Song of the Drunkards


JESUS FACED A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF OPPOSITION FOR HIS HARD WORDS AND UNFLINCHING DEVOTION TO YAHWEH. NO SURPRISE THEN IF WE FIND OUR NAME FESTOONED IN BARROOM BALLADS (CF. PS 69:12).


The Fear of Man

October 3, 2021 in Bible - OT - Isaiah, Fear, Meditations

Isaiah 51:12–13 

12“I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid Of a man who will die, And of the son of a man who will be made like grass? 13And you forget the Lord your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens And laid the foundations of the earth; You have feared continually every day Because of the fury of the oppressor, When he has prepared to destroy. And where is the fury of the oppressor? 

Jesus warns in Revelation 20 that “the cowardly” will not inherit the kingdom of God but will instead be cast into the lake that burns with fire. As we meditated on His warning, we said that cowardice is shown whenever we turn away from a good purpose in the face of opposition because of fear. And we have begun to explore the different types of fear that make us cowardly. Last week we examined the fear of death; this week, the fear of man. 

In Isaiah’s day there was much to fear. All Judah had been overrun by the Assyrians and the city of Jerusalem had only been delivered when God sent an angel and slew 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. While the Assyrians had now departed, the country was still suffering. Judah was weak, exposed to the competing influences of Egypt in the south and Babylon to the north. There was much to fear.

In our day there is much to fear as well. Eroding trust. Government overreach. New variants of Covid. Loss of employment. Inflation. Political turmoil. The rise of China. The corruption of the Church. The criticism of friends and family. The advancement of the LGBTQ agenda. The erosion of our historic liberties. The breakdown of the family. There is much to fear.

But in our text today, God reminded our fathers and reminds us that when there is much to fear from men we are to saturate ourselves with the fear of God. We are to meditate on the goodness and greatness of God. First, we are to meditate on His goodness. The Lord says through Isaiah, “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid Of a man who will die, And of the son of a man who will be made like grass?” The Lord is our Comforter and our Redeemer. In Christ, He has delivered us from our sin, reconciled us to Himself, and granted us access into His very presence through the blood of Jesus. At any and all times we have access to Him who loved us and gave His Son to die for us and who will, with Jesus, freely give us all things. So why are we afraid of a man who will die, and a son of men who will wither like grass?

Second, when we are tempted to fear man, we are to mediate on the greatness of God. “Who are you that you should be afraid Of a man who will die…? 13And you forget the Lord your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens And laid the foundations of the earth?” The power of man is as nothing compared with the power of God. God is the Creator and Sustainer of all. And since we are in the hands of Almighty God, need we be afraid of a man who will die? Does He fear the plots and schemes and actions of the wicked? No! Therefore, we need not fear. 

The way to fight the fear of man, therefore, is by feeding our souls on the greatness and the goodness of God. God is great – His power is beyond anything that any man can do to us. And God is good – He promises to work all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Hence, we need not fear man. Jesus reminded the disciples:

28And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 

So what of you? Have you feared man? Have you neglected to meditate on the greatness and goodness of God? I have. So reminded of the greatness and the goodness of our God and of our calling to shun the fear of man, let us confess our fear to the Lord. And as you are able, let us kneel before the Lord as we confess. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

The Fear of Death

September 26, 2021 in Bible - NT - Hebrews, Fear, Meditations

Hebrews 2:14–15 

14Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 

Last week we saw that Jesus warned “the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars” that they would be cast into the lake that burns with fire. It is that first category that we studied last week – the cowardly. We said that cowardice is shown whenever we turn away from a good purpose in the face of opposition because of fear. 

So today I want to explore one of the types of fear that drives us to be cowardly – the fear of death. Ever since Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the garden, death has been a part of human existence. While there have been a couple who have escaped its sting – Enoch and Elijah – most have faced the horrors of death. David cried out:

3The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. 4Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!” (Ps 116:3-4)

Likewise, our Lord Jesus faced death. In the words of our text today, He partook of flesh and blood, He became incarnate, and then gave Himself over to death in order that He might conquer death. He sacrificed His life “that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” Death had been the devil’s tool to keep the nations in darkness and ignorance. So Jesus broke the power of death in order that He might release mankind from the fear of death. Jesus died and rose again so that we might live in sure and certain hope of the resurrection. Jesus died and rose again so that we might proclaim, “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Cor 15:55). Jesus died and rose again so that we might not be afraid of death.

Brothers and sisters, this is a message our culture desperately needs to hear, is it not? Family, friends, and neighbors are living in fear of death. The Covid pandemic has exposed this fear. Many have no hope beyond this life; others have vague notions of life after death; many Christians have lost sight of the Christian hope of the resurrection. The fear of death has prompted some to use the power of the state to curtail our liberties; it has prompted others to surrender these liberties. Jesus has come to free us from such bondage by freeing us from the fear of death. Death has no hold on us for our Lord Jesus has gone before us and broken death’s jaws. He has risen triumphant from the dead as the first fruits of the resurrection, the guarantee that we too shall rise.

So what of you? Have you meditated deeply on the sure and certain hope of the resurrection? Remember that death is still an enemy. Death would try to frighten and debilitate us. But, brothers and sisters, death is a defeated foe. Christ is Risen! (He is Risen, indeed!) So let us remind one another of this hope, let us speak of it to our children, our friends and our family. Let us share with others the reason for the hope that is in us. Or have you been afraid? Afraid of their censure? Afraid of criticism? Afraid of shame? For the fear of death is not the only type of fear.

Reminded that Jesus has died and risen again in order to destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and to deliver us who through fear of death were all our lifetimes subject to bondage, let us confess that we often permit such fear to dominate our lives and govern our actions. Let us pray that He would make us a fearless people. And, as you are able, let us kneel together as we confess our sins to the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

The Sin of Cowardice

September 19, 2021 in Bible - NT - Revelation, Fear, Meditations

Revelation 21:6–8 

6Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. 7He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. 8But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” 

In our passage today, the Lord Jesus holds out eternal life for those who worship and serve Him despite the opposition of the world and eternal death for those who worship other gods or live unrighteously. The list that our Lord gives of those excluded from life include “the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars.” It is that first category that I want to draw to our attention today – the cowardly.

Webster defines “the cowardly” as those “wanting courage to face danger; timid; timorous; fearful; pusillanimous.” While we typically associate cowardice with the battlefield, cowardice is shown whenever we turn away from a good purpose in the face of opposition because of fear. 

First, we are cowardly when we turn away from a good purpose. It is not cowardice to face opposition for doing something evil and then to turn back – that is repentance. No, cowardice is the turning away from a good purpose – it is to fail to ask forgiveness from your spouse because you’re afraid of shame; to fail to confess your secret porn habit to your parents because you’re afraid to get in trouble; to fail to defend your wife from harm because you’re afraid to get hurt; to fail to confront your friend because you’re afraid you might lose her friendship; to agree to speak lies because you’re afraid you might lose your job; to watch a movie you shouldn’t because you’re afraid your friends might not think you’re cool. The cowardly turn away from a good purpose.

Second, cowardice reveals itself in the face of opposition. Anyone can be brave when there are no threats. It is when threats arise, when opposition is present, that our true character is revealed. We set ourselves to a good purpose but then face criticism or persecution or threats or a mob or financial duress. At that moment, at the moment of opposition, we discover who whether we are courageous or cowardly – for the cowardly retreat in the face of opposition.

Finally, the cowardly turn away from a good purpose because of fear. Fear of man; fear of shame; fear of death; fear of failure; fear of loneliness; fear of fame. The specific type of fear varies; but it is fear that motivates and drives the cowardly man.

C.S. Lewis in his book The Screwtape Letters has the demon Screwtape explaining to his nephew why God likely created “a dangerous world – a world in which moral issues really come to the point. [God] sees,” Screwtape writes, “as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky” (148-149). Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.

Hence, our Lord pronounces His woe upon the cowardly – those who turn back in the face of risk; who turn away from the faith, turn away from virtue, turn away from honesty when the cost of such things is too high. So what of you? Are you cowardly? Have you turned back from a good purpose in the face of opposition because of fear? I have. So ought we not to seek the face of God and to confess our sin, asking Him to pour out His Spirit upon us that we live without fear? “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7). So let us confess our cowardice to the Lord this morning – and, as you are able, let us kneel as we confess our sins. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.