“But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled” 1 Peter 3:14 (NAS)
The passage that Peter cites in his first letter to “those who reside as aliens” (meaning Christians, those in the world but not of the world) is drawn from the inspired utterances of Isaiah.
The original passage is in Isaiah 8:12 and reads thus in the Old Testament: “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, and you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it.” The overriding theme in the first letter of Peter is how the faithful stand in the face of suffering from the world while submitting themselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It’s reasonable for the Holy Spirit to inspire Peter to lift this quote from Isaiah when you consider why Isaiah was moved to first utter the words. The context of Isaiah eight is dealing with the nation of Judah cowering in fear before the combined forces of Aram (Syria) and Israel (the northern kingdom) while seeking an alliance with Assyria. This unholy alliance did rebuff the attacks of Aram and Israel (2 Kings 16:5-9) but it was a temporary reprieve from what was really coming for Judah. The people, once more, had turned from the eternal power of the LORD and back to the temporal powers of the world. The LORD warned through Isaiah of the impending conquest and near destruction of the lands of Judah too, at the hands of whom they were seeking refuge, the Assyrians. “..even the king of Assyria and all his glory; and it will rise up over all its channels and go over all its banks. Then it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass through, it will reach even to the neck; and the spread of its wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel.” (Isa. 8:7b-8) The prophet then gives notice to the Assyrians (and others) that their day is coming when they too shall be shattered in spite of their preparation, plans, or brazen proposals. Why? As the prophet declares: “it will not stand for God is with us” (Immanuel). Isa. 8:9-10. Isaiah was instructed not to walk in the way of the people as recorded in verse eleven leading to the context of verse twelve from which Peter quoted. Part of Satan’s scheme is to get you to turn back to the world from the Lord. If he can get you to fear the price you’ll pay for standing with Christ, he will once more force you into an alliance with him. Judah looked to the Assyrians for help and ended up being almost consumed by them later on, except for the intercession of Hezekiah and Isaiah petitioning God for help. Delivery came through the angel of the LORD. (2 Kings 19:34-36) If you turn to the world and away from Christ, that unholy alliance will earn you a temporary reprieve as well, the pressure will be off but you can be guaranteed the God of this world has every intention of taking you out in the end, just like Assyria attempted with Judah. Israel was hauled away by the Assyrians and into historical oblivion for many reasons but the first on the list was because “they feared other gods” (2 Kings 17:7). There is little doubt that the world about us is overflowing with Satanic influence. The coalition of nations assembling themselves together against Christian principles is obvious. Be aware of it, brethren, but don’t dread it. Peter and the disciples experienced the brunt of the conspiracy of Satan in their day. Satan was wielding the world-wide clout of pagan Rome with its idolatrous influences and the jealousy of the Jewish system against the early church. Now is a good time to consider 1 Peter 3:13, the verse that precedes our text: “And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?” In this statement the Spirit through Peter conveys that there is refuge for those who prove themselves zealous for the Lord, even the hope of being delivered from harm, if God wills it. As our subject text makes clear though, we are not guaranteed to be shielded from suffering even when we are walking righteously. However, no need to fear their intimidation or be troubled. Why? Immanuel-God with Us-through the indwelling Holy Spirit. He too, intercedes for us through our prayers in petitioning the Lord. And the word does say greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world, right? Learn the lessons from past history. Fear (which leads to submission) of other gods begets disaster. So do as saint Peter exhorted: sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. (1 Pet. 3:15a) Amen.