How many time in our young lives did we hear out parents, teachers or even friends, brothers and sisters say, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times …blah …blah …blah”? Probably a million times, right?
Well, there is something to repetition. It underscores the importance of a message and it actually increases the potential of the message to reach into and settle in the brain of the person reading, hearing or seeing the message.
A favorite claim by many, including Rick Warren, one of the pastors of Saddleback Church and probably the one most well known, likes to promote the claim that the Bible says “fear not”, or “do not fear”, or “do not be afraid” or something else that means the same 365 times in the Bible. One for each day (except, I guess on leap year). Well it is not true.
Yes, we are told often and in many ways that fear is not necessary if it means we are afraid of what might be coming down the pike or around the corner. Funny thing though, we are also told many times to “fear the Lord” and “fear God,” in various ways. We are taught to not fear them but to fear Him. All in all it is really rather a tangled mess if we try to count and align good fears and bad fears so that we can know when it is okay to fear (God) and when we need not fear (bad) or we need not fear (God).
Here is the take-away. God only has to tell us one time for something to be true and for us to be responsible to understand and obey it. God could have told us just once “Do not be afraid of them, or Me, or it, or this consequence, or that outcome.” And we could know that since God said it, it is true. Repetition does not make it more true. Telling us 365 times is not necessary for it to be a commandment we follow. But he does tell us many times in many ways. As he has told many different people over the centuries we have a rather substantial collection of the commandment available for us in His revelation of His Word, the Bible. Why? Because we need to be reminded. We actually need the repetition over and over and over again because we like to forget, ignore and avoid paying attention to His commandments.
So, God allows and even sends trials and tests our way which have the potential to stir up some fear and then he says, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Surly, I will help you. Surly I will uphold you with My righteous right hand…For I am the Lord your God who upholds your right hand. Who says to you, do not fear, I will help you.” Wow, in two verses he tells us at least three times. See, we need it.
For this is the circumstance, our comfortable way of living and doing the church thing is being challenged and much more is coming our way. Much more sever problems are coming our way. Innocent people are being killed by crazy people who just hate them because they do not agree with them. (Here is a secret, however, even if every person on this earth believed the same thing and all people agreed with each other, there would still be crazy people, evil people, killing innocent people.)
As things get more and more difficult and as our world changes in big and frightening ways and as we become afraid to venture out somewhere because some evil loony is hunkering down behind the third base dugout waiting to shoot the second baseman for whatever reason, the one thing that will not change is God and His truth. Do not fear, He is with you and if you believe in Him, you will not die even if you are shot and killed while playing second base. It doesn’t make sense? It does if you understand the bigger picture and why. Because if God has told you once, he’s told you 400+ times in various ways and in various versions and translations the you do not have to fear. You really do not.