“Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread.” Isaiah 8:12
In Isaiah 8:9-15, the prophet Isaiah offers words of defiance against being swept into popular conspiracy theories and fear mongering that leads to powerful cultural and political alliances under the guise of providing security and safety. The reason God’s people should not join in these fear-based alliances is the promise of Immanuel—God with us (Isaiah 7:14). The reality of the Immanuel sign meant that God’s people could trust his “strong hand” (Isaiah 8:11).
It is natural that people apart from God live in fear, outrage, and see the world through suspicious eyes, but because of Immanuel, it must not be so among God’s people. The people of God should have all of their thinking reshaped by the promise of his sovereign presence. They should be the last people tempted by the contemporary snake-oil marketers of the latest miracle product, and they should be immune from fear-based conspiracy-fueled fund raising schemes and the temptation toward political alliances that promise power and security at the expense of truth and a prophetic cultural voice.
Consider J. Alec Motyer’s comments below on Isaiah 8:12 from The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary (pp. 94-95) and note how applicable they are to our lives today.
“The verbs now become plural. Isaiah has others with him in this separated life. This is now explained as touching how they appraise the facts of contemporary life (12a) and how to react to its dangers” (12b).
“We do not know of this being the case, but if it were so then the command is not to be moved by popular slur from the pathway of obedience.”
“The reference could to be to the alliance which Ahaz was negotiating with the Assyria. To Isaiah this was no alliance but submission, trading sovereignty for supposed safety, signing their own death warrant. Those who lived under the word and promise of God were those called to hold aloof from popular clamor for the supposed safety of political alliance and worldly armed strength.”
“Isaiah and his disciples are to have no part in a fear-ridden society but to be conspicuous for a different life-style, unmoved by the fears around; a calm in the midst of life’s storms and menaces.”
After all, we live in the age of fulfillment of the Immanuel promise: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus” (Matt 1:23-25). Taking “every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor 10:5) means that Jesus’s disciples, “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear” (Isaiah 8:11). Immanuel commanded his followers, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt 10:28).