The Right and Wrong Kind of Fear


Even though sending out spies started the whole mess of 40 years of wandering in the desert, Joshua follows Moses’ example and sends spies into Canaan, the Promised Land. He tells them to check especially around Jericho.

One difference now is that just two spies go; maybe Joshua was thinking about how only he and Caleb came back with good reports. Maybe he did learn his lesson and knew the danger of having too many people’s thoughts being shared, of how the bad report, how fear, can spread so easily if there are too many people there. Maybe he thought sending two men would be a safe bet.

They spend the night at a prostitute’s house. I’m guessing that’s a good place to go to not draw unwanted attention. It was a cover story. The prostitute’s name was Rahab. She finds herself weaved into the story of Israel, God’s people. She finds herself in the lineage of Jesus. She gets a new identity. How? She fears God.

Rahab tells the spies that everyone is terrified of them. They have heard the stories of the Red Sea parting and how they destroyed other peoples on their way to Canaan. Rahab, however, sets herself apart. No one else is striking a deal with the Israelites. If their leaders really are afraid, they aren’t humbling themselves before God to ask for help or offering themselves in a plea bargain with Israel.

Jericho is standing behind their fortress. They are relying on the strength of their wall to protect them. We are told they are afraid. But their fear isn’t driving them towards God; it’s making them defensive towards Him. They want to capture the spies. They are going to take a stand against Israel, not try to join forces.

When you feel afraid, when a moment of fear or worry grips your heart or even just crosses your mind, it should send you running to God. He is your hiding place, your protector, your shelter, your refuge, your fortress.

If a fear, a thought, a worry, a concern, whatever you want to label it, pushes you away from God, then something is wrong. If it makes you not want to spend quiet time with Him, something is wrong. When it makes you question Him and His Word, something is wrong.

The only right response to fear is to run into the arms of our loving Father, to tuck yourself under the shelter of His wing, to be hidden in the secret place. Because when we dwell there with God, no evil can touch us. No harm will come near (Psalm 91).

And we remain in His presence, where there is fulness of joy. Fear should drive you into a place of joy because God’s got you and He’s bigger.