The Jewish exiles were returning to their country from Babylon. And even though they were fearful of the foreign people around them…they went about rebuilding and re-establishing the Temple in Jerusalem. The biggest obstacle any Christian has to overcome in this world… is fear of the world. We’re afraid of what others will think…we’re scared that we might offend someone…we’re fearful we’ll be taken the wrong way. The exiles might have been afraid…but God had given them direction and His blessing, and so they started rebuilding. So when the Lord calls us to do His work, we too need to move forward boldly, not allowing fear to hinder us.
It’s part of life here on earth…trials, illness, and loss are inevitable. Jeremiah 8:15 sums it up very well how we can feel at these times, ” We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there was only terror.” In these fearful, confusing times we long for the light at the end of the tunnel…but all we see is darkness. “He has blocked my way so I cannot pass…” In this verse, the Hebrew word for blocked is gadar – which means to build or heap up stones to make a wall. We sometimes do feel walled in or blocked off… but know God may be also protecting you from unseen evil you know nothing about. In those dark times, we need to put all our trust in the Lord and wait for the storm to pass.
To paraphrase Isaiah 8:12-13, Do not follow the ways of the world…do not accept the world’s viewpoint…do not fear what they fear. For their fear is based on the temporal…of secular and fleshly concerns only. But as Believers, we have the blessed assurance of eternal life, so there is no fear of death its self. For it tells us in I Corinthians 15:42-44, ” So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” The world may kill our physical body, but it can’t take our soul. For only Satan has the power to devastate both body and soul in the place of the lost and condemned.
Let’s say you land in a foreign country, having no knowledge of the city or its language. But there waiting for you is the leading dignitary. He welcomes you and then informs you that he personally will be escorting you around the city. All the pent-up fear and anxiety within would melt away as he guided you to his official car…for you would feel safe and secure with this help. The world is a scary place to live today, and we all feel like foreigners in a strange land. But God is like that dignitary…offering His hand in support and encouragement. Calming and assuring us that He is there to help. For anything can be faced with trust in the Lord…anything.
The gist of this Scripture is repeated in Habakkuk 2:3-4 where it says, ” But the righteous will live by faith. And if they shrink back, I will not be pleased with them.” We all claim to have faith and trust in God…but do we really? Shrinking back is hesitation and self-doubt that we can really do what God is calling us to. Sure, we can believe for great miracles in someone else’s life…but when it comes down to trusting God in our own, we falter. Self-doubt can effectively stop any Kingdom work the Lord has for you…for when you hesitate, you’re essentially telling God you don’t trust Him. We are to live by faith, believing that if God calls us to something, He will equip us also.
The Lord had instructed Moses to send 12 spies into Canaan, but it was only Caleb and Joshua who urged the people to go in and conquer the Promised Land. Which is very odd if you look at the other 10 men’s names and their meanings…remembering all these young men had been born as God directed the Jews in the wilderness for 40 years. Their names included – God hears, God endows, God redeems, God saves, God is my deliverance, God is my kinsman. For in the end, all their strong, valiant names couldn’t help them overcome fear. And despite hearing about God’s covenant with Israel all their life, they only saw adversity.
What has a greater hold on your life and takes up a bigger space in your heart, fear or faith? When you find yourself in a deep, dark place, do you seek solace and consolation in the Lord…or do you allow fear and doubt to reign instead? By placing our trust in God and facing down our fears, He will lead us safety through the valley, no matter how dark or threatening it may appear. Our Christian walk is a long series of trust-building exercises that strengthen our faith, and reinforce our confidence in God. So that when we find ourselves in that valley and hear God say, “Fear not!” … we’ll remember what He’s done, and place our trust in Him because of it . Our faith is built up one dilemma at a time…one dark valley at a time. And each time we choose faith over fear…fear loses some of its grip on us.