This part of the Bible was written to weak, weary people who were afraid. They were on the brink of war. The little nation of Israel was divided into the northern and southern kingdoms. The northern kingdom had been sacked, destroyed, and trafficked off by the world power Assyria, and the same fate was facing the remnants of the southern kingdom.
Cue the soundtrack. This is God speaking: “Who stirred up one from the east whom victory meets at every step? …he tramples kings underfoot…he pursues them and passes on safely, by paths his feet have not trod” (v.2-3 ESV).
The king of Assyria seemed invincible. Yet God claimed to be the enabling power behind this king’s victories. In this verse, God is telling his people that he is in control of the most frightening and powerful man on the planet.
But that military might of a man kept marching on trembling nations, set to destroy. With war on the horizon, weapons were forged and fighters got to work (Isaiah 41:5-6). Fear was everywhere.
God continues his speech: “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend… fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God…’” (v.8-10).
God looked his nation in the eyes and said, “Don’t be afraid.” God’s argument here in Isaiah 41:10 is, “If what is so deeply scary to you is something I have complete authority over, and I am on your side, what do you have to fear?”
God repeats the same argument in the New Testament in Luke 12:4-5 (ESV), “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”
If there is anything to fear, it’s God himself. Throughout the Bible, we learn that God is in complete control over all things. Nothing happens outside his jurisdiction. He has charge over both body and soul. And if there’s anything we should fear, it would be that there is something wrong or lacking in our relationship with God. But when our relationship has been restored with God through Jesus Christ—through his death on the cross and resurrection for the forgiveness of sin—there’s nothing left to fear.
If you have not bowed your knee to King Jesus, this invitation is God’s extended hand to you: believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved (Acts 16:31 ESV). If you have already crowned Jesus, Lord of your life, then this promise is for you: The Lord will strengthen you, help you, and uphold you with his righteous right hand, for “The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him” (Psalm 25:14).