THE WORD THAT SCATTERS FEAR
by Alexandra Maclaren
'Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy
exceeding great reward.' -- GENESIS XV. 1.
Abram was now apparently about eighty-five years
old. He had been
fourteen years in Palestine, and had, for the only
time in his life,
quite recently been driven to have recourse to arms
formidable league of northern kings, whom, after a
march from the extreme south to the extreme north of
the land, he
had defeated. He might well fear attack from their
superior forces. So this vision, like all God's
words, fits closely
to moments needs, but is also for all time and all
1. The call to conquer fear.
Fear not.--(_a_) There is abundant reason for fear
in facts of
life. There are so many certain evils, and so many
that any man who is not a feather-brained fool must
(_b_) Reasons for fear in our relations to divine
(_c_) The only rational way of conquering fears is
them to be unfounded. It is waste of breath to say,
Don't be afraid,
and to do nothing to remove the occasions of fear.
It is childish to
try to get rid of fears by shutting the eyes tight
and refusing to
look formidable facts in the face.
(_d_) The revelation of God is the true antidote to
(_e_) 'Fear not' is the characteristic word of
revelation. It is of frequent occurrence from
Abraham till John in
2. The ground of the call in the Revelation of God
(_a_) As to outward evils, His protection assures
us, not of
absolute exemption, but of His entire control of
them, so that men
and circumstances are His instruments, and His will
powerful. Chedorlaomer and all the allied kings are
noise,' as the prophet said of a later conqueror.
All the bitterness
and terror is taken out of evil. If any fiery dart
pass through the
shield, all its poison is wiped off in passage. So
there remains no
reason for fear, since all things work together for
that shield we are safe as diver in his bell, though
seas rave and
sea-monsters swim around.
(_b_) As to inward evils, our Shield assures us of
exemption. 'Shield of faith.' Faith is shield
because it takes hold
of God's strength.
3. The ground of the call in the Revelation of God
Abraham had refused all share in booty, a large
sacrifice, and here
he is promised, A Reward in God, _i.e._ He gives
recompense for all sacrifices in path of duty. 'The
Lord is able to
give thee much more than these.' This promise opens
out to general
truth that God Himself is the true reward of a
devout life. There
are many recompenses for all sacrifices for God,
some of them
outward and material, some of them inward and
spiritual, but the reward
which surpasses all others is that by such
sacrifices we attain to
greater capacity for God, and therefore possess more
of Him. This is
the only Reward worth thinking of--God only
satisfies the soul. With
Him we are rich; without Him poor; 'exceeding
glory,' transcending all measure. The revelations of
God as Shield
and Reward are both given in reference to the
present life, but the
former applies only to earth, where 'without are
fighters, within are
fears'; while 'the latter is mainly true for heaven,
who have fought, having God for their Shield, will
possess Him for
their Reward, in a measure and manner which will
make all earthly
experiences seem poor. Here the 'heirs of God' get
which is a small installment of their inheritance;
there they enter
into possession of it all.
Many years have passed since Abram was called to go
forth from his
father's house, assured that God would make of him a
They had been years of growing power. He has been
dwelling at Mamre,
as a prince among the people of the land, a power.
There sweeps down
on Southern Palestine the earliest of those
invasions from the vast
plains of the North which afterwards for generations
standing dread of Abram's descendants. Like the
storm pillars in
their own deserts, are these wild marauders with the
wild names that
never appear again in the history. Down on the rich
peaceful pasture lands they swoop for booty, not for
some sea-bird, they snatch their prey and away. They
carry with them
among the long train of captives Abram's ungenerous
Lot. Then the friend of God, the father of the
faithful, musters his
men, like an Arab sheikh as he was, and swiftly
follows the track of
the marauders over the hills of Samaria, and across
the plain of
Jezreel. The night falls, and down he swoops upon
them and scatters
them. Coming back he had interviews with the King of
Sodom, when he
refuses to take any of the spoil, and with
Melchizedek. Abram is
back at Mamre. How natural that fear and depression
him: the reaction from high excitement; the dread
that from the
swarming East vengeance would come for his success
in that night
surprise; the thought that if it did, he was a
wandering stranger in
a strange land and could not count on allies. Then
there would come,
perhaps, the remembrance of how long God had delayed
beginnings of the fulfilment, 'Seeing I go
To this mood of mind the divine vision is addressed.
'Fear not--I am
thy shield' whatever force comes against thee, 'and
great reward,'--perhaps in reference to his refusal
anything from the spoil. But God says this to us
all. In these
antique words the very loftiest and purest
principles of spiritual
religion are set forth.
He that loves and trusts God possesses God.
He that possesses God has enough for earth.
He that possesses God has enough for heaven.
1. It is possible for a man to have God for his. 'I
am thy Reward,'--not
merely Rewarder, but Reward.
How can one spiritual Being belong to
another?--plainly, By mutual
The Gospel assures us of God's love, and makes it
possible for ours
to be fixed on Him.
Faith gives us God for ours.
The highest view of the blessings of the Gospel is
that God Himself
becomes our reward.
How sad the insanity of men appears, in the ordinary
aims of their
life, its rewards and its objects of desire! How
they chase after
How much loftier and truer a conception of the
blessing of religion
this is than notions of mere escape and the like!
2. The possession of God is enough for earth.
God the all-sufficient object for our spirits, His
communication of Himself, the sense of His presence,
the depths of
His infinite character, of His wondrous ways, of His
as an object for thought: of His authoritative will
for will and conscience: aspiration towards Him.
God the Eternal Object.
To find Him in everything, and everything in Him, is
to be at rest.
This is what He promises--
Not a life of outward success and ease--much nobler
than if He did.
Take Abram's as a type.
In war He will be our Defence.
In absence of other joys He will be Enough.
Sphered and included in Him is all sweetness. He
relations, and does for us what these other joys and
The possession of His love should put away all fear,
Him we are not at the mercy of externals.
What, then, is Life as men ordinarily make it?--what
3. To possess God is enough for heaven.
Such a relationship is the great proof of
Christ and Sadducees.
The true glory of heaven is in fuller possession of
God: no doubt
other things, but these subsidiary.
The Reward is God.
The idea of recompense ample and full for all
More than adequate wages for all work.
That final reward will show how wise the wanderer
was, who left his
father's house and 'looked for a city.' God is not
ashamed to be
called their God.
Christ comes to us--offers Himself.
Think of how rich with Him, and oh, think of how
poor without Him!
Which will you have on earth?
Which will you have in another world?
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