Suggested Reading: Isaiah 8:11-17
God refers to the religious minded crowd who preferred to design their own brand of righteousness and disregard God’s righteousness and He tells Isaiah not to listen to their babbling. He tells him not to believe their sayings or follow their advice. Don’t agree with them and their conspiracy theories. Don’t fear what they fear. Don’t dread what they dread.
As followers of the Lord, He is the One whose counsel we should seek. We are to look at world events and at people around us through the glasses of the written Word. Then we will become wise. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly.”
When we “walk” in someone’s counsel, it means we believe and follow that counsel. But for those who trust in God, only His counsel is worth following. Jesus confirmed the words of God spoken through Isaiah here. We are to fear God, not man. We should rather dread God than dread a human being that can do nothing more than harm our physical bodies. God is the One who can determine our eternal destination; therefore God is the One we are to regard as holy.
We don’t go around looking at church leaders as holy. “The LORD Almighty is the One you are to regard as holy.” (verse 13a) When Jesus taught His disciples to put the threats they face in this life in proper perspective, He said: “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him.” (Luke 12:4-5).
For those who placed their trust in God and not in men, He will become a sanctuary. But for those religious minds that haughtily looked down their noses at others, He will be a stone that makes them stumble and a rock that makes them fall. He will be a trap and a snare. The reason is quite obvious. They had God all figured out and reduced Him to the size of their own understanding. Then along comes Jesus and they have a major problem with that. He doesn’t fit their preconceived ideas of the person through whom God should be operating. He doesn’t fit the bill. So, they rejected the only Name by which men can be saved. They stumbled over the same person who provided life to others. His ways caused them to fall.
Besides, God never informed them that He will be sending this Jesus fellow. As the important church leaders of their time, they should have been the first to know. Since they don’t know Him, Jesus couldn’t be sent by God. Hence, they rejected Him as a blasphemer and a fraud. Finally, they killed Him as He posed a threat to their church following. They had to do something. If they left Him to continue in this way unabated, He will not only rob them of their respectable positions in society, but more importantly, they stood to lose their respectable standard of living. They feared losing their income and got rid of the Messiah –for this reason Jesus taught we cannot serve God and money and consequently their fall was great.
Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6) and since they did not love the Truth, God sent a powerful delusion. Since they preferred lies to the truth, God allowed them to be swept away by “convincing” lies. “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10b-11). They will die in their sins because they became the prisoners of delusions. This will be the fate of all those who think they have God all figured out and that no one can teach them a thing about God. They are puffed up by their own spirituality and their religious titles and look down on the humble ways through which God is operating. They sneer at someone who teaches something about God and doesn’t carry some title. They will miss His obvious work through the most unlikely means and finally, they will miss God too.
The truth will be revealed to those who follow God and His Way and not to those who follow man-made ideas that are taught as commands from God. Those who truly want to know what God wants will take the trouble to go and find out. They will not blindly follow the teaching of a man simply because he brandishes some religious title like a badge. They will follow the advice of Paul and test everything that is being said. They will be of noble character like the Bereans who searched the Scriptures everyday to see if what Paul was preaching to them was indeed the truth. To them, the truth is too important to just casually accept it from the mouth of another. They want to know what God says. Even if God appears quiet to their questions, they will wait for Him for they have placed their full trust in Him and in His perfect character.
11 This is what the LORD says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people:
12 “Do not call conspiracy
everything this people calls a conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
and do not dread it.
13 The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread.
14 He will be a holy place;
for both Israel and Judah he will be
a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.
And for the people of Jerusalem he will be
a trap and a snare.
15 Many of them will stumble;
they will fall and be broken,
they will be snared and captured.”
16 Bind up this testimony of warning
and seal up God’s instruction among my disciples.
17 I will wait for the LORD,
who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob.
I will put my trust in him. (Isaiah 8:11-17, New International Version, ©2011)