Do Not Be Afraid

Ben Van Arragon

Read: Exodus 20:1-21

Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you . . .” (v. 20)

Typically, when someone says, “Don’t worry,” we assume there must be some reason to worry, and we start worrying. After receiving the Ten Commandments directly from God, Moses tells the Israelites, “Do not fear.” The instruction seems ironic, because the people have at least two good reasons for fear. First, they stand within sight and earshot of the glory of God. God’s presence is palpable and overwhelming; Moses himself has instructed the people that God’s holiness is deadly. Second, God’s commandments have immensely high stakes: obedience means life; disobedience means death. Fear seems the only rational response.

We tend to respond to the Bible’s commands and instructions with a certain amount of trepidation. After all, God’s standards are lofty and our willpower is often lacking. We fear that no matter how hard we try, we cannot be good enough to please God. When the requirements of God’s rules intimidate us, we must take Moses’ words to heart: do not fear. Why? While God gives us clear instructions on how to live well and please him, he also gives us reassurance that he evaluates us not on our performance or goodness, but on Christ’s redeeming grace. Paul reminds us, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21 NIV). —Ben Van Arragon

As you pray, ask God to guide your ways according to his perfect will.