Were you ever afraid? I know you were. One of your cousins, little curly redheaded Peter, told me in confidence that he was terribly afraid in his dark bedroom, so his mother allowed him to have a small light plugged in the baseboard plug. That gave him just enough light to distinguish the walls, ceiling and furniture, but not too much to sleep well. I asked him what he had been afraid of, and he said, “I don’t really know because I do not believe in spooks and hob-goblins or anything like that. I am just afraid!
I guess little Peter’s fear is not an isolated event among all you cousins. It’s quite natural to children, and adults too. I can remember when I was a little boy (that was in the olden times) when I had to walk home at night on a lonely dark road with weed-rimmed ditches on either side, I was afraid! I tried to keep my eyes looking straight ahead, but they would always turn to the edges to see if I could find anything that would especially frighten me. And I suppose that older brothers like to frighten younger brothers and sisters by scaring them with spook-stories. I guess that is natural also, because older brothers are often mean that way.
Fear is a very natural emotion in mankind. Ever since Adam sinned his first sin fear has lived in the hearts of all men. Remember the Sunday School story of Adam and Eve who ate of the forbidden fruit at the Serpent’s suggestion? Remember how they then tried to hide from God when He called to them? They hid among the trees of the forest and when God asked Adam why he was hiding from Him, Adam said, “I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” That was the first mention of any fear in the Bible. But the pages of Holy Writ are sprinkled with the words, “fear” and “afraid” some 727 times. Many of these passages speak of fear in the sense of reverence, as when it is recorded that “Abraham feared God.” That kind of reverential fear is found 228 times. But the scary kind of fear, with its closely related term, “afraid” is found 499 times! Whew, that is a big number! How much is 499 times? Well, if you would read one of those texts each day, starting on your birthday, you would be up to the 499th one four months and two weeks after your next birthday! I guess that is a big number. That is why I came to the conclusion that fear is a common emotion to mankind in general and in God’s people as well. So don’t worry about the fact that you are afraid at times. You are in good company because your Dad and Mom are also afraid at time; so are your relatives, your teachers, your congressmen; and even President Carter.
But I am going to talk about the fears of children and young people – all my grandchildren. Fearing may be right or it may be wrong. It certainly is wrong when you are afraid of imaginary fears, like spooks and hob-goblins. I would say, quite un-grammatically, “There ain’t no such animal.”
It certainly is right to be afraid of the Devil. We have every right to fear that enemy of God and His followers. The Bible tells us why we should fear him. God tells us that Satan is like a serpent – a poisonous snake hiding in the grass ready to strike out and bite us on the ankle. God’s Word also likens Satan to a roaring lion which is the most fearsome of the wild beasts. Fear it? You bet! The Bible also likens that Enemy to a dragon. Now I never saw a dragon, and maybe there are not many left in the world, but the dragon was always pictured as the largest of the land animals, and the most fearsome because it destroys anything that is in its way. The dragon mentioned in the Book of Revelations pictures one of those creatures as having seven heads and ten horns. In that passage, the Devil is portrayed in all his fearfulness.
So, it is alright to fear the Devil. He is our greatest enemy because he is God’s greatest enemy. Jesus, in one of his sermons telling the people not to be afraid of any man who might kill our body, said, “Rather fear him which is able to kill both body and soul in hell.” Seeing Jesus said so, we had better do it!
The Bible also tells us when not to fear. Joseph was told by the angel not to fear when he announced that Mary would have a child by the Holy Ghost. Mary, too, was told not to fear when she received that same message. And so on many other occasions God’s people were told not to fear when they would have naturally been afraid of seeing supernatural things.
Now this letter is getting so long that, before I lose your interest, I must come to the fear I am really concerned about. I sometimes hear that you are terribly afraid of “The Last Days” which shall come upon us just before the end of time when Christ shall descend with the sound of the trumpet in the brightness of His Glory. Sure, the Bible tells us of many fearful things that precede His Coming; earthquakes, heaven-quakes, when the stars shall fall from heaven – great judgements all. And we are told that before that time comes, we will have to suffer persecutions – and you young people had better figure on that in your lifetime – when you shall hide in dens and caves to escape your enemies. BUT (and that is the most important “but” in your life) accompanying those dire predictions come the comforting “fear nots” from our sympathizing High Priest. We need not fear, because those dire things are so many of God’s means to destroy His and our Enemy, and the wicked world and all its wickedness. And they are signs that God is about to snatch us up to meet the Risen and Glorified Jesus, our Lord. He will then make new Heavens and a new World where we shall live with Him and the Holy Angels and the redeemed saints, which cannot be numbered for multitude. In the New World, there will be no more fear, no diseases, no crying, no dying! Only eternal joy and bliss will be our reward.
Young People, when the author of the Book of Revelations heard Jesus say, “Behold I come quickly” he responded with, “Even so, come Lord Jesus.” Let us take that prayer upon our lips and every day until He comes!