Why Be Afraid of Man?
In Isaiah 51, God continued His lesson of encouragement to His people concerning His absolute mastery over all Creation, every creature, including every human being.
He begins the chapter by reminding the believing remnant of their place as recipients of grace under His covenant. Though they feel like justice has deserted them, God reminds them that His law, justice, and judgment will one day spread to all peoples of the world. God promises them that in spite of the seemingly long wait, they can be encouraged that His salvation and righteousness will not disappear or fade.
Then it seems that the Remnant begins to pray to the Almighty that He would remember what He had done in rescuing their forefathers from Egypt and would similarly rescue and redeem them. The exiles in Babylon would be released and would return home with gladness and joy as surely as their ancestors had been released from Egypt.
In Isaiah 51:12-13, God responds to the cry of His people, "I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies And of the son of man who is made like grass, 13 That you have forgotten the Lord your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens And laid the foundations of the earth, That you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor, As he makes ready to destroy? But where is the fury of the oppressor?" (NASU)
The Creator of the universe reminded His chosen people who it was that was comforting them. He pointed out their foolishness in being afraid of feeble men who are only like grass and will die and fade into oblivion. God then asks rhetorically why the creature has forgotten his Maker, who made not only the creature but everything in the universe.
There is no comparison between what the human oppressor can do and what the Creator can do. Jesus made the contrast plain and underscored its significance, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10:28, NASU)
In verses 14-16 the Creator and Covenant God of Israel brings a comforting word, "The exile will soon be set free, and will not die in the dungeon, nor will his bread be lacking. 'For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar (the Lord of hosts is His name). I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, 'You are My people.'" (NASU)
God’s people can be encouraged; they belong to Him and will always belong to Him. He will provide for them; His hand of protection covers them. The discipline of God is clear evidence of belonging to God.
Roughly 2,500 years later, God’s people remain in the same sad state. We continue to fear humans instead of God. We continue to desire the approval of men who despise us instead of seeking the approval of Him who created us and loves us. We continue to seek help from feeble men who could not provide meaningful help if they even wanted to provide it. We are afraid of being found “on the wrong side of history” instead of fearing being found “on the wrong side of the God of history.”
The Lord of hosts who stirs up the sea and makes its waves roar will hold us all accountable for our lack of trust in Him. Trust Him. You will not be sorry.