First off, the next episode of Dead Reckoning.TV, "Give Suffering a Hug," is now live. We kind of like this one, so go check it out!
People will believe anything they see on their Facebook pages or Twitter feeds. I figured that out yesterday because I tweeted something that was quite popular, with many people re-tweeting it. Sadly, a crucial portion of it wasn't true.
I'm glad the important part was right, at least. "Do not be afraid" is the most frequent command in the Bible, but it doesn't appear 657 times. I too haphazardly glanced at the search results in my Logos Bible Software and that particular count was including more than one Bible, so I was at least triple counting. And then it was including alternate arrangements of phrases with similar words.
The real number is something like 108, which is still very frequent.
So the details were wrong but the thrust of the Tweet was not. We are dense! We are constantly afraid. We fear being unpopular. We fear bad Presidents. We fear drones or guns or gun confiscation or crazy right wingers or crazy left wingers or horse meat in our lasagna or unemployment or global warming or climate change and I don't really feel up to making this list exhaustive.
The point is that God says, "Do not be afraid." Remember that time the hope of redemption for the entire world rested on the barren, aged bodies of a single Ancient Near Eastern couple? Or that time the Israelites had the Red Sea at their back and Pharoah's hosts at their front? Or that time God's Anointed King was scavenging in caves? Or that time God's ultimate Anointed, his very own Son, hung dead on a Roman cross?
God is in the business of displaying his glory and his power in utterly hopeless circumstances. Circumstances far worse than anything you and I are facing today. It's his calling card, his MO. It's like that officer in the Vietnam war who said to his men: "They've got us surrounded. Poor bastards."
He was likely thinking of the sheer shock and awe of American artillery might. We've got firepower way better than that. Our fear is a sort of insanity.
Which is why God has to remind us so often.