“Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey’s colt.” – John 12:15
Fear is something God builds into us, it’s precautionary; it keeps us from endangering ourselves. Fear is also a motivator; it can motivate us to stay away from danger or move us forward toward what is good. But fear can also be negative and harmful. We can react to fear in a way that puts us into danger. We can be too afraid to grasp the hand that seeks to save us. Fear can be stifling. It can keep us from God’s best. Fear can keep us from doing what God wants us to do or experiencing all He desires to bless us with.
When Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem at the Triumphal Entry, the people proclaimed “Fear not”:
“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
Behold, your King is coming,
Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”
Biblical times could be fearful. The Romans often treated people harshly and could intrude on their lives in a life changing way in an instant. (Yes, governments have a constant way historically of intruding in the lives of people.) There wasn’t the medical knowledge that we have today so there was always a threat of the danger of disease. People lived in a mostly agrarian society so they were dependent on uncertain weather patterns to water and not wilt their harvests. There were many reasons to fear in Biblical times, but mostly with less solutions than we have today. (Though many would look at some of today’s “solutions” and say the solution is often worse than the problem it’s trying to solve.)
Fear – Greek Phobos
The dictionary definition of fear is, “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.” That danger could be physical danger that threatens your life or emotions connected with the thought of personal loss. We can be fearful of physical danger or illness. But we can fear other things too. The thought of losing a relationship, an opportunity, a possession, anything or anyone, can cause us to fear. These emotions can become very intense. Intense fear can result in a stoppage of the heart and death. The word “fearfulness” in Psalm 55:5 means to be full of dread. The word “horror” means literally shaking. We can shake with fear.
Phobos. The New Testament was written in Greek. The Greek term most commonly translated by the English word “fear” is phobos. While phobos can refer to reverence or respect, it is also used to express fright, panic, to flee or run away, terror, headlong flight, apprehension due to fear. It is a word frequently used to convey the idea of the fear of death. Phobos was even Greek mythological war god.
Fear is commonly associated with phobias. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines a phobia as “an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation.” There are numerous phobias classified by the mental health industry:
- Agoraphobia – the fear of places
- Acrophobia – the fear of heights
- Aerophobia – the fear of flying
- Arachnophobia – the fear of spiders
- Astraphobia – the fear of thunder and lightening
- Autophobia – the fear of being alone
- Claustrophobia – the fear of confined or crowded spaces
- Hydrophobia – the fear of waterThere are more unique phobias such as:
- Hemophobia – the fear of blood
- Ophidiophobia – the fear of snakes
- Alektorophobia – the fear of chickens
- Pogonophobia – the fear of beardsSome phobias we might be more familiar with are:
- Latrophobia – the fear of doctors
- Dentophobia – the fear of dentistsSome phobias more relevant to us might be:
- Ecclesisiophobia – the fear of churches
- Televisophobia (also mediaphobia) – the fear of watching television
- Prosopobibliophobia – the fear of social media
- Bibliophobia – the fear of booksThen lastly there is the fear of phobias, phobophobia.
There’s a lot of fear out there.
Presently our community, our state, our country, the world, is experiencing the COVID19 pandemic. The numbers of those infected with the virus is rising daily, as well as the numbers of those succumbing to the virus. You can argue about the statistics related to this pandemic. You can argue about whether or not some are using this for political purposes. You can even argue whether or not this should even be a pandemic. But what you can’t argue with is that this situation has heightened the fears of many. Quarantine and social distancing are now a part of our lives. Wearing protective gloves, scarves and masks are not a part of our gear if we have to go into public. We are being schooled about how and how long to wash your hands. Keeping in touch via phone calls, texts, social media, video-audio conferences, and emails are now necessities. Cabin fever and boredom versus how to spend quality time are issues we need to solve. We wonder, even fear, “how long can we go on like this?” The virus has put a halt to life in many ways. No more sports. No more movies. No more dining out. No more work for those whose jobs are deemed non-essential. No more going to the mall or places where people normally gather. We’re being discouraged from going outside at all. The economy was humming, unemployment was at an all-time low across the board, and now, that’s all lost. We fear for our financial futures. The rituals of rites of passage have been put on hold. Weddings are being postponed indefinitely. We put off the cancelations and notifications, waiting in hope. We fear the cost in time and money to change our plans. And on top of this are the fears of losing loved ones who are sick, and then, sometimes, the fear of having to handle the grieving for those that have been lost. Some are lost to the virus. Others are lost according to the regular course of life. Some are lost unexpectedly. But the virus makes grieving and go through the arrangements in such situations all the more painful. We wonder, and even fear, “What will we do, how will we honor the dead in such a time as this?”Church services, small group ministry meetings, fellowship, visitation, and the “normal” exercises of ministry have all been affected. We have been forced to improvise. That’s not an altogether a bad thing. We maintain contact and fellowship through video conferencing. But we wonder, even are tempted to fear, “how long can this go on?” We fear this.But listen. Did you know that the word “Corona” in Latin, means Crown? Maybe, just maybe the silver lining in the Corona virus is that it shakes us enough to come to the feet of King Jesus.
- To all of you who are fearful. To all of you being tempted to fear. I have a word for you. Fear not! King Jesus is coming!
God in His word exhorts us to “fear not!” The phrase, “fear not,” occurs 11 times in the Bible. The first time it occurs is when God tells Hagar to “fear not” that He would protect her and Ishmael her son (Genesis 21:17). The Lord told Daniel, the godly man of prayer and vision, as he lay spent on the ground sorrowing for his nation, He told him, “fear not!” (Daniel 10:19). The LORD told the Land to “fear not!” (Joel 2:21). But six of the eleven time this phrase is used, it is found in Isaiah (Isaiah 41:10, 13, 14; 43:1, 5; 44:2).
The phrase “Do not fear” occurs 51 times; 44 times in the Old Testament; seven times in the New Testament. The phrase, “Do not be afraid,” occurs 48 times in scripture. The word “afraid” occurs 214 times in the Bible. The word “fear,” 359 times. Fear is an important issue in the Bible.
Why Shouldn’t We Fear?
Why shouldn’t we fear? Well, we should fear God in a good sense, so that we depart from evil (Proverbs 8:13; 16:6). But as far as fearing or being afraid in a way that keeps us from God’s best, or paralyzing us from walking in faith, God tells us to fear not!
The Bible gives us the following reasons to fear not:
- Do not fear because God is with you – “Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,’ says the LORD” (Jeremiah 1:8; cf. also Exodus 3:12; Deut. 31:6 and 8; Josh. 1:5; Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 18:20; 28:20; Acts 4:31; 18:9-10; 23:11).
- Do not fear because the LORD is your Shepherd – “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. . .. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:1 and 4).
- Do not fear because God is your salvation and strength – “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).
- Do not fear because the LORD is your Helper – “I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The LORD is for me among those who help me; therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confident in man” (Psalm 118:5-8; Hebrews 13:6; cf. also Romans 8:31-32).
- Do not fear because you are greatly valued by God – “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31)
- Do not fear because the angels of God are on your side – “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (cf. 2 Kings 6:15-17). Pray to see God’s spiritual warfare realities (cf. also Eph. 6:10-18).
- Do not fear because the One inside you is greater than anyone in the world – “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). “He who is in you,” is the Holy Spirit (John 14:17; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 1:13-14; 1 John 3:24). Sometimes we need to take a four-by-four (i.e. 1 John 4:4) to the devil!
- Do not fear, because God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear – “For God has not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
- Do not fear because faith overcomes fear – In the storm Jesus rebuked the disciples saying, “Why are you fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40; 16:14). “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31). We have chosen fear-defeating, fear-overcoming faith – “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (1 John 5:4).
- Do not fear because nothing can separate us from God and His love – “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesu sour Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). We could come up with many more reasons not to fear. But when Jesus comes, He has a way of dissipating or blowing away our fears. That was true the very first time He came, even at His triumphal entry. Fear Not, King Jesus is Coming!Jesus gave the people reason not to fear. The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was a glorious event. Jesus was the compassionate yet courageous Rabbi. He was a Rabbi of the people so to speak. He didn’t see Himself or present Himself as above the people. He came as a Servant to minister to the people (Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 10:45; Luke 22:27; John 13). Jesus wasn’t aloof and separate from the people, He walked among them. He touched lepers (e.g. Matthew 8:3). Jesus was touchable. Jesus could be firm, but He was also perfectly balanced with kindness and mercy (e.g. John 8).Jesus, their problem solver. People joyfully welcomed the miracle working Jesus. They enthusiastically welcomed the One who could heal the unhealable (John 5:1-16; 9:), feed thousands with a few morsels (John 6:1-14), even walk on water and still the storm (John 6:15-21). Why, He could even get money out of a fish to pay their taxes (Matthew 17:24-27). To top it all off, Jesus even raised Lazarus from the dead! (John 11). Yes, they gave Jesus a warm welcome. They thought Him the answer to their every need. They even hoped He would free them from the tyranny of the Romans.And so, the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was a glorious welcoming of Someone the people expected to be a delivering King. They rolled out the red carpet for Jesus. They waved royalty-welcoming palm branches as He came. They cried out shouts of scripture in welcoming their long awaited “Messiah.”John’s gospel account of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, He records the scriptures proclaimed by those who welcomed Jesus as King:
John 12:12–16 (NKJV)
12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
The King of Israel!”
14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written:
15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
Behold, your King is coming,
Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”
16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
But John notes in verse 16 something important. What the disciples, and the people didn’t realize, and what they were unwilling to accept, was that Messiah Jesus would have two comings. They didn’t realize, and they refused to accept that His first coming would be as a suffering Servant (e.g. Isaiah 53), and that it would be His Second Coming in which He would come to reign as King (e.g. Rev. 19-20). Their disappointment would lead in part to their cries of “crucify Him!” They were short sighted and self-centered. As soon as Jesus didn’t meet their expectations, they offered Him up for the slaughter. Unfortunately, people continue to do the same to day in many ways.
Jesus did fulfill prophecy. He arrived for the triumphal entry into Jerusalem right on time (Daniel 9:24-27). He fulfilled the nearly 600-year old prophecy of Zechariah that Messiah would come into Jerusalem riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). This prophecy states:
Zechariah 9:9 (NKJV)
9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.
Now the attentive student of the Bible will notice that in Zechariah’s prophecy the prophet is inspired to advise the people to “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!” He doesn’t say, “Fear not, daughter of Zion!” Is that a misquote? No. God doesn’t inspire misquotes. What we have here is likely a combining of more than one portion of scripture in a quotation. You see, the chapter and verse designations weren’t added until the Middle Ages.
What was the other portion of scripture alluded to by the people at the Triumphal entry? It’s likely when they cried out “Fear not” that they were referring to the word of Isaiah in Isaiah 40.
Old Testament Context of His Coming
At the triumphal entry the people quoted from Isaiah 40. The context of the scripture they were referencing gives us firm reasons to not fear:
6 The voice said, “Cry out!”
And he said, “What shall I cry?”
“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.”
9 O Zion,
You who bring good tidings,
Get up into the high mountain;
You who bring good tidings,
Lift up your voice with strength,
Lift it up, be not afraid;
Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”
Isaiah’s inspired words speak prophetically. The people who received Jesus proved to be like withering grass (Isaiah 40:6-7). But the word of God “stands forever” nonetheless (Isaiah 40:8). Jesus came with “good tidings” and at the cross and through the resurrection provided the solution for the sins of the world (Isaiah 40:9). Through Isaiah the LORD told His people, “Behold your God!” but they would have none of it (Isaiah 40:9).
Those were glorious portions of scripture proclaimed with great joy toward Jesus. But we all know that a short time afterward, the people rejected Jesus as their King and called for His crucifixion. “Fear not daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming.” They did not realize the fear eradicating reality of Jesus. But many eventually did. Hopefully you have. I know I have. In a moment I will provide a way from scripture for you to make sure you are right with God.
Fear Not Now! Jesus is Coming Back!
Isaiah 40:10 speaks of a coming of the Lord that is yet future. It states:
Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand,
And His arm shall rule for Him;
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His work before Him.
11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
“Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him” (Isaiah 40:10). This speaks of another coming! And when He comes again, “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young” (Isaiah 40:11). Those last words should sooth any fearful soul who knows the Lord.
Just as the people quoted Isaiah 40:9 to “fear not” for their King was coming the first time, we can own the same verse with the knowledge that Jesus is coming back! The first time Jesus came as a sacrifice Lamb. The next time He comes He will come as a Warrior King to establish His kingdom on earth for 1000 years (Rev. 19-20). That should quell our fears.
Whatever our fears might be, the return of Jesus for His bride will cure them. Whatever is causing us to fear can be snuffed out in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:51-53). FEAR NOT, JESUS IS COMING BACK!
The Essential Step in Gaining Victory Over Your Fears – Are You Sure You’re Going to Heaven?
In His word, God has provided us with eternal redemptive truths. He has revealed to us the cause of humanities problems as well as His solution to those problems. This includes His solution to our overwhelming fears. A close relationship with God in Christ by faith is the solution to overcoming overwhelming fears. When we fear, we need to run to Jesus. When we fear, we need to run into His arms by faith. But when we do that, we stumble and are tripped up by the entanglements of sin. Sin keeps us from God and His fear-soothing strong arms.
But don’t fear, God, in His word lays out good news of how to resolve the sin problems we have. You can know for sure that you are going to heaven when you die. Overcoming that great fear, the fear of death and the “unknown,” is the essential step to overcoming all other fears. Below are scriptures to walk you through God’s gracious saving provision for sins, and for your fears.
The Bible states you can know for sure whether or not you are going to heaven?
- 1 John 5:13 – “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
How can you know for sure?
Realize eternal life involves personally knowing God –
- John 17:3 – “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Realize sin separates people from Holy God –
- Psalm 66:18 – “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear”
- Isaiah 59:2 – “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you”
- Habakkuk 1:13 – “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness”
Realize you are a sinner –
- Exodus 20:1-17 – Examine and assess yourself by the Ten Commandments
- 2 Corinthians 13:5 – “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?”
- Romans 3:10 – “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one”
- Romans 3:23 – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
- Galatians 3:10 – “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”
- James 2:10 – “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”
Realize there is a penalty for sin –
- Romans 6:23a – “For the wages of sin is death,”
Realize you need to be saved from your sins –
- Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- Ephesians 2:8–9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
- Titus 3:5 – 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,
Realize Jesus paid the penalty for you –
- Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Realize your salvation is a free gift from God that requires only a repentant heart faith decision from you to receive it – To “repent” means to confess to God and forsake your sin. To “believe” or have “faith” unto salvation means Forsaking All (others or other means of salvation) I Trust Him.
- Acts 3:19-20 – “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you”
- Acts 16:31 – “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved”
- John 1:12 – “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name”
Realize salvation is a matter of the heart –
- Acts 8:36–38 – Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.
- Romans 10:10 – “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Realize now is the time to call on God to be saved from your sins –
- Romans 10:13 – For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
- 2 Corinthians 6:2 – “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
A SALVATION PRAYER:
If you believe the above Gospel and are willing to trust in Jesus with all your heart as Savior, if you want the forgiveness of sins and eternal life God in this Gospel freely offers to you, with all your heart, pray this prayer:
“Dear God, I have sinned and disobeyed Your Laws. I admit I deserve eternal punishment. But I repent; I confess my sins to You and forsake them. I ask that You please forgive me, not because of any good works I have done, but because I believe Jesus paid the just penalty for my sins by dying for me on the cross. I believe He rose from the dead. I believe that with all my heart. I receive it by faith, as a gift of Your grace. Help me to live for You. Please Holy Spirit fill me, give me spiritual life, eternal life. Please help me to know you Father, Son Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit. Help me grow in a relationship with You. Hold me tight in Your arms when I fear. Help me to overcome my fears. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Now, begin praying and reading your Bible daily, regularly. Find a church that believes in and teaches the Bible as the word of God. Find a church where the Gospel is preached and people believe in being born again. Find such a church and become a part of your new eternal family. And tell someone else about what God has done for you. Don’t go by feelings, live by faith in Jesus. He is faithful. He will help you. Remember this:
2 Corinthians 5:17 – 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
1 Corinthians 10:13 – 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
2 Timothy 2:15 – 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
2 Timothy 3:16–17 – 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
 The Greek term phobos can also be translated reverence, or respect. There is a kind of fear we need; the fear of the Lord. Though we often flee our fears, fear is not all bad. The Bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7) and the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). It says the fear of the Lord is “to hate evil” (Proverbs 8:13). The psalmist wrote that the fear of the Lord is “clean, enduring forever” (Psalm 19:9). The fear of the Lord is something God feels we need to learn (Psalm 34:11).
 Robert Langston inserted chapter divisions around 1227. The Wycliffe English Bible of 1382 was the first English Bible to do this. The Old Testament was given verse designations by Rabbi Nathan in 1448. Robert Estienne – Stephanus – divided the New Testament into verses in 1555.