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January 1 – Introduction to the fear of the Lord 

Isaiah 33 holds rich promises for God’s covenant people. The Lord is with them and will defend them. Isaiah 33 appears to refer to the events of 2 Kings 18-19, though the promises God makes are for His people through the ages. Judah was under the threat of Sennacherib, king of Assyria. He even sent the Rabshakeh to taunt Judah and fill them with more fear: “On what do you rest this trust of yours?”

We never have a reason to be afraid, even when our enemies are vicious and frightening. Jesus Christ is with us, He will fill the church with His justice and righteousness, and by faith in Jesus Christ we are acceptable before the Lord and spared His judgment. The threat of enemies often reveals our fear. The threat of enemies also often reveals our depth of trust in the salvation and safety of the Lord.

Judah would see the defeat of Sennacherib, who was killed by his own two sons while worshiping his false god. He had returned to Nineveh, the capital city, after the angel of the Lord had struck down 185,000 Assyrian soldiers, crippling their army and leaving them powerless.

We have great hope in Christ for final victory over all our enemies, even the last enemy, death. Such hope in Christ’s salvation is not merely a future reality. Because of Jesus Christ, the grave has no victory, sin no long has dominion over us, and the head of the serpent has been crushed! In His death and resurrection, Christ has already won the victory! He is now at God’s right hand as the King of kings and Judge and Lawgiver, righteous and just. We should never be afraid, but live in the fear of the Lord! 

The destroyer destroyed

“Ah, you destroyer, who yourself have not been destroyed, you traitor, whom none has betrayed! When you have ceased to destroy, you will be destroyed; and when you have finished betraying, they will betray you.” – Isaiah 33:1 

Scripture reading: John 19:1-11

Enemies are frightening—often pictured as growling, baring wicked teeth, with evil slits for eyes. Even the devil is depicted in Scripture as a slithering serpent, a devouring lion and a powerful dragon. Our enemies are not “flesh and blood,” but “rulers…authorities…cosmic powers over this present darkness…the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Philippians 6:12).

When your enemies—the devil, the world, and your own sinful self—threaten you, to what do you look for help? In what or whom do you trust? We must trust the Lord! As frightening and evil as our enemies may be, they are merely tools in the hands of the Lord. They are limited by His will and His power. When the Lord is finished using them for His ends, He crushes them.

Christ Himself faced this before Pilate. “You would have no authority over Me at all unless it had been given you from above.” Pilate was Christ’s enemy in God’s hands to exact saving justice; in Pilate’s unjust condemnation of Jesus, the Lord was punishing Jesus to save us, using an enemy to do it.

Some in Judah thought they could find help from Egypt. Others thought they could appeal to Assyria. Neither nation could help. Assyria would eventually be destroyed. Even Babylon would be overtaken. Jesus Christ has defeated the devil, He has overcome the world and paid for sin, so that sin no longer has dominion over His people. The destroyer has been destroyed!

Suggestions for prayer

Pray for deliverance from our enemies, the punishment of the wicked, and to learn patience, trust, and hope in Christ alone.

Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.

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