“Fear Not, Then,” Said the Angel, “Let Nothing You Affright…”

God does not want us to live in fear; indeed this is part of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

“Fear not.” It’s a refrain that echoes over and over again in the pages of Scripture, a command given by God to His people. He said it to Abram when Abram wondered when he would see his promised heir. He said it to His people as they looked at the odds stacked against them in the Promised Land. He said it to Joshua as he prepared to take the reigns of leadership from Moses. The words echo through the psalms as a means of encouragement during worship. And again, here, we find the shepherds hearing the same command. It seems that God is very concerned about fear in His people – specifically, He is concerned with removing it from them.

 

No one knows who wrote “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” but it has been sing since the 15th century. It was first published as a Christmas carol in 1833 as part of a collection by William B. Sandy called Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern. Not long after its publication, the song made an appearance in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens as a song that incited the anger of Ebenezer Scrooge:

“…at the first sound of ‘God bless you merry, gentlemen, May nothing you dismay!” Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost.”

Clearly Scrooge didn’t feel the “tidings of comfort and joy” the song describes. Along with those tidings, the lyrics also record a version of what the shepherds, who were understandably terrified, heard when they angel appeared to them to announce the birth of Christ:

“Fear not, then, let nothing you affright; this day is born a Savior of a pure virgin bright, to free all those who trust in him
from Satan’s power and might.”

“Fear not.”

It’s a refrain that echoes over and over again in the pages of Scripture, a command given by God to His people. He said it to Abram when Abram wondered when he would see his promised heir. He said it to His people as they looked at the odds stacked against them in the Promised Land. He said it to Joshua as he prepared to take the reigns of leadership from Moses. The words echo through the psalms as a means of encouragement during worship. And again, here, we find the shepherds hearing the same command. It seems that God is very concerned about fear in His people – specifically, He is concerned with removing it from them. God does not want us to live in fear; indeed this is part of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment (2 Tim. 1:7).

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