“But now this is what Adonai says, he who created you, Ya‘akov, he who formed you, Isra’el: ‘Don’t be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I am calling you by your name; you are mine’.” Isaiah 43:1, CJB
As the human family, we live in a fallen world marked with pain, corruption, contradiction, and fear! Although this does not come from God, it is nevertheless present in our world and the hearts of man because of our sin and the Yetzer Hara (the evil inclination). Both psychologists and sociologists concur that fear is the most primal (or deeply rooted) of all human emotions, and of which, scientists acknowledge is in the natural, that which seems out of reach and from the outside is hard if not impossible to control.
But as believers in Yeshua, what shall we make of “fear” and how should we both define, use it for our good or seek to combat it? According to one expert, sensory fears are natural in noting, “The amygdala is the part of the brain that rests behind the eye and over from the ear. There are two of them, and they are tiny and almond-shaped, but don't let the size fool you. Without the amygdala, humans would not have survived throughout history. The amygdala is a brain's alarm system.” (Ainissa G. Ramirez, Ph.D: Article: Edutopia, “Science of Fear,” Oct. 17, 2014)
So, what does the amygdala teach us of ourselves and how does this relate to what Scripture and God’s heart tell us? As per Dr. Ramirez, not all fear should be judged the same. Within every human being, the amygdala communicates to the rest of our brain and our entire nervous system when caution and healthy fear and caution should be demonstrated. We see this and think, ... “do not touch a hot stove - you’ll get burned, ... never walk in front of moving traffic - you’ll be hit, injured or never lean over a cliff - you will fall and be killed!” All these are healthy fears and as per Ramirez, “The amygdala is [our] brain's 911 operator, triggering a hardwired reaction to danger.”
The Scriptures match this, echoing our need for caution and wisdom as seen in Rav Sha’ul’s letter to the Ephesians,
“Therefore, pay careful attention to how you conduct your life — live wisely, not unwisely. Use your time well, for these are evil days. So don’t be foolish, but try to understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Eph. 5:15-17).
In looking at Rav Sha’ul’s wise counsel, it is clear that the admonishment of our Shaliach is in every way is different from that of what the Prophet Isaiah instructs un telling us, “Don’t be afraid!” For Sha’ul, it was both a mitzvot (commandment) and encouragement that the believer should be aware of his or her responsibilities and to live a life for the purpose of what that will of Adonai is. Counter, and as similar to the human amygdala, we know that if we deviate from and break the Word of the Lord then we will not have blessings (Deut. 11:17) in that we have departed from the path that leads to understanding the will of the Lord!
So, what of this primal fear we are often plagued with and what does God want us to know about it?
First, this irrational fear is not from him, but instead a sign of a need for healing and restoration. Where God created our amygdala for life to guide and protect us, primal fears, anxieties and despair are from the Adversary - always lying, always deceiving and always enslaving!
Secondly, when we face the fear which Isaiah references in stating,
“Don’t be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I am calling you by your name; you are mine,”
reminds that this enslavement of fear exists for the purpose of being conquered! It is for this reason that Timothy encouraged, “... God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7, NKJV) in this, we know that we can have freedom from fear by daily walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, by seeking to be motivated and driven through biblical-love and to take upon ourselves self-discipline for the purpose of both wholenesses and to win the prize! (Phil. 3:14)
Finally, we must never forget HOW fear is and can be conquered. Although irrational fears rise like a weapon to attack our hearts, it is Messiah who has once and for all defeated our enemy and rendered him helpless. In light of Calvary and Yeshua’s shed blood, all weapons are defeated and all attacks are rendered of no effect of its own. Yet, because haSatan will still, in the future receive final-judgment, today he uses against us his greatest weapon against us in the form of fear, in hopes that our attention will be focused away from the promises of God!
But counter to FEAR is FAITH and TRUTH, just as counter to darkness is light! Irrational fear, worry, and anxiety cannot exist or grow within the fertile soil of FAITH and TRUTH! It is, for this reason, we must every day, empower the good of our will to walk in trust and daily do that which is right before Adonai! As we draw closer to the Father's Heart and his promises for us, the lies, deceptions, and fears of the Adversary by definition become for us smaller and smaller. It is not that the attacks of the enemy is an illusion or that of the problems of this world, it as we daily choose to press more and more into the love, goodness, and promises of God, then there is less and less room in our hearts for anxiety, worry or fear. This is when our draw to the Yetzer Hara (the evil inclination) shifts to the Yetzer HaTov (the good inclination), because we choosing to see things as God sees them, and in that, we are transformed unto eternity!
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