“Do not be afraid,” is a common opener between an angel and the recipient of their visitation. I have often wondered why. Given all that we have learned during this summer series on angels, I think we can safely assume one of the reasons is their fear inducing appearance. Their presence must resonate so strongly that they actually cause our spirits within us to tremble in fear. Of course, they could be offering the words in a greeting meant to address or encourage those on whom they have visited. In the Week 5 lesson plan, we looked at passages from the book of Daniel. Daniel had a visitation from the angel Gabriel.
“I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; the men with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking … Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, … I stood up trembling. Then he continued, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel.’” Daniel 10:7-12
Last week, we did not focus on the effect Daniel’s angelic visitation had upon him. Daniel became physically incapacitated. The men with him ran for their lives in fear. Most angelic encounters I’ve heard or read never include this type of reaction to the experience. The encounters are described in more banal terms. In the biblical narrative, however, visions, visitations by angels, or God Himself elicits the response of the recipient initially to fear and trembling.
When the angel of the Lord visits Gideon, he fears he will die because he has seen the angel face to face. (Judges 6:22,23) The special messages we studied last week that the angel Gabriel was tasked with delivering also caused the recipients alarm. Gabriel had to reassure them not to fear.
“When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him:’Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. You wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.’” Luke 1:12,13
“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin …. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.’” Luke 1:26-30
David was also highly favored by God. He was not a perfect man but he was faithful and trusted God. He wrote many of the psalms describing his thoughts and feelings towards God. During a particularly difficult season of his life when he was fleeing from Saul and found himself trying to hide from Saul among their enemies, the Philistines, David pretended to be insane. Out of this experience, David wrote these words.
“The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” Psalm 34:7
David understood as the others also came to know that God is near. He watches, guards, and attends to His children with the help of His messengers. David said of God;
“The LORD is my light and my salvation —- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life —-of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
To join in the Week 6 Lesson Plan, you can find it by clicking here.