Fear unfortunately has a tendency to distort our perception of reality
Fear often makes us do stupid things. Whatever your personal view on the Brexit, a lot of harsh words from both sides have been flying around since the vote – a lot of them motivated by emotion and fear. Fear of change, fear of the future, perhaps even fear of what will become of UK and Europe. Fear unfortunately has a tendency to distort our perception of reality and to lead us to make impulsive choices and say impulsive things that we perhaps we wouldn’t normally make/say. Fear of the future and fear of economic disaster in the past has led many to make the tragic decision of taking their own lives. Whatever the reason and whatever the occasion, fear has the power to change us – for the worse.
Fear was also the cause of our delay in entering the Land that God had given us, back in the times of Moses. This week’s parasha (Shlach) is a real emotional rollercoaster and demonstrates the power that fear can have. Moses sends out spies into the Land and they come back bring a wonderful report – “It’s an awesome place!”. However, fear gets the better of them and they end up discouraging the rest of the people to go into the land because of the inhabitants who had fortified cities and who were strong, big and powerful. The people panic, chaos ensues, they wish they were dead and talk of stoning Moses, getting a new leader and going back to Egypt. Not a very rational decision.
Perhaps even far more irrational is Moses’ decision. God tells Moses that he should remove himself from the people so that God can wipe them out and start again with just Moses. What an opportunity to finally get rid of this group of ungrateful, childish, hateful people! And yet Moses, incredibly, says, “No.”
What would I have done? If I’m honest, I would have said yes. I would have had God wipe them out and start again with me. But Moses had such incredible love for them, such understanding of his own human condition and such a zeal for God’s name and reputation, that he says, “No.” Moses wasn’t swayed by fear – he had an assurance that God, who had already done so many amazing things for Israel was also able to bring them into the Land that He had promised. His trust and assurance in God kept him calm and level-headed while chaos ensued around him. Because of his love for God and for his people, he made the right choice, even if it was a hard choice.
When Yeshua ultimately gave up his life for us on the cross, it was the hardest of choices.
Centuries later, another Jewish man made the right choice. When Yeshua left heaven and came to live among us, it was a hard choice. When Yeshua ultimately gave up his life for us on the cross, it was the hardest of choices. But just as Moses, thousands of years before was motivated by love for God and love for his people, so was Yeshua. Moses was ready to die with the people; Yeshua died for the people and in so doing freed us from being slaves to fear, to ourselves and to our desires. Because of him and what he’s done, we no longer have to fear the future, because whatever happens, we know we can trust that his love will win out in the end. Moses believed that God would bring us into the Promised Land despite the very real, very scary obstacles; if we put our faith in the Messiah Yeshua, he gives us faith to believe that he will one day set up his perfect kingdom here on earth, despite the very real, very scary obstacles. More than that, he gives us assurance that he loves us, that he will always be with us and that he has a purpose for our lives. He gives us a way out of the fear that can so easily control us.
Whether you’re interested in politics or not, whether you live in the UK or in the EU or not, whether financial crisis comes or not, you can have hope. If we put our trust in Yeshua, then we no longer have to fear our past or the future, because we are loved and accepted by the only one who truly matters.
Panic?! Not anymore.