Only One God – look to Him and Fear Not
Judges 6:10, the Midianites are raiding the Israelites every chance they get, taking or destroying their food resources. (Rather like the movie Magnificent Seven – good flick, that) Anyway… after 7 years of this agony, the Israelites turned to God and He sent a prophet to remind them of their history, His history with them… He’s the One who brought them out of Egypt, brought them through 40 years of wilderness with their clothes and stomachs in good order, conquered the people who were on the appointed land, etc. He reminded them of all the instances where He proved to be the only God alive and active – and He reminded them that He had said FearNot their gods, yet they had chosen to honor the false gods and reaped the slavery that comes with such a choice.
Do we do the same? Do we turn away from the One who we know by testimony and example to be the only God alive and active, as we follow the gods of opinion, money, even government? There is One who has proven Himself….look to Him and #FearNot.
Those who honor God need not fear Him
Judges 6:23, An angel of the Lord shows up to commission a man named Gideon to save Israel from the Midianites. He’s the least likely candidate, which for God makes him the most likely candidate. Throughout the scriptures, we see that God appreciates humility – not groveling worthlessness, but humility, an honest appraisal of oneself before Him (not before others). The conversation goes on, and Gideon comes to realize he has encountered an angel, at which point he cries out, and the Lord says, #FearNot, be at peace, you’re not about to die.
You see, though we have become a bit jaded about the awesomeness of God, and of His messengers, a dose of reality looks a lot different than the cavalier manner in which we dare to approach Him, or respond when He approaches us. Recall the demonstration on Mount Sinai. (Ex 20:20, January 9)
Gideon realized his humanity in contrast to the holiness before him, and he responded appropriately, with full humble attention. Those who honor God, wholeheartedly, need not fear Him.
With Jesus, we have a home and a family
If you enjoy love stories with a Cinderella flavor, Ruth is the book for you. She is the young woman from a foreign, even hated, heritage who watched her father-in-law, brother-in-law, and husband die, said goodbye to her homeland and sister-in-law, then followed her mother-in-law to Israel with those beloved words, “Your people will be my people, your God my God”.
Don’t skip too glibly over those words – she’s leaving all that she knew because she has developed a trust for the God of the visiting family she married into. Her mother-in-law encouraged both ladies to return to their original households, to the culture and deities they grew up with, to the resources their fathers could provide, and Orpah took her mother-in-law’s advice, while Ruth took her mother-in-law’s hand.
The story goes on, and in Ruth 3:11, her late husband’s cousin says to her, “#FearNot, you have a home and a family here with us.” At the end of the book, we find she becomes King David’s great grandmother, and many generations later the family line includes Jesus.
As we come to God, with a realistic assessment of how foreign and needy we are, and an appreciation for the life He offers, we will hear Him say, #FearNot, you have a home and a family here with us. It may require abandoning all that is familiar, but the rest of the story makes it more than worthwhile.
God will preserve His honor & worship
I Samuel 4:20 – Here is a scene that looks similar to the birth of Benjamin, son of Rachel and Jacob, but the lesson is its opposite. As with Rachel, the attending women tell a dying mother, the wife of Phineas, to #FearNot, she has given birth to a son. She names the child Ichabod, meaning the glory of the Lord has departed – this, based on her knowledge that the Ark of the Covenant has fallen into Philistine hands, her husband and his brother have died in battle, and their father Eli, chief priest of the temple, died when he heard the news.
There is no up-side in this story – but there is a word to the attentive. You see, Eli and his sons, and perhaps much of Israel, had come to regard not God Himself, but the symbol they had, the Ark of the Covenant. In that object, albeit a holy and divinely commissioned and protected object, they had placed their focus and confidence. If it was with them, they were victorious – they forgot that it was God’s presence, not the Ark, that they needed. Eli’s sons abused the role and responsibilities of priests, divinely appointed spiritual leaders and representatives between God and His people. They squandered the privilege as a means to get free meat. (there are two ways to read that phrase, both accurate, see for yourself)
As for the Ark, God knew exactly where it was and how to manage preserving it unto Himself. As for the priesthood, God had already arranged to preserve that too, through a faithful young man named Samuel who knew both the procedures of the temple and the voice of God – and he followed and honored both. This begs us repeat that God keeps His promises, and will accomplish His objectives with or without us, two good reasons to #FearNot.
The women who served as midwives to Ichabod’s birth sought to bring comfort to his mother, so they said something nice – Fear Not, you have a son – and she died, giving no response. Ichabod is mentioned by name only once more, ten chapters later, as the uncle of a man who served in Saul’s army. Rachel’s last comfort was not available to this woman, she just…died.
The story tells us that we run two opposite and very great risks – one, squandering what God has given, whether that’s talent or position or grace… the other, making idols of what God has given. We serve the Eternal Living Almighty God, not a building, not a gold box of artifacts, (not even a constitution), and certainly not ourselves. When we forget that, we risk not only ourselves, but our communities and our children.
Oh Lord, may we not earn the name Ichabod. May we not forget that Your glory is in You and in those souls who are Yours, not in emblems. May we seek Your face in our distress, for You alone are our salvation, then, now, and later. Selah, amen.
On the positive side, there’s God’s continued attention to the Ark and Samuel. #FearNot – God will preserve His honor and true worship
God forgives the sincerely repentant
I Samuel 12:20 – young Samuel is grown up and has been the priest of Israel for many years, never defrauding them nor dishonoring God as Eli’s sons had done. They begged God for a king, as though He were not king enough for them, but everyone else had a king, so, y’know… We get in so much trouble when we trade God in for what everyone else has…
Anyway, God and Samuel let them know what the price of a king would be – their resources would go to feed, protect, and decorate him and his home and his entourage – that is the way of human kings. Samuel reminded them of the King they rejected, the One who brought them out of Egypt, routed their enemies, and provided them a homeland, asking nothing for Himself but that they be His faithful representatives. Samuel asked God for a demonstration, and the Lord sent thunder and rain over the harvest-ready grain….they trembled, as they had at Sinai and on several occasions since, and repented of their foolishness.
This is when Samuel told them #FearNot, and admonished them to follow God. He reminded them that for His own name’s sake, God would never forsake His people. But be warned, neither will He fail to deal with disobedience – He knows how to release people to the consequences of their own choices while preserving a remnant of the faithful. As you read the words of Samuel to Israel in this moment, you hear the pre-echo of Jesus, saying to a woman “I do not condemn you. Go, and sin no more.” #FearNot, God forgives the repentant, for His name’s sake.
Jesus, the victorious, is our Protector
I Sam 22:23 – David, anointed but not yet crowned king, came through Nob and a few other towns with Saul on his heels intent on killing him. 85 priests of Nob were slaughtered at Saul’s order because they failed to report on David and worse yet, gave him some bread and the sword of Goliath. One man, Abiathar, escaped as Saul’s wrath fell on every man, woman, child, infant, ox, mule, and sheep in town. Abiathar reached David with the news, and David replied, Fear Not, stay with me and you’ll be safe from him.
There are those who follow the idea that if you can’t defeat your enemy, abuse his friends and helpers. Saul was such a man as it regarded David, and Satan is such a one…. the people of Nob, and you and I, are nothing more than a way to inflict pain on the One who loves us. However, Jesus has already defeated Satan, so He has what it takes to fulfill His commitment: Abide with Him, and #FearNot, all in His care are kept safe.
This isn’t to say there’s no struggle and/or no pain – but there is no real eternal harm that can reach those who belong to Jesus.
God gives friends to remind us of Him
I Sam 23:17 – Saul is relentless in his pursuit of David, even after David has shown himself to be capable but unwilling to harm Saul. Jonathan is both Saul’s son and David’s friend, and the scriptures say Jonathan strengthened David’s hand in God and reminded him to #FearNot – God’s declared plan would be fulfilled. “You will be king,” Jonathan said, “and I will be by your side.”
Sometimes we need an eye we can see, a voice we can hear, and an arm we can feel to remind us that though our troubles keep coming, God doesn’t let our challenges overwhelm His plans, and we don’t have to face such things alone. As Solomon noted in Eccl 4, friends are sometimes lifelines, and we are blessed to have them.
Whose hand can you strengthen, in God, today? Tell them, #FearNot, you are not alone.