Conspiracies and Fear

Read Together: Isaiah 8:11–15

As we saw on Sunday, Jesus calls us to drive out the fear of people from our hearts and walk in the fear of the Lord. In Isaiah 8:11–15, Isaiah received a similar charge from the Lord for the mission he and his followers had been given. In a time when many were focusing on conspiracies and giving in to fear, God calls Isaiah and the faithful in Judah to fear the Lord.

Isaiah 8:11–15 is set in a time of intense turmoil in Judah (the Southern Kingdom of Israel). They are facing threats from all sides (see 2 Chronicles 28). At the beginning of Isaiah 7, we see that King Ahaz and the people of Judah are shaking with fear when they hear about an alliance between Syria and Israel (the Northern Kingdom) against them. This is a time of wars and rumors of wars, a time of uncertainty and instability. The question is: who will Judah fear and who will Judah trust?

The people of Judah saw conspiracies everywhere (8:12). Some were real. Others were simply rumors. Yet, calling everything a conspiracy led to fear. They came to view the nations around them as bigger and more powerful than the Lord. But God says to Isaiah: Honor the Lord as holy and fear him. The fear of the Lord is the trembling trust in God as the good and sovereign King which leads us to put him first in our lives and obey his Word with a spirit of awe-filled joy and worship.

The fear of people thrives when we focus on conspiracies because it leads to a subtle sense that people and their plots are big and God and his plan is small.* Yet, when we walk in the fear of the Lord, we are not ignorant of opposition to our mission, but we view it in its proper perspective. We trust that God is bigger than any conspiracy or plot against us. And we stay on mission trusting that God will be our sanctuary and the rock of stumbling to those who oppose the gospel.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does it mean to fear people?
  2. What does it mean to fear the Lord?
  3. How does fearing God change how we view what is going on in the world?

Ideas for Younger Kids

  • Read Isaiah 8:11–13. Ask your kids: “What are some things you are afraid of?”
  • Discuss with your kids about how God says that we shouldn’t be afraid when people try to hurt us because we belong to Jesus. We can trust that God will help us and be with us even when people hurt us. But God also says we should fear him. Is this fear like our other fears, like being afraid of the dark or spiders? No, it’s not the same. Fearing God means we believe that he is our all-powerful King and put him first and obey him.  

Memorization: “But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” (Isaiah 8:13).

Song: Listen to Ancient of Days (CityAlight). “Though the nations rage/ Kingdoms rise and fall/ There is still one king/ Reigning over all/ So I will not fear/ For this truth remains: That my God is, the Ancient of Days.”

Pray Together

  • Praise God that he is the good and sovereign King who rules over all.
  • Confess before God that we sometimes give in to the fear of man and let the rumors of the day turn our gaze from our Holy God.
  • Give thanks to God that he is our refuge and sanctuary as we face opposition to the gospel.
  • Pray that God would help us to honor him as holy and fear him as we live on mission for Jesus this week.

Go Together

  • Discuss together what it would look like for you to walk in the fear of the Lord this week. What does this mean for how you live at work, at school, in your family, or in your community? Write down at least three practical ways you can live in the fear of the Lord in specific areas of your life. Focus on one of those, and consider writing it out as an actionable statement (“We will walk in the fear of the Lord by…”) and putting it in a prominent place in your home.


*Author Ed Welch wrote a whole book on this issue of the fear of man and entitled it: When People Are Big and God Is Small.

If you have any questions, comments, or ideas related to this Family Faith Talk guide or future guides, please let us know by leaving a comment!

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