Our national political discourse seems to be dominated by conspiracy theories. In the midst of such doubt and suspicion, God reminds us to not be driven by fear, but by faith.
Isaiah, chapters 8-10; Hebrews, chapter 8
Isaiah 8:11-22 (NLT):
The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said, “Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble. He will keep you safe. But to Israel and Judah he will be a stone that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare. Many will stumble and fall, never to rise again. They will be snared and captured.”
Preserve the teaching of God; entrust his instructions to those who follow me. I will wait for the Lord, who has turned away from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my hope in him. I and the children the Lord has given me serve as signs and warnings to Israel from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies who dwells in the Temple on Mount Zion.
Someone may say to you, “Let’s ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do.” But shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead? Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark. They will go from one place to another, weary and hungry. And because they are hungry, they will rage and curse their king and their God. They will look up to heaven and down at the earth, but wherever they look, there will be trouble and anguish and dark despair. They will be thrown out into the darkness.
A couple of years ago I reflected on this passage. I focused particularly on the statement about not thinking like others do. The challenge, “Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do” seemed to be a timely word – and it still is. So Fear drives so much of our world that people of every political stripe talk about conspiracies. Don’t think like everyone else does!
But today God also reminds us: Preserve the teaching of God. More and more people are turning away from the truth of Scripture – even within the Church. This should not surprise us; Paul predicted it to Timothy years ago. “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Isaiah contrasts those who consult God’s teaching with those who ask the mediums and…consult the spirits of the dead. We see that all around us today as well. Psychics, mediums, spiritists – call them what you will; the issue is the same. Shouldn’t people as God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead? No! We should look to the living God, “the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come – the Almighty One” (Revelation 1:8).
Conspiracy theories abound in our political discourse. In 2016, it was the conspiracy that Trump was working with Russia to impact the election. In 2020, it was the conspiracy that the Democrats had stolen the election from Trump. Even now, people cling to these conspiracy theories because they believe them so fervently. Our government spends so much energy and resources on “investigating,” as each side tries to prove its point.
When you question this, the answer is something along the lines like “we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” That answer – like so much else in our national debate – is grounded in fear. Contrary to what some people thought, the world did not come to an end when Trump was elected in 2016. And contrary to what others thought, it didn’t come to an end when he lost in 2020. Why? Because God is still on his throne. His plan continues to move forward, because he has accounted for every decision that people and governments make.
That’s why God tells Isaiah, and us, “Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life.” Don’t live in dread of what frightens them. Does that mean that I don’t pray for good things to happen? Of course not! It also doesn’t mean that I don’t care about our country and its future. But I don’t live in dread, because I know the One who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty One!
Father, thank you for reminding us not to get sucked into the conspiracy theories of the age. Help us not to live in fear of what frightens others, because we can trust in you completely. You are at work for our good in every circumstance and situation. And we know how the story ends! You will establish your kingdom and dwell among your people forever. Help us to walk in your way today, as you prepare us for your eternal kingdom. And help us to live so that others might be drawn to you. Amen.