I recently read that there are 366 occurrences of the phrase “fear not” in the Bible, one for every day of the year. This seemed impressive to me and seeded an idea of meditating on each of these passages this year as a way to strengthen my faith. On doing some searching, however, I found far fewer exhortations to ‘fear not’, and a Google search confirmed that others have found the same.
Even so, there are still a lot of exhortations not to fear in the Bible. After some digging through about 140 Bible references about not fearing or being afraid I have reduced it to a list of 50 which I intend to meditate on this year.
My first verse is Genesis 15:1 in which God comes to Abram and says:
“Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
The context is that immediately previous to this Abram rescued his nephew Lot from a band of invading kings and then had encounters with Melchizedek and the king of Sodom. To one he gave a tenth of everything and from the other he refused to accept anything. In chapter 15 of Genesis God makes a further covenant with Abram, building upon the covenant of Genesis 12:1–3.
He has recently proven his courage by attacking and defeating the armies of four plundering kings (Genesis 14:1–16). Perhaps he is afraid of God’s promises failing because he has no son (Genesis 15:3)? We do know that he feared kings who desired his attractive wife (Genesis 12:1–13 and Genesis 20:2).
Whatever Abram’s true fears were, it is easy to imagine what they might have been because we are ourselves plagued by fears also. God answers all possible fears in this one statement: “I am your shield”. God will place Himself between Abram and what he fears, no force in all creation can cause harm to Abram.
What a fantastic promise! But it was made to a particular Hebrew man about 4,000 years ago — how can it be relevant to me?
Genesis 15:6 makes it relevant to me:
And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
(Genesis 15:6 ESV)
In Romans 4:3–25 Paul shows that this believing in God’s promises makes us participants in those promises also:
But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
(Romans 4:23–25 ESV)
Galatians 3:7 confirms this:
Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
(Galatians 3:7 ESV)
Therefore, I can safely assume that as I trust in God who raised Jesus from the dead, He also says to me, “Fear not Mike, I am your shield.”
It feels odd initially, but write out this promise from God, inserting your name instead of ‘Abram’. It becomes powerfully personal.
Image of Emblem of Jerusalem: Wikipedia
Image of fear: salvador74(iStock)