CHRISTADELPHIAN BIBLE POSTAL COURSE No. 48
LIVING IN FEAR
Reading : Deuteronomy 26
It is very easy for those living in countries where there is good government, peace and civil order to say that fear is just something you have to stand up to. "Confront your fears" is a modern slogan.
In recent years even people in formerly peaceful countries have had to learn what it is like to live in fear day and night because of war, often civil war within their countries, because of natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, avalanche, tornadoes hurricanes or cyclones, depending where they live in the world.
Fear comes from not knowing what is going to happen to you next, from sudden attack on your property or from being unable to help yourself, your family or friends when you are threatened. Sudden events and the sudden coming of fear can happen to all of us, but what this lesson is really written for is to show us how to look at and overcome the fear that does not go away. Fear that is with us day and night for many days, weeks or even years.
There are some very clear examples in the Bible and we can read these together now to see just how those people were affected.
First then to Exodus chapter 14 verse 10 where the people of Israel who have escaped slavery in Egypt discover that they are being pursued by a vengeful Egyptian army. The sea was before them, the Egyptians behind them; quite naturally they were afraid.
Another example, this time in Deuteronomy chapter 26 verse 63
to 67. When you read these words, you will see that they describe the fear that never goes away. God tells his people that this will happen to them if they desert him and begin to worship idols made of wood and stone. The Jews did desert God and their history up to this present day has included many years when they lived in this great fear. In Germany, between the years of 1939 and 1945, 6 million of them were ruthlessly exterminated just because they were Jews. That is a terrible example of living in fear.
Fear is worse when it is an unknown thing. It can affect whole groups of people. It is passed from person to person in conversation. When this happens to you, the first thing you can do as an individual is identify the cause of the fear. Who or what is responsible. It is then possible to see what you can do about this cause. In many cases, to leave your home, your village and your family and friends seems the only sensible course of action.
Since the beginning of the Christian Church, followers of Jesus have been persecuted just as much as other people. Sometimes this was because they were Christians, yet it did not make them give up their place as disciples, instead they became even stronger in their faith and obedience to Jesus.
The book of Acts, in telling us about the preaching work done by the Apostles in the countries to the north of the Mediterranean sea, reveals that wherever they went they were threatened by the groups of Jews who lived in those regions.
The apostles were beaten, stoned to death and thrown into prison but we do not see them cowed or defeated. Quite the opposite, for many times God sent his angels to open the doors of prisons Acts 16 verse 22 to 29. Just imagine Paul and Silas, aching from the beating they had received, not able to sleep, instead singing praises to God (probably from the book of Psalms).
From the early days of Jesus' Church, the disciples knew what it was like to live with fear yet they did not allow it to rule their lives. Instead Jesus was the great ruling force in their lives and because of him they did not give in to fear. His own example, from that terrible day when he knew that in just a few moments cruel men would come to capture him and take him away to be crucified, would have encouraged his followers of that time and can do the same for us today.
It is in Luke's gospel that we can read of this time of great difficulty for Jesus, chapter 22 verse 39. Read on now to verse 44. He knew from the many prophecies what was going to happen to him and because he was a man, he was afraid. Yet, because he was the Son of God, he knew that this painful death was the price that had to be paid for the sins of humanity. With great courage he stood up from where he had been crouched in prayer to his Father and moved out of that peaceful place to face his accusers and his death.
Jesus never promised his followers lives free from trouble and from fear but he did show that the life that we live now is just an introduction to his kingdom. Some of his followers would die because they were Christians but in God's purpose they would never be lost "r forgotten. On the day of resurrection, they will stand on the Earth with those others who have lived and died peacefully.
Look at Jesus' words in Luke 12 verse 4 to 7. Hell in this reference is the grave and those who do not accept God's offer of salvation rest there eternally.
If we place ourselves in God's hands, we put our trust in the mighty creator. He is the God who has designed us and placed us on this earth for his own wonderful purpose.
To lift us above the affects of fear we have words of encouragement like those in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians chapter 3 verse 16. The foundation for our lives is Jesus verse IX, if we are baptised into his name. The verses from 12 to 15 are there to show us quite clearly that if all of our possessions are lost but we still have our faith then we are still secure in the purpose of God.
Let us now go back to Exodus chapter 14 and see what happened to the Children of Israel. Remember that they were in a perilous position, caught between the waters of the Red Sea and the advancing Egyptian army. Look now at verse 13 and read on to the end of the chapter. Did you see the advice given to the people by Moses "Fear not, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord"?
Look at the first letter of John chapter 4 verses 15 to 19. Verse
15 makes an appeal to all those who have thought about baptism but not really made up their minds. If we are "In Jesus" we are surrounded by his perfect love and that Perfect Love casts out fear.
There are some wonderful words of comfort in Psalm 34; try reading this Psalm. These can change our whole outlook on life; look especially at verses 4 to 8" In verse 9 of this Psalm we are given a new idea ... if there is to be fear in our lives then let it be fear of a different, healthy kind, fear that is good for us ... fear of the Lord God. If you read verse 11 you will find there an offer written by David the psalmist.
He was the man who when he was young went out to fight the giant Philistine Goliath armed with just a slingshot and a few small stones, plus a lot of faith in his God.
David gives us good advice. Fear of God is clean and good for us. This means that we will always be conscious of his presence.
We will always respect God and be aware of how close he is to us through his angels.
The things we do in our lives will be honest and good and, as we love God, so we will find it easier to love our fellow men just as Jesus did. Remember that even when he was hanging on the cross, in terrible pain, he asked his Father to forgive. "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do".
The Apostle John tells us much about love in our lives but he also tells us about human fear and this is a good place to end this
Perfect love drives out all fear (1 John 4:18).