As we approach the end of this millennium, no matter how much shaking there may be economically, politically, socially or technologically, no matter how chaotic the world may become, we can have “shalom shalom” – “perfect peace” – in the midst of it all. We shouldn’t be afraid to face the future, no matter what it may bring, for five reasons.
First, we shouldn’t be afraid because we know who God is.
He is sovereign, which means He is the King of the universe and Lord over all things. So, joined to Him by faith, we come under our Lord’s protection. He is in control. No one can thwart His purpose, His counsel, or His will. All is well, and will end well.
He is also omniscient, wise, good, merciful and loving, so joined to Him by faith, we have all the knowledge, wisdom, protection, mercy and love we will ever need to face the future. God is infinite, so joined to Him by faith, we have infinite resources to meet our needs. Let us therefore trust Him and look confidently to the future.
He is Elohim – God, the source of all power, might and strength. When we feel weak, we can go to the All-Powerful One, who will infuse us with strength and empower us to do what He calls us to do. Where God is, there is all power, all help and all love. Since He is all-powerful, therefore we are all-protected. Why should we be afraid?
He is El Shaddai – the All-Sufficient God. As a nursing mother cares for her little children, so God completely nourishes and satisfies His people. He has committed Himself to see to their needs. He is all-sufficient, so our help is adequate for every situation.
He is El Emunah – the Faithful God. He is completely reliable. You can trust Him completely, both in this life and with your eternal destiny. Men and their systems may fail you, but the Faithful God will never let you down. He is completely worthy of your trust.
He is Immanuel – God With Us. He is not, as some claim, distant or far removed from our situation. He longs to be with us, and He wants us to be with Him forever. The Lord encouraged His faithful remnant with these words: Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Where God is, there is strength. Where God is, there is help. Where God is, there is security. He is with us to strengthen, help and protect us. Therefore we should not fear, or look anxiously about. To Isaac, God said, Do not fear, for I am with you. To Joshua, faced with the difficult task of bringing the Jewish people into the land of Israel, God said, Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or de dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. When God is with us, we can be strong and courageous. We need not tremble or be afraid.
He is El Yeshuati – the God of My Salvation. God Himself is the source of our personal, individual salvation. He is a God who has time and again intervened in history to save His people. Where He is, there is victory, salvation, and deliverance to meet every situation.
He is Adonai Nisi – the Lord My Miracle, or the Lord My Banner. If we need a miracle, Adonai is the One to whom we can turn. In the midst of life’s raging battles we see Him high and lifted up. If we keep our eyes Him, we will be miraculously upheld, as Simon Peter learned on the waters of the Kinneret.
He is our Refuge and Fortress. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust!” Are we facing danger? God is our refuge to whom we may flee, and in whom we are safe. God is a far better refuge than our armies and our technology. He is the place to which refugees may flee from all the tumult of their lives. He is a fortress from all attacks – from fire, flood and storm, from war and famine, from trials and difficulties. As a result, when we are sheltered in Him, we need not fear.
He is our Shield. The Word of the Lord came to Abraham saying, “Do not fear Avram, I am a shield to you; your reward will be very great.” As our shield, God protects us from danger. The Lord took father Abraham through many difficult circumstances, shielding him from danger throughout his long life, and He will do the same for you.
He is our Rock. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Dwelling among the rocks and mountain hideouts of Judea, David was able to escape from Saul. David compares God to such a place of concealment and safety. God is a rock in the sense of firmness, stability, unchangeableness and support.
He is the Cornerstone. The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. And God, speaking to the prophet Isaiah, added, Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes will not be disturbed.” The world is full of shoddy architecture and inferior building materials, which may not survive the shocks that may come. Such structures may fall. But God is laying one very special stone, a foundation stone whose nature is solid, firm, immovable and enduring. God has established from the midst of the Jewish people a source of comfort, strength and security for those who trust in Him, but the same Rock will crush those who oppose Him. The Son of God is that cornerstone – rare, precious, valuable, strong and enduring. He is a tested stone. He is the standard against which we are all measured. He is what God expects from mankind. He has been tried and tested and found more than sufficient to support the weight of everything that God is building on Him. The person who puts his trust in God and in Messiah Yeshua will not be disturbed. He can have a peace and serenity which is not otherwise possible. He has built his life on the most solid foundation possible, both in this world, and in the world to come. So what should we build our lives on? The shifting sand of humanity, or the Chief Cornerstone?
He is our Light and Salvation. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life, whom shall I dread? God is a light to those who believe in Him, to show them the way when they are in doubt, to comfort them when they have sorrow. It is by the truth and wisdom He gives that they now walk on their way, and on an eternally well-lit path. If the Lord is my light, I fear no darkness. If the Lord is my salvation, and the defense and protector of my life, what circumstance will I fear?
God is a very present help in trouble. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Are we weak? God is our strength, to bear us up under our burdens, equipping us for our duties and responsibilities, our sufferings if need be, and for every good work. If God is my strength, then I need not fear my weakness. Are we surrounded by troubles? God’s help is continually at hand for each difficulty encountered. With God as a very present help, fear is unnecessary and even irrational. With God as our refuge, strength and help, it is our duty to be fearless. We will not fear, whatever may happen, even if it is as severe as the earth changing before our eyes. If everything familiar to us is suddenly changed, even to the extent that the mighty mountains collapse before us and fall into the sea, so that nothing of them remains, we have no reason to fear. Should the oceans roar and rage, and the world be in confusion, yet we will not fear, knowing that God is with us, and His all-sufficient help is there for us.
Habakkuk, who lived just before king Nebuchadnezzar devastated the nation of Israel, faced his future with these encouraging thoughts: Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on high places (3:17-19). If you know God, you can be calm in the time of trial. You can have joy in the God of your salvation in spite of the world falling apart around you. Even with crops failing, herds dying and the prospect of famine, the Lord God will be your strength and sustaining power. If you keep trusting Him, He will make your feet like a gazelle’s feet, full of sure-footed confidence. He will enable you to surmount all obstacles. Therefore, we shouldn’t be afraid, because we know who God is.
Second, we shouldn’t be afraid, if we will remember how God has acted in the past.
God has shown Himself faithful to deliver so many from such difficult circumstances before. Noah survived the Flood. God delivered the Jewish people from the strongest nation on earth. God sent plague after plague which destroyed the land of Egypt, but the Jewish people, living in its midst, were protected. We safely passed through the Red Sea, while the Egyptian army which followed was destroyed. He was able to sustain several million Jewish people for forty years in a harsh, desert wilderness. He was able to bring water out of a rock, and manna from heaven to feed them. He then enabled Joshua to conquer the Canaanites, and bring our people into the land of promise.
Gideon courageously followed God in the face of vastly superior forces. Leading a mere three hundred men against the Midianite invaders, he routed them, and during the ensuing battles, Gideon’s army killed more than 120,000 invaders, bringing deliverance to Israel.
Deborah and Barak laid hold of God, and the impossible became possible. God stepped in with a storm and flood, and the Canaanites’ nine hundred iron chariots became bogged down in the mud. The Jewish army destroyed the chariots, the entire Canaanite army and its fearsome leader Sisera.
Even after his dreadful fall, Samson laid hold of God for one last surge of power. After losing his strength, and being captured by the Philistines, he was blinded, paraded and mocked in the temple of Dagon. The Philistines allowed him to stand between two of the main pillars that upheld the temple. Then Samson prayed to the Lord, grasped the two middle pillars, pushed against them with all his might, and the temple of Dagon fell. Samson killed more of his enemies in his death than in his life.
Was there ever a person who endured so many trials and difficulties as King David? Young David, alone out of all Israel, was willing to face the giant Goliath in single combat. David, the shepherd, without armor, carrying only a sling and some stones, but filled with faith in God, prevailed over the nine foot giant.
God was able to sustain the prophet Eliyahu, hiding by the brook Cherith, by supplying him bread and meat in the morning and again in the evening, by means of ravens who brought his food to him.
God was able to feed the widow of Zarephath, who had just a little flour in a bowl, and a little oil in a jar, and was on the verge of starving to death. She befriended the prophet Eliyahu and, because of her faithfulness, was provided by God with an inexhaustible supply of both flour and oil. Can’t He do the same for you?
Second Kings chapter 4 records that a wife of one of the “sons of the prophets” found herself in desperate financial straits. Her godly husband had died, and she had gone into debt. Things got so bad that the creditors had come to take her children and sell them into slavery to pay off her debts. She had nothing in her house except a jar of oil. The prophet Elisha told her to borrow many jars from her neighbors. She listened to the prophet, gathered jars, and the oil from her one jar kept on pouring, miraculously multiplying until it filled all the vessels that she had. She was able to sell that oil, pay off all her debts, and still have enough for herself and her children to live on. Can’t He can do the same for you?
When wicked king Ahaziah wanted to arrest Elijah, Elijah called down fire from heaven which burned up 100 men. When he was surrounded by the army of Syria, Elisha, too, knew how to call upon God in order to have the protection of heavenly armies. Hungry lions could do no injury to faithful Daniel, for God sent an angel to shut the lions= mouths. God saved Daniel’s three friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, who preferred to be thrown alive into a burning furnace rather than deny God by bowing down before the image of the king.
The lessons to be learned from the lives of these men and women are that joined by faith to the living God, marvelous deliverances can be accomplished. Incredible victories can be won against superior forces. The impossible becomes possible. Life can be sustained under the most difficult circumstances.
Next month, Lord willing, we will take a look at the other reasons why we don’t have to be afraid: because of His precious promises, because no matter what happens, nothing truly evil can harm us, and finally, because of the exciting opportunities that a good shaking will bring to the Kingdom of God.
My prayers for you are that God may grant to you an extra measure of boldness throughout this year, as you faithfully proclaim the mystery of the Good News. May you be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, bringing glory to the Father as you live out your life before an unbelieving world. And may you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy.