“And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Gen. 3:9-10).
Here is the first time the Bible records an example of fear. There was no fearfulness between man and God before sin entered. Fear came when sin came and has been problematic ever since. Consider three things to be learned about fear from this account.
Fear Runs From God. The very solution to fear is to be found in God and yet the man and the woman were hiding from God (cf. Gen. 3:10). How common is the practice that when man makes mistakes that he runs from God? Jonah ran from God (cf. Jonah 1:3, 10). David wrote, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whiter shall I flee from thy presence? (Ps. 139:7). The passages following imply that the omnipresence of God is impossible to avoid. The Lord desires people to be drawn to Him, not run from Him. James wrote, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:8-10). God’s people should learn the truth as revealed in the Bible that God does not want fear to create isolation and separation from Him.
Fear Resorts to Excuses. Adam stated, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Gen. 3:12). Excuses are found throughout the Bible for failure to admit personal responsibility. Aaron said to Moses after being confronted about the golden calf, “Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief” (Ex. 32:22). King Saul said to Samuel after not obeying the Lord, “They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed” (1 Sam. 15:15). The man after God’s own heart was consumed with guilt in his silence over his sin (cf. Ps. 32:3-4) and clearly said when Nathan revealed his sin, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:13). David would write of this admission, “I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin” (Ps. 32:5). Let life be without excuses. Face the facts and do not try to cover up wrongs.
Fear Requires Redeeming Love. The Lord God said in view of Adam and Eve’s sins, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). This is the first reference to Jesus and the price to be paid to redeem man. John wrote, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love castest out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). The first love to deal with fear is the love of God. Jeremiah wrote, “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3). That love motivates man to love in return (cf. 1 John 4:19). It is and appreciation for redeeming love that replaces fear with faith and faithfulness. Sin separates; God draws.
“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things with do appear” (Heb. 11:3).
The word translated “worlds” (Heb. 11:3) is from the word meaning “age” (Thayer, p. 19). However, it also is used figuratively under metonymy to denote “the worlds, the universe, i.e. the aggregate of things contained in time” (Thayer, p. 19). Such is the usage in Hebrews 11:3 as well as in Hebrews 1:2. The visible universe came into existence through the spoken word of God. David wrote, “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth” (Ps. 33:6). Peter equally confirms this, where he wrote by the same Holy Spirit, “by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water” (2 Peter 3:5). Ponder three considerations about God’s physical creation.
Awe-Inspiring. After the Lord gave Job a lengthy discussion of the creation and the sustaining of that same creation by none other than God himself (cf. Job 38-41), Job stated, “I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withheld from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not” (Job 42:2-3). Truly, looking intently at the universe and taking the Bible in hand to see it clearly brings a reverence and awe of the Creator behind it. Whether one stands on the shores of the ocean or the top of a mountain peak or the rim of a great canyon, the eye is not full nor can words express the fullness of the physical creation of God. Colors in three-dimensional view with powerful movements of every shape and kind will always catch the attention of all living creatures. All should stand in awe of the supernatural power that brought nature into existence.
Arranged by Intelligent Design. David wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1). From Genesis 1:1 to the book of Revelation, the hand of God is shown to have made the material universe with special point of emphasis to where man lives on earth. God did not simply speak atomic matter into existence and then let it evolve into its various forms. Genesis one gives the message of intelligence design. Discoveries in science only reveal that what the Bible said has always been so. The complexity of DNA, the reproduction of all things “after his kind” (Gen. 1:11, 12, 21, 24, 25) with many other details too numerous to give in a short article declares that nature did not happen by chance. Various scientific laws (i.e. Laws of Thermodynamics) deny organic evolution for the existence of matter. Scientific foreknowledge (i.e. life in the blood –Lev. 17:14; paths of the sea – Ps. 8:8) show to man how infinite is God’s knowledge.
Answers to the Creator. All of life is to respect and respond appropriately to the One who created. Paul wrote of those who rejected righteousness, “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen” (Rom. 1:25). Creation owes everything to the Creator. The full teaching of the Bible bears this out (cf. 1 Peter 4:19). May the physical creation merely point man to a greater hunger for God.
“Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” (Heb. 1:2-3).
These are some of the most descriptive words of the person of Jesus in concise form to be found anywhere in the Bible. They address his work as the spokesperson for God, the sacrificial offering for the sins of all and the sovereign who sits at the right hand of God. Consider these three great qualities of the Son of God.
Revealer: Prophet. It is clearly stated that God has spoken “by his Son” (Heb. 1:2) and that he is the one who holds all things “by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3). When Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John with two of the great Old Testament prophets in his presence, the Father declared of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased; hear ye him” (Matt. 17:5; cf. Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35). John stated of the Son of God, “And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). When Jesus was asked that he might show the Father, Jesus stated, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:9-10). Even the last book of the New Testament is an indicator that Jesus is the true revealer.
Redeemer: Priest. It is stated, “he had by himself purged our sins” (Heb. 1:3). The book of Hebrews has as its major theme that of the priesthood of Jesus. “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb. 8:1). Furthermore, “For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer” (Heb. 8:3). Jesus offered the greatest sacrifice, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14). His redemption is provided even for those under the first testament (cf. Heb. 9:15).
Ruler: King. It is equally stated after providing redemption through his own sacrifice that he “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3). He is truly the priest on his throne (cf. Zech. 6:13; Heb. 12:2) established after the order of Melchisedek (cf. Heb. 7:15-22). He has “a kingdom which cannot be moved” (Heb. 12:28). It is clearly affirmed of his authority, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17). The Hebrew people, as well as all nations, have before them the promised Messiah to provide all that is needed for life and happiness. Believing his word, following his steps and giving the sacrifice of praise to him is truly a blessing.
“Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:17-18).
The things given by the Philippian congregation to Paul’s work are here identified as “a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:18). Paul clearly points out that he was not interested in the material things given to him, but the fruit that came from their giving (cf. Phil. 4:17). There is something deeply spiritual about this fruit of sacrificial giving. Consider three qualities that come from such.
Gratification in Helping. While the Philippians could not do Paul’s work for him, they could support his efforts. The sense of gratification that comes from doing good is one of the joys of the Christian’s life. Paul stated of this congregation’s history, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Phil. 1:3-6). While Paul was grateful for their support, they could be grateful to be able to help on a full time basis. Such builds unity and enables the gospel to spread further and swifter. Things given were but the means to greater ends.
Gaining in Selflessness. Philippi was one of those churches of Macedonia mentioned in Second Corinthians eight. It is said of those congregations, “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God (2 Cor. 8:2-5). Selfishness was not in their character. If such had been the case, they would have never contributed to the benevolent need. After all, were they not already helping Paul in his preaching work? They would grow to do more and more.
Growing in Love. The bottom line in sacrificial giving is to develop the love manifested by God Himself. John wrote, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18). All commands to give are designed to produce the proper kind of love in the character of the Christian. Paul wrote of the purpose of commandments, “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Tim. 1:5). Think about that goal with these words in mind, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). Such giving produces an abundance of good works for the cause of Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 9:8). May this fruit of sacrificial giving be appreciated and abound!