“Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.”
There is that subtle conflict that faces a man doing his best to follow the ways of righteousness and order his life according to the laws of God.
Deep in his heart he knows that what he is doing is the correct thing. It is the lasting and eternally profitable thing to do. But then the rest of the multitudes around him are making fun of him as if he is the stupid one.
They make him feel as if he doesn’t know what he knows. They deride him as if he’s behind, he’s backward… he’s outdated. The pressure often comes from the fact that he is alone and they are a multitude. He alone sees the value of what he is standing upon; all the others see value in something else. Worse still, the multitude can readily point to the benefits of their own way but he has to tell one long, lonely story of someone else, somewhere who benefited from this his own righteous way. And he and his principles look unreal, unreliable and in all sense unreasonable. That is the problem. That is the pressure. That is the source of the “fear” that God was talking about.
Yes, the righteous way is a lonely way.
The godly route is a narrow route, it doesn’t accommodate the multitude.
It doesn’t, most times, accommodate “collleaguing”! It doesn’t allow conferencing!
No! It doesn’t allow comparisons and competition with mates and acquaintances. Those that must go that way must look straight on . . . focussed, only on Jesus and His demands. And that is a real pressure on mortal minds like ours.
Many times we wonder if God “understands” this pressure. Many times we wish He will just allow us go the multitude way . . . and, as God, still bring His will to come to pass, after all He can do all things. Can He not?
Why doesn’t God work through the normal easy way of least resistance that the world and her multitude normally advocate? Simply because, God is not a man! And he is not like the sons of men that will eventually buckle under pressure! He knows the way of the multitude is the way of man . . . slippery and untrustworthy! He knows that one day, these same confident boasting crowds of men will come around to repent and say “I’m sorry, I goofed, after all, I’m only a man”. So instead of bending to our cry to save us from the pressure of shame and kindred resistance, He simply looks us in the face and says . . . .
“I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; And forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?”
Who are you . . . that you should be afraid?
I think that is where the problem is. I think that is the real issue! Most righteous men do not realise who they are. They probably know the value of the principles they try to live by, but they do not know the real value of being a righteous man!
That’s why God asks the question . . . “who are you? Or better still . . . “who do you think you are?” Let’s get the question is simpler English . . .
Isaiah 51:12-13 – Bible in Basic English
“I, even I, am your comforter: are you so poor in heart as to be in fear of man who will come to an end, and of the son of man who will be like grass? And you have given no thought to the Lord your Maker, by whom the heavens were stretched out, and the earth placed on its base; and you went all day in fear of the wrath of the cruel one, when he was making ready for your destruction. And where is the wrath of the cruel one?”
Are you so poor in heart? Are you so unaware of the riches of Grace available to the righteous man? Are you so in disconnect from the reservoir of divine resources available in God and available to whosoever follows Him?
Why are we so poor in heart? . . . And has so undervalued our heritage? Why do we fear the multitude . . .? and shrink under their mockery and reviling? Is it not because we have lost sight of who we are and lost sight of who our God is? Is it not because we have forgotten His antecedents? The Fear of man is poverty of a kind, a poverty of the heart!
Our poverty in heart is a reflection of our poverty of memory.
The simple matter is that we forget.
We forgot our Red Sea and the “standing wall of water” for us to pass!
We forgot that He did it again in Jordan by another way . . . So He can be trusted to do it again and again in a million and one ways, if He says so!
We forgot the Manna which our fathers freely ate and knew not how it came!
We forgot the water flowing from the Rock inside an acclaimed Desert!
We forgot the pillar of cloud by day, for shade; and the pillar of fire by night, for protection!
We forgot, we forget. That’s the problem. We always forget! And so we focus on the wrong things and fear the wrong person!
Why fear man if you fear God?!
Why succumb to Man’s pressure if you have yielded to God’s command?!
Why shrink under the multitude’s reproach, if you have accepted God’s assurances?!
Our poverty of heart is often also a poverty of faith and confidence in God!
We believe men more than we believe God. We fear more than we have faith.
Meanwhile, Fear is faith in the opposite direction.
Fear and Faith are equal and opposite.
Faith says, “I believe God is able to do what He has promised.
Fear says, “I believe the Devil is able to do what he has threatened.
Fear is the exact reciprocal of Faith.
As Fear is increasing, Faith is decreasing.
As Faith wells up in the believer’s heart, Fear ebbs out from his thoughts and emotions! As you feed your fear with the words of men, you starve your Faith of the Words of God. So, really, its up to the righteous man to decide what to allow to fill his mind.
So, let’s do a turnaround today!
Lets give honour to WHOM honour is due and fear to WHOM fear is due!
Let’s change the focus of our heart and redirect the thoughts of our meditation.
Let’s dwell on the law of God hidden in our hearts. Let’s dwell on the righteous principles we already know. And the fear and the reproach of the multitude will soon lose their pressure on us.
“Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.
Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”