Fear, and Be Unafraid

Alec Motyer

READ : Exodus 20:1-26

Do not be afraid. God has come so that the fear of God will be with you. (v. 20 NIV)

In the Bible “law” really means “teaching.” Mount Sinai is the place of law, the place where God taught his people his word so that they might obey it. We do not obey in order to become his people but because we are his people. We are out of Egypt; the land of slavery is past, and commands are not a new bondage but mark our freedom from bondage (vv. 1-2).

This is why James (1:25) calls God’s word “the law that gives freedom.” We are free to be unafraid in his presence (v. 20). Yet there is a proper fear of God—a reverential concern so to live as to please him. He speaks his word to us to conduct us into the way of obedience, and to steer us away from sinning.

But there is more. The chapter ends with the provision of the altar: that is, alongside calling his people to obey, the Lord provides the place of atonement to cover our lapses. There is only one God (v. 23). On the one side he is the Redeemer speaking his word of command (vv. 1-23); on the other side he is the Redeemer who provides atonement (vv. 24-26).


Lord, help me not to sin, and thank you for atonement. (1 John 2:1)