John 9:22

“These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.”

Jesus had performed a mighty miracle when He gave sight to a man who had been blind from his birth. While attempting to establish the facts, the leaders called the blind man’s parents. They tried to avoid the issue by saying he could speak for himself. The verse above shows the reason for their hesitancy. They were afraid that they would be put out of the synagogue if they said that Jesus was the Christ. His miracle made it clear that He was.

Of what are we afraid? We may fear being ostracized from our group of friends on one hand, or death on the other. And any number of events imagined and real in between. Fear makes us do things that we know we shouldn’t. Our strongest convictions can melt in the face of fear. These days there seems to be more to fear than ever.

Daniel 3 tells the famous story of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Nebuchadnezzar set up an idol, and commanded everyone to worship it. Anyone that didn’t worship the idol faced a death sentence; to be cast into a fiery furnace. Regardless, these three men refused to do it. In verses 16-18 we read, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Their bold and confident answer to the king was the opposite of fear. In spite of the brutal death promised by Nebuchadnezzar, they stood firm. In Luke 12:4,5 Jesus said, “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.” This is in line with what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had said. They were more afraid of dishonoring God than to worship the king’s idol, even at the cost of their lives.

The worst that can happen to us at the hands of our fellow man is death. After that, they have no power or authority to do anything more. Jesus said that the One to fear is God, Who after death is able and right to judge, and to cast into hell.

Noah is mentioned in Hebrews 11:7, where we are told, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Here fear is mentioned, but it is fear of God that is meant. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Noah trusted God, and when God told him to build an ark, that is what he did. It took him one hundred years to do it. But he finished the job because he feared God. And he and his family were saved from the flood. Hebrews 11:27 tells of Moses, who, “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” Moses did not fear Pharaoh but Him Who is invisible.

Someone once said, “I am not afraid to die. It’s just how fast.” The stories of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Noah, and Moses reveal their desire to trust God in their situation, even if it meant death. Because of the sin of Adam and Eve, death reigns over mankind. It is inevitable. Who else can we trust with the weakest moment in our lives? And if we can trust our God with that, what else is there with which we cannot trust Him?

To the Romans, Paul put it this way, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)

Jesus said in Luke 12:27-32, “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” It is His good pleasure to care for us.

Of what are we afraid? Our God reigns, and we can trust Him, and not give in to our fears.

Sovereign Ruler of the skies!
Ever gracious, ever wise!
All my times are in Thy hand,
All events at Thy command.

He that formed me in the womb,
He shall guide me to the tomb;
All my times shall ever be
Ordered by His wise decree.

Times of sickness, times of health;
Times of poverty and wealth;
Times of trial and of grief;
Times of triumph and relief;

Times the tempter’s power to prove;
Times to taste a Savior’s love:
All must come, and last, and end,
As shall please my heavenly Friend.

Plagues and deaths around me fly,
Till He bids I cannot die:
Not a single shaft can hit
Till the God of love thinks fit.

O Thou gracious, wise and just,
In Thy hands my life I trust:
Thee, at all times, will I bless;
Having Thee, I all possess. (John Ryland)

Jeremiah 12:14-16

“Thus saith the LORD against all mine evil neighbours, that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit; Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from among them. And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land. And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, The LORD liveth; as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built in the midst of my people.”

One of the great wonders of God’s personality is His love for mankind. This is seen in the death of Jesus Christ, Who died in the place of mankind, satisfying God’s justice by enduring His wrath against sin. It is seen at its brightest against the black rebellion of mankind against Him. God is good, righteous, kind, loving, merciful, forgiving, gracious, and so much more. He has written His law in the hearts of mankind. But they turn away from it, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:32)

The verses above discuss two groups, Israel, and the rest of the world. At the start, the Lord speaks of the inheritance that He has caused His people, Israel, to inherit, and those who had touched it. God calls those who have touched the inheritance of Israel evil neighbors. There is no doubt that Israel was in need of judgment for their rebellion against God. That is why they were among their evil neighbors. As noted above, God had written His law in Israel’s hearts, and they rebelled against Him. So, He used their neighbors to bring His judgment. But those that the Lord used overdid what the Lord intended. This is why He calls them evil neighbors. Their heavy handedness against Israel was not in keeping with God’s ways.

By way of judgment upon them, God promised the evil neighbors that He would pluck them out of their land. At the same time, God promised that He would pluck Israel out from among the evil neighbors. Israel was and is God’s chosen people for His purposes, the most important of which was the birth of Jesus from that race. In language similar to Jeremiah, Zechariah 2:7,8 says, “Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon. For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.”

This did not mean, though, that He had no thought or care for the rest of the nations of the world. Galatians 3:8 and 14 state, “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. …That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Paul told the Galatians that God had the Gentiles, the heathen, in His plan all along, and His pronouncement to Abraham showed that.

Perhaps the most astounding thought in the verses above comes next, “And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.” The rest of the passage above reveals that this was said about the evil neighbors from which the Lord had plucked Israel. He promised to have compassion on them! He judged them, plucked them out of their land, because of how they treated Israel. But then He spoke of having compassion on them. God is good and gracious and merciful and compassionate and forgiving.

But this was not an offer by the Lord made wholesale to all of the people of the nations. In the verses above He said, “And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, The LORD liveth; as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built in the midst of my people.” The requirement for the blessing that He promised was that they turn to Him. One thing that the evil neighbors did was to teach Israel idolatry. God stated that as the nations had taught Israel to swear by Baal, so the nations must learn to swear by the Lord’s name. Turning to Him would bring the Lord’s blessing. In fact, turning to God is a blessing to every nation, as Psalm 33:12 puts it, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.”

While Israel is indeed God’s chosen people, God’s plans involve all of mankind, for whom the offer of salvation stands open. But, as noted, this is not a general offer to every human, only to those who turn to Him. Without accepting the stupendous gift of salvation that God offers, individuals stand under His wrath against their sin. But God’s love for mankind leaves open the possibility of being reconciled to Him, and forgiven for our sin. How gracious, kind, loving, merciful, and loving He is!

Wonderful love that rescued me,
Sunk deep in sin,
Guilty and vile as I could be—
No hope within;
When every ray of light had fled,
O glorious day!
Raising my soul from out the dead,
Love found a way.


Love found a way, to redeem my soul,
Love found a way, that could make me whole.
Love sent my Lord to the cross of shame,
Love found a way, O praise His holy name!

Love brought my Savior here to die
On Calvary,
For such a sinful wretch as I,
How can it be?
Love bridged the gulf ’twixt me and Heav’n,
Taught me to pray,
I am redeemed, set free, forgiv’n,
Love found a way.


Love opened wide the gates of light
To Heav’n’s domain,
Where in eternal power and might
Jesus shall reign.
Love lifted me from depths of woe
To endless day,
There was no help in earth below;
Love found a way.

Refrain (Avis M. Christiansen)