20 May 2019

Life without Fear: The Call of the God-Centered Sojourner’s Life

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Christian hope, Discipleship, Faith, Holding On, Journey, Psalms

The “poor soul” in Psalm 34 testifies to many aspects of life that find expression in my own heart. One of the most wonderful are these words,

I sought the LORD, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears” (v.4).

What a testimony of faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel the worshippers in Israel reveal. Life with God delivers us from one of the most primal instincts among us humans, “fear.”

Did you know that one of the most frequent commands in the Hebrew Bible is some combination of the words “Do not be afraid,” “fear not” or the like (the competition comes from some form of “remember/do not forget”). It spills over into the “New Testament” as well. Moses exhorts the People of God no less than eleven times in in his farewell message in Deuteronomy “do not be afraid” (1.17; 1.21; 1.29; 3.2; 3.22; 7.18; 18.22; 20.1; 20.3; 31.6; 31.8)

The Thread in the Hebrew Bible

God said to Abraham “do not be afraid” (Gen 15.1)
God said to Hagar “do not be afraid” (Gen 21.17)
God said to Israel at the Sea “do not be afraid” (Ex 14.13; 20.20; etc)
God said to Moses “do not be afraid” (Numbers 14.9; 21.34)
God said to Joshua “do not be terrified/afraid” (Josh 1.9; 8.1; 10.8; 11.6; etc)
Yahweh said to Gideon “Peace be to you; do not be afraid” (Judges 6.23)
God thru David said to Solomon “do not be afraid” (1 Chron 22.13)
God said “O my people who live in Zion, do not be afraid” (Isa 10.24)
God said “do not be afraid for I am with you” (Isa 43.5)
God said “do not tremble, do not be afraid” (Isa 44.8)
God said “do not be afraid” (Jer 40.9)
God said “Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon” (Jer 42.11)
God said “do not be afraid” (Ezekiel 2.6; 3.9; etc)
God said to Daniel “do not be afraid” (Dan 10.12, 19; etc)
God said “do not be afraid” (Zech 8.13, 15; etc)

The Message in the Middle Testament (i.e. Apocrypha)

Tobit says to Tobias “do not be afraid” (Tob 4.21; 5.16; 5.21)
Sirach said “do not fear death” (41.3)
Jeremiah exhorts the exiles in Babylon repeatedly “do not fear them” (Letter of Jeremiah 6.23, 29, 65, 69)
God said to suffering Jerusalem “Do not fear, mother of children” (2 Esdras 2.17)
God said to his “elect ones,” “do not fear or doubt, for God is your guide” (2 Esdras 16.75)

The Preaching of the New Testament

The angel said to Joseph, “do not be afraid” (Mt 1.20)
Jesus said “do not be afraid of them” (Mt 10.28)
The Risen Jesus said to the women before commissioning them to announce the Good News, “do not be afraid” (Mt 28.10; cf. v. 5)
Jesus said to Paul “do not be afraid” (Acts 18.9; 27.24)
John was told “do not be afraid” (Rev 1.17; 2.10)

Some form of the exhortation “do not be afraid” occurs in the Bible enough times for us to hear it each day of the year.

But the testimony of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation is that God’s People are not to be fearful … if God is on our side then whom, or what, shall we fear?

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

(Psalm 27.1)

It is something I am working on.

3 Responses to “Life without Fear: The Call of the God-Centered Sojourner’s Life”

  1. Phil Says:

    I am learning that to not fear is to learn to replace the fear with something else. I am trying to replace it with courage. Too abstract. I have tried peace. Too easily broken. I have tried and have tried gratefulness. It is possible to practice gratefulness in spurts. It works out pretty well. Then I think of joy. I would like to have ongoing joy. somewhere there is a replacement behavior for fear. Maybe it is a little of them all.

  2. john acuff Says:

    outstanding and so very needed we have become unbelievers to the extent we fear.

  3. Clarence Campbell Says:

    Do I understand correctly that The Holy One did not give us the spirit of fear?

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