It has been said that “Man has nothing to fear but fear itself.”
That is a nice piece of philosophy, but it is not the truth.
And therefore no man’s fear is removed by such a nice sounding but utterly empty statement.
Scripture does not speak that way. And such a statement does not issue forth, therefore, from the spiritual principles that reside in a regenerated heart. Scripture says that the natural man has everything to fear and every reason for fear. Adam and Eve were afraid and hid under the trees of the Garden. God does not rebuke them for that fear but gives them to understand that because of their sin fear is and will be their lot. Angels with a flaming sword were placed to guard the tree of life and to fill man with fear lest he seek to return to that tree and eat again of its fruit. Every time an angel appeared to man, he trembled in fear. God sends His lightning flash and deafening thunder. Shall we stand and say to each other that we have nothing to fear but fear itself ? Wars break out! Threatenings of war multiply! Bombs fall! Shells burst! Swift and gruesome death is to be seen on every side. Blood flows freely and the moaning of the dying fills the air. Shall we say to the untouched that their only danger is that they become afraid?
It were wiser far to tell man not to be afraid of being afraid.
He is afraid. Fear is never removed even when no danger seems near. The world speaks also of the survival of the fittest. And these survive only because they are constantly alert to the danger around them and in that fear of what might happen to them they are ever on their guard against the enemy. It is the beast that has not learned to fear the trap set by man who is caught. Fear can be a wonderful thing. The fear of the Lord IS a wonderful gift of His grace. Rather than to tell man that he has nothing to fear but fear itself, tell him not to be afraid to fear the Lord. That is the fear that removes fear.
Do not be afraid to live by that fear!
We say this and we write these lines at this time because of the voice of God on the one hand and the voice of wicked, godless, depraved man on the other hand. And whether we have freedom from fear will depend on whether we listen to this voice of unbelieving man, or by God’s grace listen to the voice of God. Let me explain.
In the stillness of what appeared to be an ideal summer night the earth began to quake violently. A mountain top in Montana was cast into the river valley. Trees and rocks, tons of sand and debris came sweeping down the mountain side with the sound of deafening thunder. ‘Voices cried out in stark terror. Where would they flee? What solid ground would prove to be solid ground the next moment? The earth opened its mouth. Huge crevices appear. The road to which one would resort as an avenue of flight is heaving, buckling, cracking and being swept away. Where shall we go? Where can we go to get away from this thing? Yea, where shall we go to get away from GOD? He seems mighty omnipresent at a time like that. Just where will you stand and say, Now I have nothing to fear? And shall we rush in with a public address system and call to our fellowmen in their terror for their own lives and for the lives of their loved ones: “You have nothing to fear but fear itself”? Ah, the folly of it all. God speaks with the voice of thunder!
Did we hear it?
Was our first thought one of faith? Did we say to ourselves and to each other, God is keeping His promise? He has given us another sign of the times in which we live and of the certain coming of His Son. And then when the following week He sent another earthquake in a place diverse from this one, in Old Mexico, did we hear His voice then? How many does He need to send and how dreadful must they be before we hear Him speak? And if we did hear Him speak, did it fill our breasts with hope of the new creation which He promises after He has removed this present one? Did we in the fear of the Lord say within ourselves: This is our God forever and forever; He will be our guide even unto death”? Psalm 48:14. Do not be afraid of that fear. It will remove all your other fears and give you peace.
There is another side to this picture to which we would call your attention. In the midst of wars and rumors of wars—new ones every week—one of the most outspoken enemies of God, an avowed atheist who expresses his unbelief in the bluntest speech, the leader of a nation that is known for its society of the godless, a man whose word is not worth the paper on which it is written, a man known for breaking his promises, will this month visit our shores in a time when all men fear war, terrifying, dreadful, global war with weapons that threaten to annihilate the whole human race. Millions and millions will flock to get a glimpse of this man. O, he will be well-dressed, neat and clean and a smile will be spread over his face. There will be no evidence of the blood of countless thousands who have crossed his path and have ruthlessly been brushed aside for him. There will be nothing to show of the blood and death of our pilots whose planes have been lured over his land and shot in cold blooded murder and for amusement. He feigns not to know anything of these things.
To his words—as worthless as they have proven to be in the past—men will cling in their fear of war. To conferences with him they will look. And they will be told that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. We must not get panicky about the present cold war. Things will all come out all right if we just keep our heads and do not let fear run away with us. Men have new hope and this visit and these conferences have reflected themselves even on the stock market. A brighter future is promised. O, cautiously men say that this cold war may last another five or ten years, but we must not let our fear get the best of us. Our power to wage war is growing by leaps and bounds. We will impress this upon the leader of this nation that threatens us. We will show him that he has every reason to fear us. It’s all right that he and his nation have fear. We, in our country, must be those who have nothing to fear but fear; but our enemies better fear us. Our freedom from fear depends on their enslavement to a fear of us and our military might. (Do not forget that we were told that we had nothing to fear but fear itself at a time when we were engaged in World War II.) And in what does our nation place its confidence, in avoiding this dreadful war that looms on the horizon: an arms race of producing the most dreadful weapons in the largest amounts at a greater speed than the enemy. And while it looks as though the enemy might have an edge over us for the time being, we must have conferences and visits to show the enemy that we have that whereof they ought to fear provoking a war.
But what shall we do?
Shall we listen to this voice of God? Or shall we listen carefully and with bated breath to the words of a man who does not keep his word? Who ever has found God to be unfaithful to His word? What promise has He failed to keep? What then is wrong when man would rather listen to the words of an untrustworthy man than to the words of the unchangeably faithful God?
Let us attend to a few of the words that proceed from His mouth. “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked,” Isaiah 57:21. “And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another, and there was given to him a great sword,” Revelation 6:4. “For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape,” I Thessalonians 5:3. “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you nay; but rather division,” Luke 12:51. “Think not that I am come to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword,” Matthew 10:34. “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and He shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold: even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore will I shake the heavens, and the earth shall move out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of His fierce anger,” Isaiah 13:9-13. And just two more passages, “For nation shall rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines and pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows,” Matthew 24:7, 8. And, “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth; but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain,” Hebrews 12:25-27.
All this shall come to pass. Listen to this word and take hold of it. Listen to the voice of God in these earthquakes in diverse places. Listen to Him in these wars and rumors of wars. Put your trust in Him and in His Word. Then you will have the fear of the Lord which removes all fear of man and of perishing in the just judgment of God. For to fear the Lord is to believe in His Son Who is THE PRINCE OF PEACE. Why run after a godless atheist who is dependent upon God for his every breath of life and whose promises have no value whatsoever? Why expect his visit to work a wonder, to change all that God in the verses above has declared shall come? Perhaps there shall be a brief thawing of the cold war; but it can only lead to and produce more war in the future. There is no peace except that peace which The Prince of Peace brings. He will not be riding in that welcome parade. He will not be at those conference tables. He is not wanted there. Prayers in His name will not be uttered. The peace the world seeks today is a peace that is rooted in the fear of the dreadful weapons of warfare man is able to make. It is a peace to be achieved by filling man with the fear of an utterly devastating war.
But seek the peace that The Prince of Peace has brought. Believe in Him and in the blood of Calvary with its justification. Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God. If God be for us who can be against us? That is the peace His fear gives us and is uttered by Paul in his letter to the believers at Rome. That fear removes all fear.
Let the recent earthquakes in diverse places and the rumors of war that come from every corner of this globe give you the right perspective, keep you looking for God to fulfill His promises and keep you from turning to men and the works of men for your peace. Listen to God when He speaks with the power of His earthquake and through the red horse that was given power to take peace from the earth. Then, and then only, can you receive the words of man in their proper worth and value. Be sober and waiting for His next word to His Church to assure her that “those things which cannot be shaken” are coming, the things of the everlasting kingdom of peace.