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Fear Yahweh

Fear Yahweh.

Written by Mike Biolsi on .

Notes

As we wrap up this last section of teaching before the 12 were sent out, Jesus spells out some expectations. He KNOWS they will be rejected and some will be hostile towards the disciples. He already told them that. This last section is instruction on how to live in the face of persecution. This is a teaching that has some specific implications for these 12, but also has broader application to all disciples of Jesus. 

In essence this is the perpetual battle of living for earthly vs heavenly. It is a theme we were taught in the sermon on the hill and continue here. 

Matthew 10:25–42 CSB

25 It is enough for a disciple to become like his teacher and a slave like his master. If they called the head of the house ‘Beelzebul,’ how much more the members of his household! 

 

26 “Therefore, don’t be afraid of them, since there is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered and nothing hidden that won’t be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light. What you hear in a whisper, proclaim on the housetops. 28 Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. 30 But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 

 

32 “Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge me before others, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever denies me before others, I will also deny him before my Father in heaven. 34 Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to turn 

 

a man against his father, 

 

a daughter against her mother, 

 

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 

 

36 and a man’s enemies will be 

 

the members of his household. 

 

37 The one who loves a father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; the one who loves a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Anyone who finds his life will lose it, and anyone who loses his life because of me will find it. 

 

40 “The one who welcomes you welcomes me, and the one who welcomes me welcomes him who sent me. 41 Anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. And anyone who welcomes a righteous person because he’s righteous will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward.”

Be Like Jesus

Matthew 10:25 CSB

25 It is enough for a disciple to become like his teacher and a slave like his master. If they called the head of the house ‘Beelzebul,’ how much more the members of his household!

It is enough for a disciple to be like his teacher. WOW! Jesus told his disciples that they can expect to become like him. Not that they become gods, but they speak and act like him - doing the things he does and saying what he says.  ⚡

Ephesians 4:15 CSB

15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ.

This final section is an encouragement to carry the name of Jesus with them. Be like HIM. 

However, if we act like him we can expect to also be treated the way he was.

They should not expect to be persecuted if they were not living the same way that The Way did. Later, the disciples will be beaten and jailed for saying and doing Jesus things. That also means we should expect the same treatment as Jesus as well! Jesus said, “if they called me this, they will also call you that.” 

Who are THEY/THEM?  These personal pronouns refer to “those” that rejected Jesus. In the immediate context it is the religious leaders that said Jesus was possessed:

Matthew 9:34 CSB

34 But the Pharisees said, “He drives out demons by the ruler of the demons.”

We should expect that we will grow up to be like Jesus, and we should expect that we will be treated no better than Jesus who was wrongly accused, unfairly tried, beaten and killed. 

Be Fearless

Matthew 10:26–30 CSB

26 “Therefore, don’t be afraid of them, since there is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered and nothing hidden that won’t be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light. What you hear in a whisper, proclaim on the housetops. 28 Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. 30 But even the hairs of your head have all been counted.

This is a fantastic section that teaches that God will judge the actions of those that oppose us and reject him - so we do not have to fear. In contrast, those that follow him experience his care.

Do NOT fear those that oppose Jesus OR those that oppose you because you acknowledge Jesus. 

INSTEAD fear Yahweh. 

Do NOT fear physical death or those that can kill you. 

INSTEAD fear spiritual death and the eternity that awaits.

Let’s unpack this a little. Don’t fear those who kill the body:

In some cultures, even today, to accept Jesus is to be cut off from your family or even killed. Radical Muslims in Nigeria seem to be in the news a lot over the past few years.  Just last month a student was killed for professing Jesus:

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)A female student in northern Nigeria was killed by a mob who stoned, beat and set fire to her for allegedly posting a blasphemous statement against the Prophet Mohammed, according to police.

https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/13/africa/female-student-blasphemy-attack-intl/index.html

This year, Nigeria is actually #7 on the world watch list for places hostile to Christians. What is even more interesting is that the primary religion in Nigeria is Christianity! It is the only one in the top 29 most hostile that is predominantly Christian.  Check out https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/

While we do not face this kind of persecution on the United States, there are many people who have accepted Jesus as their Savior with the full understanding that it could cost them their lives. 

We are told not to fear those that can destroy the body but fear God. 

This was prefaced by, “a student is not above his teacher”. 

In hindsight, we can see that Jesus was persecuted and even killed. If he was beaten and killed for obedience to the Father, we should not expect to be free from harm.  Nor should we bee looking for it! (DAVID - wise as serpents and innocent as doves). 

The word “fear” is “phobeo” from which we get “phobia” meaning to be afraid. The Greek word also means to be in awe, to worry, discomfort or to be afraid. The question in our passage is whom do you fear? ⚡

Acts 10:34–35 CSB

34 Peter began to speak: “Now I truly understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, 35 but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

We are told to fear the one that can destroy completely, and THEN we are told that this same God knows every detail about us and values us above all creation.  Let’s read verses 28-30 again: ⚡

Matthew 10:28–31 (CSB)

28 Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. 30 But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Fear God because to NOT fear him leads to destruction. But if you fear God you do not need to be afraid of him, because he knows you and cares for you. 

No matter what human example I try to give to help us understand this, it will inevitably fall short. I grew up only being afraid of my father when I had done something wrong - when I failed to fear him. Sadly, not everyone can say that. 

Because I fear the law and follow it, I do not have to panic or worry when I drive past a police officer or speed trap. Sadly, not everyone in this country feels that way. 

I guess that is the point. There are those that are bent on destruction and lawlessness and they will go out of their way to hurt and even kill people. But we need not fear them if we fear Yahweh. Not because we are promised protection from abuse or physical death, but because we are given life that can never be taken away and love that we can never be separated from!

Romans 8:35–39 (CSB)

35 Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: 

Because of you 

we are being put to death all day long; 

we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. 

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 ⚡For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Be Confident

Your faith cannot be a secret!

The message and the love of Christ that we have received is to be proclaimed on the housetops - for public consumption! We also must not deny him, but live for him and bear his name to our communities and our homes. 

Matthew 10:32–33 CSB

32 “Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge me before others, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever denies me before others, I will also deny him before my Father in heaven.

I think this is something we need to reclaim - boldly being associated with Jesus. We should never be shy about our association with Jesus, and the worst thing we could be is apologetic! 

There is no reason to back down on our belief in Jesus. I can assure you that wishy-washy followers are not attractive to those that need Jesus. People are looking for a cause, and finding all sorts of them that are not godly, because so many of the people of God are not demonstrating that “The Cause” is the one worth living for!

DENY -  in this context with his accusers saying he is a son of the devil, to deny Jesus should be understood as to deny him as Messiah. Remember, Peter will later deny Jesus 3 times and yet he is the one Jesus says the church would be built upon. Obviously, Peter’s denial of knowing Jesus did not get him expelled from the presence of God and rejected by Jesus. He failed and repented and was restored. 

Be confident. Stand with Jesus - he stood for you and will stand with you and that is what really matters!

Be Committed.

Matthew 10:34–39 CSB

34 Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to turn 

 

a man against his father, 

 

a daughter against her mother, 

 

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 

 

36 and a man’s enemies will be 

 

the members of his household. 

 

37 The one who loves a father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; the one who loves a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Anyone who finds his life will lose it, and anyone who loses his life because of me will find it.

You are not committed until you have paid a price. There is no commitment if there is no skin in the game - it is too easy to back out. Jesus said the ante was pretty high Matt 10:38 “And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” 

The Cross. 

Why did Jesus use the image of taking up a cross here? He is still teaching on the kingdom and has not yet started really teaching the disciples about his impending death. 

Knowing the end of the story, this makes sense to us - of course Jesus was referring to his coming death. But, they didn’t know that! Jesus will willing to give up his life, and in the process be forced to carry a cross. Here, he is commanding his followers to willingly take up a cross - willingly give up their lives even it is hard and painful.

The cost of following Jesus is EVERYTHING.  ⚡

Galatians 6:14 CSB

14 But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world.

There is a cost that Jesus will continue to remind his disciples of. It could be the rejection of family or the literal giving on their lives. This is a bit prophetic for some of the apostles and still happens to disciples of Jesus today. 

The lack of peace in the homes, and a sword, speaks of the division that Jesus can cause in a family. Some family and friends will disown you if you take the name of Jesus. Some will not want to hear about Jesus. Some may even be disowned. 

As a Christian with a family of Jesus followers I thank God that I have not experienced this. However, some of you may come from homes that are divided on Jesus with some sold out and others who reject. Jesus is telling us, no matter how gut wrenching it may be, that this is to be expected. He is the stone the builders rejected, a rock of stumbling, and a sword that divides. 

WHY?

Because the gospel requires a response: you either deny Jesus is the chosen one of of God who died for your sins, or you accept him. There is no middle ground, no riding the fence.  Jesus clarified a little more:

Matthew 10:39 CSB

39 Anyone who finds his life will lose it, and anyone who loses his life because of me will find it.

We have to choose to love Jesus more than… family. More than work. More than food. More than life itself. To lose this life to Jesus is to be granted eternal life. It is to trade the mortal for the immortal. 

Matthew 10:35 CSB

35 For I came to turn 

 

a man against his father, 

 

a daughter against her mother, 

 

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;

The quote is from Micah 7:6 “Surely a son considers his father a fool, a daughter opposes her mother, and a daughter-in-law is against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own household.”  Micah 7 is actually a very good parallel to Matthew 10. 

Why would Jesus reference this passage? Matthew is big on demonstrating how Jesus fulfills the prophecies of the Law and Prophets. I believe this is the case here as well. Let’s take a peek at Micah chapter 7.

In the beginning of Micah 7, he makes a case that the leaders have become corrupt and the people unclean - they have stopped fearing God. Chapter 7 is the end of his scroll and Micah turns to God with his cry:

Micah 7:14–15 CSB

14 Shepherd your people with your staff, 

 

the flock that is your possession. 

 

They live alone in a woodland 

 

surrounded by pastures. 

 

Let them graze in Bashan and Gilead 

 

as in ancient times. 

 

15 I will perform miracles for them 

 

as in the days of your exodus 

 

from the land of Egypt.

The Shepherd

First, note that God is to be the shepherd of Israel, leading the sheep to good pasture. When we looked at those verses we saw that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and was claiming equality with Yahweh and an answer to Micah’s prayer! 

The disciples were sent out to, “the lost sheep of Israel”. Jesus felt compassion because the people were like “sheep without a shepherd”. In another sense, this demonstrates how much Jesus empowered his disciples and how he truly expected them to be like him!

The Miracles

Second, note that miracles would be performed like the days of the exodus. We mentioned how Jesus is the “new Moses”, and the miracles he did were “never seen before” in Israel. Again, we see that Micah, in referring to Yahweh, was also referring to the Messiah. 

And he was sending out his apostles to perform the same kinds of miracles. Again, we can see how Jesus was expecting his disciples to reflect him, to represent him and the Father. 

At the end of Micah 7, the end of his scroll, we read this:

Micah 7:18–20 CSB

18 Who is a God like you, 

 

forgiving iniquity and passing over rebellion 

 

for the remnant of his inheritance? 

 

He does not hold on to his anger forever 

 

because he delights in faithful love. 

 

19 He will again have compassion on us; 

 

he will vanquish our iniquities. 

 

You will cast all our sins 

 

into the depths of the sea. 

 

20 You will show loyalty to Jacob 

 

and faithful love to Abraham, 

 

as you swore to our ancestors 

 

from days long ago.

The Forgiveness.

The theology of the Jews was deep with references of God forgiving sin: ⚡

Psalm 103:11–12 CSB

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 

 

so great is his faithful love 

 

toward those who fear him. 

 

12 As far as the east is from the west, 

 

so far has he removed 

 

our transgressions from us.

Forgiving iniquities - forgiving sin - is something Jesus did, and we commented about that equating Jesus with Yahweh. We looked at this in chapter 9:1-8.  Jesus forgave sin. He is God. 

Blessing the Nations

And the final line in the scroll of Micah says that Yahweh will show loyalty to Jacob and Abraham. 

Jacob wrestled with God for his blessing.

Abraham was promised to be a blessing to all the nations. 

Jesus is the one who fulfilled and is fulfilling the promise to Abraham! 

All of this is seen in the writing of Micah, 700+ years before Jesus was born. As Jesus referenced these words he was

connecting himself with Yahweh

reminding his disciples that the unjust will be judged

encouraging his disciples that God will bless those who, like Micah, remain true to him, even when evil and destruction are all around them. 

Regardless of the culture around us we must remain committed. We may experience corrupt or ungodly leadership - stay committed. We may face hostility from our family or friends - stay committed. 

Be refreshed.

Jesus shifts from this heavy topic of sacrifice and persecution and talks about a cup of cold water - refreshing. 

Matthew 10:40–42 CSB

40 “The one who welcomes you welcomes me, and the one who welcomes me welcomes him who sent me. 41 Anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. And anyone who welcomes a righteous person because he’s righteous will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward.”

ASK: can someone tell me what this means to them?

I think, when we read this passage we often apply it backwards. What do I mean? We most frequently apply these verses as, “when I welcome others, or do kind things to others, I am doing them for Jesus”.  This spins off the parable of the sheep and goats Jesus will teach later in chapter 25. 

Jesus is speaking to the disciples and said, “when someone welcomes YOU welcomes me.” 

Have you ever really thought about that? When you carry the name of Jesus the way people treat YOU is the way they are treating Jesus because you are his! 

First, that should amaze us that Jesus would lavish that kind of identity and authority on us!

Second, it should remind us of the importance of accepting hospitality! If someone does something for me, and that means they are doing it for Jesus, to NOT allow them to do that thing is to rob them of doing something for Jesus.  I mention this because I know we generally would much rather give than receive.

Summary

We talked about structure before we started chapter 10 and saw that it was broken down into 3 sections which each end in “amen” (truly I tell you). But there is another structure in chapter 10 that I did not notice until reading and studying for this message. Chapter 10 is a chiasm: ⚡

A. Go to the Jews & accept hospitality (5-15)

B. You will be persecuted (16-20)

C. You will be hated by family (21-23)

D. A student is like his teacher (24-25)

E. Fear God, not men (26-31)

D. Acknowledge Jesus, be his student (32-33)

C. Jesus will cause division in families (34-37)

B. Willingly give up your life for Jesus (38-39)

A. Hospitality towards you is also to Jesus (40-42)

When you have a chiastic structure like this the center of it is often meant to be the focal point. 

The fear of Yahweh is the focal point.  ⚡

You are only willing to be persecuted if you fear God and understand his love for you. You are only willing to love God more than family when you fear him. When you fear God and understand the life he offers, you cannot imagine why anyone would want to cling to this world and mortality. And when you live in the fear of God, others will bless you and in doing so bless God. 

I think if every disciple of Jesus lived by that mantra, the kingdom of God would grow! The harvest would be great! And our joy as disciples would be immense!

Who do you fear?

May that be our meditation this week as we carry the name of Jesus with us in our homes, our work and our neighborhoods. 

 


Fear Yahweh

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North Country Fellowship Church
NCF was started in 1987 to minister to the growing population of Fort Drum and Jefferson County. Located in Carthage, just minutes away from Ft Drum, Lowville and Watertown, it is a blended congregation of local and military folks, single soldiers, young families and grandparents.