Fear is a mental paralysis where logical thought is exchanged for chaotic emotions. The Hebrew word for anxiety indicates a troubled soul, an eruption of emotions in the psyche. One Scripture describes it as “hearts melted within”. Today we’d call that an emotional meltdown. In another Scripture fear is described as the dread you’d feel if the walls and ceiling were closing in on you and there’s nowhere to go.
Fear thrives on rehearsing negative scenarios from the past and imagining more trouble in the near or distant future. It re-runs the same movie of past failures again and again in our minds. This is all in stark contrast to God who lives in the now.
The words ‘fear not’ appear 366 times in the Bible, someone has suggested that’s once for every day of the year, plus an extra mention for leap year. Webster’s definition of the verb fear is “to be in awe of,” “in wonder,” “to honor”, “to respect”, “to trust” and “to worship”. How we feel inwardly depends on who or what we fear. Either we are in awe of God, in wonder at his love, which is the true definition of the fear of God, or ultimately we are in awe of our circumstances, failures and setbacks.
In Exodus 14:11-15 is a situation where fear had gripped the hearts of the people:
Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.
Fear happens in places where we would least expect. Israel had just experienced how the ten plagues that had demolished the Egyptian society. Songs that worshipped the river Nile as a god were part of the Egyptian religion and now the waters had become an undrinkable blood. What once was a blessing had turned into curse. Egyptian religion also worshipped frogs as being inhabited by divine powers. Now those frogs which had been an object of worship had become a plague. All of his served to show the supremacy of the God of Israel. When the blood of the Passover lamb had been applied to the doorpost, God had again showed His greatness, resulting in three million slaves instantly freed.
To be continued…