him. Dad was there. All was well. God is there for us too. And He’ll take our hand, as a loving Father does, and will bring us without fear through every situation.
Do you feel “little,” like a lowly worm, surrounded by enemies who oppose you and rage against you? (vss. 11-12) No matter how little you feel yourself to be, no matter what odds seem to be stacked against you, God cares for you personally—“I myself will help you.”
As captives in Babylon, the Jews had no more power against their enemy captors than a lowly little worm has. But in their forlorn condition, the all-powerful God says to them, “Don’t be afraid. I myself will help you.” Nothing is too difficult for God, no matter how overwhelming your problems seem to be.
God continues his encouragement to His people, who were prophetically warned about their future Babylonian captivity.
God’s love and care for them had been there from the beginning, from their very creation and their forming by God in their mothers’ wombs. God was reminding them that He has always been involved in their lives, and He will not stop now.
A side thought here from this verse, not directly related to the context, but definitely taught in Scripture, is divine healing. God created and formed these intricate, marvelous human bodies of ours. If He has creative powers—and He does—He certainly has re-creative powers to fix and heal those bodies that He has created. Be encouraged that the God who “formed” you has not forgotten or abandoned you and is fully able and willing to extend His healing hand to you. Are you sick or infirm? The Lord God says to you: "Fear not!" Why? Because He says, "I am the Lord that healeth thee" (Exodus 15:26, KJV).
Some 2,000 years ago God bought you (Acts 20:28), He redeemed you, with the price of Jesus’ blood shed for our sins. That’s how much He cares for you. You are His, He says! So you can safely believe His promise: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5) and can declare with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Heb. 13:6).
You are not just a statistic to God. You are not lost among the masses. You are very real to God. He knows your name, which means He knows and cares for you very personally. He says to you whom He knows and loves: “Do not fear. I’ve called you by name. My Son Jesus and I are deeply invested in you personally.” The Lord Jesus Christ, our “good shepherd,” knows us and loves us and “calls his own sheep by name and leads them out … they know his voice” (John 10:3-4).
These words are God’s encouragement to us when we seem to be going through high waters, flooded rivers, or fire and flames. There are times in our lives that seem to be full of troubles. But that is not unexpected. Jesus told His followers, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
God has not promised always to deliver us from troubles, but to be with us as we navigate victoriously through them. He says, “I am with you…when you pass through the waters, the rivers, the fire, the flames” (vs. 2). No matter how serious the troubles you face, fear not, because God will go through them with you.
He is “the Lord.” It’s all under control! There is nothing that is not subject to Him.
He is “your God.” All God’s resources are at your disposal. We are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17, KJV).
He is “your Savior.” God would eventually save the Jews in a natural sense from the Babylonian captivity. And through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He has gloriously extended eternal salvation to all who will come to Him in repentance and faith in His Son Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). And it is a salvation that can “save [us] to the uttermost” (Heb. 7:25) from every captivating thought, from every sin and addiction, and from every form of evil.
So what is God’s message, His encouragement, His divine 'sermon' to us? “FEAR NOT!” He has chosen and called us … He has not rejected us … He is with us … He will strengthen, help, and uphold us … as our Father He will hold us by the hand … He created us and formed us … He has redeemed us … we are His; He knows us by name … He is our omnipotent Lord, our God, our Savior!
Check out our related sermon: Find Shelter in the Coming Storms
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©2003, 2016, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.