31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
November 18, 2018
Isaiah 36:1-3, 13-20, 37:1-7
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
The hot Christmas gift in my family this year is tickets to the musical Hamilton so I’ve been listening to the soundtrack. There is one song that I instantly fell in love with. It is called “You’ll Be Back.” And at first, I thought it was a sort of love song.*
Yeah….. that “fully armed battalion to remind you of my love” part kind of tipped me off to the fact that this was no love song and instead was King George singing to those rebellious Americans.
King George of England had a lot in common with King Sennacherib of Assyria. Both used overt and aggressive displays of power to intimidate and instill fear. King George wanted those upstart rebels in the colonies to settle back down and behave. King Sennacherib wanted the people of Jerusalem and Judah to “revolt against their king, forsake their God, and bow before” him. (workingpreacher.org, 11/18/18, Prof. Juliana Claassens)
King George and King Sennacherib are not the only two people in the history of the world who have tried to use fear and intimidation to get their way. Fear is a very powerful and effective tool. We have just come through election season so I don’t need to tell you how persuasive fear is. You’ve seen enough commercials.
Fear is powerful because fear causes people to despair. Fear causes people to become paralyzed and stop trying. Fear causes people to do as King Hezekiah of Jerusalem did, to cry and lament and declare there is no hope.
Fear is powerful; however, hope is more powerful. Even as Hezekiah publicly mourns his people and his kingdom, essentially showing everyone he is giving up, he still has a glimmer of hope, a piece of him still trusts in God and God’s promises.
And that hope, that glimmer of hope, encourages Hezekiah to send messengers to God’s prophet, to Isaiah, asking Isaiah to pray for them. Because even in his fear, Hezekiah knows God is ever faithful, and Hezekiah knows that over and over again, God tells us, “Do not be afraid.” The prophet Isaiah says exactly that to his messengers. “Tell your master, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard.’” (Isaiah 37:6, NIV)
Don’t be afraid of posturing kings and invading armies. Don’t be afraid of intimidating and fear-filled words. Don’t be afraid when people try to scare you by saying, “They are trying to take away our way of life”. Don’t be afraid of all of the bad things that could potentially happen. Do not be afraid, period.
This is God’s message of hope to us throughout the Bible. This is God’s promise of hope to us throughout time. Because God is ultimately in charge, and God says, “There’s a day coming when” all people, all nations shall come to God’s house (Isaiah 2:2, The Message), and God shall teach us God’s ways so we can live the way we were created to live, focusing more on creating food than on weapons, on creating peace than war.
Even when our days seem dark and fear is all around us, we always have hope – because the Bible tells us, our own experiences tell us, that God is in charge; God is faithful; and God is working toward a kingdom of peace and justice.
And we are a part of it. “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14) You are the light shining in the darkness. (John 1:5) We are God’s hope in the world. We are God’s light. Through each one of us, God is working to dispel the darkness of fear and bring about the light of God’s hope.
This week, as you give thanks for your blessings, give thanks for yourself and how you are a blessing; give thanks for your opportunities to serve and make the world a better place; and then go make a difference in the world because God is with you and you have nothing to be afraid of.
*“You’ll Be Back” from the musical, Hamilton
You’ll be back, soon you’ll see
You’ll remember you belong to me
You’ll be back, time will tell
You’ll remember that I served you well
Oceans rise, empires fall
We have seen each other through it all
And when push comes to shove
I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love!