“After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield. Your very great reward’” (Genesis 15:1 NIV).
Recently, God prompted my return to this writing outlet to declare His character, my identity, and an invitation to fear Him instead of the latest headlines. As a pro-Kraft-inator, I confess my disobedience. Fridays passed where I didn’t take the steps He asked. Thankfully, He is gracious and forgiving and here I am.
“Fear not” and “Don’t be afraid” are two phrases the Lord often uses in scripture. There are so many “what-ifs” these days and it appears fear accelerates. You only need to turn on the intro music to the nightly news to feel as if you‘re about to watch a panic-filled movie.
Fear is natural and makes us aware that something is out of the ordinary and possibly wrong. We can all attest to something feeling wrong in this season. This is a good response. But the key, is asking, Where does it take us next?
Finding peace in the battles
Setting the scene for Genesis 15, Abram had parted ways with his nephew Lot. His nephew headed toward Sodom, a wicked place, (Genesis 13:13), while Abram headed toward Canaan and built an altar to the Lord. They both literally and spiritually moved in opposite directions. After many years and a major war between kings in the land, Abram heard his nephew was a prisoner. Taking 318 men, he went to fight the opposition and had great success. He brought Lot, his family, and all their possessions back to Canaan.
Following the victory from the Lord and before confronting the king of Sodom, Melchizedek (priest of Most High God) brought out bread and wine and blessed Abram.
“This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy,without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever” (Hebrews 7:1-3 NIV).
Will you accept My invitation?
After fighting a war, rescuing Lot, and confronting the king of Sodom, God meets Abram in a vision and says, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield. Your very great reward” (Genesis 15:1 NIV). Abram responds by asking God questions about His promise of a son. And he also tells God how he plans to fulfill God‘s promise himself.
I can relate to Abram, sometimes it feels like the battles whether they look big or small distract me and I begin to wonder if God is really Who He says He is and if He keeps His promises. Then I proceed to explain to God how I have figured things out. I know God appreciates raw honesty and I’m so glad He has a sense of humor!
Looking closely at the conversation between God and Abram, I recognized God initiating a fearless invitation. As far as we know, Abram had never experienced God through a vision. I wonder what that was like for him. Abram didn’t seem too jarred considering he moved right into all the things on his heart.
God didn’t start his conversation with Abram with, “Listen here, Abram…” or “You already forgot what we did to defeat the kings?!“ or “What are you worried about now?“ Instead, He comes close and I imagine Him saying:
Don’t fear…I already know every question on your heart.
I know you struggle to see things from my perspective. I’m here to remind you Who I am.
I AM your shield. I protect you, surround you, fight for you, hide you.
I AM your very great reward. There is not a single treasure in all of the earth that could compare with Me.
Where will fear take you?
I’ve had paralyzing fear, when I didn’t know how to take the next step. In other seasons, fear led me in dark places when I felt lost and hurt.
However, I remember in these times the Lord being with me. In the middle of the paralysis, I wasn’t alone, He reminded me to take deep breaths and promised never to leave me. We would take the next small step together. In those dark places of hurt, He guided me toward the light of hope and closer to His heart.
Notice that Genesis 15:1 says, “the word of the Lord came.” Even knowing all of Abram’s questions, He still came. He invited. He didn’t change.
Where did fear take Abram? Well, Abram accepted the fearless invitation of intimacy given by His Creator. “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6 NIV).
This sojourner held a different type of fear. Abram had a reverential fear of the Lord, leading him to believe what the Lord said and all of His promises. Of course he wavered from time to time, but the Lord credited him for every time he believed (Romans 4).
Fear’s compass may seem like the only way these days. Until— the Way, the Truth, and the Life comes to be with you and opens with “Don‘t be afraid.” I pray fear leads you to Him.
Want to explore more of these “Fear not” and “Do not be afraid” phrases in scripture? I have sensed the Lord wanting me to explore this with Him and to share my discoveries here. Join me here again next Friday! And better yet, bring a friend!