The Futility of Fear, 5

Encouragement for the Fearful

Isaiah 43:1

Alfred Hitchock was afraid of eggs.  We're not sure how he felt about showers.

Alfred Hitchock was afraid of eggs. We’re not sure how he felt about showers.

“Fear” is a strange thing, and it’s surprising what people fear. Dr. Samuel Johnson, for example, for all his intelligence and philosophy, was very careful to always enter a room right foot first. He was so obsessive about this, if he walked into a room left foot first, he would step back out, then walk back in right foot first. Strange fear, indeed. It was more than just a phobia. Dr. Johnson was also mortally afraid – terrified, really – of death, and he would forbid anybody discussing the topic where he could hear.

The great Julius Caesar, military genius and renowned warrior, was scared to death of thunder and always hid under a table or bed during a thunder storm! Surprising indeed.

One of the greatest motion picture directors of all time, nicknamed “the Master of Suspense,” whose movies kept spellbound audiences on the edge of their seats for decades, was absolutely afraid of eggs, especially eggs with runny yokes. Alfred Hitchcock, the man who made us all afraid of crop dusters, motel showers, birds, Albert Hall, telephones, and Mount Rushmore, was scared of eggs.

Walt Disney, the man who brought us Mickey Mouse, had an uncontrollable fear of – you guessed it – mice.

Hans Christian Andersen was fearful of being buried alive, so much so that he kept a sign hanging over his bed declaring that he wasn’t really dead, he just looked that way.

Bela Lugosi, who sky-rocketed to fame in the early 1930‘s as Dracula, was deathly afraid of blood. Interestingly enough, so was Bram Stoker, author of Dracula.

Peter the Great would sob and shake uncontrollably when crossing a bride, so fearful of bridges was he.

Yes, there is no shortage of things to be afraid of. The number “13“ frightens some people. Who knows why? It’s a number. Other people are afraid of black cats or of walking under ladder. Of course, these are superstitious fears, but fears nonetheless with no foundation in fact. In truth, most fears, superstitious or not, have no basis in fact. Sensible, right thinking people, should chase these irrational, ridiculous fears out of their lives, especially Christians. To these, the Lord has an encouraging word:

But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. (Isaiah 43:1 KJV)

Faith, not fear!

Fear is a serious issue even though we chuckle when we hear about Hitch’s fear of runny yokes. This is because fear is the opposite of faith. Christians are called to be faithful, not fearful. To restate it another way: Christians are called to be fearless. This doesn’t mean Christians are to live reckless lives in dangerous ways, but it does mean we don’t give credence to irrational fears. They may float into your head from time to time as random thoughts are want to do, but your faith in God should broom them out quickly.

You may have had the strange experience where a free floating fear took hold of your mind out of the blue, and all of a sudden a sense of dread covered you from head to toe. Fears of impending disaster or of coming sorrows or of some unnameable fear took root in your head for no apparent reason. Most of us have had that unwelcome experience, and if we dwell on those free floating fears too long and take them seriously, pretty soon we’re depressed, frustrated, and anxious.

Ever wonder where those crazy thoughts come from? Jesus gives us a clue:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10 NIV11)

Living a full, abundant life means living a fearless life, and that’s just not possible if fear is in control of your mind. The thief – Satan – is determined to make your life miserable, and his best tool is controlling your mind.

But God is gracious, and He understands how our minds work. That’s why He speaks the phrase: “Fear not” so often in His Word to us. Time and again the Lord speaks those quiet, encouraging words to us. It’s up to us to hear them, mind you, but He’s speaking; He’s reassuring us that He is aware of what’s happening in our minds and our lives, and fear is not really an option.

Context and Comfort

Isaiah 43 and 44 are important chapters in Isaiah’s book of prophecy because they are key in understanding Israel’s future. In spite of what some of our theologians teach, God is most assuredly not finished with Israel by any stretch of the imagination. In Romans, Paul posited the question:

Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. (Romans 11:1 NIV84)

God is nowhere near done with Israel, and that’s the whole point of this section of Isaiah. In verse 1, for example, God makes some astonishing claims:

But now, this is what the Lord says–he who created you, O Jacob,he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you;I have summoned you by name; you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1 NIV84)

God is speaking directly to a disheartened Israel, a nation riddled with fear and doubt. The first thing He wanted them to know is that He created them: “…he who formed you…” God is the one responsible for the creation of Israel. Only God could take a sorry specimen of humanity named Jacob and turn his descendants into a nation. Jacob’s name, if you’ll remember, means “crooked.” What God saw in Jacob is a mystery! But in His providence, the Lord took this crooked man’s progeny and made them into a great nation that no tyrant has been able to exterminate.

God made you, too. He took the dirt you walk on, and breathed life into it and it became a living soul. That first human being didn’t appreciate his origins and soon took his life in his own hands and tried to live his own way and he failed miserably. This is Adam’s beginning, and it is also your beginning.

Surely I was sinful at birth,sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Psalms 51:5 NIV84)

David wrote that about himself, but he could just as easily have written it about you. We’re all born sinners because we possess an evil legacy. We’re no better than Adam. We have his sinful, rebellious nature and there’s not a thing we can do about our dreadfully lost condition.

But now, God makes sons of God out of people like you; people who have put their faith in Jesus Christ. God recreates those who trust in Him. So you see, God is still in the creation business!

Starting with crooked old Jacob, God created a special nation, Israel. But, like Adam, Israel became a rebellious nation and got themselves into trouble. And so God, as He said through the prophet Isaiah, redeemed them; that is, He bought them back from their troubles. He redeemed them from Egypt and put them in their own land and they truly became a nation with a homeland. They belong to Him because He made them and He purchased them.

Jesus Christ, God’s only Son did the very same thing for sinners. He literally purchased us – bought us – from our empty, sinful lives by His very blood.

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:12 NIV84)

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18, 19 NIV84)

Isn’t it amazing? What God told Israel He would do for them, He also fulfilled in us, the Church. Of course, there are some very specific promises only for the nation of Israel, but there are definite parallels in the ideas of our special creation and redemption. This we share with God’s people. But we also share something else: deliverance.

Divine deliverance

When you pass through the waters,I will be with you;and when you pass through the rivers,they will not sweep over you.When you walk through the fire,you will not be burned;the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God,the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. (Isaiah 43:2-3 NIV84)

In these verses, our Lord gently reminds Israel of how He delivered them out of the land of Egypt. God did this for Israel; He did not do it for you. And yet, these verses do apply to Christians. Think about this:

Deliverance from Death

These verses in Isaiah 43 are most often read at funerals, and for good reason. Fear of death is the one fear most human beings have in common. Death is certain, no matter what kind of food you eat, how much you exercise, how many vitamins you swallow, or how positively you think about things! Nobody can avoid death, but for the Christian, fear should not be attached to the idea of departing this world.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 (NIV84)

Deliverance from Bondage

Israel was delivered from their awful Egyptian bondage. It wasn’t just the hard work God saved them from; He set them free! The Hebrews were never meant to be living in Egypt on a permanent basis. God had something better for them – a land flowing with milk and honey. They needed to be set free so that they could experience God’s will to the fullest.

Christian, you may feel like the Hebrews did in Egypt. You may feel like God has something better in store for you; you are saved, and yet in your heart of hearts, you know there’s something God wants you to do – a life He wants you to live. If you’re not at the moment, this could be form of bondage to you, but God will lead you out of it into that “abundant life” the Bible talks about, if you’d let Him.

You may be serving the Lord today but are discouraged because there is sin in your life that you just can’t seem to get a handle on. That’s a very real bondage that God can deliver you out of, if you’d let Him!  God is still in the deliverance business just as surely as He is in the recreation business!

Deliverance from penury

When the Hebrews left Egypt, they carried off the wealth of that nation with them, as the Lord told them to! God provided for them in astonishing ways. God provides for you, too. Without Christ in our lives, we were spiritually bankrupt with no prospects and no opportunities in sight. But God came in and met our needs, gave us hope and confidence, and opened doors. Part of redemption is provision, spiritual and otherwise.

That’s a real fear many people have; fear of want or of need. Fear of poverty and of lack. God cares for the whole you; the immaterial you and the material you.

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 NIV84)

There are all kinds of fears floating around us. Some could be helpful; they keep us from walking into oncoming traffic or from getting too close to the edge. But most fears are truly futile – a waste of time because they are either irrational, have no basis in reality, or they have already been addressed and dealt with by God on the Cross of His only Son. Why fear when you don’t have to?

egg fear

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