“Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to trust the Lord means safety” (Proverbs 29:25).
Mowqesh is the Hebrew word for trap. But it also means snare, or a device used for impeding or slowing, or causing difficulty; a means of luring or enticing. Yirah in this passage is not so much being scared but having a profound respect, love and awe, worship, tenderness towards, place in an exalted position. When we fear God, we are Giving Him our highest attention and affection. Sometimes we get it backwards—we yirah people and are scared of God. If anyone should be standing strong and full of courage it’s the people of God.
Too often we are reduced to pleasing, trusting, and depending on people. It’s starts as early as childhood and works its way into adulthood. We still crave people’s approval, wanting people to like and accept us. This causes a world of problems both emotionally and spiritually. Moses illustrated this very well atop Mount Sinai in Exodus 3. The Creator of the entire universe was calling on him, yet he chose to negotiateGod: You will lead my people out of Egypt
Moses: Who am I…how can you expect me to do it?
God: I will be with you
Moses: They’ll ask ‘what is Your name?’
God: I am that I am…the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. I am eternal, all powerful, all-knowing.
Moses: They won’t believe me
God: Throw down your staff
Moses: I’m not a good speaker
God: Who makes mouths?
Moses: Please send someone else..
God: Sigh…Okay, what about Aaron?
Fearing people causes frustration.
Moses wanted to follow God but he struggled with the snare of man’s approval. He couldn’t figure it out quickly enough: who’s in control, who’s supplying, who’s providing, in charge? People ruled him and became the barometer of his significance. This was making the statement that God’s not enough.
We see FIVE CAUSES OF FEAR…
- Who am I? He struggled with his identity. Am I an Israelite or an Egyptian?
- Who are You? He lacked intimacy with God.
- What will people think? He was intimidated by others, rather, he feared people
- What can I do? He felt inadequate. He doubted God’s provision…because there was no intimacy.
- Why me? He felt inferior.
Fearing people causes failure.
God longs to be enough for our lives. Yet in crises and doubt, we turn to that habit, run to that person, bury ourselves in distractions. It’s not hard to understand why we defer worship…people seem more tangible and accessible. God will give us our choice but that comes with consequences. Moses trusted in Aaron and he reaped the price of that choice.
In Moses’ absence, Aaron caved to the people’s demands for a god to lead them back to Egypt. They sinned grievously against God despite his Hand of deliverance, His provision, and His miracles. “Moses took the calf, ground it to dust, scattered it all over the waters, and made them drink from it” (Exodus 32:20). We must choose carefully our idol, golden or object of worship. We will bow down before it and drink from whatever we give our heart away to. It will be our source…and if it’s not God, it will fail us.
Fearing God brings freedom and fulfillment
When we truly fear God it’s always a win situation. He doesn’t care if we’re not perfect, if we make mistakes, fail, or fall flat on our faces. Our relationship with God isn’t based on performance. There’s nothing we can do to make ourselves more or less pleasing and acceptable to God…because of Christ. He loves us…PERIOD.
“The LORD is my light and my salvation ; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life ; Whom shall I dread?” (Psalm 27:1).
“The LORD is for me; I will not fear ; What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6).
“Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and act ; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished” (1 Chronicles 28:20).
“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba ! Father!’” (Romans 8:15).
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
“There is no fear in love ; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).
Questions for thought.
- Who is the person I most want to please?
- What are causes of fear in my life?
- What would it take for me to fear God and not people?