When we fear (men)

The Bible informs us that when Jacob found out from his messengers that his brother Esau, whom he had wronged, was coming to meet him along with four hundred men, he became greatly afraid and distressed. Uncertain of how his brother felt about him, and fearing that his brother would be coming with his men to avenge himself, Jacob divided his people, and the cattle (flocks, herds, and camels) into two bands, thinking that if Esau was to come and attack one band, then the other could escape (Genesis 32:6-8).

Interesting, isn’t it, that not too long ago, Jacob had witnessed two camps of God’s angelic army, and now all of his people and property had been divided into two bands. Did God in his omniscience know that Jacob would divide his people and property into two bands and so sent two hosts of angels in advance to protect him? I would like to think so, but the Bible does not affirm that and so we should leave speculation to be speculation.

Jacob acts of deception had given him a genuine reason to fear his brother, but God’s promise of being with him should have allayed that fear. In other words, if Jacob had faith – faith to trust God at his word, he would not have had to fear his brother – a mere man.

Points to ponder:
We fear when we fail to take God at his word and trust him, by placing our complete faith in him. The opposite of fear for a follower of Jesus Christ is not courage, but instead faith. When the disciples were afraid in the boat that was caught in a storm, Jesus did not ask them “Why they did not have courage?”, but instead asked them “How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:35-41)

When we have no faith in Jesus, we have everything to fear. When we have all our faith in Jesus, we have nothing or no one to fear! When the storms of life buffet you and threaten to drown you, there is nothing to fear, if Jesus Christ is with you. Even first death is no longer something to be afraid off for it has no power over those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Are you afraid and distressed?

Genesis 32:6-8 (KJV)
And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.
Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands;
And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.

Mark 4:35-41 (KJV)
35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.
36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.
37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Fear not (meaning Faith up)

Genesis 15:1 reads “After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

Why would God start his talk with Abram with the words, “Fear not”? What was Abram afraid of? Although it is extremely possible that the very visible presence of the Almighty and Sovereign God invoked in Abram a sense of trepidation, as is described by the patriarch Job (Job 23:13-16), contextually we are given clues as to the reasons why Abram might have been afraid. Abram had just returned from war victoriously and he could have feared the retaliation of the kingdoms, whose kings, Abram had slaughtered in battle (Genesis 14). It is also possible that his rejection of the offer of the king of Sodom could have had consequences, which could have made Abram afraid. While the reasons for Abram’s fear is unbeknownst to us, we know that the very first words, from the mouth of God, to Abram, before his promise of protection (shield) and provision (reward), was “Fear not”. Noteworthily, this is the first time that the phrase “Fear not” is used in the Old Testament record of the Bible.

Interestingly, this is the same phrase that is used to start God’s conversation with man, in the New Testament record of the Bible as well, for God starts out by telling Joseph (the husband of Mary) to “Fear not” (Matthew 1:20) and tells Mary herself to “Fear not” for she had found favor with the Lord (Luke 1:30).

It is important to note that it is not courage, but faith, which is the opposite of fear, as we learn from the record when Jesus calms the storm. Upon calming the storm, notice Jesus did not question, “Why are ye so fearful? Why is it that you have no courage?”, but instead questioned “Why are ye so fearful? Why is it that you have no faith?”.(Mark 4:40) Abram, who believed God in the past needed to continue to trust in him, by faith.

Points to ponder:
There are many fears that assail us – the fear of death (of losing life or a loved one), the fear of despair (of losing a job or a project), the fear of failure, the fear of rejection, the fear of commitment … and the list goes on. What God is telling us today, is “Fear not” He is our protector and provider. We need to trust in him. In other words, we need to “Faith up”. God is not looking for courage in us, but he is looking for our faith in him.

When we go through the storms of life, let it NOT be so, that Jesus should wake up and testify of us, as “Oh, ye of little or no faith”. (Matthew 8:26; Mark 4:0).

All those who have found favor with God have no reasons to fear. Those who have believed in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are adopted into God’s family, finding favor with him. Have you found favor in the Lord or do you still have reasons to fear?

Genesis 15:1 (KJV)
After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

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No Fear, Only Faith
The opposite of fear is …
Faith and Fear

The opposite of fear is …

Contrary to popular belief and definitions, the opposite of fear in Christian life is not courage. In fact, none of the antonyms in the Thesaurus indicate what the Holy Bible tells us as to what the opposite of fear is. When Jesus calmed the sea, he questioned the disciples in the boat, “Why are you so fearful?” and then instead of asking them “How is it that you have no courage?”, He instead asked them, “How is it that you have no faith?” The opposite of fear is not courage but faith, which is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 12:1). David was not just a young man, when He faced Goliath, the giant over nine feet tall (1 Samuel 17:4). While Goliath may have been a physical giant, David was a spiritual giant, because of his faith in the LORD, in whose name he went to face his giant (1 Samuel 17:45). It was David faith and not his courage that landed him in the hall of Heroes of Faith (Hebrews 12:32). David with his eyes of faith must have seen the invisible victory promised against those who defied God’s people (Deuteronomy 28:7) even before he engaged in battle.

What are the winds and waves in your life that threaten to drown you today? When we recognize by faith that nothing is impossible with Jesus Christ, the LORD Almighty who is with us always (Isaiah 41:10), there is no reason to be fearful. The question that remains is, “Can we have faith in the one who is the slayer of giants, the calmer of storms and the LORD Almighty; in Jesus Christ?” Next time when you are fearful, rather than praying for courage, pray for faith; faith that makes us confident that God is with us, that He is our God, that He will strengthen us, that He will help us and that He will uphold us (Isaiah 41:10) over the stormy situations of our life. Fear Not! Have Faith!

Mark 4:39-30 (KJV)
And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

Isaiah 41:10 (KJV)
10 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.