Scripture often refers to the faithful people of God as a remnant. The remnant is not simply the faithful minority in the world, but the faithful minority in the church. We must beware the presumption of calling ourselves the remnant. The Pharisees believed they were the remnant in the first-century. They were deceived. The Lord gives us the identifying markers of the faithful remnant in Isaiah 8: (1) they fear God, not man; (2) they trust God’s Word; and (3) they wait for the Lord and hope in him, even in dark times.
the faithful remnant fear God, not man. Isaiah writes:
For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem (Is 8:11-14).
The Lord calls on Isaiah to heed his counsel, not the conspiracy of the people, and to fear him, not what the people fear. There is security in the fear of the Lord. To those who fear the Lord, he is a sanctuary. To those who fear the conspiracy of the people, the Lord becomes a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling.
Second, the faithful remnant trusts God’s Word: “Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples . . . To the teaching and to the testimony” (Is 8:16, 20). The Pharisees abandoned the commandment of God for the tradition of men (Mark 7:8). The church in the West is under tremendous pressure to abandon the Word of God, but for us the Word of God is bound and sealed. It is complete and sufficient. It is trustworthy and true. It cannot be removed, revised, subtracted, or supplemented. With Isaiah, we cry: “to the teaching and to the testimony.”
Finally, the faithful remnant waits and hopes in dark times: “I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him” (Is 8:17). The remnant in Isaiah’s day suffered with the rest of the nation. They experienced the darkness, when the Lord removed the light of his countenance; however, in the darkness, they waited and they hoped. Perseverance and hope are sustained by obedience and faith. Isaiah waited and hoped because he trusted and obeyed God’s Word. He looked for the dawn, for the Lord promised: “The people walking in darkness, have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (Is 9:2).
As we seek to be faithful in dark times, let’s continue to walk in the fear of the Lord, trusting and obeying his word, and waiting and hoping in him.