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Heb 4:1 Fear God!
1Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.
I’m guessing that most of you have been in an airplane.
Normally the first time someone flies it is on a commercial airline.
However, my wife told me I’m not normal (in case you haven’t figured this out yet), the first time I flew was in a glider like the one in this picture.
It was one of my stupidest ideas ever because I don’t like heights.
But when looking from the ground it seemed like it would be a very peaceful and gentle flight.
I’m here to tell you that it is the complete opposite.
I knew it was a mistake the moment I went to sit in my seat on the glider.
There are two seats, and I was upfront.
But it wasn’t seating up front that was the problem.
When I got into the glider, I couldn’t believe how fragile the whole contraption looked and felt.
The walls were about 1/8 to ¼ inch thin plastic, while the top plastic cover was so thin, I was surprised it didn’t bend as I lightly touched it.
I was beginning to have second thoughts, but I was too stubborn to admit my mistake.
As you can see in this picture gliders don’t have an engine.
To get up in the air the glider is pulled with a towrope attached to an airplane.
Those of you who have experienced being towed by a rope with wheels on the ground already picture how this is going to go.
This was perhaps the worst part of the flight.
As the plane cuts through the air, the resulting turbulence sent our glider jerking 8 feet to right, followed immediately by a 10 feet drop then back up and to the side for the next 15 minutes.
At that point my fear overcame any potential nausea.
Then at 2000 feet above the ground the yanking was over.
That’s when I was really overwhelmed by fear.
Here I was 2000 feet above ground, surrounded by paper thin plastic attached to these huge wings.
These wings were bending as we flew, just like a little piece of paper.
No different than one of Byron’s fleet of paper airplanes.
And honestly not much better constructed either.
Out of fear I held on to the sides, which brought no security as the feel of such fragile material only heightened my panic.
At that point, the pilot thought I had passed out because I wasn’t screaming.
I didn’t respond to him.
I was so afraid that I was paralyzed.
I couldn’t move.
I couldn’t talk.
After a few minutes I could finally grunt when he would ask if I was ok.
I was overtaken by fear, or paralyzed by fear.
This often is the kind of feeling that we might think of when we hear the word fear.
However, fear is not completely bad, some fears keep us safe, like staying on solid ground rather than getting on a glider!
In the same manner, the text we are studying today reminds us of another good fear, the fear of God.
This section of Scripture has one main theme, to enter God’s rest, this theme takes almost the whole of chapter 4, from v 1- 13.
My initial plan was to cover all these verses in one sermon, then I changed to cover only ten verses, but as I started working on it, I felt the prompting of the Spirit that we need to take the time to take an in depth look at this commandment in v1, let us fear.
What you might notice is that not every translation translates this as let us fear.
Some say let us be careful, or let us beware.
However, in the original language, there is no doubt that the word here is fear.
The author of Hebrews starts the warning in chapter 3 after quoting psalm 95 which he continues referring to here in chapter 4. Previously God had just commanded us to watch out for our hearts and for us to encourage one another.
Now there is a switch in theme to the idea of entering God’s rest.
When we study the next few verses we will look in-depth at this theme of God’s rest, for now, we can say that entering God’s rest is to enter heaven, to be in His presence for eternity.
The commandment “let us fear” is followed by “lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.”
This phrase is saying that we should fear the possibility of not entering God’s rest.
In other words, we could say that if we don’t fear we will not enter God’s rest.
You might say… wait a minute you just told me about this paralyzing fear experience you had, clearly fear is not a good thing.
However, we see in Scripture the word fear used in two senses: a positive and a negative sense.
The negative sense is what we might first associate with the word fear.
A dictionary of psychology and counseling describes fear as: “Normal fear addresses a realistic danger, phobia a relatively persistent and irrational fear.
Fear ranges from uneasiness to abject insecurity, with threats to one’s physical and/or psychological self.
Intense fear constricts perception, thinking, and motor processes.
The frightened person simultaneously wants to investigate and escape from the threat; this conflict may cause one to freeze or panic.”
When there is fear without any hope there is desperation.
Sadly, this is the situation for many in Russia as the draft was instituted.
Men are fearful of going to war.
After Putin announced the draft the most searched question online in Russia was how to break your arm.
Out of desperation in one week there were 17 attacks on recruitment centers.
It is estimated that in five days 261.000 men fled the country, and another 110.000
more fled in the second week.
Without Christ our world is hopeless.
We are living in crucial times, and we have the hope for a desperate world.
We live in a confused world where the most basic understandings are messed up, it is a lost world where people can’t distinguish between their right and left hand.
And yet we have the hope and the key to understanding reality.
We need to be bold and share Christ, for the world is not afraid to promote darkness.
For example, a recent commercial during a football game was about a cartoon called the little demon, where the main characters are Satan and the Antichrist.
The world is boldly proclaiming the devil.
If the world is so bold, why are we afraid of what people might think of us?
As we proclaim hope and life.
We should boldly share the truth and comfort found in God the Father and in Christ our Savior.
When you are given an opportunity to share Christ and you feel the pressure to not share, just think at that moment that what you share with that person might have an impact on them, which can lead them to be saved from eternal hell.
But in the least shine brightly on the darkness surrounding them.
This world is going to get worse, 2 Tim 3:13 says “evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
However, with this progression to worse, people are going to be more and more open to spiritual conversations, because deep in their hearts they know that there is a God, to which we all will have to give an account.
People are desperate and they are searching for hope, full of fear for their future.
The negative sense of fear is what paralyzes us or causes panic.
This negative sense of fear I’ll call paralyzing fear.
This paralyzing fear is what I experienced when I was in that glider, I was so afraid that I froze and couldn’t talk or move for a little while.
Others in fear might scream or cry out.
We see this paralyzing fear described in Scripture when the disciples found themselves in a boat in the middle of the night during a storm.
Through this Jesus came walking on the water, and the disciples were full of fear, it says in Matt 14:26 “But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.”
We don’t picture this too often, but when it says they cried out in fear, it means they were screaming filled with this paralyzing fear.
When the author of Hebrews commands us in Heb 4:1 let us fear, he doesn’t mean for us to have this paralyzing fear.
Because in Scripture the most common way that fear is referred to is in a positive sense, to fear God.
Custis said the following about fearing God.
“While fearing God in the OT can sometimes refer to a terror or dread of God, most often it refers to awe or reverence toward God.
To “fear Yahweh” means to serve and be faithful to him.
It includes an aspect of worship, as the people of Israel are commanded to “fear Yahweh” and not fear other gods.
The concept of fearing God is also closely linked with obedience to the law.
To fear God is to have a proper response to his holiness.
When God commands us to fear.
It means to have a reverent fear of God.
That is: to be obedient, to be loyal to God, to worship Him, to revere God as Holy.
It is to see God for who He truly Is and show the proper respect that He deserves as the King of the Universe.
The prophet Isaiah had a vision of the Lord in Isaiah 6, where he saw God on His throne and the angels crying out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
Then Isaiah’s response is full of reverent fear of God, where Isaiah recognizes God’s holiness and his own sinfulness.
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