Fear, Guilt and Psalm 131:2
Fear can be a crippling emotion. Under the influence of fear people become paralyzed and cannot follow the directives of their brains. Even worse is when the brain itself fails to think logically because it is overwhelmed by the power of fear.
Guilt can also be a crippling emotion. A misplaced sense of guilt can discourage a person from doing what ought to be done. Even worse is when the sense of guilt warps our thinking process and distorts our view of reality.
The masters of persuasion are aware of the power of these emotions and they attempt to harness the forces of fear and guilt in their campaign for possession of the hearts of men.
“Do you want to dwell in the fiery darkness of hell for all eternity?”
“Don’t you realize how evil you are with all of your sins? How can you think of facing the Holy God?”
“He suffered and died for you; how can you even think of turning your back on him?”
“You either belong to Jesus or you belong to Satan; there is no middle ground.”
These statements are not designed to help you make a balanced, educated and sensible decision. These arguments of the masters of persuasion are not presented to the courtroom of your mind with respect for the process that you would normally follow in order to arrive at an honest conclusion. These statements harness the forces of fear and guilt in an attempt to get you to over-ride the logical process. The missionary arguments attempt to move you to give your heart to Jesus without thinking through the matter carefully and deliberately.
How can we overcome the forces of fear and guilt? How can we think patiently and deliberately when the emotions of fear and guilt loom so threatening?
I only know of one way to brush these powerful emotions aside. This is the path that King David spells out so clearly in his beautiful songs. This is the path of trust in God.
David found himself in situations where he could have been completely engulfed and swallowed by fear and guilt. Throughout the Psalms David describes the forces that threaten him; be they his enemies or his own sins. And throughout the Psalms we find that David’s heart is only facing in one direction – towards His Father in heaven. When we read the Psalms we see how David’s trust in God filled his heart with confidence and security. We can feel the calmness and the peace in David’s heart no matter what and no matter when.
Why was David so secure in God? Did David think that his good works earned him a special spot in God’s heart? Did David think that God “owes him one” because he took a “leap of faith” and gave his heart to God? Did David think that he was “covered” by the right type of sacrifice which gave him a unique standing with God?
The answer is none of the above.
David trusted in God because God is merciful. David trusted God because God’s kindness fills the earth. David trusted God because He has compassion upon all of His creations. David trusted God because God is our Father and your Father loves you (Psalm 131:2).
We can all be David. We can all be confident and secure in God’s love and mercy. God is the Father of every one of us just as He is David’s Father. We can overcome the emotion of panic and the sense of guilt when we realize that God is with us every step of the way.
The masters of persuasion are aware that your trust in God can overcome their weapons of fear and guilt. The last thing these masters of persuasion want you to do is to face God with all of your fears and all of your guilt with confidence and security as David did before you. The masters of persuasion will do anything to prevent you from facing your Father with the simplicity, the love and the security that a child feels when he is cradled in the arms of his mother.
David’s wise son; Solomon taught us that God hates one who “stirs up strife between brothers” (Proverbs 6:19). The masters of persuasion are not satisfied to stir up strife amongst brothers. They need to stir up strife between the Father and His children. They do everything in their power to convince children that they cannot face their own Father without the agency of the “hero” that they are promoting. They try to convince you that your Father won’t look at you while you are stained with sin. They try to discourage you from talking directly to your own Father without the “covering sacrifice” of their idol.
But a child always has the heart of his or her Father. Look at how Daniel dealt with his own guilt and the guilt of his people. During the time of Israel’s exile and dispersion Daniel offered up a lengthy prayer of confession. In this prayer he shamefully admits his own wickedness and the wickedness of his people (Daniel 9:3-20). I would like to draw your attention to the introduction to this prayer and to its conclusion. Daniel introduces his prayer by telling us that he “set his face towards the Lord God” (verse 3). Daniel knew that his own Father would never spurn him despite his sin and guilt. Daniel knew that he could always “set his face” towards his own Father.
Daniel concludes his prayer by telling God: “it is not upon our own righteousness that we pour out our supplications before You but upon Your abundant mercy” (verse 18). With all of his guilt Daniel was still confident and secure in the abundant mercy of his heavenly Father.
As David and Daniel before us we can be secure and confident in God’s mercy and love. We can put our fears and our guilt aside and stride forward along the path of truth; asking honest questions and seeking honest answers. Don’t let anyone tell you that the path of honesty will take you away from the God of truth. As you move forward on the path of honesty you can be sure that you have the heart of the God of truth and that He is with you every step of the way.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
We are in a situation where we are feeling blocked in doing what is right. I received an e-mail from a congress person, who said she saw the only alternative was to fight on the floor what is wrong, as the Democractic control Senat would block what they do not like.
I wondered; what happened to the old American get up and fight for the right?
Answer, we are getting to complecent. Some say; “Why bother? The enimy shall do what they want.”
My responce is; “You may not win this battle, but you can leave a record of supporting what you believe is right. so get off you bunns and seek/pursue justice. Moses last words to us were; “Righteousness, righteouness, you shall pursue!” He did not promise a secure win, just that we have the responsibility to “Do, and to learn.”
Tanach tells us what to do. you and I have the responsibility to obey. HaShem said it, I believe it.
thank You, What a great way to remind us of G-ds love. Maybe, G-d makes us dependant on our parents for so long, un like animals, so even when we make mistakes we learn they still change our diapers, still feed us, still love us. If adult humans can for give children their errors, how much more can we trust G-d, of infinite wisdom, mercy and love would do the same.
From my years of military service, I’ve seen how “fear” as a tactic is used, but you need much more than that to build successful teams and individuals who can survive the “hell” of stress and hardships that they will go through. I’ve seen “brokenness” and have dealt with evil that most people will never know. And from my farm/ranch experiences, I’ve managed wildlife and livestock; I’ve seen horses “broke” and ive seen the difference between the “world-view” of goats and that of sheep. And in the church, I’ve seen how the guilt of sin and the fear of “hell” is used to break you & get you in their church and then how it is used to keep you broken in order to keep you there. I’ve seen several people who each spent over 20 very loyal & dedicated years in a church until they finally caught a glimpse of another side of their well-liked and respected, humble & Godly leaders that some outsiders have seen. That pastor and the church are actually quite typical of evangelical, “fundamentalist” churches (actually far better than most), but there is an underlying, fundamental problem with the theology, that I got with my first impressions.
There are dualistic images of Jesus-Yeshua in the NT as well. In Matthew 5:45. we read, “so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” Sounds correct & good, right? But for those who over emphasize the “fallen man” concept, we have in Matthew 5:48. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” So people can indeed be perfect and righteous?
Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 7:11. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Then in Matthew 10:29-35, after being told we have more value than many sparrows that God, the Father, is concerned about and that the Father even knows the number of hairs on your head, still we are told that God needs Jesus to give him knowledge about his children and He needs Jesus’s “Ok” before He can have anything to do with us, since “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.”
Now, we are told that the “curtain in the temple was torn” so that all people can now enter with ease in the “holies”; without rituals or sacrifices or priests. But, in Matthew 7:14-15. “For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Here is the prophet and the “lamb of God” saying, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” And, “… I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother…” And in John 9:39, Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that … those who do see may become blind.”
Guilt? The “only” way to “OUR Father, in Heaven”? Which verses for which image are we to select from?
In a nut-shell, the writers were looking for a way to explain the un-Explainable.
Paul ran across this, with the G-dfearing Gentiles. The three items that kept them from converting, Paul told them-don’w worrry! G-d shall provide, if you do your part.
This is what Judaism emphasized, then, and we try to share today. All of us have to deal with good and bad days, but when I stop, and look, or listen, it is me who messed up. So I try to keep a level line of thinking, and encourage others to do the same.
Why it does not matter what lable you wear, but how you deal with the stress of what you have.
As an Officer in Metro, I got a glimps of what you talk about. My approached work with all “races” and srata of people, so I have an idea of what I am talking about.
Also, of what I read. Thank all of you.
Yes, I agree that the type of message you noted above (i.e., “Do you want to dwell in the fiery darkness of hell for all eternity?”) is not found in Scripture. I imagine some do not mean it as a “weapon” (and likely do not consider themselves particularly persuasive, either) but rather are misinterpreting things they have read or heard. Nonetheless, I have been appalled at some of the messages of “good news” that I have heard.
There is a fine line between acknowledging our own guilt, sin, and shame before a Holy G-d (as seen in the many, many Scriptures that depict the most godly men doing exactly that) and using it to manipulate. We do need to approach Scripture in truth and humility, seeking to thoroughly know and worship G-d personally, first and foremost. Too many people try to spread a message they have somehow come to believe G-d must want them to say before ever knowing Him personally at all — and thus the message is not even His message. How very sad that is!
As for the Scripture G-d has given us, there are many, many things we cannot fully comprehend — and not just how to balance the verses in which G-d shows a clear condemnation for and judgment of sin (including His descriptions of the curses that will be the outcome of it) with those that describe His infinitely amazing mercy, love, redemption, and forgiveness.
For example, the order of events as described in Genesis 1 does not seem to line up with the order of the same events described again in Genesis 2. However, it has been interesting for me to study that a bit more in terms of other perspectives and to realize that some other cultures do not think in terms of chronology/contradictions in the same way that we do. Instead, they have no problem mentioning events in order of importance, once the chronology has already been established, even if that means listing them the second time out of order.
That is just one of many, many such puzzling issues I have encountered in the Tanakh. Some things I do not fully understand, but I am thankful that I know the One who DOES understand all of these things — and the journey to know HIM more deeply through Scripture is truly amazing!