Living in Fear

How many people do you know that always think the worst that can happen? When they hear about a plane crash they say, “I don’t know if I want to fly anymore.” Or when they get a call late at night, the first thing they say is, “Oh no! Someone must have died!” (The first thing I say when I get a call late at night is, “Someone better had died!”)

Maybe it’s more subtle, maybe it’s something as seemingly innocuous as not driving a car, or refusing to travel, or even something as silly as never ordering anything different at a restaurant. Sometimes this is personal preference, and sometimes it’s just doing what one wants. If someone is brave enough to go their own way, and eat only what they like, that’s fine. But if their resasoning is that they are afraid they won’t like something, or that something bad might happen, then they are living in fear.

Fear is a very strong emotion, and it is like fire; it can be a friend or a foe. Oh, yes- there are things to be afraid of, and someone without fear is a fool. Fear is what keeps us aware, fear is what protects us from running foolishly into trouble or personal harm. Fear can be a lifesaver, or a life-ruiner. It all depends on who is on control: are we controlling our fears or are our fears controlling us?

There is one verse from the B’rit Chadashah (Good News) that I try to remember and tell people I know who profess to believe in God and worship Him: It’s 2 Timothy 1:7, where Shaul reminds Timothy that, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline.” Within the context of the letter, Shaul (Paul) is empowering Timothy, a young Disciple and someone struggling to preach the word. Paul is in jail and stating how he has been abandoned by friends. This letter is to encourage and strengthen Timothy to continue preaching with confidence and zeal, despite the suffering that Paul is going through.

The Bible is rife with statements and encouragements by God to those who have faith:

Psalm 23:4; Psalm 27:1; Psalm 118:6; Deuteronomy 31:6; Psalm 56:3-4; Isaiah 41:13; and on and on and on…

Fear that controls us, that keeps us from trying new things, that runs our life…this is not fear of the Lord, it is faithlessness. Yes- that’s exactly what it is. If you are a person who says you worship the Lord, then you are not to be afraid. The angels that went to Gideon and Joshua began by telling them not to be afraid. Why? Because they were afraid, because they did not trust. God sent His angels to be a physical sign to them that God is with them. After which they acted faithfully, took hold of that encouragement and fearlessly ran with it. Look what they did with it!

We all have fear in us. Abraham was as faithful as anyone ever was, yet he had fear- he “pimped” his wife two times out of fear! And when Moshe first saw the burning bush he was told not to be afraid to go to Pharaoh. Moses took a little more convincing than Abraham, but once he devoted himself to doing God’s will, even the failure to free the people after 9 plagues did not dissuade Moses from facing a Pharaoh that said he would kill him and a people that wanted to stone him. And in the desert, did the people not revolt? Did they not want to stone him and Aaron (at least) a few times? Did not Pharaoh’s army pursue them? All this time Moses grew stronger in faith, and fear left him. By the time they reach the land, Moses was unshakable.

I work with someone who assigns the incoming calls to the system engineers (if she is reading this do not be disheartened- please take hold of what I am saying and be strong, for yourself. I only want you to be happy and faith is the path to joy.) Each time she calls me to say someone is on the phone for me, she whines my name and sounds apologetic. I have told her, over and over, there is nothing to be afraid of. She is constantly afraid that she will “bother” me because she knows how busy I am. Well, DUH!! Of course I’m busy- it’s a help desk, there are barely enough techies to handle the calls and I am always busy. I tell her to just let me know if someone is calling for me, and I will let her know if she can send them through or to please take a message.  Yet, despite my constantly telling her it’s OK, and just say, “Steven: so-and-so is on the phone, do you want to take it?” Instead I constantly get, “Steeeeve? I’m sorry to bother you, I know how busy you are, but so-and-so is calling. They are asking for you and I know you’re busy and I don’t know if you want to take this or not? Do you want to take it?”

This is what I mean about living in fear. Despite the many times I have told this person that it is OK to just tell me who is on the phone, she refuses to accept that she can approach me openly. She thinks she is being courteous, but the truth is she is afraid of upsetting me, or getting yelled at, or upsetting the caller, and it is all founded in her overriding fear of being rejected. Of not being “liked.”  If only she showed faithfulness. She says she is a Believer, but yet, she is ruled by her fears and not by the spirit of victory that we all have in God .

Yes, even something as small and seemingly insignificant as transferring a phone call can indicate if one is living in fear or not.

Here is Zechariah 4:6, “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”  We mere humans have little to nothing with which to accomplish great things, but God has everything that ever was and is, and whatever He needs he can create with a thought. It’s true! When He is with us, who can stand against us? Shaul tells us this in Romans 8:31, the basis for which is found in Isaiah 41. Whether we are battling the demons of the Enemy, or just asking someone to do something for us, we need to be firm and faithful.

How do you get this faith? It’s actually quite simple: do what God says you should do. Follow His commandments and He will bless you here on Earth. He promises that throughout the Torah, throughout the books of the Prophets and Yeshua confirms all this in His teachings, as well.

God has provided all you will ever need, and if you are afraid, remember who is on your side. If you are ashamed of God, Yeshua says that He will be ashamed of you (Mark 8:38) so stand firm and be faithful.

Being afraid of everything is not humility: humility takes strength and faithfulness (search “humility” on this page to read more.)  Being afraid does not serve God; it serves the Enemy of God. Being ruled by fear is when your actions are based not on, “How will this reflect on God?” but on, “What will happen to me and what will people think of me?”

It’s not about you, it’s not about me, it is all about God. Be faithful, trust in God, and he will justify your trust. Live in fear and the Enemy will eat you alive (Matthew 10:28.)

When you stop living in fear you can be truly free. When you reach out to grab hold of God you have to let go of your fear, first. So let it go, reach for God, and His hand will grab yours.

Fear of the world (being afraid of everything) will enslave you, slowly kill you and destroy your soul, whereas fear of the Lord (meaning faithful and obedient) will give you courage, strength and freedom.

You choose.

Parashah B’Har (On Mount) Leviticus 25:1 – 26:2

God instructs us to be fair to each other in our economic dealings, to use a pro-rata system of valuation when we are exchanging  and redeeming property, and that slavery is an acceptable form of servitude, except that other Israelites were to be treated with more respect and allowed to go free in the Jubilee Year (Yovel) whereas slaves which had been purchased were slaves forever, and property that could be transferred in one’s estate to one’s heirs.

I am not sure what happens if you are a foreigner who is a slave, then you convert, i.e. become a fellow believer, and the Yovel year comes. There isn’t anything I saw that covered that, but I wonder because in all other areas, one who sojourns with the people and worships as they do is to be considered as one of them, and equal in the eyes of the law.

Anyone got an opinion?

This book is all about the everyday relationship between people and God, and between people and people. We are told about cleanliness, personal hygiene, the festivals, the sacrifices, the selling of property and the methodology of evaluation when redeeming that property. We are also told that all property belongs to God and we are just temporary residents. This goes well with the prior statements God made, and ones He will make later in the Torah, regarding how the land vomited out the prior residents because of their sinful ways, and will do the same to this people if they follow that example.

We are reminded about the Shabbats, rest for the people and now, too, rest for the land. And the wonderful law of the Jubilee Year, the Yovel, where all the followers of God are brought back to their land, a year of rest for the land and the people. Since this happens every half-century, given the normal lifespan of a person, everyone would most likely get to enjoy a Yovel, at least once, during their lifetime.

What I see in this parashah is a legal description of what Yeshua brings to us spiritually: redemption. The main difference being that in the physical world, when someone is redeeming their land, there is a pro-rata evaluation of the worth of the land. When Yeshua redeems us spiritually, there is no valuation: we are redeemed, totally, and forever. No matter whether our sins outweighed our righteousness, or vice-versa, this redemption is complete and once-and-for-all.

Just as God told the people (this comes later in the book) that so long as they do as they should their lands will be productive, we who are redeemed by Yeshua’s sacrificial death are to do T’Shuvah, to turn, and live our lives as representatives of God. Our redemption is immediate, and just as the people had to obey God and follow His laws for the land to be productive,  we are to do the same with our spiritual lives in order to produce “fruit.” We are to obey God’s commandments, the ones in the Torah (there is nothing ‘New’ in the New Covenant- everything Yeshua taught and said we should do is from Torah. Same for Paul, John, and all the other writers of the B’rit Chadasha) and when we do so, we will be blessed. If we reject God, even after He has redeemed us from our sin, we apostatize and throw away our redemption.

That is what I said: I have said it before and will continue to say it because it is so very, very important to understand: salvation is irrevocable, but that only means God will not take it back. It doesn’t mean we can’t throw it away, and if you want Biblical evidence that what I say is true, go to Hebrews 6:4-6; John 15:6; 1 Corinthians 15:2; 2 Peter 2:20-21. There are many other verses demonstrating clearly that salvation gained can be rejected, how in the End Days many will turn away from and betray Yeshua, and Revelations tells us that most will be turned from the true faith. Believe it- salvation is guaranteed to be given, but it can (and by most, will) be easily lost.

Redemption is the underlying theme of the entire Word of God, and we see here one aspect of it- the one that is in the physical world. Both the redemption of property and of self; God-granted freedom from slavery. Even freedom from work during the seventh year Shabbat for the land (Shmita) and the Yovel.

Redemption of your life and property in this world, and redemption of your soul in the next. This is what the Bible is all about, this is the plan God has for all of us.

Redemption: easy to get and hard to keep.