Victory Over A Virus

Bible Book: Isaiah  43 : 1-7
Subject: Faith; Promises of God; Worry; Fear; Coronavirus
Introduction

Right now our nation, and the world for that matter, is going through a situation heretofore unknown to us living at this time. The Coronavirus Outbreak has reached around the world and appears to be getting worse. Fear has gripped the hearts of many people as they see people lying on hospital floors in Italy as they have run out of beds and supplies. What makes it worse for them is the fact that they have announced that anyone over 60 will not be getting medical assistance. Can that happen here in America? No one knows for sure. The great question is how do we as believers deal with fear - real fear - terrifying fear?

Today I want you to look with me at Isaiah 43:1-7:

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I gave Egypt for your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
Since you were precious in My sight,
You have been honored,
And I have loved you;
Therefore I will give men for you,
And people for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your descendants from the east,
And gather you from the west;
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’
Bring My sons from afar,
And My daughters from the ends of the earth—
Everyone who is called by My name,
Whom I have created for My glory;
I have formed him, yes, I have made him.”

Through Isaiah God sent a message which He echoed fifteen times, an average of almost one repetition of the same theme every four chapters. The Lord sent a word of comfort and encouragement urging His children to “fear not.” This communiqué from Glory was one often repeated in other parts of the Bible. In fact, no less than one hundred times God tells us to apprehend apprehension, using the words “fear not” or “be not afraid” or “do not fear.” If we include the times God sought to eliminate worry from His children, the actual number of times He broadcast the blessing of the freedom from fear would most likely double that number of one hundred occurrences. What does this tell us? God does not want His people to live in a state of anxiety, agitation or trepidation - no matter the circumstances.

Fear, however, is a real problem in life. It stretches across all age groups at a time like this. From a child who fears things that go bump in the night, to senior adults who fear losing their savings, to the fear caused by an pandemic like that we see in the world right now, we need to know God's will for us and God's way of getting us past it.

Dr. George W. Truett was one of the greatest preachers in American history. He pastored the great First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, from 1897 till 1944. Under his leadership the church grew from 700 to more than 10,000 members. On one occasion he was asked to preach at one of America's premiere colleges. He wrote to the president and asked that the students choose the topic which interested them most. A survey was done and the result surprised Dr. Truett. The students said, "Tell the preacher to tell us how to deal with our fears." (20 Centuries of Great Preaching, vol. 8, p. 160)

Most of you are familiar with the former CBS football commentator John Madden. A former player and National Football League coach, Madden is afraid of flying. When he had to travel from New York to California to do commentary of a game, he left a few days early and rode on a special bus. Someone asked him why he was so afraid of flying. In true Madden style he answered, "At an airport one day I was standing in line to buy some flight insurance when I noticed that there were three airline pilots waiting in the line in front of me (related by Paul Harvey, "For What It's Worth," p. 86.).

God does not want his children living in fear. Apprehension among the redeemed reflects badly on the Redeemer. The state of high anxiety among the Saints tends to indicate that God has given us reason to doubt His promises or to wonder if He will keep His Word. He wants us to know and to act like we know that that all things work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). The Lord would have us to overcome anxiety and, thereby, to exhibit our confidence in God's goodness and grace!

In the passage before us today, we note that God gives us sufficient reasons for placing our trust in Him and His promises. Isaiah was inspired to tell us exactly why fear is nothing more than…

  • F ... False
  • E ... Evidence
  • A ... Appearing
  • R ... Real! (I first heard this used by Adrian Rogers)

God would have us to Apprehend Apprehension. We must have faith in God and in His Word (Proverbs 1:33 tells us that we can overcome fear by listening to God). Faith is…

  • F ... Fixed
  • A ... Assurance
  • I ... In
  • T ... The
  • H ... Heart!

When we have that assurance, we possess a peace that goes beyond understanding (Philippians 4:6).

Does God tell us in His Word how to combat fear? Yes, He tells us plenty! There are seven truths which God declares to help us apprehend apprehension.

I. He Created You (Isaiah 43:1a)

Carl Sagan, the late evolutionary spokesperson admitted: "The information content of a simple cell has been established as around 10 to 12th power bits, comparable to about a hundred million pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica." (Impact January, 1992  Dr. John D. Morris (Inst for Cr Res))

In other words, you are too much complex to have arrived at this point in time by accident. God made you, and He did so with a system so complex that the greatest minds in the world find it hard to fathom. Since He Created you, don’t you think He can take care of you. He doesn’t leave you alone – in fact, He sent His Savior to redeem you and removed fear from your life.

That leads us to the thought…

II. He Redeemed You (Isaiah 43:1b)

Let me share an interesting story with you. In May 1779, three soldiers of the "Black Watch" ‑ then known as "The 42nd" ‑ were condemned to die for mutiny. Three empty coffins were carried to the site where the men were to be shot and the condemned men were marched along behind them. They arrived at the place for the execution and the firing party raised their guns awaiting the word to "Fire." Sir Adolph Oughton stepping forward drew a paper from his breast, and read aloud: "In consequence of gallantry displayed by the 42nd Regiment, it has pleased His Majesty to pardon the rebels." The men were released, in virtue of the gallantry of their comrades. So sinners are freed from sin's condemnation, on account of Christ's obedience unto death (Rom. 5:19). (Adapted from https://macalisterhistory.com/2014/05/06/culture-clash/)

Even if the bullets were fired, those redeemed by Christ would not have died - as Paul said, ...to die is gain"... for the Christian. Fear must not have a grip on our hearts in circumstances like those we are facing today. Our Lord has already pronounced our release!

Note also from our text ...

III. He Called You (Isaiah 43:1c)

God called you to come to Him by name. In Matthew 10:31 we are told that God has every hair on you head numbered. So if hair number 1,001 falls out, he knows the day and hour it happened. He knows you that well.

The Lord cares about you as an individual. The Lord knows more about you than your neighbors, more than your parents ever knew, even more than you know about yourselves. I mean, how many of us know the actual number of hairs on our head? Well, a few of us might be able to count them, but that is beside the point. Seriously, God called you by name because He is intimately involved in your life.

When God called you, He knew exactly who you were, where you were and what you needed. If He loves you that much, do you think He will desert you in a time of trouble? Do you think the Coronavirus can win against you? No, my Christian friend, He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Also, let's consider that ...

IV. He Promises You (Isaiah 43:2)

In Bible Study Tools I read an interesting illustration of why it is important for us to believe and follow the Lord’s promises. The writer stated that he was driving down a bumpy country road when he saw a bag of cement beside the road. It appeared to have fallen off a delivery truck as it hit one of the bumps in the rough road. This person, “... being an individual who does not like to see anything wasted, stopped to pick up the lost bag of cement. When he reached down to pick up this heavy bag, to his surprise, he discovered it was not soft and limber, but solidified into an immovable piece of cement. Often our lives are like that bag of cement. They take on shapes that were not intended and become hardened in that shape. That bag of cement was meant to become a part of some beautiful structure but, because it did not reach its place of service, it became a useless rock in the form of a bag of cement. God wants to make something beautiful of your life. Don't let this purpose be thwarted by a bump in the road of life. (adapted from www.biblestudytools.com)

In this hour of hardship, we must think of God's will, our families, fellow believers, our neighbors ... we must not hoard items in fear - for that might keep them from people who need them just as much as we need them. We need to check on the elderly and weak among us. Let this be a time of helping rather than hurting, a time of sharing and not selfishness, and a time of ministry rather than misery.

God’s promises to be with you, guide you, counsel you, help you, protect you and take you to be with Him one day are not empty words. You can never be what He saved you to be, if you are worried all the time about the circumstances in your life. If you lack faith, you become like a bag of cement that has hardened into uselessness. Trust God. Serve God. Love God. Believe God. Keep reading His promises and put them to work in your life by praying for and helping others.

V. He Adores You (Isaiah 43:3-4)

One of the most important truths we can ever inculcate into our hearts and minds is the fact that God really loves us. He loves you as if you were the only one to love and He loves me the same way!

An elderly couple who had been married for sixty years were rocking on their porch. The husband looked over at his wife and thought of all the happy days they had together and said, "Honey, I'm proud of you." His wife who was hard of hearing said, "What did you say?" He said a little louder, "Honey, I said I'm proud of you." Again his wife could not hear what he was saying so she replied, "What did you say?" So this time the husband in a rather loud voice said, "HONEY, I SAID I WAS PROUD OF YOU!" His wife looked at him and said, "Well I'm tired of you too!"

God is never tired of you! In every situation He is trying to tell you that He loves you. Even in a time like this, God's love is at work and He can use this to draw the world to Him. We must be the examples of faith and fearlessness to show them the peace God gives to those who accept His love in Christ.

Even more importantly, notice that ...

VI. He Accompanies You (Isaiah 43:5)

God will not leave us. He is with us, even when he cannot see Him or even feel that He is there.

When I was in college, many years ago now, I had an experience which has remained vivid in my mind. It was the first week of a new year and the student body had gathered in the gym for a special chapel service. Students were hustling into the hall, trying to find their seats. Each student had been assigned a seat according the alphabetical order of the first letter in their last name. I found my seat sandwiched between a young man on my right and a young lady on my left. I introduced myself to the young man and asked where he was from. He told the story of being reared in a children's home because his mother and father had not wanted him. He told how he had been loved and cared for in that Baptist institution. I was touched with his story. I turned to the young lady on my right and noticed that she was crying. I told her that I was a pastor as well as a student at the college and asked if something was wrong. She told me that she had come all the way from New Jersey to attend college in North Carolina. It was the first time she had been away from home and she felt she did not have a friend in the world. Then she told me to listen to the song the pianist had begun to play on the piano. I listened and caught the tune immediately, it was ‘What A Friend We Have In Jesus.’ Then she added, "I was sitting here thinking that I didn't have a friend in this place, but then I heard that song. I realized I had the best Friend in the whole world, Jesus is with me!” How powerful is that! That is exactly what we need to remember today - in this extremely difficult time.

You are never alone if you belong to Christ. He is present. He is with you. He will not leave you. You may forget He is there, but that does not remove His presence. You may ignore Him, but you cannot remove Him. Open your spiritual eyes right now and you will see Him. He is a Friend closer than a brother.

Now, let me close with one more thought to help each of us have faith and confidence in this hour ...

VII. He Will Gather You (Isaiah 43:6-7)

One day the Lord is going to call us home. One day He will beckon to us and we will fly away. Fear not little child, God is coming for you and He will take you to a place He has prepared for you. Whether in death or in the rapture, He will gather us to His side. We have a great, marvelous future awaiting us. The likelihood is that we will live through this experience, but even if one or more of us should be chosen to depart, we know exactly where we are going. God will never leave us and He will gather us to His side where no germ, no bacteria and no virus can ever touch us again.

Conclusion

Of course, there are some people here today who have no hope in the face of fear. You have never trusted the One - Jesus - who came to die in your place on the cross. If you do not know Christ as your Savior, it is time right now to turn from your sin and place your trust in the only hope this world has - Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Psalm 27:1 is the confident message of a saint who asks, "Whom shall I fear? The Lord is my light and my salvation."

John 14:27 Christ stated plainly that He left us His peace so that we would not have to fear.

If there is a Christian in this place who is under great stress because of this terrible virus, or some other issue you are facing, take a fresh step to the side of the Friend that is closer than a brother. He loves you. He will comfort you. He will give you His peace.