A Study on Fear Pt. 1
Updated: Apr 8, 2020
I remember being afraid as a young boy. The door to my bedroom was woodgrain. Embedded into the woodgrain right in the middle of the door was a wood knot. If you have ever messed with wood or seen a plank of wood these are dark spots with a hardening right in the middle. The rings of the tree encircle this knot and make shapes around it. The knot in the middle of my bedroom door was large and looked like wood that is until as a young boy you turned off your light to go to sleep and your night light would shine on that knot. Now as you lay there trying to go to sleep your childish imagination begins to run away with you. That knot is now a person looking at you. He is not a nice person. He has only one eye. You turn away and think that will cause the fear to subside, but it doesn’t work. After a few minutes you turn around to find the man in the door still looking at you. You close your eyes real tight and say “I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid.” Yet when you open your eyes it seems as if the man is staring more intently than he was before. You pull the covers up over your head and say a pray that God would make the man go away. Finally because the fear has overtaken your mind you scream out to your Mom to come and make the man go away. She does, she closes the door and you can no longer see the man. You go to sleep. The only problem is that although your Mom tells you there is nothing to fear, the man is back the next night. So this time you get up and close the door, but deep down in the back of your mind you know the man is just on the other side of the door.
Fear paralyzes us sometimes until we lose control and our lives are drastically changed. Enter the pandemic of 2020. None of us have ever lived with this type of fear and concern. Sure some of you may remember a little of the depression, but you had no way of knowing what was going on around you because the communications were not very good. You were just doing your own thing. And for most of you who can remember, you were small children and what affected your parents was not as serious to you. Now I’m in no way making light of the depression. It was real and people lost lives, homes, families and other possessions. Yet with all of that said, I still believe that in our modern day times, no one has lived like we are living today. And whether we want to admit it or not there is a little fear embedded in this pandemic that we are willing to admit.
I realize the church has come along and said, “Trust God, don’t be afraid.” We have read it from the Bible and we are doing our best to live it. But the real truth is that none of us know what is going to happen tomorrow and that gives us a little bit of fear whether we will admit it or not. People have asked me when I think we will get back to worshiping together and I have truthfully said, “I do not know.” “I hope sooner rather than later.” The truth is that no one know who is living and walking on this planet when all of this will end.
So for the next few weeks I thought I would share with you a study on fear as we find it in the Bible. Were the heroes of our faith ever scarred? Did they have fear? Why or why not? All through the Exodus in the Old Testament we are told to fear God? What does that mean? Are we to be scarred of God? In the New Testament was Jesus ever scarred? Were the writers of the epistles or the gospels? And what about today. Is it a sin to be afraid? Is it a lack of faith? Is God ashamed of me if I am afraid? I will do my best over the next few weeks to answer most if not all of these question according to what the Bible says. Please feel free to print these studies out and share them with friends and take the time as a family to read them together. I can’t talk very well these days, but hopefully I can write some things that will help you along the way.
Fear – the Word itself
If one were to look at Strong’s Concordance and find the word fear you would see that it shows the word fear used in the Kings James Bible 395 times. Now that does not include any derivative of fear, like fearful or feared. So needless to say the word fear and words that mean fear are used often. In the Hebrew which is the language of the Old Testament this word is used in many ways. In many cases it means to be really afraid. The basic word fear in the Hebrew comes from the Hebrew word from affright. Yet that same word used in a difference context means to have a reverent fear. Not a fear that causes someone to run and hide, but one that shows respect to someone who is greater than you are. Many places where someone might read “Fear God,” might mean to pay Him the respect He deserves. Not run and hide from Him. In many instances where we read “Fear not,” it is because there has been a supernatural appearance and our natural reaction would be to be afraid. Yet the word expresses that we can calm our fears because we are being protected.
In the New Testament the word is from a Greek word which if transliterated you might think of phobia. And again the word is used in many different ways. It can be like when Jesus spoke to the disciples when they were afraid of the storm and said, “Do not fear.” Or it could be that we must “Fear the Lord,” which again means we are to pay Him the respect He deserves. Without going into great detail when one reads the Hebrew and Greek the syntax and various suffixes and prefixes can change the meaning of a word very easily. We also have to remember to read that word in the context it is written. So as we move along let’s keep all of this in mind.
I am now going to pick out a few passages in the Bible and we can identify exactly what fear means in each specific case.
1. Genesis 20 we have the story of Abraham and Abimelek. Abraham has gone about allowing Sarah tell everyone that she is his sister. Abimelek sends for Sarah and in a dream God tells Abimelek that if he touches Sarah he will surly die. He calls Abraham and in verse 10 he asks Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?” Abraham answers in verse 11, “I said to myself, there is surely no fear of God in this place…” What is he referring to when Abraham says that there is no “fear of God in this place?” He is referring to the fact that Abimelek and the people he rules do not recognize the living God. They do not respect Him as a God who can do anything. When Abimelek has his dream and God tells him not to touch Sarah, he quickly calls his own officials and tries to figure out what all this mean. He doesn’t have a healthy respect of God therefore there is no fear.
We do not need to tell small fibs to keep safe when God is in charge. Abraham thought he was helping God out by telling everyone that Sarah was his sister. (Technically she was a half-sister.) But God was not playing that game. We do not need to help God out in anything. If He has His hands on us we can be assured He will work everything out for His benefit. Do you know that God has your back? Are you assured that everything that is happening God will see you through? As we survive this pandemic are we afraid that we might get it and if we do what is going to happen? Or are we doing our best to stay safe and if we do get it we are going to trust God to see us through? Don’t allow the circumstances of the world to creep into your through process when it comes to God being in control. Just trust! When we do that God
2. Exodus 3-4 is the story of the call of Moses to return to Egypt. It is the story of the burning bush and the conversation between Moses and God. Although the word fear is never used in these passages the word “afraid” is used in 3:6. Yet there is also several places where we can believe that Moses was afraid and had a fear. Moses is seen today as a giant of the faith. His conversations with God are some of the greatest in the Bible. The relationship Moses had with God is probably one of the best examples of the relationship God would like to have with me and you. Yet Moses starts off this relationship with being afraid. When God introduces Himself to Moses, Moses turns away. He knew what everyone had always said, “No one sees God and lives.” So when the burning bush introduces itself, Moses turns away afraid.”
Yet that is not the only fear Moses deals with in this passage of scripture. When God calls Moses to return to Egypt, Moses begins making up excuses. He can’t go for this reason or that reason. And yet God is always coming back with just the right retort. Finally Moses agrees to return and God finally relieves his fear in 4:19, “Now the Lord had said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you are dead.” Wow! What a relief. Moses remember why he left Egypt. He had killed an Egyptian. He ran so he would not lose his life. Now God wanted him to go back and I’m sure he was afraid of what he might have to face, but God takes care of his fear by reassuring him that everything will be alright.
When this happens in our lives we need to remember the times God has always came through. As we continue our quarantine for at least the next month do not allow what you hear on TV or read in the papers to scare you away from what God has done for you in the past. God will take care of the details. Yes, some will die because of the virus and some will live with side effects probably. Our world will never be the same, but always remember that no matter the outcome, God is in control. There are no surprises to God.
3. Joshua 24:14-15 is the story of Joshua having his final say with the tribes of Israel. Each tribe was to have gone into the land they hand been given and conquered the people in the area. After a long time Joshua gathers all the tribes of Israel at Sheckem. He reminds them of their long history and of the way God had brought them out of Egypt and through the Red Sea. Then he reminds them of the triumph of crossing the Jordan River. He reminds them of all that God had done for them giving them this land that did not toil for or cities they did not build. Finally, Joshua says to them, “Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness.” Is Joshua telling the Israelite people to be afraid of God? Is he telling them to respect Him for His marvelous deeds? The answer to both of those questions is Yes. Joshua wants the tribes to fear God if they do not do away with all of their idols and other gods. He wants them to know that God will not stand for them to have any other gods but the one true God. But Joshua also wants them to respect God for what He has done for them. He deserves their respect because of all that He has given them. Things they have not worked or toiled for. Things that others have put in their hands because of the goodness and greatness of God. Respect Him because He is God!
Joshua ends those two verses with a verse that is well known. He gives the tribes a choice. Serve the gods of the nations that have been conquered or serve the one true God. Joshua finally says, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord!”
How are you and your family doing with that proclamation? Are you serving the Lord above all other gods in the world? There are many in this world who are right now worship the god of government. The government is going to bail them out. The government is going to send them free money. Some are worshiping the money they already have. The market is crazy and what am I going to do if it keeps falling? Will it recover? Will I have enough? Some are putting their trust in scientist. Surly a scientist will come up with a cure. Surly if I get this disease I will be able to survive. Surly a doctor will take care of me. I’m sure there are other scenarios where people are putting their faith and trust in someone or something that is going to come through in this pandemic.
Yet we who believe know that the government, our money, and scientist cannot help us to be at peace in the midst of a storm. There is only one person who can calm a storm and that is Jesus. If you and I have our faith in anyone or anything other than the Savior of the world then we are gambling with our very lives. Jesus is the only answer to the problem of who will and can bring us through this pandemic.
So hear Joshua. Be afraid of God because He can do anything He wants to do. Listen and follow Him and His ways and be blessed. Do your own thing and He will withdraw His hand of protection and no one knows what will come.
Respect God. Because He is the one who provides all we have and need for our lives. He will sustain us in the storm and on a sunny day. Don’t forget all He has done for you and praise His name.
I hope you understand a little more about fear. My go to passage during this pandemic has been 1 Timothy 1:7, “I have not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” If you know Jesus you do not have to fear. You can be assured of His love for you. He will see you through to the very end.
Is it okay to be afraid? Was Abraham afraid? Was Moses afraid? Was Joshua afraid?
Do I ever need to help God out in my circumstances?
Is God’s ultimate plan is always lived out the right way?
When God ask me to go will He provide the answers to my questions even if I don’t ask them?
Does God honor the one who loves Him and follows His ways?
Can I love God and also be dependent on my family, friends and wealth? Can they be as important as God?