Apologetics to the Glory of God

The Fear of Man

Even as Christians, we still have everyday entrapments and susceptibilities that entangle us. In these things we constantly must go back to the Cross of Jesus Christ. For instance, Jacob commanded his household to put away foreign gods, and to purify themselves and change their garments  (Gen. 35:2) . Subsequently he took their idols and buried them under the oak tree near Shechem (v.4). Our Father who is in heaven takes our idols in the same way, and He has buried them under the tree at Golgatha (Gal. 3:13-14, Col 2:12-14).

If we are truly honest with ourselves, then one  of these idols that we have is the fear of man. Think of a time when you did something because you were afraid of what someone thought if you didn’t do it. It can be as simple as this. Of course the issue can be more complex, but in Scripture we have stories upon stories of people who feared what people might do to them even though God had promised them that He would protect them.  It all comes down to a view of God and a view of man that needs to be corrected by Scripture, by the grace of God.

For instance take a look at Abraham in Genesis 12.

Upon commanding him to go, The LORD promised him:

” I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”   (Gen 12:2-3)

Genesis 12:4-8 describes Abraham’s  (who was still Abram at the time) venture into Canaan as God commanded, and even received another promise when the LORD appeared to him at the oak of Shechem (which was the same oak that his granson buried his household’s idols). You’d think that after all of this, Abraham would be bravest man alive when sojourning into Egypt with his wife  due to the famine (v. 10) . But his actions speak otherwise, instead of trusting God to protect him and his wife, he instead told Sarai to lie (v.13). He feared what the Egyptian men thought of his wife over fearing the LORD and trusting in His promises. The potential threat of other men lead him to take reckless action, which resulted in curses (v. 17).

The LORD knows our susceptibilities, and speaks to them. He tells us in Proverbs that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Prov 9:1o). That which we fear controls us, and if it is the wrong thing, it leads to irrationality. So the LORD tells us that the fear of Him leads to wisdom and insight. In the case of Abraham, it would have given him the proper perspective of the situation. In this way we are just like Abraham, we have a terrible  view of ourselves, a tiny view of God, and a large view of  other people. But the LORD offers the remedy in the stories he has given us from the history of redemption. It is through this Word that we are reminded who God is, and who we are, and it is through this Word that we are made clean.

Recommended reading: “What Do you think Of Me? Why Do I Care?” by Ed Welch


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