8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.
The LORD expected His servant, Jeremiah, to embolden himself against all that was terrifying his heart. Fear was preventing Jeremiah from enrolling in the prophetic ministry to which the LORD had called him. Fear was destabilising him and almost dispossessing him of the resolve and readiness needed to be an obedient and effective preacher of God’s Word.
Courage and fearlessness are much needed to a live a life of faith and righteousness in this wicked world. Fear will make us falter, and disobedience to God will then characterise our lives. So, fear should not be allowed to remain in our hearts. This especially applies to those who are called to be preachers of God’s Word to rebuke the sins of the people.
The LORD said to Jeremiah, “Be not afraid of their faces”. It is now apparent from the LORD’s words that the actual fear Jeremiah had in his heart was the disapproval and retaliation of the people to whom he would be sent to rebuke, correct and instruct according to God’s Word. There was a greater hindrance in Jeremiah’s heart than his earlier reasoning that he was an inexperienced, ill-equipped, ignorant “child” (1:6). That was a flimsy, unconvincing excuse before the LORD. The real reason for his hesitation is now addressed by the LORD, i.e. his fear of people’s unhappiness with the message.
Thus, the LORD told Jeremiah to disregard the frowning brows, stern looks and angry countenances of his hearers. Sinful men would express their disapproval of and disgust for God’s truth by snarling at the preacher. Cowardice has no place in the preaching ministry. If one is to faithfully communicate the divine message to the people, one must overcome their menacing looks, slanderous words and hurtful actions.
The best remedy against fear of man is in the form of the promises of God, such as “I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.” The LORD is His servant’s ever-present Protector and Deliverer. Steadfast faith in God’s promises and presence will help us to conquer fear and be filled with boldness. Faith draws us to God and all His purposes, but fear insidiously draws us away from God and all His purposes. God has committed Himself to be with us and deliver us, so why fear? Only believe!