Message No. 9

Christmas dispels fears!



In the redemptive blessings conveyed through the seven covenant names of Jehovah we have the antidotes for fear. There is a reflection of each of these in the events associated with the birth of Christ. Jesus came in flesh and blood to release us from the lifetime bondage of fear (Heb 2:14,15).


1. Jehovah-Jireh


Abraham called the name of the place, Jehovah-Jireh, where God provided for him a lamb for sacrifice (Gen 22:14). He returned from the mountain shouting joyfully, "The Lord provided!" Referring to this incident, Jesus commented, "Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad" (Jn 8:56).


Fear is the tax that conscience pays to guilt. Adam knew no fear before he sinned (Gen 3:8-11). But the substitutionary death of Christ has paid in full the penalty for our sin. His blood cleanses us from all guilt (Heb 9:14). We are now released from all fear, including the fear of death which is the worst of all (Heb 2:14,15).


The angel told Joseph to name Maryís Son as "Jesus," which means Saviour. Yes, the supreme mission of Christ is saving His people from their sins (Mt 1:21). Therefore we have no condemnation whatsoever (Rom 8:1). Donít allow the devil to intimidate you by pointing to any failure or lapse in your life. The Lamb of God has taken away all your sin. Disbelieve the lies of the devil. Confess the full provision made for you in Calvary. Sing aloud, Rolled away, Rolled away, Rolled away; The burden of my sin rolled away!


2. Jehovah-Rapha


The diseases the Lord brought on Egypt against King Pharaoh were awful. The suffering the Egyptians underwent was fresh in the minds of the Israelites who had just then exited from that land of bondage. Obviously there were fears within. But the Lord encouraged His people by a performance and a promise. He sweetened the bitter waters of Marah. And He said to them, "I am the Lord who heals you" (Ex 15:23-26).


The birth of Christ was both a spiritual and a physiological miracle. God became man. That was a spiritual wonder. A virgin conceived without a man. That was a physiological impossibility. Therefore in Jesus we have both salvation for our souls and healing for our bodies. He purchased both our spirit and our body by His death. His blood cleanses us, and His stripes heal us (Isa 53:5; Mt 8:16,17).


People thronged Jesus because they experienced healing in His presence. He is the same today. His healing power has not vanished. Healing is "childrenís bread." Donít fear whatever your sickness is. When Mary asked the angel how a virgin womb could conceive, the answer was, "With God nothing will be impossible!" (Lk 1:37). The angel also quoted the miracle that Elisabeth her relative had experienced in her old age (v 36). Yes, God wants us to be strengthened in faith by seeing what He has done to people in Bible times and is doing today.


No one wants to be sick. The boldest among us gets shattered when he is diagnosed for a dreadful disease. Doctors tell us that worry and anxiety make a sick person worse. No wonder Jesus spoke to many a sick person, "Fear not!" Greying or loss of hair is not considered serious. But even concerning that Jesus said, "The very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore!" (Lk 12:7).


Even if God chooses not to heal us for reasons we cannot know, we need not fear because we are safe in His hands.


3. Jehovah-Nissi


To commemorate the victory over Amalek, Moses built an altar and called its name, Jehovah-Nissi, meaning "The Lord is My Banner."


Herodís plot to kill Baby Jesus was defeated. Itís Godís promise that no weapon thatís formed against us shall prosper (Isa 54:17). We need not fear the enemyís arrows because the battle is not ours but the Lordís.


The enemy may be too strong for us but not for God. The Lord who indwells us is greater than Lucifer who inhabits the world. The name prophesied for the Child Jesus was "Mighty God." The government is on His shoulder. He is the King. Thereís no superceding of His rule (Isa 9:6,7). The Lord will thwart all the plans of the enemy against us. A child of God need not fear any sorcery or witchcraft. For us it is never, "See, what Satan has done!" It is always, "Oh, what God has done!" (Num 23:23).


Put on the spirit of Nehemiah on the face of threats. He refused to fear but prayed, "O God, strengthen my hands" (Neh 6:9-11). Fear is the beginning of defeat. Men like Jehoshaphat and David withstood most terrifying situations because they turned to the Lord in faith (2 Chron 20; Psa 55). The Lord Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." In response we may boldly say, "The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (Heb 13:5,6).


The Lord sometimes allows the devil to imprison us. There again His message is, "Do not fear... I will give you the crown of life" (Rev 2:10). Prison to palace!


4. Jehovah-Shalom


While preparing him for his mission, the Lord appeared to Gideon and said, "Peace be with you; do not fear!" He built an altar there and called it Jehovah-Shalom which means, "The Lord is Peace" (Judg 6:23,24).


Isaiah called the Babe of Bethelehem the "Prince of Peace" (Isa 9:6). Zacharias prophetically sang, "The Dayspring from on High has visited us... to guide our feet into the way of peace" (Lk 1:78,79). Announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, the heavenly host said, "On earth peace!" (Lk 2:14). With Maryís Child in his arms, Simeon blessed God and said, "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace" (Lk 2:28,29).


Peace with God is the first outcome of justification (Rom 5:1). The Risen Christís repeated greeting to the disciples was, "Peace to you!" Shalom! (Jn 20:19,21,26). Promising His own peace to them He said, "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (Jn 14:27).


Fear destroys peace. Worry and anxiety are useless. They cannot improve the situation a bit (Mt 6:27). But if we turn on to God, His ununderstandable peace will flood our hearts and minds (Phil 4:6,7). When we lean on Christís bosom and relax into His hands, fear will flee. Perfect peace will fill us (Isa 26:3). The Lord knows the end from the beginning. Therefore He never panics. We too can enjoy perfect calm amidst any storm if only we remember that Christ is in our ship. How shall we sink when He has said, "Letís go over to the other side?"


5. Jehovah-Raah


Interestingly the first announcement of the birth of Jesus was to the shepherds! They got the news at once (Lk 2:7-11). The angel referred to the place of Christís birth as "the city of David." Of all the portraits of Christ in the Psalms of David, the best and the most loved is in Psalm 23. Jehovah-Raah! "The Lord is my Shepherd!" As a Shepherd, most fittingly, Jesus began His earthly life in a manger, not a mansion.


David sang aloud the greatest effect of the Lordís shepherding care in verse four of Psalm 23: "I will fear no evil; for You are with me." No fear because Immanuel! Loneliness, lack of loving guidance and kind leadership are among our most spelt-out problems in this age. Tension and restlessness are characteristics of this busy world. True comforters are rare. The deep longing of the soul and the desires of the heart go unfulfilled. The inner man is starving. The vacuum grows larger and larger. These problems end when we acquaint with Christ as our Shepherd. The blessings spoken of in that beautiful twentythird Psalm become real.


The entire world is going throí an economic crisis. Fear grips menís hearts and they are gasping in an atmosphere of uncertainty. But a child of God "shall not want," because the Lord is his Shepherd. The Christian need not go after gold and money. Instead, goodness and mercy shall come after him (Psa 23:6). The Lord who took care of him yesterday will be sufficient for today and tomorrow. His pastures never dry up! (v 2).


6. Jehovah-Tsidkenu


Jeremiah prophesied, "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will raise to David a Branch of Righteousness... Now this is His name by which He will be called : The Lord Our righteousness" (Jer 23:5,6; 33:15,16). He who was conceived by the virgin was called the "Holy One" (Lk 1:35).


No one is righteous before God. All our righteousness is like filthy rags. We are all prodigals. Thereís a stink of sin over us. We are least worthy of any favour from God. But He loves us too much to cast us away when we go to Him. He clothes us with the robe of righteousness. Christ Himself becomes our Righteousness and Sanctification (1 Cor 1:30).


Apart from Christ thereís nothing good in us. But the devil makes us forget this central truth and believe that Godís desire over us is only according to our own goodness. As a result, every failure fills us with more and more negative fear. A feeling sets deep that weíll never make it. The devotional exercises then become mere formalities and the joy of the Lord vanishes.


Unhappy Christians are those who always think about the commandment of holiness but forget the promise of holiness. "Be holy as I am holy" ó is only one side of the coin. The other side is, "I am the Lord who makes you holy." Jehovah-Tsidkenu! "The righteous are bold as a lion" (Prov 28:1). Shout your righteousness because of Christ. Shut your ears to the accuser. Never fear!


7. Jehovah-Shammah


The blessing of Bethlehem culminates in New Jerusalem. The name of the Holy Child was Immanuel, meaning "God with us." The name of the Holy City shall be Jehovah-Shammah, meaning "The Lord is there" (Ezek 48:35).


Where the presence of the Lord is, there is fullness of joy. The joy of the Lord drives out all fear. "There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God... God is in the midst of her... Therefore we will not fear" (Psa 46:4,5,2). The assurance of Godís presence keeps our feet firm even when mountains shake and waters roar (vv 2,3).


The Lord may at times hide Himself but never will be absent. When things seem to go from bad to worse, from all directions there will be the echoing of the question, "Where is your God?" Such moments of darkness are only to teach us to walk by faith. Jesus was forsaken for a moment by the Father so we may never be forsaken.


The departing words of the Risen Lord are most assuring: "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20). In this age, the Lord is with us. In the age to come, we will be with Him ó for ever and ever! We are never alone!


Thank God for Christmas which has struck a deathblow to all fears!