Terror and Fear
Terror and Fear
Is terror appropriate for a Christian? Is fear appropriate for a Christian?
Terror is a word we’ve seen a lot in print and heard about a lot in the news. In fact, I’ve brought two newspapers -- if I don’t spill the water here. Here’s one, from Tuesday, October 30th, "Government Calls Another Terror Alert". And then you look at the paper on Friday, October 26th, "Anti-terror Law" and then they have a report, "War on Terrorism". And so, we are hearing a lot about the term, terror. It’s a lot in the news. We’ve seen it, we’ve heard about it - a lot of it, particularly, since September 11, 2001.
Should we, as Christians, be terrified? Should you be terrified for anything? Should terror be a part of our lives?
Now, before you answer that in the negative, I want to share with you what the term, terror, means. What terror means. I want to share with you what it means and what fear means because you will come to a better understanding and I also am just going to give you a glimpse as to why there is a reason to be concerned. When I couldn’t sleep the first Sabbath back, I was sitting and I was thinking about a sermon and what I was going to talk about over in Pittsburgh when we do our Sampler. Next week, we are doing a Mini-Sampler over in the Pittsburgh area. I’m going to talk about Islam as a religion. I scanned three books while I was sitting up and couldn’t sleep from 2 o’clock until about 6 in the morning a few weeks back. And what was interesting is that in the Koran, the Koran as we might pronounce it, the Koran, it does say, slaughter your enemies. And Muhammad, in his original foray, in his original founding of the religion, actually did go and say, either accept the religion or die. And, believe it or not, a ‘kafir’ to them is one who is not ‘of the Book’. Now, they believe we are people of the Book. Christians are people of the Book. Jews are people of the Book. Zoroastrians, a very close faith to the Jews, are also people of the Book. They will not kill them if they go to war against them. They will not kill them if they are willing to submit to them. They can keep their own religion, but submit to that state. So they’re allowed, okay, in normal Islamic belief. However, Hindus, Buddhists and others, they would say, if they decide to go to war -- press their faith and spread their faith -- either accept it or die. Accept it or be executed. And if you ever go back to what you were before, you will be executed.
Mind you, every Muslim is supposed to spread his faith throughout the world, no matter how. And one tool that they can use is jihad, which is holy war. However, not everybody is allowed to declare holy war. It is only a prophet, an approved prophet. So the Mullah over there, Mullah Omar who is the Taliban leader, does not have the right to call for holy war. Nor does Osama ben Laden. He has only been practicing six years. Please understand that in the Muslim world very few are Arabs. Many are Indonesians. In fact, Indonesians are the most populous group, the most concentrated group of Muslims in the world. So, it’s not all Arabic. Okay? And what many people do when they interpret the Koran -- you know, when you read the Old Testament, what did Israel do? God said, when you go in and take over the land wipe out all the people. So, we say we believe in the Bible. So we, as Christians, are going to go in and wipe out everybody who doesn’t have our faith. We see in the New Testament a modification of that, don’t we? We understand God was dealing with a carnal people and now God is dealing with a people who believe spiritually in Him. And so we don’t do that. But in the Koran, there are definitely words that say slaughter them! Now, a modern interpretation of most Muslims is, that means you are supposed to work on yourself. You are supposed to kill your own enemies. You’re supposed to kill lust. And you’re supposed to kill desire. And you’re supposed to kill jealousy. You’re supposed to kill any of these vices. You’re supposed to destroy those. So that’s how they interpret it. That’s why they didn’t rally behind the call for war.
But there is a group, and you’ll read about this. I asked Melvin Rhodes to share with me some of the sermon that he gave, apparently, at the Dells this year on Islam. And one of the things he brings out, there is a group called the Wahhabis. The Wahhabis are dedicated to spreading their faith by war, by pressure means. And Osama ben Laden is a Wahhabi. Not all Muslims are that and that is an extremist group. However, virtually everyone who is a suicide bomber would be a Wahhabi and there are lots of Wahhabis in America. So, just so you are aware of what you are dealing with. And we play down faith vs. faith. We play down Muslims trying to spread their faith. Every Muslim is bound to spread his faith, convert others. Now, even though Muhammad said, now don’t force this on people, in other sections of his life and other examples that are written, he did force others. So, you can pick or choose what you want. And so, some of the extremists have picked and chosen the area that says slaughter your enemies. And if there are some left afterwards, you can deal with them, but go in and slaughter them. I can read it, I’ve got the quotes here, but I won’t take the time.
So, just so you are aware, there is that enemy out there. But, should you and I be terrified? Should we live our lives in fear?
I confronted a fear. I was concerned about flying with all that was going on. And my mom said, ‘Gary, don’t tell anybody you are an Arab-American. Just tell them you’re American.’ I wasn’t going to wear a Syrian flag or anything like that on my lapel. But, she was concerned. And I looked at it and I talked with Dr. Kirkpatrick and I talked to Peter Eddington and a number of people about it and asked, what do you think I ought to do. I called Doug Horchak, who was originally scheduled to go to Africa and decided not to during that time, to ask him his reasons and so on. Of course, I realized I was going to a part of the world and, in fact, felt safer in Australia than you were here because Australia wasn’t having any anthrax scares when you were. So, I felt safer down there than I did here. But none the less, to confront that, finally I said if I don’t get on that plane then I should not go to a mall, I should never go to a baseball game, and I should never go anywhere where there is a crowd. The moment I give in to that, I had might as well back off life. So that’s how we confronted it. My wife said, yeah, let’s do it. I said, Honey, if you don’t want to go — but she was brave, too. She said, we will go. And we are grateful and glad that we did.
What is terror, anyway? Here are some definitions of terror. Terror comes from the word that means to tremble or to frighten. It means ‘an intense fear’. Terror is an intense fear! A second definition is ‘a person or a thing causing fear’. Another one is ‘a program of terrorism or a party’. They are a terror. And then finally, ‘a very annoying or unmanageable person’ -- especially a child, a nuisance or a pest. They say, he is a terror around here. That one we don’t mind too much.
What is fear, then? Since it’s intense fear, what is fear? The word for fear comes from a word which means a sudden attack or an ambush or a snare. Here are some of the definitions. The first one, I think is very good. ‘Fear is a feeling of anxiety or agitation -— anxiety and agitation caused by the presence or nearness of danger, evil, pain.’ Fear can mean ‘timidity’. Fear can be translated ‘dread’. Fear can be translated ‘terror’. Remember, we said intense fear. Fear can be translated ‘fright or apprehension’. In some cases, a second definition, it means ‘a respectful dread or awe or reverence’. It does carry that connotation as well. Thirdly, ‘it’s a feeling of uneasiness or apprehension or concern.’ So, those are some of the meanings. Now it talks about terror as opposed to fear. It says, terror applies to an overwhelming, often paralyzing fear.
That’s what we want to take a look at. Is terror appropriate for a Christian? Is fear appropriate for a Christian?
Okay, give you a couple of Greek and Hebrew words for terror and fear. In the Old Testament there are some twelve different words that are translated terror. The word, terror, however, is always kind of a conjunction with fear and many times is a parallel to the word, fear. The main word for fear is yare. And the words for terror —- the one is called behalah. That is used three times and is translated ‘terror’ or ‘trouble’. The other word is chittiyth. Chittiyth is used nine times — mostly in the book of Ezekiel and mostly in chapter 32 it is translated ‘terror’. But oftentimes it can be either ‘terror’ or ‘trouble’ or ‘dismay’ or ‘dread’. That’s how that is used. In fact, it comes from the word chathath, which means ‘dismayed’, ‘shattered’, ‘broken’ or ‘terrified’. It’s used some fifty times, but it is often in concert with and parallels the word, fear. So just so you are aware of that, I don’t want to spend a lot of time.
Now, in the New Testament it is real easy. In the New Testament, there are only three times it is translated terror, and it comes from the same word that is translated fear. The Greek word is phobos. You talk about phobia. P-h-o-b-o-s, phobos or phobeo, depending on the noun or the verb. Phobos or phobeo. Those are the two words and they are translated ‘fear’ everywhere else.
So, let’s take a look at this subject, this topic of terror and fear and let’s ask ourselves a question: Should a Christian be terrified? Should a Christian have fear? Let’s look at some healthy and unhealthy fears.
There are human, healthy fears, you know. I’m going to share this one comment with you from a book entitled Stop Running Scared. It’s about people with panic anxiety and fears. It says, "Scan a psychological dictionary and you will see many categories defining disturbed emotions. Fear denotes a state of alarm or dread. When you experience fear under certain conditions it can immobilize you. It usually prepares you for three ‘F’s’ — flight, fight or freeze." You are either going to run away, you are going to fight or you are going to freeze, be paralyzed. Here is what it says about fear, though. "Normal fear" and I’m talking about normal, human fear, "can serve as a useful emotion." Picture yourself trying to cross six lanes of highway, trying to walk across six lanes of highway in Los Angeles at rush hour. Now, you might be safer at rush hour because the cars don’t move very fast -— so, let’s say, just prior to rush hour. You’re trying to negotiate six lanes and you’ve got to walk across there. You will have a certain measure of fear. Or, if somebody decides —- some Arnold Swartzineger type -— decides to grab you by your ankles and hold you over the edge of the balcony on the sixteenth floor of a hotel. Do you think you would feel fear? Yes, you would! There is a certain normal fear that we experience when we are in a dangerous situation -- someone holds a gun to your head. Now, thank God, I have never been in a place where somebody has held me up with a gun. Some people may have. You are working in a store and they put a gun to your head, put a gun to your chest, pull it back, cock it. You don’t know whether it is loaded or not. You assume it is loaded. Are you fearful? You bet you’re fearful!
There are normal fears that come. They key you up to get motivated to do something about it. If you are confronted with the threat of a fire or accident, fear can spur you into taking life saving measures. Faced with psychological rather than physical danger, you also take protective measures. For example, when you see that a coworker wants your job, you see what is going on, you take necessary action. Feelings of fear can also sharpen your perception, mobilize your energies, quicken your reflexes, clarify your thoughts so that you can actually perform better with a feeling of fear than without it. For example, when you give a speech, that inner feeling of tension can make your mind keener and your manner livelier.
Then they talk about an irrational fear. And this is when danger is minimal or does not exist and people become fearful. Phobia —- it says here the Greek word from phobos -— means flight. It means people want to run away from it.
But, fear is something that is present and prevalent in our world. There are healthy fears. It’s good for you to be fearful at certain times. Let’s take a look at those. Then we are going to take a look at the unhealthy fears that the Bible does not prescribe. And then we are going to end with the spiritual fear that we all must have. And a lot of times, I hear fear downplayed -- like, well it says fear not -— it just means we should have a nice reverence and awe for Him. Hey, it also means you’d better fear! Same word. Phobos in the Greek in the New Testament. It means to fear, but it does not mean that you walk around all the time cowering. It means you recognize God’s supreme power and might and majesty and you realize that He could blot you out like that, though that is not what He is out for. He wants to save you. You realize that same power and might is there to help and strengthen and guide us, too.
Let’s take a look at some healthy fears now. Human healthy fears. Genesis 32:11. As I said, there aren’t that many times —- twenty nine times in the King James that terror is used. In most of those cases, it has to do with dread. But here, we’re looking at fears. Gen. chapter 32 and verse 11 we’ll see a healthy fear. Here was a fear for his life and the life of his family.
Gen. 32:11 - Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau... he prayed, Jacob prayed when he was coming back with his family…for I fear him, lest he come and smite me and the mother with the children.
So, he was fearful. He should have been, his life was being threatened -— at least, he thought it would be threatened. So there was a fear. And he did take action, didn’t he, because of that fear that he put the least desirable in the front and the most desirable in the back. He also sent gifts and tried to win Esau’s favor. So that fear provoked Jacob into action. So, there is a fear, a fear for his life. Could he do something about it? Yes, he could do something about it. That’s a healthy fear.
What is an unhealthy fear is when you can’t do anything about it. I am getting older. I can’t do anything about it. I can’t fine the elixir to live life now. I can’t say, what can I do to keep myself alive? I can do all the things physically, yes, that are necessary —- proper eating, proper diet, proper exercise -— I can do all that, that is fine, but I can’t keep myself from aging. Right? Neither can you. So, shall I worry about that? When you cannot do anything about it and you worry about it, that’s a very unhealthy fear! We’ll come to that. But, when you can do something about it, it’s okay.
Notice Deuteronomy 28:67. As you know, Deut. 28 is the chapter of blessings and cursings. In verse 67 he says:
Deut. 28:67 - In the morning you shall say...when they are in captivity...Would to God that it were even! and in the evening thou shall say, Would to God it were morning! for fear of your heart...and the word here is pachad, which is dread -— he dreaded this...for fear of your heart which you shall fear...or dread...for the sight of your eyes which you shall see.
They were talking about Israel being in a captive situation and circumstances going very poorly for them. What should they do? Of course they are going to be fearful for their lives. They are scared. You have somebody threatening you; you’d be scared.
When I was a little kid and went to the movies, you want to scare me? As a six-year-old, send me to a movie where the Germans were winning. I still remember little Lassie behind the front lines; maybe it was ‘Lassie Come Home’. Or maybe it wasn’t ‘Lassie Come Home’, but anyway, Lassie went to war. She was one of the canine dogs or whatever, over there helping and when those German Nazi’s almost got Lassie, my little heart was fluttering. And anytime I see that shape hat, even to this day, you know, they have them on motorcycle riders, they wear the German style hat. When I see those, that bothers me. And I would sit there as a little six-year-old and be terrified to see those Germans -- because I thought Germans would kill any American they would see. As a little kid, they will kill you, no matter who they are, because they are our enemies in World War II. So, as I watched the movies, that terrified me!
When I was a little kid, I used to be concerned about the dark. And then I had to realize, you know what? When it’s dark, it’s the same setting as it is when it is light! You just can’t see it. And when I had our own family and had to be the one that any sounds in the room, that you’re the one who has to go and check them out, you’ve got to confront your fears. You can’t say, Here, dear, take the bat and go down and see who’s down there. You have to confront it. And that helped me. No problem anymore, being by myself in the dark. But, when you are little, you have different fears that come up that you need to confront that were unhealthy fear.
Now, what are other healthy fears? Loss of a job. 1 Peter 2:18. People face job losses. When they are threatened with a loss, their companies are going bad, they are laying people off and you wonder if you are next.
1 Pet. 2:18 we read, Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear...Now back in those days, I’m sure they would do more to them than lose their job, they might lose their lives, but...servants, be subject to your masters with all fear -— phobos. There is a fear. Fearfulness of what this person can do to me. ...not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
So, there’s a proper type of fear and respect there, but there is also that fear of the loss of the job.
There’s another fear that you can have -- a fear for other people’s welfare. You fear for them. Jude, verse 23. Notice, talking about keeping yourselves in the love of God, verse 21.
Verse 22 says: And of some have compassion, making a difference:
Verse 23 - Others save with fear...phobos. Save them with fear. Why do you save them? Because you are afraid for them. You’re not afraid of them, you’re afraid for them. You fear for their eternal life. You fear for them as an individual. So he says...Others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
So he says, fear can motivate you to help others. Fear for them. I’m fearful for that person. You’re not fearful for yourself, you’re afraid for them. It’s another healthy fear.
Revelation 11:11, here’s what I call an ‘uh-oh’ situation. My little grandson, it is one of his favorite terms. He says, Uh-oh! Uh-oh, drops something. Uh-oh, something breaks -- uh-oh. Uh-oh, that’s what he uses. Well, here is truly an ‘uh-oh’. Rev. 11:11. In this case, you find the two witnesses have had their way with the world for over three years —- about three years. The end of that time, they are killed and because -— I don’t know who is in charge at that time, but they allow their bodies to be lying in the streets, probably spit upon, kicked upon, garbage thrown upon, whatever. They are just lying there in the streets for three days. Everybody sees them. But verse 11, here’s an ‘uh-oh’ -— now this is a fear.
Rev. 11:11 - And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear...phobos...fell upon them which saw them.
That was a healthy fear. They had better fear for what they did to them. And now, these people are alive again with the potentiality of them coming back upon them. So that is a healthy fear.
There is the fear of punishment. Revelation 18:10. These are all healthy fears. When you know certain punishment is going to be inflicted there is a fear there. Fear of how that is going to feel. Fear of hurt.
Rev. 18:10 - Standing afar off for the fear of her torment...when Babylon the Great was getting its come-up-ance. Those who had been allied with her are standing back in fear...standing afar off for the fear of her torment saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is your judgment come. Why is there fear? Well, fear of not having the goodies that she provided. Fear of what might come to them because of their association. It is a healthy fear when you see danger to step around and avoid it.
Now, there’s a fear that has to do with respect and awe. Romans chapter 13. These are all healthy, normal fears. If you don’t fear that, then you must be goofy. You must have a view of life that is distorted. And, you see, some do have a view of life that is distorted. And that is the difficulty in dealing with these suicidal individuals because they have been taught from their youth by this Wahhabi group that it’s okay. If you die, you are going to go straight to Paradise. It does say that in the Koran. If you die defending your faith, if you die in a righteously, fully declared jihad, you will go straight to Paradise. And I say, if that’s the case, Osama ben Laden ought to stand up and say, "Here I am, kill me!" Where is he? He’s hiding in a cave somewhere. Obviously, he doesn’t believe he is going to go straight to Paradise. Boy, it would be a way to guarantee I get into Paradise, just stand up and be shot in public, trying to defend my faith.
Rom. 13:3, notice, For rulers are not a terror...again, the word here -— terror, fear...to good works, but to the evil. Will you not then be afraid...again afraid...of that power? Do that which is good, and you shall have praise of the same:
So there is a proper respect. You know what? When do you usually slow up if you are exceeding the speed limit on the highway? When do you usually slow up? Oh, I see a police officer up ahead. Uhhhh! Ever driving along and you are basically doing within five miles or so of the speed limit and all of a sudden you see everybody slow up to below — now they’re down to 60-65 — most of them were doing 75. Now, all of a sudden, they are down to 60. Well, they saw a police officer. They don’t want to get a ticket. They don’t want to have demerits. They don’t want to have points taken off their driving record. So what do you see happen? There is fear there. There is a fear there. Argh!
In the airports these day, you go to the airport and they want to look at your luggage —- and you have security people standing there. In most cases, we took it right up to the ticket counter and they put it through, but you see the presence. When you go through to board, you see the presence of National Guardsmen in their uniforms with their guns. So, there’s a sense of fear there. If you’re going to do something evil, there’s going to be a sense of fear and respect.
Verse 7 - Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear...phobos to whom phobos. If phobos is worthy, then it should be given. In this case, talking about the awe and respect for the individuals.
Ephesians 5:33, our last of the healthy fears and you may find more in the scriptures, I’m not claiming this is an exhaustive list, but it’s a pretty thorough list, having looked at most of the words on fear and terror.
Eph. 5:33 — Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
That word, reverence -— to have respect for, as akin to phobos. Having a respect for her husband, or a deep respect or a healthy fear. In a sense that God says He is the head of the family; in the sense that God says, treat him as you would treat Me, Jesus Christ said.
Okay, let’s take a look at unhealthy fears, and there are several of those unhealthy fears. These are fears you don’t want to have in your life. 1 Peter 3:14 we will see several different categories. In this case 1 Pet. 3:14 says,
1 Pet. 3:14 - But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are you: and be not afraid of their terror...the word there terror is fear, translated phobos...neither be troubled.
Don’t be afraid of those who would want to harm you. Now, we’re talking spiritually. When you’re doing the right thing, do the right thing fearlessly! I don’t know if I should do this. If it’s the right thing, do it. Do it! We’re not saying hurt people, no. If it’s the right thing, do it. So, he says, if you suffer for righteousness sake, happy are you and don’t be afraid of their terror. Don’t be afraid —- phobos and phobeo -— you know, the one is the noun and the one is the verb. The terror is the phobos and afraid is the phobeo. Don’t fear their fear. Don’t be afraid of them.
We’ll see another case, we’re not supposed to be afraid of men -— what they can do to you spiritually. Remember, we talked about in the Old Testament, hey, Jacob was careful. They were trying to take his life. It had nothing to do with spiritual. So if you know there is a horrible area of town, you shouldn’t say, well, Mr. Antion said don’t be afraid, so I’ll spend all my time in this horrible area of town because he said I shouldn’t be afraid. I didn’t say that. I remember one time that my wife and I went and visited in Harlem, New York when I was a Trainee. She and I went that one time into Spanish Harlem. It was pretty bad. In fact, as we drove to park our 1963 Chevrolet Impala and we pulled it in to park it there —- it was pretty nice, it was 1963, it was a new car. I look down the road and I see cars with tires missing, others with their windshields smashed through, and I’m thinking, hmmm, what am I doing down here. Anyway, we went and visited these people. After we were done, the man said, "I’ll walk you out to your car." And he came out, he was a fairly big, Spanish church member, "I’ll walk you out to your car for safety."
Another instance, I went down there and it was very dangerous. After that time they started having those who were familiar with that area, who would look more like they blended in in those areas, to visit that particular region. Yeah, I wouldn’t just decide I was going to go and walk down there. I’ve played ball in Central Park, but I wouldn’t be at Central Park at night -— Central Park, New York, I wouldn’t. Cab drivers don’t even drive through Central Park at night. Okay, so I wouldn’t be there at night. Say, well, I don’t have anything to fear. Because we say confront your fears, it doesn’t mean you are to be foolish. If you are a Christian doing God’s work and had a reason to go there -- one of our brothers were in danger and they needed us -- we went there. We did. We went and visited there and we sat and God protected us because He knew we weren’t there for our own pleasure, for sure. Deut. 31:6 With God on our side, we don’t have to fear. In Deut. 31:6, He tells us, fear not.
Deut. 31:6 - Be strong and of good courage...God says, when they go into the land, he counsels to the Priests and Levites and Joshua. He says...Be strong and of good courage, and don’t fear...don’t fear when you are doing what I tell you to do, God says. Don’t fear when you’re obeying me. ...Fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD your God, he it is that does go with you; he will not fail you, nor forsake you.
With God on our side, there’s no need to fear if you’re doing the Lord’s work. Okay? You don’t put yourself in a situation that’s dangerous to your health. That’s unhealthy fear, right, to do that. But if your life is in danger then you should take measures to protect it, for sure.
Hebrews 2:15, some people, their whole lives they fear death -— they fear death. So, people can threaten us. Give up your faith or I kill you. Again, we have to understand that we cannot go through life fearing death when it comes down to spiritual values and issues. Heb. 2:15 Let’s go back to verse 14.
Heb 2:14 - Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
Verse 15 - And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
You see, if you’re doing what’s right, if you’re doing what’s true, if you’re living a life of liberty -— not liberty from God -- liberty in God, do not be afraid. That’s what he tells us. Do not be afraid! Don’t let somebody threaten you. Don’t let them deal with you. One situation, my wife and I were threatened. Our whole family, for about a year, were under a threat of death. And I know what it’s like to walk outside, look at my car in the dark and wonder if somebody has wired it for a bomb because the police said this man could do it. And so, we were under a threat for about a year. We had already made plans, if I am killed, where she was going to go, how we would protect our girls if the guy tried. He said, I know where you live and I’ll kill you, I’ll kill your girls. We lived under that threat for about a year. The only really good night’s sleep, because I was fearful -— but not fearful doing the work, I didn’t stop doing the work -— was when we went and visited some of the other churches and my friends were there. I thought, it will take a few days for him to catch me up here if he’s going to try to do it. But it was a real threat. The police said, yes, this is a genuine threat. This person has nothing to lose. Thank God, it was resolved.
But fear of death causes people to modify the way they live in life. Job 3:25 Excessive fear can actually bring it upon you. One man apparently, I think in Australia, was fearful of crocodiles. He was not the Crocodile Man — isn’t there a crocodile man, Crocodile Hunter on TV? This man was afraid of crocodiles. In fact, he wouldn’t go in the water. He wouldn’t go in any water. He was a hunter but he wouldn’t go in any deep water. And apparently, apparently, that which he feared took him. Because, though he wouldn’t go in deep water, he would go in real shallow water and apparently wherever he was, this crocodile watched him, watched him and watched him and got him, even in the shallow water. That which he feared actually did him in. Job 3:25, notice what Job stated, it’s a truism.
Job 3:25 - For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come to me.
Excessive fears in our lives can actually be a self-fulfilling feeling; we can actually bring it to pass. And some people live their lives afraid of their own shadows. There is a fear of fear. When you get fear of fear, that is panic and inside you will do yourself great harm. People who have panic anxiety, which comes because of fear of fear; they literally feel like they are dying. And, if you’ve experienced panic anxiety -— and I’ve seen people who have —- you never want to feel that again because they literally feel like they are going to die. Now, they won’t, but you see, your body has an automatic system that kicks in when a certain fear goes off. It’s like if I pull the alarm here, the fire alarm -- which I won’t, and I don’t advise any kids to do it either-- but if you pull the fire alarm, it sets things into motion, doesn’t it? The fire department’s going to come; just automatically happens. When you pull that alarm in your system because of severe panic, fear, your body goes into a certain mode automatically. You can train it not to do that; you can train it not to pull the alarm, that’s what you can do. Once that alarm is pulled, you can’t stop it. I mean, I’ve talked to people, they literally thought they were going to die. That’s how bad it was and they just kind of went out. Of course, when they went out, they came back and started breathing normally again. So, fear of fear can really destroy you. Proverbs 3:25 is that fear of fear. We had Job 3:25 and now we have Pro. 3:25.
Pro. 3:25 - Be not afraid of sudden fear...be not afraid of fear, fear of fear is what it’s talking about...neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it comes.
Don’t be fearful of fear! A lot of times, people say, what are you afraid of? Oh, I don’t know. What are you afraid of? And they can’t really tell you, but I’m just fearful. There are people who are fearful, fearful about everything. Okay. It’s something you must combat. We’ll come back and talk about that in a moment.
These are unhealthy fears. There is fear of Satan. Rev. 2:9-10. Let’s look at that. There’s a fear of Satan. It’s unhealthy. Satan the Devil can do nothing to you. God says, rebuke him in the name of Jesus Christ. Don’t run away. It talks about us standing. He says, be vigilant because he goes about seeking whom he may devour -- Satan the Devil. Rev. 2:9-10 we see the church here in Smyrna.
Rev. 2:9 - He says, I know your works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)...they were rich spiritually...and I know the blasphemy of them that say they are Jews, and are not...claiming to be spiritual Jews (Romans 2:28-29)...but are of the synagogue of Satan.
Verse 10 - Fear none of these things which you shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison...don’t fear him...that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life.
Don’t fear Satan or his agents. Don’t let them get you into fearfulness. I know some people who fear. I have known of people who have absolutely been terrified at Satan, the Devil. I don’t talk much about him because I don’t want to put that in people’s minds. Don’t be afraid of him. Stand. You know, put on the armor of God and stand! Face him. Resist, the Bible says, resist the Devil, he will flee from you. It doesn’t say, run away from him. In this case, how should you deal with the fear? Fight! You don’t fly. You don’t run away. You fight! Don’t run from Satan. Don’t fear idols. Judges 6:10. Don’t fear idols. They can’t do anything to you.
Jdg. 6:10 - And I said to you, I am the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but you have not obeyed my voice.
I told you, don’t fear their gods. You shouldn’t fear any other god because, compared to your God they are nothing. They are nothing. So, don’t fear their gods. The concept, see, an Arabic Christian would call God Allah. Allah is the Arabic name for God. Now, the Muslims take it and they call God, Allah. And they believe in one God, not two, not three — one God, one personage, one. And Muhammad is His prophet. One God. That is what they believe in, so like the Jews and Christians, from whom, by the way, they took their religion, and because Muhammad was greatly influenced by them. Muslims would not agree, they think Muhammad received it directly from God and that the Koran is His writing — every word is the Word of God and all Muhammad did was write it down. That’s what they believe. The Koran is The Word of God. But they also respect Christians because they have many of the same prophets that we do: Moses and Abraham; and Jesus is a prophet to them, even though He was not the final prophet or Son of God. So, don’t fear their gods. Don’t fear their concept of gods because they can’t do anything to you.
Matthew —- the last unhealthy fear that I will deal with -— Matthew 10:28. We read about fear of man. Don’t fear men -— especially what they can do to you spiritually. Don’t fear them.
Matt. 10:28 - Fear not them which kill the body...don’t fear them...but are not able to kill the soul...What is the soul? Your life, psukee. But, you see, if they kill my body, they will kill the life that comes with this body. There is no way they are going to kill my body and my life is going to continue -— my physical life, my life that comes with the body. But, they can kill this body, and they can take the life that comes with this body. What they cannot take away from me is life. Only God can give us life, and that more abundantly, and life eternal. Only God can do that. They can’t interfere with that process. So, he says, don’t fear man who can kill your body, but not take away your life...but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear him who is able to destroy both...that life...and the body...with it’s life...in hell.
He’s the one to fear. Don’t fear men. Sometimes you can get put into that position. Don’t fear men and what they can to you spiritually. It is God who makes the difference.
Now, let’s finally turn to a spiritual, healthy fear. And that spiritual, healthy fear is taught in the scriptures. It is the fear of God. You should fear God. It’s ordered. It’s instructed. It’s expounded. It’s explained. It’s spoken of many times. Exodus 18:21. We must fear God. If you fear God, you have a proper respect for Him, you have a proper honor toward Him and you understand He’s got power of life and death. He’s got power to create. He’s got more power than all the carpet bombs and cluster bombs and nuclear bombs that the world has ever seen.
Ex. 18:21 - Moreover you shall provide out of the people...he’s talking about the quality of all the people...able men...Moses, talking about the people to choose...such as fear God... The first thing he says, what do you look for when you look for someone? Someone who fears God...men of truth, hating covetousness; place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
What was Moses instructed by his father-in-law to look for and what did God inspire to be put in the scriptures? Fear God. That’s yare, which is the main word used over three hundred times in the Hebrew for fear.
Psalms 111:10 - You see, with the proper fear of God, you can learn. Remember that wonderful, famous scripture, Ps. 111:10.
Ps. 111:10 - The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom... When we come to God and say, God, I don’t know it all. God, You do! God, You know. I think of when Ezekiel was told by God, Ezekiel, what are all these dry bones? And he said, I don’t know. You know, he came to the ‘I don’t know’ section. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. Lord, You know. You see, when you have a fear of God -- a proper respect for Him -- you say, God, I don’t know, but you do. Teach me. Show me. Help me. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. He gets your attention because of His power and might.
Deut. 10:12, again, yare is used. The verb form, the feminine was used in Ps. 111 and verse 10. Here in Deut. 10 and verse 12 you might notice this section.
Deut. 10:12 - And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you...you want to know what does God require of you. Micah 6:8 also tells...but to fear the LORD your God...
So here’s a good spiritual fear -- a good, spiritual, healthy fear -- that we need to fear God. Now does it mean, ‘Oh, I respect Him, I have great respect’? That is great. I hope you respect Him. A lot of you want to say, ‘Oh, God would never do anything, God would never be harsh.’ Oh, yes, he can be harsh. Oh, yes. Yes He can if you push Him that direction. Yes He can. He said, I am against you Babylon. I am against you, Nineveh. Behold, I am against you, this nation, that nation or the other. I am against you, Tyre. I am against you, this one. And I am against you, that one. God can take people down. God can liquefy us and vaporize us. That’s the power He has. Now, I don’t walk fearing Him — ‘I’m scared of God. I’m scared,’ all concerned. No. But, you know that’s there.
It’s interesting how the Bible talks about how we should serve God with trembling. You should realize God has the power to deal with you and your life — life eternal or life now.
Deut. 10:12 - And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, (13) ...and of course...To keep His commandments.
But, the fear of God, that’s a requirement. Isaiah 66:1-2, tremble is part of that. I looked up the word tremble and it does mean ‘tremble’. Isa. 66:1-2 God looks at us to see if we realize that He means business. We’re in the ‘eternal life business’. Right. That’s what we are in. What is the ultimate thing we want for people, just preach a gospel? No, we preach a gospel that they may come to know God’s way and want that same gospel that we do —- that good news of the Kingdom of God. We want them to be there in this Kingdom. We want them to have eternal life. We are in the eternal life business.
Isa. 66:1-2 - God says, The heaven is my throne, the earth is my footstool: where is the house that you can build me? and where is the place for my rest?
Verse 2 - For all those things has mine hand made, and all those things have been, says the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.
The word there for trembles, it means tremble. It means quake. We have to have a right respect for God. Don’t let the do-gooders say, ‘Oh, God is so sweet, God is so sweet.’ He is sweet. God is so full of grace; He is full of grace. But, don’t take away His power, because He has that, too. Fear and respect your God.
Take a look at Ephesians 5 and verse 21. We are to serve God with fear. The problem with our world is there is no more fear of God in their eyes.
Eph. 5:21 - Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
Husbands and wives, looking to God. Brethren, looking to God. Looking to His power, His might, His majesty, His greatness, His awesomeness. And yes, have fear toward Him.
In Romans 3 and verse 18 we will see that other scripture. I wasn’t going to give it, but I’ll just throw it in, because I’ve used scriptures as opposed to taking one or two and expounding them, I’ve used them as supportive. Notice what God says about the problem with our world. Not only, the way of peace they have not known, but verse 18:
Rom. 3:18 - There is no fear of God before their eyes.
May that never be said of God’s people -- any one of us -- there is no fear of God before their eyes.
So, we’ve seen healthy, normal, human fear. We’ve seen unhealthy fear. We’ve seen spiritual, healthy fear. What can you do now to combat terrorism? What can you do to combat being terrified?
Eccl. 12:13 - ...fear God, keep his commandments: this is the whole duty of man.
And, of course, we know when we pray to God, Matthew 6:8,9,10, he said, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed ...Hallowed... be His name. It’s good to offer to God that His greatness, to remind yourself of His greatness, and to talk to Him about His greatness for your sake —- and He understands you know it. So the first one, what you can do is fear God.
But, identify what that fear is. Write it down. What am I afraid of? And do some self-talk in addition to praying about it. Ps. 56:3 Pray about that fear. Find it here real quickly.
Ps. 56:3 - What time I am afraid, I will trust in you...If you have a fear, talk to God about it. What time I am afraid, I will trust in you.
Do yourself some self-talk. What am I afraid of? Why am I afraid of that spider over there? Okay, so it’s a brown recluse. So what? You know, I’ll take a hammer and hit it. I’ll take a fly swatter. I’ll take a shoe. My daughter called me this morning and said, ‘Dad’, she said, ‘uh, you know what?’ She said, ‘I saw the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in my entire life and my husband had gone to church’ — she was staying home with the kids because they were sick. ‘...the biggest spider I’ve seen in my entire life.’ I said, ‘Well, Sue, what did you do with it? Did you kill it?’ ‘Yeah, I took his shoe and I killed it.’ But she was afraid of it. She is not afraid of spiders, she doesn’t have a fear of that, but it was a fearful thing for her.
Again, confront your fears. Give yourself a pep talk. What am I afraid of? Why am I afraid of that? Why am I afraid of the dark? What’s in the dark? Nothing. Did things change? Did all of a sudden the topography change? Is there a big hole in my backyard that wasn’t there during the light -— every night becomes a big cavern? No, it’s the same. Take a flashlight and look at it. You know what, it’s the same out here as it was before.
You know what they do with people who have extreme fears of things? And there are people with fear of bridges, fear of snakes, all types of ophidiophobias —- fear of snakes. And there is one, anthrophobias, fear of flowers. There are people who fear flowers. You know what they do? They have them imagine, first of all write down what they are most afraid of. They say, well what would be the most fearful thing? The next most fearful thing, and so on. You gradually desensitize them. And finally, you bring them to it.
One lady who was afraid of snakes was teaching class. Some students, some kid brought a bag and said, I’ve go a present for you. And it was just before their break. He put it on the desk and she opened it up and it was a snake. Harmless garter snake, you know, a garden snake. No problem. She looked at it, she freaked out. She determined she would never go back to school. She would not teach. She only had another year or so to finish her tenure so she could retire. She could not go back to school. She had a two week break and it took a psychotherapist two weeks, intensively, every day working with her to finally get her where she was not afraid any more. She’ll never like snakes, but she is not afraid any more by confronting that fear.
So you might need help. If you need help, get help during that particular time. Remember, What time I am afraid, I will trust in you.
- Fear God. Put your fear in the right place. Remember Ecclesiastes 12:13: fear God and keep His commandments. After Solomon, the wisest man, humanly, who ever lived said, what’s the end of it all? He said,
- Is to identify, if you have a fear, identify what that fear is and take appropriate steps. What do I mean? Some people are fearful. Excuse me, what are you fearful about? There’s a whole list here I could give you dozens upon dozens -— a hundred and one things you could be fearful of if I have it here. Yeah. Lightening, darkness, dirt, weapons, sudden noises, sirens, fire, loud noises, deep water, thunderstorms, worms, cemeteries — do you know that they asked Ann Landers in her column what was the single most mentioned issue when you look back at all the letters, some ten thousand letters she receives every year. You know what she said? Fear. Fear. Doctors say ninety percent of their patients come in, ninety percent of their problems begin with fear. I know, when I go to the doctor I have a little measure of fear there. My blood pressure goes up and then they take it a second time and it has dropped back down. What do they call that? White coat syndrome or whatever. You see the white coat and you get all the more nervous about it.
- Finally, the last point to deal with if you are terrified, deal with terror or fear, grow in love and as a Christian. Philippians 2:12 tells us that we need to be working out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Don’t let anything take you aside. Don’t let any fear cause you not to go down that path. Don’t let any fear cause you to give up and quit working on yourself.
Phi. 2:12 - Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Don’t give up! Keep on! Keep on doing that which is right.
And finally, 1 John 4 and verse 18 on this third point we read:
1 Jo. 4:18 - There is no fear in love... As you become more loving -- that’s more outgoing concern and care for others -- as you become that way, your fear will diminish. Why? I think, as my son-in-law, Mike Cook, brought out in his message, you know, being interested in others, that supplication aspect, thinking about others, caring about others helps you confront and deal with fear. But, he says in 1 John 4:18:
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love...there is no unhealthy fear. There are healthy fears that are okay...but perfect love casts out fear...unhealthy fears...because fear has torment... How do I know it means unhealthy? Because he tells you in another place, fear, right? He tells you, fear. Fear God. He talks about fear. You should fear. So, it’s not talking about all fears, so it’s unhealthy fears...because fear has torment...See, that’s fear that has gotten out of control. Sometimes, it becomes irrational. I don’t even know what I’m afraid of. And, panicky people don’t know. You know, there is called agoraphobia, people who are afraid of open spaces. Then there’s claustrophobia for people who are afraid of closed spaces. You have to confront those fears and deal with them and not let them get the best of you. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. And the antidote to the fear is to love. Be outgoing, caring, concerned about others.
So in summary, healthy human fears -— they warn you of danger, they help motivate you. Unhealthy ones, you fear that which is unmanageable that you can’t do anything about. You fear Satan. You fear your death. You fear your idols. You fear man. You fear fear. Spiritual fear is good. Fear God. I want to leave you with Ps. 91:1-9 because it deals with the issue of terror.
Ps. 91:1 - He that dwells...this is my final scripture and my final part of this message as I conclude...He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (2) I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. (3) Surely he shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. (4) He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings shall you trust: his truth shall be your shield and buckler. (5) You shall not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flies by day; (6) Nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness; nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday. (7) A thousand shall fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. (8) Only with your eyes shall you behold and see the reward of the wicked. (Verse 9) Because you have made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, your habitation.
May we all trust in God to help us through some very terrifying times.