LIBERATED FROM FEAR: BY THE WORD OF FAITH (FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT PERSPECTIVE) by Bishop Dr. J. Akin Atere

DOROTHY IKOKU MEMORIAL ANGLICAN CHURCH (DIMAC)

35A LADOKE AKINOLA STREET, G.R.A. IKEJA

FAITH CONFERENCE 2013

HELD ON SATURDAY 23RD MARCH, 2013 AT 10.00AM

PRESENTED BY THE RT. REVD. DR. J. AKIN ATERE

THEME: LIBERATED FROM FEAR: BY THE WORD OF FAITH (FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT PERSPECTIVE)

 

In the Old Testament, FEAR is represented in two ways (1) as an emotional or mental attitude and (2) as a term for reverence towards God.

First, fear is a mental attitude that is characterized by panic when one is intimidated by something, or finds oneself in a dangerous situation, it arouses the emotions in a bad way. It is a painful emotional distress produced by actual impending pain, danger and disaster, it may be by illusions regarding the same Prov. 12:25 “Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.” Whether the conditions causing the fear are real or imaginary, the results are the same.  Regardless of its source, fear will torment and punish you, and the worst thing is that some of the causes are from you, because in most cases its self-induced misery. Fear is worry, apprehension, horror, or consternation. All of which cause the person to become paralysed toward their problems. They run away from either perceived or real problem like frightened mice, close their doors and in some cases hide from people and the society. Fears can paralyse you physically and mentally to the point that you lose the normal function of life as God has designed it. People are afraid of many things, death is usually at the top of the list. The mental attitude of fear normally snatches life out of many people.  Fear in this category could also be said to be an active feeling of dread, of which fright and terror are the more intense degrees. Under these intense attitudes, the emotion or the soul takes centre stage and the believer becomes unable to think rationally. No longer capable or making good decisions, he apprehensively waits for the next realization of what he is dreading.

In the Old Testament you will see victory and defeat, hope and despair, wisdom and stupidity. Certainly we see intimidation being used by Goliath in 1 Sam.17:8-10 and the fear Rabshakeh put into the hearts of the inhabitants of Jerusalem in an attempt to demoralize them in 2 Kings 18:19-25. We could also noticed Ruth’s fear of the unknown except that the Bible seems to suggest faith/commitment or being courageous for going with Naomi but being a widow Moabites in the land of Israel is a dangerous one or can’t one tell from 1 Sam.4:13 that Eli was nervous wreck, filled with anxiety for allowing his two worthless sons take the Ark of God to the battle front, He asked “what does the sound of this tumult mean?”  So great was his anxiety that it caused his death (verse 18) “And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told it, the entire city cried out.” Or how much easier is it for those who are no longer young and physically fit to relate to the old man in Ecclesiastes 12:5 when it is know that they were not suffering from acrophobia (a high level of morbid fear) but had a grudging respect for things they had to climb on or over because of their shaky legs and this discouraged them from travelling. “Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:”

HE ORIGIN OF FEAR

The Hebranic meaning of this verb is “to flow” it related to the word “yorehh” meaning “first rain” and ye’or “stream” when you are seriously afraid of something, you can feel inside you “flowing”. This is the meaning of this word as we understand from the people of Old Testament, which now translate simply as “fear”. The key to understanding the Hebranic idea of “fear” is to know that like many Hebrew words, it has a broader sense of meaning than we have in English. To us “fear” is always negative – its opposite of trust and its synonyms are fright, dread and terror. In Hebrew, it encompasses negative (dread terror) to positive (worship, reverence) and from mild (respect) to strong (awe). In fact, every time we read “revere” or “reverence” it comes from the Hebrew word “yirah” literally, to fear. When fear is in reference to God, it can be either negative or positive. “The enemies of God are terrified by Him but those who know Him revere and worship Him,” the two has the same word “yirah”.

The first mention or manifestation of fear in the Bible was from the man, Adam. While in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had been given a command by Yahweh to refrain from eating the fruit in the midst of the garden. The serpent (Satan) deceived them and caused them to disobey God. As a result they became afraid and hid from God. (Gen.3:8-10). The root of many fear-based thoughts is the alienation between God and man (sin). Fear of punishment, insecurity, dread of evil events, and anticipation of loss. Inherently, sin makes man feel that he is undeserving of any kinds of bad things. The feeling of inadequacy also generates all kinds of fears and is a direct cause of unbelief.

After the children of God had crossed the Red Sea and continued on their journey towards the Promised Land, (the land flowing with milk and honey) they came to Kedesh Barnea. Moses sent twelve spies to spy out the land. Ten of them came back with report in Num 13:31 “But the men that went up with him said, we be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than us.” Despite the promise of God, the Israelites still fear, they felt inadequate to tackle the “giants”.

TYPES OF FEAR IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

Yagor:

This is a type of fear we manifest when we assess a situation as potential risk and lack of faith, we acknowledge the possibility or probability of future loss. This results in foreboding, the expectation of eventual harm. Here this Deut 28:60 “Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee.”

This type of fear is not that which send you screaming but rather that which will cause some uneasiness as it did to Job. If no remedy is found at this stage then foreboding will increase and become anxiety, the fear of a remote threat or of a possible catastrophe as we have in 1 Kings 1:69 “And all the guests that were with Adonijah were afraid, and rose up, and went every man his way”, Ruth 3:7-9 “And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down and it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. And he said, who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman”, 1 Sam 4:13 “And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told it, the entire city cried out”

De’agah

When our expectation of a benefit increases we are more confidence, the feeling or awareness of reliability of that on  which one depends, more trust, more security, but with a caution of disappointment if rules are not adhere to when you hear God saying in Ezekiel 4:16-17 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment: That they may want bread and water, and be astonied one with another, and consume away for their iniquity”

Batach

This happens when believers in their downhill slide, allowed foreboding and anxiety to increase.  Our adversary, the Devil, uses many disguises and fonts to further weaken and destroy our increase, he will bring anxiety and emotional disturbance to bring people to their kneels either by putting a great weight on them or by knocking their legs out from under them. There is also the possibility of that person surrendering in confusion because of the fear of their ignorance to them the word of faith and promise in Isaiah 8:12 “Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid”, Deut 20:3 “And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them”, Job 31:34 “Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families terrify me, that I kept silence, and went not out of the door?”

Arats

The word ‘arats’ in Hebrew means ‘to fear one on account of his power or violence, to cause fear on this account’. Our adversary must break our believing in order to have any Power over us, making efforts to “compel or deter”. This word is also used of God in Psalm 89:7 “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints and to be had in reverences of all them that are about him”. Here believers must be fully aware of God’s superiority as the creator and we are His creation. It is not an attempt by God to bully us with His power but rather that we remain certain in our thinking that whatever threat Satan directs toward us are inferior to God’s remedy. Examples of dismay are found in I Sam.17:10-11, Isaiah 31:4-5, Job 39:19-25.

Chathath

The Word ‘chathath’ is used in many forms to indicate the despair that occurs when one is dismayed. It is to be broken so as to be disabled. It denotes consternation of mind which is the reverse of the mind under the influence of joy, hope and confidence.

Ba’ath

The Hebrew word ‘ba’ath’ define as ‘to fear, with great consternation of mind’, to be greatly terrified and perplexed in mind by sudden fear. It combines the sense of both fear and confusion. The results leave its victim in a state in which they have neither hope nor remedy and they become totally at the mercy of their oppressor. Let check for few examples in 1 Sam. 16:14-15 “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee”, Job 15:24-25 “Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid; they shall prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle.  For he stretcheth out his hand against God, and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty”, Psalm 18:4-5 “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.”

The adversary uses fear to destroy believers. When our confidence and trust in God and the promises in the word are strong, we are little affected by Satan’s attempts to destroy us. We are often admonished to have courage, that inner strength that enables one to express this quality.

Amats

The word ‘amats’ is defined “to be stronger than, to prevail over anyone, to make firm, faltering feet so that one cannot be thrown down by another.”

Chazaq

The word ‘chazaq’ means when you are dealing with opposition that can bind fast, used of a mind determined to act with resolution, firmness, intrepidity, steadiness and constancy, in  opposition to being timorous, faint hearted, careless, remiss and indifferent”. There are many of this examples in the Bible, few are  found in Genesis 25:23 “And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger”  Ruth 1:16-18 “And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.” Psalm 31:23-32:1 “O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered”, Isaiah 35:3-5 “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.  Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped”

Yare

The word that is mostly used to express the English words fear or afraid is the Hebrew word ‘yare’. Its meaning depends on the frame work of mind. An innocent person will show respect to a policeman because of honour and admiration for the danger involved in that occupation. Yet a criminal may also show respect but only because he fears being noticed or exposed, one is motivated by love and the other by guilt. Ecclesiastes 9:2 “All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath” Examples Genesis 3:9-10 “And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”, Gen 18:15 “Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh”, Deut 2:4-5 “And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore: Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession”

When ‘yare’ is used in a negative sense it has the meaning ‘pay no mind to’ or ‘be not concerned with’ Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” , Isaiah 10:24-28 “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt.  For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction. And the LORD of hosts shall stir up a scourge for him according to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb: and as his rod was upon the sea, so shall he lift it up after the manner of Egypt. And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.  He is come to Aiath, he is passed to Migron; at Michmash he hath laid up his carriages”

It can also be applied to God to mean “reference” or “revere”. It implies the highest degree of honour and respect with affection instead of fear. Knowledge, understanding and wisdom become available through reverence. Psalm 89:7 “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him” , Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever” , Proverb 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction; Proverbs 14:26-27 “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” , Ecclesiastes 3:14 “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.” , Isaiah 29:13-14 “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.”

Pachad

This is another word for a kind of fear. It describes the state of mind that occurs when events go beyond our experience and are incomprehensible. It does not come by man’s prerogative but it endures in a willing mind. When it is a tool of Satan it can range from ‘uneasiness’ to terror. It can be of such intensity that it is over-powering, mindless and selfish. Its ultimate expression is blind terror or hysteria and can be accompanied by the total disregard of logic and morality. This is the type Micah 7:16-17 “The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might: they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf. They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth: they shall be afraid of the LORD our God, and shall fear because of thee”, Isaiah 15:11-13 “Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away. I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? And where is the fury of the oppressor?” Job 4:12-16 “Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received a little thereof.  In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men, Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up:  It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying” Jeremiah 33:7-9”And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first. And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me. And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it

Since we live in a dangerous world, fear is universal and inevitable part of human condition. Some people experiences fear relatively rarely, for others, it is their most common negative emotion. Some primarily experience fear acutely while others chronic. Some typically react to fear actively (fight) while others react passively (flight). Many fears are rooted in past traumatic events, others concerning present shocks, while others about future threat. Sometimes our fears is dressed in the garment of mental phobia,. These phobias continue to accumulate until at last many face what psychiatrists call phobia-phobia (the fear of fear).

There are  economic fear which are especially real in this highly competitive society, most of the psychological problem of our age grow out of this gnawing economic fear, many are tormented by the uncertainty of the stock market, numerous people mostly youths are plagued with the fear of the unemployment and collapse of their careers because of the force called “automation” which crush men sense of pride, drawn his spirit and leaves him standing before his wife and children as a disastrous failure.

The high level of insecurity in our country where even the president feels insecure is a serious one. People today engage in different types of method to secure themselves from attacks. There are many way by which lives are pose to danger; Christians in many part of this country no longer fill secure to worship God. What about different types of diseases known and unknown to the medical science.

We can even further divide these types of fear into two. If a person suddenly begins to fear that snakes are under the carpet of his apartment by mere perception, his fear is abnormal. (neurotic) which most of the time is peculiar to us; the fear of the unknown. Psychologists tell us that a normal child is born with only two fears – the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. All others are environmentally acquired. Most of these acquired fears turn out to be snakes under the carpet. When then we speak of getting rid of fear we are referring to the Chronic/neurotic fear. There is also normal fear which protect us, while abnormal fear paralyses us, normal fear is a friend that motivates us to improve our individual and collective welfare. Some fears signal real dangers that we should avoid, to refuse will amount to foolishness, some signal some danger that we should face, because something is at stake that is more important than our fear, to refuse will be cowardice. Some fears signal false or exaggerated dangers.

When we expect some benefit, we turn aside from our previous path as Moses did in the land of Midian (Ex.3:2-4) “And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.” We approach the situation with believe as Moses did which will be manifested in us by hope or an expectation of good.

The word of faith is in Proverb 3:24-26 “When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet  Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.  For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken”  and Psalm 62:5-8 “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.  He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.  In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us” a great benefit.

GOD (YAHWEH), FEAR AND FAITH

In life, things don’t always work out the way we desire. God uses the tough circumstances of life to build the muscles of our faith and keep us from trusting something other than His word. In Genesis 12:10-13:4, we find that Abram, the man of faith (12:1-9) was also at times, a man of failure (12:10-20). Any man or woman, regardless of his or her spirituality, is capable of faltering in the faith. Nevertheless, we will also find hope that God’s love to restore people to Himself 913:1-4). When our faith fails, God doesn’t. There are three principles that will help you overcome fear and live a life of extraordinary faith.

EXPECT YOUR FAITH TO BE TESTED:

The life of faith is full of Obstacles. Abram experienced several tests: he was called to leave his home town (Gen.11:31-32) his wife was barren (Gen.11:30) and the land God promised him is occupied (Gen 12:6) here comes another challenge in verse 10 “Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.” As soon as Abram arrives in Canaan he experiences his most severe test (famine). Imagine what must have gone through Abram’s mind. How many times have you said “God I deserve better than this, I tried to serve you and live for you and this is all I get?”

Abram was not wrong for being concerned about the famine or feeding his family, but he was wrong for  failing to trust  God to provide his needs (Isaiah 31:1 ). Abram acted prematurely, In alarm, he felt like he must do something and it seems he will have to go to Egypt where there is likely to be more food. Abram’s going down to Egypt was not so much an intentional sin as it was a reflexive turn to his own devices. He did not deny God but simply forgot Him. Trials come and we automatically go into survival mode. We scheme, prognosticate, we shore up our position and pile sand bags and ask God to bless our ways.

Abram trusted God for over 1,000 miles from Ur to Canaan, he left his culture, his friends and possessions because he believed that God was going to make him into a great nation, but when he arrived and famine hit the land, he does not think he will outlive the  situation. He tried to solve his problem. The man who trusted God for the ultimate – his future, was unwilling to trust God for the immediate – food. He trusted God for the big thing of life but messed up when it came to smaller things. In most cases we trust God with our eternal Salvation and then we worry about the struggles we’re going through and the decision we have to make. Abram was motivated by fear for his life. But there are options open to God that Abram couldn’t see.

When circumstances become difficult and you are in the furnace of testing, remain where God has put you until he tells you to move. Faith moves in the  direction of peace and hope but unbelief moved in the direction of restlessness and fear (Isa.28:16) “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.”  God is at work to build your faith and He alone is in control of circumstances. You are safer in a famine, in His will, than a palace, out of His will. It is often said that ‘The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you’. When you encounter fear, God wants you to immediately exercise childlike faith and cry out to Him. “Father, I’m scared. What would you have me do? Help me hear from you.” God will often bring texts into our lives that only He can solve. He does this so that we are forced to look to Him as our father.

FACE YOUR FEARS WITH FAITH

When you fail to pass tests, God takes you to school once again. In 12:11-13 Abram was faced with another text. Genesis records “And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:  Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee” Abram knew that the Egyptians would not honour his rights, for they were noted for cruelty and immorality. Among these descendants of Ham, Polygamy and sexual promiscuity were common. Thus to save his own skin, Abram devised a little ploy when he offered as they approach Egypt, his intent was to deceive and he was trusting in his deception to protect him instead of trusting in the Lord. He failed to fear God, he was more afraid of the Egyptians than he was of God. Fear of God is incompatible with faith in God (Prov. 29:25). Abram was seeking to protect himself (that is may go well with me). He wanted to profit from his wife’s moral and spiritual endangerment, he put others around him at risk, (his wife and Pharaoh and his household). Abram motives may not be as selfish as they appear, it really was an ingenious plan, but it was evil for several reasons. First, it intended to ignore the presence and power of God in Abram’s life. It also seemed as though Abram’s plan was wrong because it jeopardized the purity of his wife and the promise of God.

Everything that Abram received in Egypt later caused him trouble, Abram and Lot could not live together (Gen 13:5-6). Hagar, the Egyptian maid servant that Pharaoh gave to Abram brought division and sorrow into the home. Abram attempts to build a family through Hagai was not God’s plan; She succeeded in becoming the mother of the Arab nations. While Sarai becomes the mother of the Jewish nation. Today we live with the international tensions between two nations (the Palestine and Israel) the origin of the struggle goes back to Egypt. Abram failed to trust God, failed to fear God. Today we feel the consequences of that terrible decision.

God bless Abram even when he wasn’t doing what he should, God continue to protect him even when he was a liar, God did not call back or council His promise, because the promise depend on  God not on Abram. Some of us in this age have the idea that God always blesses obedience with abundance and judges sin with hardship. Despite Abram’s  lack of faith and unethical behavior, God intervenes on behalf of Sarai and the promises He has made to Abram. No matter what circumstances we may be in, God is greater than any famine or any Pharaoh. Imagine, a man of God telling a ‘white’ lie to a pagan ruler. When Pharaoh later confronted Abram with that lie and its implications, Abram must have felt very small indeed, he remained silent under Pharaoh’s reproach, altering not a word, he was exposed and disgraced after being commanded by Pharaoh to leave.

RETURN TO A LIFE OF FAITH

The great news of the Bible is that there is life after failure. Now that God has delivered Abram from mess, how does he respond. In Gen.13:1-4 we are told “And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south and Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold and he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai;  unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD” Abram goes back to Canaan. He goes back to Bethel “the house of God” he goes back to the Altar. When we lapse because of fear in faith we must return to the point of our departure from God if we desire once again to resolve the joy of communion we once knew. Abram is today remembered as the man of faith – in part because he returned “to the place where his tent has been at the beginning” (Gen.13:3). If you have disobeyed and God is disciplining you, go back to the place you left Him (God) and make things right.

If Abram had stayed in Canaan when the famine came, his faith would have grown. He would have seen the Lord provided for him. Since he did not stay, the same famine that could have been a means of spiritual growth actually kept him away from God, led to sin and eventually brought great humiliation. There is another opportunity for you to trust God, know this that God does not want our way to be easy so that we can grow. He arranges the steps of faith an upward direction so that our spiritual muscles will grow strong and we can eventually side the heights of great blessing.

THE RIGHT AND GOOD FEAR

This is nothing but the fear of God, this type of fear is best explained by the word reverence as the psalmist says in Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.”  Blessings of the right fear are in Deut.31:6 “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” , 1 Sam.12:14 “If ye will fear the LORD, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the LORD your God”, 2 Kings 17:37-39 “And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods and the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods but the LORD your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies”, Psalm 27:1 “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” , Psalm 40:3 “And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD”, Psalm 56:3-4 “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.”  Why do you need to fear God, check exodus 34:6; Deut 7:9; Isaiah 49:7. God is still God and can always be trusted.

CONCLUSION

Fear is born of Satan and if we would only take time to think a moment, we would see that everything Satan says is founded upon falsehood, fear is the response of the human heart when its threatened, it is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a centre of fear. Faith which is trust in God while fear is the opposite, if a man has one, he can scarcely have the other in vigorous operation. He that has his trust set upon God does not need to dread anything except the weakening or the paralyzing of that trust. Fear can be both harmful and beneficial; we are therefore encouraged not to have the spirit of fear which will leave us filled with much anxiety, dismay, despair, horror and worry. The fear of God is the only one recommended. Understanding the blessings of a heart that fears God and the lack of blessing when we hand unto a Spirit of fear. May God create His faith in us and make us fear Him and Him only.

Remain blessed in Jesus name.

 

Your Friend,

 

The Rt. Revd. Dr. J. Akin Atere

Bishop, Diocese of Awori