I’ve struggled to choose a subject today.
I originally opted to simply expand upon last Sunday’s sermon and do a piece on prayer but it just wouldn’t sit right in my mind. I have been preoccupied with the subject of fear lately. We are living in a time when fear seems to be the favourite method of control; for politicians, interest groups, salesmen; and that annoys me. Even some church leaders have jumped on certain band-wagons through a fear of ‘becoming irrelevant’ and I can only say shame on them.
So I did a really adequate piece on prayer last night for posting today and this morning I went to my prayers and read the readings. So here we go on fear. Today’s readings give us two examples of fear and how it can affect us. The OT reading (1 Samuel 10: 17-end) in which we see the Israelites letting their fear of their enemies blind them to the reality of God. They demand that a king be set over them despite all that God has done for them. This does not end well for the nation of Israel.The NT (Luke22:31-38) in which we see Jesus predict that Peter will abandon Him in fear and instructs Peter to ‘strengthen his brothers once he has turned back from his fear. So fear is not always negative or punished.
The Bible speaks of four main types of fear.
Holy fear: This is God-given fear. “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”, because it allows and assists us to reverence God’s authority, obey His commandments and hate and shun all forms of evil. The early Christians were described in the NT as ‘walking in the fear of the Lord’. Gentiles who converted to Judaism were described by Jews as ‘God-fearers’. But fear God, not life or death. Fear God; His awesomeness will never be diminished, and the day of judgement will be met by all; regardless of what some may tell you. Fear of God will help us seek out holiness and will be reflected in our attitudes towards each other. But never forget, God is also loving and forgiving and Through Christ freely gives us the Spirit of sonship (Romans 8:15).
Slavish fear:A natural consequence of sin (Genesis 3:10) and can be a punishment in itself (Deut 28:28). It is felt by those who reject Christ, for whom remains only the expectation of judgement (Heb 10:27) for they have abandoned the hope of redemption. Though not of itself a good thing it is often used by the Holy Spirit for the conversion of men (Acts 16:29).
Fear of men:Revering certain men/women, such as masters and magistrates (or masked men with knives) a blind dread of what they may do; also a source of Christian concern for them that they may be ruined by sin. True love of God will cast this fear out.
Fear of Fear:‘Their fear, the thing that terrifies them comes upon the wicked’ (Proverbs 1:26-27)When the Hebrews entered the promised-land God sent His fear before them, destroying and scattering the Canaanites. He inflicted them with fear and terror rendering them unable to fight or flee.God is called ‘the fear of Isaac’ (Gen 31:42); the God whom Isaac feared and worshipped. In the book of Job (4:6) “Is not your reverent fear of God your confidence, and the integrity and uprightness of your ways of hope.”
So fear can be a weapon or it can be a tool; it depends who you are scared of and why. I was a truly wonderful child, as my sister will tell you if I can afford the bribe; but only because I was quite scared of getting a clip round the ear from my dad. The fear of my father kept me on, or at least in the vicinity of, the straight and narrow. Fear of the Lord will do the same for us all. Fear of anyone or anything else will put us in the dangerous position of allowing that fear to drive out the fear of the Lord.
SO FEAR NOT
Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon forged against you shall prosper”
Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am with you”
Joel 2:25 “I will restore to you all those years the locusts have destroyed”
Psalm 34:7 “the Angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them”
Proverbs 18:10 “ The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and are safe”
Oh, and don’t forget to pray.