How sweet the name of Jesus sounds, in a believer's ear! It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, and drives away his fear.
Today we’re focusing on the emotion of fear - not the “fear of God” (although that would be another great topic to study together!)
In the ESV, the phrase “fear not” shows up 33 times. And the phrase “do not fear” is used 35 times. We’re not going to hit each of these verses in this post, but I definitely encourage you to look those verses up if this is a particular struggle in your heart. Any time we can saturate our hearts in more of God’s Word is a good thing!
Genesis 15:1 - After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
Theologians have this thing with the first time something is mentioned in Scripture. This is the first time we see the phrase “fear not” & it’s God speaking to Abram (his name hasn’t been changed just yet even though he’s been following God for quite a while.” If you flip back to chapter 12, you’ll see that God calls Abram to leave everything he knows for a strange country, promising that He will make his family a great nation. A few chapters later, Abram has been to Egypt, through a famine, had to separate from his nephew Lot, had to rescue Lot, met Melchizadek. But he still is childless. He takes this opportunity to remind God of that fact. God responds by making a covenant with Abram, reiterating that Abram’s descendants will be as impossible to count as the stars. (Spoiler alert: Isaac’s birth is still 6 chapters away!)
Genesis 21:17 - And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.”
You probably remember that Hagar was the servant of Abram’s wife, Sarai. Sarai & Abram rushed ahead of God’s plan & Abram fathered a child, Ishmael, with Hagar. Of course, that opens up a whole bunch of trouble between the two women, ultimately ending in Hagar being banished with her son. Here, she is out in the wilderness, desperate for water. She thinks she & Ishmael are about to die, so she sets him in a small bit of shade & walks a small distance away so that she doesn’t have to watch her son die. Banished, lost, thirsty - pretty awful situation, right? Yet God meets with her right in that moment & protects her. He also promises her that her son will also be a great nation.
Genesis 26:24 - And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.”
God lovingly speaks these words to Abraham’s son Isaac. He reiterates the promises that He made to Abraham.
Exodus 14:13 - And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.
The people of Israel are escaping from generations of slavery in Egypt. Pharaoh lets them go only to chase after them. The people are facing the Red Sea in front of them & the powerful Egyptian army behind them. It’s not looking good. I’m pretty sure I’d be freaking out right with the rest of them. But Moses encourages them with these words.
1 Chronicles 22:13 - Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the rules that the LORD commanded Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed.
David’s charge to his son Solomon. Solomon has been given the task to build the Temple & David has these words of wisdom for him.
Psalm 23:4 - Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23 reminds us of our Good Shepherd. He cares for us, protects us, & is always with us. Because of these truths, we have no need to fear.
Psalm 27:1, 3 - The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.
This is another great passage to cling to in times of fear. We've talked before about David's many reasons to fear for his life, but here we see that He remains confident that God will save & keep him.
Psalm 46:1-3 - God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though hits waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
"We will not fear though the earth gives way." Wow! I can't say that I can even say that all the time when the earth isn't giving way! God, help my unbelief because my faith is so small. Psalm 91 is a very similar passage & another great one to meditate on in times of fear.
Isaiah 35:4 - Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
This passage looks forward in confident hope, awaiting the Messiah’s reign.
Isaiah 40:9 - Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”
When you have good news, you just want to tell everyone about it, right?! Well, this news in this verse is the BEST NEWS - our God is coming back to reign. This won’t be another reign of another sinful king like Hezekiah (check out chapter 39). It will be the reign of our Righteous & Loving God! It is such good news, we can’t keep it in!
Isaiah 41:10, 13-14 - fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I am the one who helps you, declares the LORD; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
Because of Hezekiah’s sin (again check out chapter 39), Israel receives some really bad news. They are going to be taken captive by the Babylonian Empire. And in the midst of such a terrible future, God reminds them of who He is & why they need not fear. He is faithful & will keep His promise to restore them to their homeland. And ultimately to come & rule as their King for all eternity!
Isaiah 43:1, 5 - But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.
Again, Isaiah’s given a message of “fear not.” God calls His people by name, reminding them of the promised redemption.
Isaiah 44:2, 8 - Thus says the LORD who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen. Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”
Read the surrounding verses & see the reminders of the future blessings that God has in store for His chosen people.
Isaiah 51:7 - “Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings.
Israel’s enemies will not last forever. Therefore, they don’t need to be afraid.
Isaiah 54:4 - “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
Ever have one of those cringe moments - the kind of things that keep you up at night because you’re so ashamed of that thing you said or did? Here, God is telling Israel that all those sins that have marred her past will no longer keep her up at night. The perfect joy of His kingdom will outshine any fear or anxiety or shame of this present world.
Jeremiah 30:10 - “Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the LORD, nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from far away, and your offspring from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease, and none shall make him afraid.
If you read the preceding verses, you can get the context pretty easily on this one, so I encourage you (as always) to read this one. There are some panicking people & God is sending this message through Jeremiah to remind them of His promises.
Jeremiah 46:27-28 - “But fear not, O Jacob my servant, nor be dismayed, O Israel, for behold, I will save you from far away, and your offspring from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease, and none shall make him afraid. Fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the LORD, for I am with you. I will make a full end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but of you I will not make a full end. I will discipline you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.”
God is a merciful & gracious God. AND He is also a holy & just God. He will keep His promise of punishing the nations that harm Israel, but He will not let their own sin go unpunished. Yet, He remains faithful to His covenant to keep them from utter destruction.
Daniel 10:12, 19 - Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”
Anyone else sometimes forget that Daniel did more than spend the night in the lion’s den? That he was given some really difficult visions & messages to understand? Here, we see that he was afraid & God comforts him even as He gives him these terrifying visions. God calls Daniel by name & reminds him of His love. Daniel is strengthened enough to continue with the task.
Joel 2:21-22 - “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things! Fear not, you beasts of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and vine give their full yield.
Joel’s message is mostly about the Day of the Lord - the day of judgment that will be brought on all who do not believe. Some might also see it as a prediction of the judgment that was coming specifically for Israel because of their sin. In any case, as we’ve seen in other prophecy books, God wraps all of this talk of judgment in comfort for His people. He reminds us of His faithfulness & how He will keep His promises.
Zephaniah 3:16-17 - On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you with his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
The verse before this says, “you shall never again fear evil.” Why? Because God is with us! He is mighty to save! He rejoices over us! He sings over us! LOUDLY! Amazing thoughts!
Haggai 2:5 - according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.
Haggai’s message has a lot to do with the rebuilding of the Temple. Here, he’s speaking God’s message to the men in charge. The message reminds them of the Covenant & God’s past faithfulness & points out the fact that the Spirit is there with them. Because of what God has done & is doing & will do, we don’t have to fear!
Zechariah 8:13, 15 - And as you have been a byword of cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Fear not, but let your hands be strong.”... so again have I purposed in these days to bring good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; fear not.
Zecharaiah & Haggai were contemporaries. Zechariah fans the flame that Haggai’s message sparked. Good things are ahead, so don’t be discouraged in the work you’ve been called to do.
Matthew 10:31 - Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Also, Luke 12:7)
This whole paragraph (vv.26-33) comes after Jesus tells His disciples that persecution is coming. It’s a sure thing. Yet Jesus tells them not to be afraid! Why? Because they are so very loved - numbered-the-hairs-on-your-head loved! Then, He purposefully understates the precious value of a person’s life. (The fancy literary term for this is litote. Basically the opposite of a hyperbole. Sorry, I’ll take my English nerd glasses off now…) This turn of phrase highlights our value even more. And He proved how precious we are by giving His own life for ours.
Luke 2:10 - And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
As I write this, we’re coming out of the Christmas season, so this passage is fresh in my mind. The angel gives a really, really good reason not to be afraid!
Luke 12:32 - “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
This is a parallel to the Matthew 10 passage, so you can peek back at those notes if you’d like.
John 12:15 - “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
This is quoting from Zechariah. “Your king is coming” is a really great reason for not being afraid.
2 Timothy 1:6-7 - For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
This is a familiar passage, can it's for good reason. Paul is encouraging Timothy, a young pastor that he's spent time mentoring. How fatherly & kind these words are. He's reminding Timothy (& us) of truth to combat the lies that fear tells us.
1 John 4:18 - There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
As we mature in our Christian walk & in our love for God, we will be less fearful. Because getting to know our God more & recalling the truths of Who He is & what He's done, our faith will grow. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of your sanctifying grace that grows our faith!
Revelation 1:17-18 - When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”
John sees the Son of Man & he pretty much passes out. This is Jesus Christ in all of His glory & power. It must be an incredibly fearsome sight! Yet, He tells us NOT to fear. Why? Because He is before all things & He is eternal. He has the power over life & death.
I just love that phrase that echoes down through history into my own heart - “Fear not!” On the banks of the Red Sea - "Fear Not!" King David to Solomon - "Fear Not!" To the shepherd outside of Bethlehem - "Fear Not!" Jesus to John - "Fear Not!" Those same words have been spoken over & over & over again.
And it’s not just this pat answer in response to the fear of His people. God gives reason after reason for WHY we don’t have to be fearful.
Another thing that’s standing out to me in these passages is these 3 ways to combat fear:
What do you find encouraging in these verses? Please feel free to share with me in the comments!
I'm cheering you on!
I'm passionate about encouraging others to dig into God's Word. I've been working on a collection of posts that address a variety of topics & what the Bible has to say about them. Interested in reading other posts in this series? Here are a few links...
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