Remember the inspiring testimony of Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut, direct from space: “The world looks marvelous up here, so peaceful, so wonderful…” Indeed his words are very similar to how the Genesis account describes God’s magnificent creation.
Col. Ramon went on to say: “The atmosphere is so thin and fragile, and I think everybody, all of us…have to keep it clean and good. It saves our life and gives us life” ( Independent on Sunday , Feb. 2, 2003).
This may be understood as a positive testimonial to our Creator-a badge of honor suitably due to His divine majesty. Everything He had made is simply described in Genesis as “very good.” And like Adam and Eve were told to “dress and keep” the Garden of Eden, mankind was also divinely commanded to populate and rule the earth, suitably subduing it in a right manner.
A sobering reality check
How different is the fresh perspective of this brave and courageous Israeli astronaut (tragically lost only a few minutes from scheduled touchdown) from many standing on the earth. In New York City, “a stone’s throw from Wall Street and the site of the World Trade Center, most models of gas masks have sold out; the only nuclear, chemical and biological suits left are extra-large. Fifteen minutes after closing time, the queue at the security equipment store’s checkout is still 10 people deep” ( The Financial Times , Feb. 15, 2003).
Some who walk on solid ground, freely breathe the earth’s precious air and bask in the rays of the sun, must now contemplate a future day when we may be forced to don space suit-like gear (perhaps somewhat like that of astronauts) just in order to survive deadly chemical and biological attacks—poisonous gases deliberately injected into the atmosphere by murderous terrorists.
In spite of the Columbia tragedy, while they yet lived those seven astronauts had temporarily escaped the stark reality of the earth’s present condition. You need only to turn on your TV to fully understand the damage human beings can inflict first on themselves and then on their precious habitation, our own planet called earth.
We may well ask: How can those of us who desperately want to continue bringing our lives into harmony with our Creator’s will cope with what is coming?
Needed comfort from Isaiah 51
One particular chapter in the book of Isaiah is of inestimable help. God is speaking here in the first person. He specifically addresses those who are already living God’s way. Most of our readers may readily identify with this spiritual position.
Our Creator says: “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD” (Isaiah 51:1 Isaiah 51:1Listen to me, you that follow after righteousness, you that seek the LORD: look to the rock from where you are hewn, and to the hole of the pit from where you are dig.
American King James Version×, New International Version throughout). Does this describe you? If so, you are on the right road to eternal security and enjoying God’s help and assistance in the meantime.
The chapter continues: “Look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many” (verse 2). The wondrous implications of this sublime passage are explained in our free booklet (available on request), The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy.
Further, the book of Genesis, combined with the books of Romans and Hebrews, shows how Abraham became the forefather of our Christian faith.
In briefest summary Hebrews 11:8 Hebrews 11:8By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing where he went.
American King James Version×says: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going “(emphasis added).
The faith of Abraham and David
Notice first of all that Abraham’s faith was solidly coupled with obedience, the keeping of God’s commandments (Genesis 26:5 Genesis 26:5Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
American King James Version×). Secondly, it was patiently exercised in trusting the Creator to lead him safely through arenas of alien life and geography completely unknown to him.
Generations later King David of Israel was inspired to write: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” (Psalms 23:4 Psalms 23:4Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.
American King James Version×). David knew in advance that God was with him in spite of all the trials that were to mark his life. He also knew the terrorism of his time firsthand and He resolutely condemned it again and again. David despised those who “shed the blood of war in [time of] peace.”
We do not know in advance exactly how God will deliver us from the future evils of terrorism. But what we do understand is that Isaiah calls upon us to exercise the believing, obedient faith of Abraham. (You may wish to request our free booklet You Can Have Living Faith .)
The sure knowledge of a better world
Isaiah 51 continues: “The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing” (verse 3). This is primarily a brief word picture of the wondrous millennial reign of Christ, and only secondarily a distressing reminder looking back at what had happened in the last days of the age of man-specifically mentioning ruins and wasteland.
Regrettably, this is the somber direction of our world today, increasingly heedless of God and His righteous ways. But the true Christian is even now a citizen of the heavenly Kingdom (Philippians 3:20 Philippians 3:20For our conversation is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ:
American King James Version×). He or she actively looks forward in faith to an eternal city whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:13-16 Hebrews 11:13-16 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from where they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: why God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city.
American King James Version×).
However, God gives us further knowledge of a better world on this earth in Isaiah 51: “Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: The law will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations” (verse 4). Note from reviewing verse 1 that God is still addressing His own people, the firstfruits of His righteousness, and not the children of disobedience. And whatever Isaiah may have personally had in mind when he penned these words under divine inspiration, the New Testament now identifies the Church as God’s nation (Matthew 21:43 Matthew 21:43Therefore say I to you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
American King James Version×), the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16 Galatians 6:16And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and on the Israel of God.
American King James Version×).
Nonetheless, this particular passage in Isaiah anticipates Christ’s millennial reign of peace and prosperity—emphasizing its secure undergirding of universal obedience to God’s law and divine justice. The narrative goes on: “The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm.” Fervent hope is the constant companion of a truly biblical faith.
To whom is God talking?
In this long passage in Isaiah, God never once forgets the nature of the audience that He is addressing. “Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts” (verse 7). Today God’s people are truly converted, obedient Christians who continue to internalize His holy law.
Nonetheless, beginning in that same verse God goes on to counsel His very own people with the words: “Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults.” Then a little later in this same chapter, the Creator challenges us by asking: “Who are you that fear mortal men, the sons of men, who are but grass, that you forget the LORD your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction?” (verses 12-13).
Truly the Bible is an up-to-date book. Today we are confronted by similar fears very much like those that our spiritual forefathers had to wrestle with and overcome. We could do with the same attitude of mind as former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) when he boldly said in the dark days of the economic depression in the 1930s, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
Jesus Christ tells us not to even fear those who might kill the body, but have absolutely no power over their victims’ eternal destiny. The Personage He told us to fear and respect is God the Father, the one who has the awesome power to give or deny us eternal life (see Matthew 10:28 Matthew 10:28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
American King James Version×).
The God who comforts His people
Our Creator resolutely tells us: “I, even I, am he who comforts you” (Isaiah 51:12 Isaiah 51:12I, even I, am he that comforts you: who are you, that you should be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass;
American King James Version×). Our God has said: “I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand” (verse 16). God’s people are charged with the challenging task of getting the true gospel out to this unbelieving and disobedient world, but not without His accompanying divine help and protection.
If we first seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, God will see to our physical, material and even psychological necessities. After all, Jesus told us that the Father knows our needs in advance. Yet in a spirit of thanksgiving, we should still make our requests known to our Creator (Philippians 4:6 Philippians 4:6Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
American King James Version×), asking Him to aid us in casting out our anxieties-learning to trust in Him alone.