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.
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.
The world doesn’t understand the trust Christians have in Jesus Christ…to them it is utter craziness. They view Christians as weak-willed people using religion as a crutch. So why wouldn’t the world mock us? It’s at that point though we have to make a decision of whether to allow the insults to discourage us or not. Elsewhere in Isaiah it says, “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.” (Isaiah 50:7). Any and all fear can be faced with trust in the Lord.
God is our only reliable stronghold in the world today. He is the fortress we can retreat to when fear over takes us. He is our rescuer when wickedness and oppression take the very breath from us. For God is the only rock we can put our absolute trust in…the only refuge we can run to for safety.
This is what the Lord said to Saul, (later Paul) on that hot and dusty Damascus road. When we are born again, we have a glimpse of what the Lord has in store for us…visions of the work He wants to accomplish through us. But suddenly fear and doubt take over, for the visions are so large and we feel so small and inadequate. That’s when we need to take a look at this Scripture again, for the Lord says that He was with Paul not only then, but would be into the future… revealing to him more as Paul obediently moved forward. So much, that later in his ministry, Paul proclaimed in Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Please remember this, you too can do all things through Him that gives you strength.
There is no fear in perfect love…and God is love…thus fear is not of God. There are at least 70 times in the Bible when the Lord states, “Fear not!” But taking the head knowledge of not fearing and transferring it into heart knowledge is a continuous journey of building our relationship with God…of learning to trust and not fear.