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Al Tirah - The Recurring Word...

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Fear Thou Not

For I am with you...

by John J. Parsons

Al-Tirah Ki Imekha Ani

Be not afraid, for I am with you (Isa. 41:10)

MOST OF US UNDERSTAND that loving God is our essential obligation, the end or "goal" of all the other commandments, the very reason why God has spoken and why we exist.  Yeshua plainly taught that this was the point of "the law and the prophets," the rest being commentary (Matt. 7:12, Matt. 22:36-40). However, while love is the greatest commandment, you might be surprised to learn that the most frequent commandment is simply al-tirah, "Be not afraid." Over and over again in the Scriptures we hear the LORD saying to those who trust in Him, al tira, "be not afraid."

Of course this doesn't mean that we should pretend that evil doesn't exist or that there's no real danger in this world. No, the Scriptures are clear that such things are indeed real. There are spiritual enemies in the world and we are engaged in a genuine spiritual war. The devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8). But despite these things – or rather, in light of them – al-tirah, "Be not afraid."

"There is no fear in perfect love," as the Apostle John wrote (1 John 4:18). If we love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), then we find courage because of the heart He imparts to us. This was part of the very mission of the Messiah, to "deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery" (Heb. 2:15). True, we are to fear the LORD, but this does not denote a cringing terror of God's judgment but rather a reverential awe as He daily condescends to be involved in our lives.

A midrash says that the Ten Plagues were needed – not to convince Pharaoh that the LORD was God – but rather to convince the children of Israel of God's love! After all, without faith in that, Israel would never have ventured to leave Egypt. 

The same could be said of the greater Exodus given through the Cross: the suffering of Jesus was not only payment for sin but also the means to be recreated in God's love.

Sometimes God reveals His care for us in spectacular ways, but He always provides "hidden miracles" that uphold us every day. God didn't just create the universe and then remove Himself from its care: Yeshua is sustaining all things by the Word of His power at all times (Col. 1:17). Living in the light of God's Presence reveals the daily bread that comes from Heaven, but those who refuse the truth find no lasting sustenance for the world to come... We all must believe that God is making miracles for us to live and grow in this age; otherwise we are living in fear.

Nachman of Breslov once is reported to have said that "The whole earth is a very narrow bridge (כָּל־הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ גֶּשֶׁר צַר מְאד), and the point of life is never to be afraid." Likewise we understand Yeshua to be the Bridge to the Father, the narrow way of passage that leads to life. He calls out to us in the storm of this world, "Take heart. It is I; be not afraid" (Matt. 14:27). When Peter answered the call and attempted to walk across the stormy waters, he lost courage and began to sink, but Yeshua immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt (lit., think twice)?"

We must be careful not to let the light in us become darkness (Luke 11:35). The love and acceptance of God is the answer to our fear, not the thought of being judged by Him or attempting to merit his favor through religion. God's love is our hope, and this hope gives us courage to persevere the storms of the day...

May God help us to hear Him saying, al tira, "Be not afraid."

Hebrew-English Transliteration:

Hebrew Transliteration

al-tirah ki imekha-ani

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