The Anchor of Hope: August 9, 2014

The Anchor of Hope

An e-publication of Living Hope Presbyterian Church

August 9, 2014

Isa 8:10-15   “Devise a plan but it will be thwarted; State a proposal, but it will not stand, For God is with us.”  (11) For thus the LORD spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying,  (12)  “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it.  (13)  “It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread.  (14)  “Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  (15)  “And many will stumble over them, Then they will fall and be broken; They will even be snared and caught.”

A grizzled older man was a regular customer at the Christian bookstore where I worked in Dallas, TX.  He was a professing believer, but the seriousness of his piercing gaze was always a bit unnerving for me.  One day he opened up to me about himself.  He told me that he had been serving in the army when he was recruited by the NSA as a sniper to eliminate people in other countries the US government deemed troublesome.  And in that capacity he had gone on several missions to Central America.  He also told me during that time he had become friends with a CIA operative.  He and this agent would sometimes go out target shooting.  The CIA agent was not a bad shot, but his gun was so worn out that he could not hit a stationary nine-inch paper plate at 100 yards with it.  The CIA agent’s name was Lee Harvey Oswald.

Conspiracy theories abound, and it seems more so in the day we are living.  Did FDR know the Japanese were about to attack at Pearl Harbor?  Was the US government or Israel behind the attacks of 9-11?  And what really happened to flights TWA 800 or MH370?  From one perspective the answer to those questions is important in order to bring justice to the guilty on this earth.  However, from another perspective, they have the tendency to become elevated above their true significance by those who fear the continued workings of the same shadowy hands.  What might they be planning now and to what end?  The fear of man is a strong and persistent temptation.

The Kingdom of Judah was surprised by a conspiracy against it.  Syria and their own brothers, the northern Kingdom of Israel, had allied together to defeat, plunder, and set up their own vassal king in Judah (Is. 7.1).  King Ahaz of Judah with all the people despaired in fear (7.2).  God sent the prophet Isaiah to deliver His message of deliverance to refocus Judah on Him.  The verses above are part of that message.  The conspirator’s plans would not succeed.  Judah was to fear God, not foreign earthy kings or their armies. 

The same God, who is a sanctuary to those who fear Him, is at the same time the doom of those who do not (8.14).  A “sanctuary” in Scripture is a holy place.  A place of God’s presence where the believer is safe.  Keeping that thought in mind, the summary of the passage is “Devise a plan but it will be thwarted; State a proposal, but it will not stand, For God is with us.”  Indeed, God is with His people.  The promised Messiah, Immanuel– God with us, is specifically promised in this passage (7.14 and 8.8). What Isaiah prophesied then in words, became flesh, and died to be the sanctuary for His people.  As Messiah, Jesus is both the Savior of the living and the Judge of His enemies (John 5.22-27 and Rev 20.11-15).  He is the ultimate, true fulfillment of Isaiah’s words that day.

As you observe the plans of man being played out on the world’s stage, remember the conspiracies of men may accomplish their short term goals, but they can never overrule God’s plan and ultimate victory.  In fact, those evil plans, like Christ’s death, contribute to the fulfillment of His plan (Acts 2.22-23).  Thus, regardless whether Oswald acted alone in President Kennedy’s assassination or was merely a pawn in some broader nefarious scheme, the Christian’s duty is the same – fear God who is your sanctuary.