We live with a good deal of fear in this country of ours. In fact, we have for years. A few years back it was fear of the militant stirrings of the ANC, the PAC and the like. There were fears of bombings and riots and the revolutionary uprising of the masses. Then, when the old government bowed out and the new era began there was fear of an Afrikaner backlash against the new government. And still to this day there is fear. We have a relative peace in our land, to be sure. Yet with a seemingly shrinking economy and expanding crime rate, and the fear that we’re “going the way of all Africa”, and with all of the aggressive efforts to justify the complexion of the work force – still, great fears remain! Our fears have not been alleviated by the supposed progress of our new government. But then, perhaps we should not be looking to the government to alleviate our fears. Perhaps our sights should be set a bit higher. I’d like to recognize some of the fears perhaps dwelling in your heart. And then, by God’s grace, I’d like to attempt to resolve those fears. Let’s first consider the Big One – that one which we so often find ourselves talking about.
FEAR OF WANT
I suppose we hear it especially in the white community. Words to the effect, “Woe be it to the white male in the new South Africa, whether young or old. Oh, the poor soul is just not likely to find any work at all! And pity the man who loses his job!” The poor white male! Currently the vilest creature in the land, in the estimation of some – and standing awaaaaaay back there, at the very back of the long queue when it comes to finding work. And so we tremblingly hold on with all tenacity to what means of income we currently have, fearing that our chances are bleak in this country should we lose it. And if at all possible, we quickly send our sons and daughters overseas (and perhaps follow), fearing there’s little chance for them here. Fear! – fear! – fear! Wringing our hands and anxious over outcomes and fearful of few prospects for providing for our own in this country. And running away at the first opportunity – chasing some distant pot o’ gold! I am convinced that the whole contemporary mood in the Christian community toward the situation in this country is wrong folks! And I don’t think that I’m living on a mountaintop disconnected from reality down below. The first thing the child of God must understand is that;
The Lord Has Given Promise
In that great Psalm of David, where the Lord repeatedly warns us away from fretting (Psalm 37), David made such a comforting observation;
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he (the Lord) delighteth in his (the good man’s) way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (vs. 23-25)
Did you hear that?
Now, if you don’t believe God’s Word, then you might as well pitch this little epistle into the bin right now, because all that I have to say is for those who have believed in Christ for salvation, and simply believe what God has said in His book of books, the Bible.
David had lived a long life and now was an old man, and yet he had never seen a righteous man forsaken by his God, nor his children begging for food. And it’s the Lord speaking through David here! The Eternal One affirms that He has never seen the righteous forsaken! I’m not suggesting that the Lord will never allow a degree of suffering in the experience of those who are His own. They may indeed fall – yet they “shall not be utterly cast down!” The Lord has given us assurances, folks! He delights in the way of a good man, and orders his steps. Such are certainties for which He means for us to trust Him! Promises to which most believers pay little attention, I’m afraid, in their wild-eyed haste to come up with their own solutions. What does the Lord mean by His words in Matthew 6, if He does not mean that we stop this foolishness?
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:31-33)
He has made promises, folks!! Promises for which He means for us to trust Him! And don’t miss the fact that the Lord’s promise of provision is to those who are righteous. This is a desperately important point! If we were to suppose that the neighbour boy should come over and say, “Hey Uncle Bill, I hear you’ve been setting aside a little money over the years to cover university expenses. I’d like to draw on those funds to help with my college expenses.” You know, I’d have to say to him, “I am so sorry, my friend, but that money is laid aside for my own children. It’s readily available to them to help with their university expenses. But I’m afraid there’s scarcely enough to meet their needs. You’ll have to appeal to the ones who are your own guardians.” So it is with the Lord! He provides for those who are His own children. There is where His promise resides. And particularly for those who are walking with Him. Look again there at Matt. 6:32;
“for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”
Were you listening? Who is the Lord talking to here? Is He not obviously talking to believers – those who are children of their Heavenly Father? And then notice verse 33;
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Perhaps something of a conditional statement here? “(If) ye seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; (then) all these things shall be added unto you,” perhaps? And if you refuse to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness? Can you still expect that all these things shall be added unto you? I should think not. Even the very food of our tables, “God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them that believe and know the truth” (I Tim. 4:3). It would appear that He has made no such provision, and given no such permission to partake to those who refuse to “believe and know the truth”. Look again at Psalm 37:25;
“I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”
Who has David (the Lord) never seen forsaken? “The righteous”! The uncompromisingly righteous! The one seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness. The ones seeking God’s things! These are the ones who can believe God for His promises, and expect to see them fulfilled! Now, one might say to me, “But my kids couldn’t find work here in South Africa!” Is that so! Are they living for God? Are they making choices that would please Him? Are they sincerely trusting Him for His provision? Another might say, “Yeah, well, preacher, I know a man who lost his job here, and just could not find work. He had to emigrate to New Zealand!” Is that so! Was it a living he was looking for, or a standard of living? And did he love the Lord then? Was he walking close by His side? “Weeellll, I suppose we couldn’t exactly describe his life that way!” Well, then don’t throw such examples at me. And don’t, with a flip of the hand, foolishly discard this vital part of the Lord’s promised provision. He has promised to provide for His own – and for those who are seeking His things!! And His promise is very clear;
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Not even just some of them – “all these things”! His provision will be adequate! Do you believe it? Do you believe Him?!
Now if one, in his pigheadedness, should refuse to place his faith in Christ and become a child of God, or should refuse to sincerely live for Him – well then, perhaps I’d be more inclined to recommend emigration. What else? Such a one forces himself to come up with his own meager solutions. But I do fear he’ll be towing the trailer of his faithlessness behind him in his travels. It doesn’t bode well! The Lord has given promise, that He will provide for His own who are seeking His kingdom and His righteousness.
And then, secondly;
The Lord Has Given Command
The Lord proclaimed through His prophet Isaiah;
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isa. 41:10)
We find commands and promises all wrapped up in one verse here. In fact, two commands, and five promises (look again). Now, what does the Lord mean when He commands us to “fear not”, if He doesn’t mean that we not fear?! I’m afraid there are such a lot of fearful Christians in this country who are jolly disobedient to these clear commands from the Lord. In Christ, and walking with Him, you and I have nothing to fear in the way of want. As with the Y2K trepidation, we need to be careful not to foolishly absorb the world’s fears. They have reason to be afraid. We don’t! And they need to see that! We need to stop this silly casting about in fear over the future of good ol’ South Africa, running off to more promising prospects at the drop of a hat. We need to stay and stand. He has made promise to us, and commanded our fearlessness! Walk with Him, and you’ll have nothing to fear. It’s a choice you have, my friend – faith or fear. You don’t have to quiver like the unsaved around us. And not only do you not have to quiver – you have no right to do so! There will always be a job in the work force for the godly believer in Christ. There will always be enough! If the Lord can raise up sons of Abraham from the rocks along the roadside, then He can do the same with job opportunities. One might say, “Pretty words preacher! But I’m living in the real world, and I am struggling to find a decent job!” Are you genuinely walking with Christ in the real world, my friend? Could it be that He’s trying to tell you something? Maybe it’s time to stop playing games with His words – and start believing them! According to His words, there will always be an adequate job in the work force, for any man – white, black, pink or purple – who is walking with Him! Believe Him for that!
FEAR OF HARM
Here is another major concern of folks in this land. I might have to take my shoes off to count the number of individuals in our church alone who have been personally touched by violent crime of some type. Now, we need to keep a balance here. The old adage applies, “Trust God, and keep your powder dry” (gun powder, that is!). We need to take careful precautions, with adequate security and watchfulness. But to those wise precautions, we must add the resolve to obey our God! And to refuse to live in fear! His command is clear! Again from Isaiah 41:10;
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
I’m impressed with the aptness of Christ’s words to Pontius Pilate in this regard. When Jesus would not answer one of Pilate’s questions during the proceedings which would lead to His crucifixion, Pilate’s response was words to the effect, “What?! You’re not answering me?! Don’t you realize that I have power to crucify you, and I hold the power to release you?” In John 19:11 we find Christ’s response to Pilate;
“Jesus answered, you could have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.”
“You cannot do any more than what My Father allows you to do.” These very same words could be spoken by the child of God, to the armed robber – to the rapist – to the murderer. “You cannot do any more than what My Father allows you to do! You cannot touch me except my heavenly Father allows it!” You see, in Christ, my life is not mine to maintain! Because my life is not mine!! On these hot summer days, my kids (neighbours included) enjoy having water fights. I must confess, I don’t mind joining them. What’s really funny is when they get angry with someone for squirting them – when they’re already soaked. And my little mind attempts to reason with them, with what I reckon to be good logic. “If you’re already soaked, what difference does it make if you get sprayed with a bit more water?” We could carry the same logic to our present consideration – “If you’re already dead, why fear loss, and even death itself?” As Paul so often explains in his epistles, we who are in Christ are dead, and our lives are hid with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). Here is another fear to which we are no longer to be in bondage. Christ’s redemption delivers “them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14, 15). My life is not mine to be afraid for! Just as my possessions are not mine to be worried about. For those who know Christ as Saviour – it all belongs to Him! (life, rags, wheels, house, etc.). What He chooses to do with His possessions and His servant is His concern – not mine!
And don’t think the Lord distant and unconcerned – “Fear thou not; for I am with thee”, He assures us. And, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”– is still in the Book! (Heb. 13:5) Christ’s promise to all who are His remains to this day, “and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20). There are some precious aspects of that priceless promise given there in Matthew 28:20. First, there is an emphasis in the original language on the word “I” – “Lo, I am with you always”. “I myself am with you”. None other, no less than Christ Himself! It is enough!! And secondly, note well that He is with us – not He shall be. His promise is a present reality, not a distant possibility. And thirdly, the literal phrase in the Greek for “always” is “all the days”. “All the days, until the end of the age, I myself, Jesus Christ, am with you as a present reality!” “All the days – every day! I will not be absent a single day – not even the darkest!”
“I have not seen the righteous forsaken”, David adds.
Yes! Yes! I hear you! Of course we can’t be foolish and unmindful of our lives. As good stewards, we need to thoughtfully, watchfully manage what is His. But then – leave it there with Him!!
Walk with God, folks! Believe in Christ for eternal life, and then walk with God! And then, as you walk with your heavenly Father, believe Him for His provision. And believe Him for His protection. Protection, which may mean death and deliverance into His very presence. Far better!!
Outside of Christ? Oh be afraid – indeed, be terrified!! Not only of this world’s evils, but much, much more, of the judgment of God to come! And allow that terror to bring its proper result in your heart. Flee!! Run!! to refuge in Jesus Christ! Even as the people of Noah’s day should have believed God’s words through the preacher, and should have fled to the ark for refuge. Flee from the wrath to come!! Flee to Christ – God’s only place of refuge from His judgment upon our sin.
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (Jn. 3:36)