Fear is one of the most debilitating emotions known to the human race. It’s unbelievably powerful. It penetrates the heart and paralyzes the soul. Even after saying that, there are situations where fear can be helpful to us. For example, when a semi truck has crossed the center line of the highway and is headed toward your car fear will prompt you to swerve and avoid the potential collision. There is a phobia called Hadephobia. It’s derived from two Greek words: Hades (hell) and phobos (fear). Thus, hadephobia is the “fear of hell.” In one sense, hadephobia is normal and natural because the Bible tells us hell is a scary place. Jesus described hell as a place of darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth. Of all the phobias and fears out there, hadephobia should not be one that concerns the true follower of Jesus Christ. The world tends to make a joke out of hell and to speak flippantly of it. Hell becomes a mere curse word and people entertain thoughts that hell will be a place to party eternally with their friends. Nothing could be further from the truth. According to Jesus, hell is a fearsome and dreadful place that you want to avoid at all costs. You don’t have to fear hell if you have placed your faith in Jesus and have been forgiven by Him through repentance and confession of your sins.
Scriptures – Psalm 23:1-4, 116:15; Isaiah 43:1-2; Matthew 10:28; 1 Corinthians 15:55; Hebrews 13:5b-6; Revelation: 20:6a, 20:14-15, 21:8
Verse – Even 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 23:4
Thought – In one of the most beloved passages in the Bible, the Good Shepherd (Jesus) tells the sheep (His followers) how to face their inevitable death without fear. In present day Israel, there is an actual valley called, “the valley of the shadow of death.” The Psalmist David compared that valley to death. He emphatically stated that he would walk through that valley of death someday. Do you realize that human beings are the only creatures who know they were born to die? The Old Testament Hebrew word for “though” in Psalm 23 could be better translated “when.” It would then read, “Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” Death will come to all of us. It’s only a question of when.
Questions – Did you ever have a fear of hell? If so, explain. What is the dumbest thing you have heard about hell? What is your biggest fear concerning your own death? When was the last time you had a conversation about death and hell? What is your favorite part of Psalm 23? If it were possible, would you like to know in advance when you were scheduled to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death?”
Response – Spend time thanking Jesus Christ for making it possible for you to have your name written in the Book of Life (Revelation 21:8). If you don’t believe your name is in that book, and you want it there, then repent and accept God’s forgiveness of your sins.
Prayer – Dear Gracious and Holy God, I’m so grateful that Jesus has made it possible, by His death and resurrection, for me to have my name written in the Book of Life. Because my name is there, I don’t have to fear death and I know I will live eternally with You. Thank you, thank you, thank you, in the precious name of Jesus I pray. Amen.