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God Removes The Fear of Death

by Julius Hovan

Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program

Thank you for tuning into this Words of Life radio broadcast. It is our pleasure to come to you in your home or your car or wherever you might be and to bring you good news about our wonderful Lord Jesus and his blessings poured out upon those who know and follow him.

One of the most familiar passages of Scripture in our Bible is Psalm 23. It matters not if you are Catholic or Protestant or Jewish, it is a precious psalm well known, used so very often at the graveside of a loved one who has gone on. Listen to the words, if you will.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou hast anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

We pray the Lord will grant opening to this beautiful passage of Scripture and reveal some truths that will be a blessing and an encouragement to each one of us.

What I would like to center upon, and there is so much that can come out of this beautiful psalm, is the fact that God has a way of removing our fear of death.

“I will fear no evil even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

Think, as we look at this psalm, about God removing the fear of death. First of all, we can understand certain things from this psalm that will help that fear be removed. First of all, God does that with some true facts. Notice death is a surety. There is an ending to life. There is that valley we go through called the road to death. And so we must understand death is a surety. Until Jesus comes that will be the experience of every one of us and God in his grace and mercy gives us time to make preparation for the step out of time into eternity in this thing that we call death.

My friends, it is appointed unto man once to die, and then there will be judgment. So the truth is, death is a sure thing.

But there is a second thing about it. It is a sojourn. Though I pass through, I am not staying there forever. It is a temporary experience. We experience this thing that we call death. It is temporary and I am just going to go through it. And for the Christian it is like stepping out of darkness into light. And so the true facts are these. Death is a surety. It is but a sojourn. We are just going through there, and interestingly death is a shadow.

Shadows can frighten us if we don’t know what they are, but the fact is shadows do not hurt us. There is nothing to them. They are simply blocking out the light of some object and we see the shadow of that object.

When I was a boy in Florida being raised on a chicken farm, we had those hawks that would come over looking for lunch in our chicken yards and our hens learned that when the shadow of that great hawk flew over they knew they better scurry and look for a place to hide. The shadow.

A man was explaining to his young son when the son asked questions about this thing called death. They were standing at the curb side in a major city and about that time a very large truck passed right beside them and they were in the shadow of the truck. And the Father used that to illustrate the shadow of death. He said, “Son, that shadow cannot hurt us. It is not a thing that has any power in and of itself.”

And so if we can learn some truth, some facts about life and about death, we can help alleviate the fear that comes because death is so uncertain. We have not experienced it. We know not except what God tells us is behind us, ahead of us is this thing called death. If we can take these facts to know that death is a surety, it is a sojourn, it is a shadow, it is a frightening thing, but it cannot hurt us.

But there is a second thing that we glean from this great psalm. We can remove the fear of death not only with true facts, but true faith. Let’s look at a couple of things with this matter of death and its surety. As we look at this removal of fear this psalm speaks to us of our establishing a relationship with God. Faith helps remove that fear. We have a place to stand, as it were with this thing called faith. We are establishing a relationship with almighty God and our understanding he is with us moment by moment and day by day, thinking back to that time in the Garden of Eden when man and woman walked in the cool of that beautiful garden and God came down to visit with them.

We remember that the promise is that God will be with us. It is the promise of our Lord Jesus. And so true faith, coupled with these facts, will help remove that fear. We are now walking with God. He is with us.

“I fear no evil,” is associated with this shadow we have talked about, but I can know that I am not alone. The great writer, the lover of our Lord Jesus, the writer John, wrote in the book of I John chapter four and verse 18 these words, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear because fear has punishment and he that fears is not made perfect in love.”

The key word there—and it was a word that the apostle John used innumerable times—love, the love of God that has been shed abroad in our hearts, in our lives when we put our faith and trust in him. The wise proverb writer says in Proverbs chapter three verses seven and eight, “Be not wise in your own eyes. Fear Jehovah and depart from evil.” What will be the result of that? He tells us in verse eight, “It will be health to your navel and marrow to your bones.”

We can defeat the fear of death. But our proper respect and awe about Jehovah God needs to always be there, not trusting ourselves, but trusting him and fearing God we depart from evil and the result of that is spiritual health and I believe, as well, physical health. For when we are living in fear, when we are living with guilt, it is a very difficult thing to enjoy the health that we should so much enjoy.

So here are true facts about death. And here is the matter of true faith that we need to have in order to remove the fear of death. Listen to the writing of the apostle Paul in the New Testament, the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 15 and I will begin reading with verse 54. Notice what he tells us, “This corruptible, that is, this corruptible body, decays, will put on incorruption. This mortal shall put on immortality. Then shall come to pass the saying that is written. Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh, death, where is your victory. Oh, death, where is your sting. The sting of death is sin. The power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord for as much as you know your labor is not in vain.”

Here is a message which the Christian understands. Indeed, the power of death has been removed. The sting is no longer there in the life of the one who has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is said that a young boy and his father were out in the yard and moving around in the grass stirred up a bee and the bee came and stung the little boy and the father swatted the bee, of course, to get rid of it and the little boy became concerned that the bee would come back and bite him again. And the father said, “No, he cannot do that. For in my swatting him, I have swatted the sting out of his body and he no longer has any power to hurt you or to sting you.” My friends, that is what Jesus did for us at Calvary. He, as it were, swatted death and defeated it and made possible that we can have life and have it everlasting.

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah says in chapter 41 these words in the 10th verse as he refers to some good news for us,

“Fear thou not, for I am with thee. Be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee. Yea, I will help thee. Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

I don’t know where you as a listener might be living this morning, in a far country from the United States or in some part of our own nation that presently is going through a financial crisis. Many nations are experiencing the same. What happens when the value of our money is lost, not worth what it used to be? Our stocks and our bonds and our various investments are not paying off, but they are actually losing money. That is a time that fear comes, not so much the fear of death, but the fear of facing life. And so it is we come to verses like this one in the prophet Isaiah that was an Old Testament promise as is that in Psalm 23.

But, oh, my friends, we have looked, as well, at many passages in 1 Corinthians 15 that deal with the fact that God has dealt the death blow to death itself. Jesus by his death made possible everlasting life of those who will believe it.

Fear thou not, I am with thee. There is that intimate relationship with God. He is our God. Did not the psalmist say, “The Lord is my shepherd”?

My friend, is the Lord your shepherd? Do you know about Jehovah God, the God of Israel and the God of Christianity and the wonderful Son, the Lord Jesus? What is it that you believe about God and about the Lord Jesus? Get a Bible. Begin to read it. Find a good Bible believing church near where you are and go there and learn more about the grace of God and the mercy of God and all the blessings that he gives to people who put their faith in him.

Death is a surety, but it is also just a sojourn. It is not everlasting. And then it is like a shadow. A shadow cannot harm and so death is that way. Though there is often pain associated with it, though there is often suddenness that is associated with it, we understand that we have gained the victory. And so, as Isaiah tells us, it is God who leads. It is God who restores. It is God who accompanies us. It is God, as the psalmist says, who makes us lie down in green pastures, who leads us beside still waters.

What a beautiful thought it is, indeed, to know that this is the way God is, that he loves to pronounce blessings upon us and to give us those things that we need.

I am reminded of one more verse of Scripture to share with you in conclusion. In the 26th chapter of the book of Isaiah verse three says:

“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in you.”

Oh, my friends, what a difference it makes if our trust is in Jehovah God, if we have learned about him from his holy Word, if we have placed our faith in what Jesus did at Calvary, have turned from our selfish, sinful ways, confess the name of Jesus as the Son of God, God in flesh, and then, Lord, we ask that you will make those, the hearers of these words, be obedient to that faith putting their trust in the Lord Jesus and then, Lord, submitting to that watery grave, their personal death, spiritually speaking, and raised to walk in newness of life.

My friends, as we close, may I urge you wherever you live, whatever your past has been a relationship with God through Jesus Christ provides for you a glorious future. God can remove your fear of death as well as the fears that come when we live in this sin cursed earth. May God bless you as you hear and think about what we have said in this message this morning.

May we close with a prayer?

Father, we are grateful for the psalmist who has written these precious words, words of our God being our shepherd, our care giver, our leader, the one who restores us and accompanies us and blesses us. Lord, we give thanks for that. And maybe there is someone listening to this broadcast who needs to make a decision for Jesus Christ. If that is the case, would your Spirit work in their heart, would they be open to believing and then receiving the gift of everlasting life and having the fear of death removed. We beseech you for these blessings in the name of Jesus and amen.

Julius Hovan preaches for the Bohon Church of Christ, near Harrodsburg, KY

 




One Response to “God Removes The Fear of Death”

  1. Hall Crowder says:

    Good message containing a lot of truth and comfort for the believer. However perhaps a better text might have been chosen to present it. It is unfortunate that the translators took some liberty with the Hebrew text. It says nothing about the “shadow of death”. It only speaks of passing through a “dark valley”. Of course death is a dark valley…but there are many other dark valleys in life besides death. Thankfully the Lord is with the believer through them all.



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