Freedom From Fear
By Sam Nadler
Every 4th of July we celebrate our freedom from tyranny and domination, but possessing freedom as a citizen in our democratic society does not equate to freedom from the fear of death. However, Scripture provides a permanent solution for true freedom from the fear of death.
For some of us, the dread of death is caused by the certainty of it, together with the uncertainty of what happens after we die. But for others who deny the reality of an eternal life, the fear of death may seem foolish. There are some who do believe in life after death but, because of their view that God is all-compassionate and all-loving, they find no reason to fear. On the contrary, Scripture gives us convincing reasons to be afraid of death.
Fact or Fiction
We need to be aware of all the facts. For example, Daniel 12:2 warns, “Many who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”
Furthermore, similar warnings are given in the New Covenant. Hebrews 10:31 reiterates, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Some may then think that it is only the Bible believers that hold to the certainty of life after death, but traditional Judaism shares a similar concern for the hereafter. In the Talmud we read about the desperation of a rabbi who realized that he was facing eternity unprepared: “When Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai fell ill, his disciples said to him: ‘Why do you weep?’ He replied, ‘I am being taken before the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, who lives and endures forever and ever, whose anger, if He is angry with me, is an everlasting anger, if He imprisons me, imprisons me forever, if He puts me to death, puts me to everlasting death. When there are two ways before me, one leading to Paradise and the other to Gehenna and I do not know by which I will be taken, shall I not weep?'” (Berachoth 28b).
Can any of us be certain of our eternal destiny before we die? Scripture gives us assurance. Because of God’s eternal love for us, He wants us to be prepared for eternal life with Him. God also provided all that is necessary for us to face death fearlessly. How can we be ready for such an event? Hebrews 2:14-15 states, “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He, Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might nullify him who had the power of death, that is, the devil and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
Messiah Conquered Death
In God’s sight, all people, regardless of their ethnicity, are seen as one, as the phrase “sharing flesh and blood” indicates. We all have the same human limitations. All of us are perishable, frail and fallible. Since Messiah came in a human form as the Son of Man, He can understand our problems, as a fellow sufferer. On the other hand, because He is the Son of God, He is able to do something about our human frailty, as the writer of Hebrews reassures us, “He, Himself likewise also partook of the same.” If He came only as the Son of God, He would not be able to die, for God cannot die. However, because he shared in “flesh and blood,” He could die. Through His death as the Passover Lamb, His sinless sacrifice was sufficient to satisfy the wrath of God’s judgement upon the sins of all people; He delivered us from bondage of the fear of death. We are all sinners. Because of our sin, Satan, who is also called “the accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10) used God’s own absolute righteous justice to accuse us. The best news of all is that our accuser’s legal ground was nullified by Messiah’s death as the ultimate atonement for our sins. Paul’s words from Romans gives us assurance of God’s justification as it is written, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Messiah Yeshua is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, and who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us!” (Romans 8:33-34). Satan can no longer legitimately accuse those who put their trust in the Lord and we can rejoice over the fact that “death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54).
Free at Last
Furthermore, in Hebrews 2:15, Messiah died that we might not only be free from the fear of death, but also that we might live as free men as it also reiterated in John 8:36, “If the Son will make you free, you will be free indeed.” However, it is not always easy to live out the new reality of a fear-free lifestyle that Messiah provides. Just as a past traumatic experience has a present reaction, so the fear of death is a residual effect of sin. Sin enslaves you through bad habits, which in turn, results in a guilt-ridden conscience. As believers, even though we are free from the chains of slavery to sin, the habits and fears can remain.
God’s Love Casts Out all our Fears
We can be compared to a baby elephant, which is tied to a small post and trained never to transgress the distance of the rope. Even after the elephant grows into a mighty animal that could effortlessly break free, he continues to be bound to the limit set by the rope. Likewise, Satan’s threats can be compared to the rope tied to a post. We have the power and the protection of our God Almighty. Satan’s threats are empty and powerless. Let us not succumb to his threats and not yield to the fears all over again. we need to live in the truth of God’s unfailing love for us, because His love will cast out all our fears.
Therefore, let us celebrate with confidence our true freedom that we have been granted through faith in Messiah and value the liberty that His love provides.