It is I; do not be afraid. -Jesus
I have already posted once about fear (http://turnaside.org/blog/2018/11/01/how-to-live-a-happy-life/) but the Lord has been opening my eyes to a larger truth as we have been walking through Deuteronomy. Many of you have probably considered the insight I am going to share, and I have probably heard sermons on this as well, but to study it for myself and have the Lord reveal it has stamped it deeply on my heart and mind.
There are two main types of fear in Scripture-the fear of the Lord and the fear of everything else. The fear of the Lord is a good thing, and we see it commanded in multiple books of the Bible. In fact in the book of Deuteronomy that re-tells the Law, God makes a striking contrast between the fear of man and the fear of the Lord. The Israelites are constantly being told not to fear man, and being encouraged to fear the Lord.
And the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our goodalways, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. Deuteronomy 6:24
As I have studied Deuteronomy, I’ve seen that the fear of the Lord has beautiful and precious promises associated with it. Some of them are very specific to the children of Israel, but in other books of the Bible, we see many of the same promises, promises of wisdom, knowledge, more fulfilling lives, pleasant outcomes, blessings.
What has been wrecking me lately, however, is how God handles the other type of fear-the fear of man and everything else. See, not once in this book of Deuteronomy (and if I had time to fully study it, I think this would be what we see over and over again) are the Israelites commanded “Do not fear. Period.” When the word “fear” is used there is always a connection made back to God. Always.
Look, the Lord your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the Lord God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged. Deuteronomy 1:21
And the Lord said to me, ‘Do not fear him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand; you shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon.’ Deuteronomy 3:2
You must not fear them, for the Lord your God Himself fights for you. Deut 3:22
Please notice that God acknowledges our very real, very frustrating emotions that keep us from walking in obedience at times, but He doesn’t leave us in them. No, instead He reminds us of an ever-present help, HIMSELF. I have seen in these verses that He promises to be with us, He promises to fight for us, that He promises to go before us. We are never told to not fear just for the sake of suppressing our emotional response. We are told to fear not because GOD is there.
In the New Testament we see this as well. Jesus dealt with the disciples and others, encouraging them not to be afraid because He was there, He was able, and He was not limited by what their eyes of flesh were telling them.
So what does this look like in my everyday life? It has deepened my understanding of the presence of the Lord and given me a greater appreciation for what that means. Anxious thoughts have no place when the mind of Christ is actively present. Concern for the future and all that might happen is cast aside because He knows and goes before us. My fears and worries will bow down to His tangible presence as I choose to focus my mind on Him and not on what is concerning me. The fears fade and I am strengthened in faith.
What a gift!
So, how do you practically walk this out? By applying the truth. God present and with you in your fear. But He doesn’t just sit and sulk with you there. He desires for you to fix your mind on Him and His promises. The God of creation, who rules and reigns on the throne of Heaven has given us precious promises, and by fixing our minds on them and not our fear we will walk in victory.