The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

Isaiah 35:4 “Say to those with anxious heart, ‘Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The retribution of God will come, But He will save you.’ 5 Then the eyes of those who are blind will be opened, And the ears of those who are deaf will be unstopped. 6 Then those who limp will leap like a deer, And the tongue of those who cannot speak will shout for joy. For waters will burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert. 7 The scorched land will become a pool And the thirsty ground springs of water.”

The first Article of the Creed. “I believe in God the Father Maker of heaven and earth.” From the Small Catechism the explanation:

I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; in addition thereto, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and homestead, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil; and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.”

It may have been a long time since you recited these words from the Small Catechism, but this is part of what we believe and confess to be true of our God. Jesus put it to us this way in Luke 12:6-7 “Are five sparrows not sold for two assaria? And yet not one of them has gone unnoticed in the sight of God. 7 But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not fear; you are more valuable than a great number of sparrows.”

God provides for our daily needs. He protects us from all dangers and guards and preserves us from all evil. He does this out of His fatherly, divine goodness and mercy without any merit or worthiness on our part.

Yet a great many of us, indeed every single one of us lives in or with some kind of fear. The world can be a frightening place. It is also true that a great many people have figured out how to generate, fuel, and use fear. It has a name. It’s called “fearmongering.” It’s purpose is to gain compliance be it in our personal relationships and in matters of mass manipulation by evil powers. We are not only subject to it, we do it in our worst moments to others.

Luther said that after the fall into sin, Adam and Eve would have been terrified by something as harmless as a leaf rustling in the breeze. Think of all the things people want us to be afraid of today. Covid, the mobs, the fall of one form of government to another, the loss of friendships, of family, a job, our freedoms, of being called names, being ostracized, or being left alone.

There are three truths about human existence. We are all sinners. Second, we will die. Third, between birth and death we will be plagued by fear.

After Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit God came to them walking in the garden. 3:9-10 “The Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.’”

From that moment on human beings have lived in fear of the countless undesirable possibilities of life. Diseases, viruses, cancer, and decay brought on by aging all stalk healthy bodies to make them unhealthy. Hearing, eyesight, and mobility, and cognitive skills can all be lost to accidents. There is the potential harm could befall us because of evil people seeking to do evil things to us. Then there are the threats to our mental and emotional health. Threats to our way of life and standard of living.

The world plays this “little trick.” It raises doubts, creates and spreads lies, and generates fear. Then a group of people come along and say “Trust us we will save you from your fear.”

Today the advocates for socialism and communism think that they are ushering in a state of harmony and perfection, a utopia. In reality the earth and the life it sustains is rushing headlong toward disintegration: religiously, ethically, culturally, and ecologically.

Jesus even talks about the stress, confusion, and anxiety that will come during the last days. “There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting from fear and the expectation of the things that are coming upon the world…” (Luke 21:25–26)

Everywhere we look it looks as though evil is prevailing. The righteous suffer. The wicked prosper. Injustice prevails in our nation and across the globe. All you need to do is to turn on the nightly news, or go to a school board meeting, survey social medie, or talk to your state or national representatives.

I wish I could say that the visible church was immune from fear and the utilitarian use of it. We are a congregation that knows what the visible church can do.

Fear exists because sin and death exist. All fear ultimately has its foundation in God’s judgment against sin. That is why God the Father sent His Only Begotten Son into the flesh to save us from a judgment of eternal death. It is why He sent the prophet Isaiah as well. He sent him to preach and teach the Law and the Gospel to the Israelites. He sent him to speak peace as well as judgment.

Thus God sent the prophet Isaiah saying, “Say to those with anxious heart, ‘Take courage, fear not.” (v 4). There you go. God’s Word has issued a directive, take courage. Fear not. . . . easier said than done, isn’t it. That’s how is always is. If we could and would do what the Word of God instructs us to do, if we could keep the commandments and not be afraid, we wouldn’t need a savior now would we?

But listen. When God says “fear not” this is not an empty platitude. Yes it’s a command, but it is also something more than that. The word itself casts out our fears because God is Himself acting on our behalf in the word. God doesn’t command us to do something, then wait around till we muster up enough will power to do it.

The phrase “fear not” is addressed to hearts held captive to fear and anxiety. Fear was driving the Israelites away from God. Note the use of this phrase elsewhere in Isaia . “You are not to fear what [the others] fear or be in dread of it.” (8:12) “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will also help you, I will also uphold you with My righteous right hand…13 For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’’ (41:10, 13)

He says to His Israel, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1b) That’s why we need not fear. We belong to God the Father almighty who has promised that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord.

Through the angel, God proclaims to Bethlehem’s shepherds, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10) To the terrified disciples in the midst of a stormy sea, Jesus said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” (Mark 6:50) On Easter morning Jesus said to the women outside the tomb, “Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 28:10)

This morning I preach to you what Isaiah preached to the faithful Hebrews of his day. I preach to you what God has given me to preach to you. “Be strong; fear not.”

When my brothers and I were kids, my older brother and I fought like cats and dogs. My older brother use to beat on me a lot. To him it was like a hobby. He wasn’t the only one who enjoyed that hobby. A kid named Meyerhoff engaged in that same hobby on occastion. What Meyerhoff didn’t understand was the my older brother believed that he had the exclusive rights to this hobby. I understood something too. If my older brother was within ear shot and if Meyerhoff was about to lay into me, I wasn’t the one that needed to be afraid. When I needed protection my brother protected me.

You belong to God’s family. You were made His child in the water and the Word. Christ’s coming into the flesh to save you, is the remedy for your fear. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the one who protects you. Romans 8:31-39; 31; “If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring charges against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, but rather, was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? . . . 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

It is true. God does judge. He does and will take vengeance on those who make ceaseless war against Him and His adopted children- the church.

His vengeance though is against your enemies (sin, death, and the devil). “Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The retribution of God will come, But He will save you.” Christ was executed bearing your sins and mine, your fear and mine.

That list of all those things we are afraid of at toward the beginning of this sermon are all dealt with in the forgiveness of sins and in the life of the world to come. We undergo a different kind of judgment. It goes by the name of “absolution: In the stead and by the command your sins are forgiven, and given and shed for you for the remission of your sins.

Jesus Christ is your Brother. He comes to do what the prophetic Scriptures of the Old Testament promised. He comes as the One who fulfills the “messianic manifesto” of Isaiah 61:1–3. “To bring good news to the humble; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim release to captives And freedom to prisoners; 2 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3 To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The cloak of praise instead of a disheartened spirit. So they will be called oaks of righteousness…”

Jesus said of fear “27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither labor nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 28 Now if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You of little faith!”

Sin brought disorder, disease, and death into creation. By the blood of His cross, God has reconciled all things in heaven and on earth to Himself (Colossians 1:18–20). Luther reminds us in the Large Catechism, that “where the soul is healed, the body is helped as well.” (LC V 68)

The rest of the Old Testament lesson is a description of what waits for us beyond the realm of fear. Isaiah 35:5-7; “ The eyes of those who are blind will be opened, And the ears of those who are deaf will be unstopped. 6 Then those who limp will leap like a deer, And the tongue of those who cannot speak will shout for joy. For waters will burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert. 7 The scorched land will become a pool And the thirsty ground springs of water.”

The Son of God and our Savior came into this distressed and dying world to be your Brother. He will come again and with him bring new heavens and a new earth, the home of righteousness (2 Peter 3:13). In the meantime, we wait not in fear in this crumbling universe, but as those redeemed in body and soul by Christ the crucified. “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come to save you” because you’re sins are forgiven.


May the peace that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 2021 – Fear Not

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