“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed;
for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea,
I will help thee;
yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
In Part 1 of this series we discussed the Israelite’s and their fear of the Philistines who wanted to subject them to their will. We also discussed David, and the panic he encountered when chased by King Saul who wanted to kill him. You can find Part one here:
In 2013, there were some 2,100 Christians killed across the globe for their faith. In 2015 that number rose to at least 7,100(Not all ISIS). (3) In 2014 “ . . .the Islamic State (ISIS) . . . published a new edition of the propaganda booklet Dabiq, which is again signaling its primary enemy – Christianity. This “terror groups desire is to conquer Rome and ‘break the cross,’” This aspiration is much like that of the Philistine’s who stood in defiance of God and petrified the Israelite army. “Their goal is to pave the way for the appearance of their Mahdi, the Islamic Messiah.”(1) Just this morning ISIS has announced they will begin attacking London and Washington D.C.
I am by no means a theologian so I am not trying to go so deep that I lose both you and me. I only share what is in my heart, and in the hearts of those around me. I left you with the following questions:
Do we have right to be afraid? As did David, should we stand against those who want to kill us?
“The Philistines were mentioned in the Bible as far back as the time when God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. The Philistines were the mortal enemies of the nation of Israel for hundreds of years. When the Israelite’s had finally settled into Canaan, they had to contend with the Philistines.
These two nations constantly fought. One of the major reasons as to why the Philistines and the Israelite’s constantly have strife with one another is because of their religious beliefs. The Philistines primarily believed in Dagon (god of fertility) and the Israelite’s believed in Yahweh, or God. These two gods were nothing alike and this religious difference played out in the lives of the Philistines and the Israelite’s in forming their cultures and shaping their lives.
Another major reason as to why the Philistines resented the Israelite’s is because they had conquered so many people when they entered into Canaan under Joshua’s leadership. The Philistines were a powerful and warlike people, and they didn’t like the idea of having the Israelite’s being strong. So they constantly challenged the strength of Israel and many times they wanted to subject them to their rule to prove they were better. God also let the Philistines remain in the land to test and punish the Israelite’s whenever they strayed away from worshiping him. The Philistines defeated the Israelite armies on many occasions and they even managed to get some of the people to turn away from worshiping Yahweh.” (2)
America has been a strong nation over the past 240 years. Our strength was formed on the foundation of Christianity. Those who hate us are challenging its very foundation. We see around the world Christians being beheaded and killed in other ways. They desire to come to America, and are already here in small cells preparing to attack when they feel it is time. This is our New Goliath.
When I ask if we have a right to be afraid, my answer is this: My first inclination is to say, “YES” we have a right to be afraid. Of course we do. I believe most of us would agree this would be our first thought. We are human after all. We defend our fear by saying God created us with this innate characteristic to protect ourselves from harm. It is part of our human nature. If we see a tornado headed out way our emotion is to get to safety and protect ourselves. If someone wants to hurt our children we immediately run to their protection. Fear is a part of human nature. When Goliath comes for us are we to be afraid? When this huge enemy comes against the foundations of our world are we to grow fearful of what will come?
If you are old enough, do you remember the days of uncertainty; post WW2, in the 1950’s and 1960’s when everyone was building bomb shelters? We had atomic bomb drills in school. When the alarm sounded we immediately climbed under our desk, folded up into a ball and waited for the end of the world. Children were genuinely afraid and were relieved when the alarm sounded a second time to tell us to go back to learning. We were preparing ourselves for war.
God did give us the emotion of fear as a protection of ourselves. But he does not want us to succumb to our fear. When you read His Word He has promised to support us, therefore, there is no reason to fear. We must trust that promise. Yet, walking into a theater we wonder if someone would enter the theater with a gun and start shooting people. These thoughts do cross our mind. We cannot stop these things from happening if we do not know they are coming. The only thing we can do is to submit our fears to God for Him to protect and support should fears become reality.
Like David, if we did not have a human nature of fear we would not need these passages to remind us. The key is to overcome this mortal nature with one of a spiritual walk with out God. The Bible is full of passages where we are instructed to have no fear. In fact there are so many I struggle to decide which ones to use. We all agree with these. I believe most of you are like me in that while we agree with these scriptures we do so with a disingenuous heart simply because we have never had anything, or anyone really stand against us and threaten our lives. This New Goliath is now beginning to do just that.
Through out the Word of God we are given example after example of how to handle fear. These examples have ONE thing in common, they trusted God. I imagine Abraham had fear sparked in his heart when God told him to sacrifice Isaac. His fear was quelled by his faith in God. Daniel was thrown into a den of hungry lions. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace. Elijah was deathly afraid of Jezebel, who threatened to kill him, so he ran. Each of these men were challenged by their own Goliath. Paul and Peter were thrown in jail for their faith and their lives were threatened. Stephen was a layman just like you and I. He was stoned and killed for his faith. Even in death God is faithful to His promises and delivered each of these men.
And fear not them which kill the body,
but are not able to kill the soul:
but rather fear him which is able
to destroy both soul and body in hell.
We have a hard time understanding what it means to rely on God and put our trust in him. This is why so many gloss over the scriptures that tell us “do not fear.” We battle within our hearts with what it means to not fear when the foundation of our world is crumbling. We struggle with allowing God to be in control.
All scripture is inspired by God were written for our benefit. They are God’s Word for us to place in our heart and develop a faith in His security. Instead so many of us do not embed these assurances and move forward in our own strength. When we lose sight of these promises, our worries build an intense scenario that does not exist in God’s Word. When we apply the Word of God daily He will ensure our safety.
We need to learn from Job; he had a fence around him so high satan could not penetrate it. How did he have that hedge of protection? Through prayer, worship and obedience to God. How can we build this hedge for our family and ourselves? One prayer is the first brick. Another prayer is another brick on top of that one. Worship is another brick. Obedience is still another on top of these. If in our lives, if we are constantly laying brick, we begin to realize that we are building the same hedge of protection around ourselves, and our family. Our confidence grows and our fears diminish. In this way we begin to see that when we take God at his Word and do not fear, we are growing in the same confidence, the same boldness the saints of old demonstrated in their lives.
God is faithful to his Word. When we develop our hearts and minds to capture God’s strength we learn to depend on Him and His Word. When we have our confidence in Him, we do not have to fear. We know that this Goliath is only one of many that will be defeated by the Almighty.
The key is to grow in confidence by FOLLOWING. We prepare for battle in the same way those saints before us have done; we allow God to lead. . . . . .“we follow”. It’s that simple. “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8). This is how we prepare to meet Goliath. When we follow after God’s lead, “. . .the eyes of the wicked will fail, and escape will elude them; their hope will become a dying gasp” (Job 11:20).
Do we have the “right” to be afraid? This is a difficult question. With God’s commands to not be fearful, no, we do not have a “right.” Nevertheless, we have the natural anxiety of fear, which God gave us. But it is not a right. We are to cast away our fears and depend upon God’s protection. When we practice these things in our lives we grow in boldness and the confidence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The same blood that got us in, keeps us in. In other words, the same blood that provided us with mercy and salvation when we first met our Lord continues to provide us with mercy and salvation. Like the saints of the Old and New Testaments We must trust in Him.
In Part 3 I will address the question: What can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:57-58 (ESV)
- Newsweek, 10-14-2014)