dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the
inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”
(Isaiah 8:11-15 ESV)
In Isaiah's time, the people of Judah were shaking like a leaf (see Isaiah 7:2) because the Northern Kingdom of Israel and Syria were plotting to conquer Judah and install a puppet ruler in Jerusalem. They thought that the world as they knew it was coming to an end. While it was true that judgment was coming because of their two-timing love affairs with other gods—unless there was true repentance—the Lord, through Isaiah, reassured this tiny nation that He would defend and protect all who honored Him. In fact, the Lord is a refuge to any who trust in Him, but a snare to those who reject Him and refuse to have His Son reign over them.
I believe this is a timely word for Christians here in the United States as we see the tide of public morality and national institutions, both formal and informal, turn against us—the end of the world as we know it. We’re obsessing on fear and conspiracy theories and we need to stop. Jesus Christ is sovereign, all-powerful, and all-knowing. The President, IRS, NSA, Congress, Department of Homeland Security, etc. aren’t.
So what is a practical way we are to live during these uncertain times? The apostle Peter provides the answer as he wrote to believers in an even more difficult situation:
But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when
you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:14-17 ESV)