André Baard

andre.baard@gmail.com

Overcoming Tarhun, god of Fear

“I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.  Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.  No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous.”

Joshua 1:3-7

Hittites, People of Fear

This text singles out the land of the Hittites and exhorts the need to be very courageous.  The Hittites were a people from central Turkey that operated through extreme fear and intimidation, even the Egyptians at the height of their power made a peace treaty with them after the first recorded war between two superpowers, way back in the Bronze Age. The Hittites, as a people, personified fear.

Their land was bathed in fear and anxiety. They were over thinkers, OCD was rife. They worshipped the storm god Tarhun (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Tarhun) who was depicted in images as having a thunder bolt in his left hand and battle axe in the right. Anxiety in his left hand and physical violence in his right. The two, of course, work together. Fear of harm and actual violence. A potent, toxic combo. He wore a tall helmet to exaggerate his stature, he needs to show he is bigger and badder than he really is. He is based on a lie. Fear is always based on lies. Fear is faith in reverse.  FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. Like thunder and lighting produce fear, Tarhun’s weapon was fear and dread. The god of fear has to exaggerate itself, it bloats itself up to intimidate. But greater is he who is in us, than he who is in the world. Fear is a bully spirit. Remember the hat, Tarhun needs a really tall hat to exaggerate his strength – before Jesus he is as nothing!!! Fear’s knee must bow before our Almighty Christ.

The Hittites lived in fear, breathed fear. They were very devoted to the worship of the god of fear and built a mammoth temple complex of 20 000 sqm to him in Hattusa, the ancient Hittite capital. They lived in a storm of continual thunder and lighting and chaos, worry and fear. They were anxiousness itself and fear was their weapon of choice.

It seems their fears overcame them because they no longer exist!!! So too will your fear vanish before the Eternal God in you, in Christ! Fear is a killer, faith the healer. But we need to overcome fear or it will overcome us.  “You fear the sword, so I will bring the sword against you, declares the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 11:8

Need for Strength and Courage

The essential ingredient I believe in facing fear is strength and courage, as the scripture says. We know our strength comes from our joy in the Lord and our salvation. Courage comes when we believe the truth of God’s word. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is standing despite the fear. Courage brings with it a willingness to suffer, if need be. It is a willingness to not avoid suffering, if it is needed, to overcome some fearful and intimidating set of circumstances, people, events or thoughts. Courage is different to bravery, courage is like spiritual-emotional bravery. The powerful character duo of strength and courage is undefeatable! And Christ in us is perfect strength and perfect courage. We rely on His life in us, his alien strength and alien courage. We live, respond and move from the Last Adam, not the First Adam.

One needs to be strong and very courageous to plunder hell and take your Promised Land. We are called to live fearlessly. We have not been given a spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind. If you are not afraid of death, or avoiding it, even death itself, you are unstoppable.

Courage blooms under the Sonlight of Fearlessness, not recklessness. Courage and it’s brother, fearlessness, bloom like a carpet of colourful carefree Namaqualand daisies, when our only fear is the Fear of God. There are no storm clouds of fear there.

Fear of Suffering

“And our brothers and sisters defeated [conquered] him by the blood of the Lamb’s death [ Lamb; by means of Christ’s sacrificial death] and by the message they preached [word of their witness/testimony]. [And] They did not love their lives so much that they were afraid of [avoided] death.”

Rev 12:11

Fear of death and fear of suffering are both keeping many of God’s people, back. Fear of temporal discomforts dissolve with eternal horizons. To get a long-distance view on your destiny, your eternal destiny, will help you fuel courage in the here and now. Jesus is our courage. Jesus said to Paul “For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

“The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.”

Acts 5:31

We need to regain a theology of suffering, a willingness to not … avoid suffering … even to the scary point of death – reputational death, financial death, even biological death itself. Suffering need not be so scary. If we go through it, it produces priceless lament (the poetic language of suffering) which fuels often the grandest artistic achievements and insights and revelations and books and compassions and ministries. If we share in His sufferings, we shall share in His glory. What compassion is created in our hearts in the things we suffer, for others experiencing the same. Suffering is a genesis of so many ministries because so much compassion is generated when we suffer. “Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts. ” Rick Warren

Fear is fear, fear by any other name is still fear. Fear has a lie at its foundation. Lies generate fear, like un-cultivated land produce weeds, but the sword of truth destroys them.

 

Poem to the Destruction of Fear

Fear of man, is fear. Yet, the fear of God displaces it.

Fear of abandonment, is fear. Yet, He will never leave me or forsake me.

Fear of asking, is fear. Yet, God invites me to ask Him for what we lack.

Fear of suffering, is fear. Yet, His grace is sufficient for me.

Fear of lack, is fear. Yet, he commands us not to worry because he will care for us.

Fear of small spaces is fear. Yet, God made the universe and the quark.

Fear of pain is fear. Yet, there is balm in Gilead.

Fear of lack is fear. Yet, his our provider.

Fear of missing out is fear. Yet, the party is with Him.

Fear of old age is fear. Yet, to live is Christ and to die gain.

Fear of rejection is fear. Yet, we are accepted in the beloved.

Fear is an evil spirit. God made everything.

Fear of not being loved, is fear. Yet, who is able to separate me from the love of God?

 

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18.

We have nothing to fear but God Himself! He loves us with no limit. Perfect love drives out every sort of fear! Hallelujah! Love does not fear because it does not fear punishment or suffering. Love never fails! The spirit of fear fears the dread of love. Fear cannot stand love. Love wins, always.

Anxiety is the love child of a spirit of fear and human self-reliance.

When we become impatient because God tarries, we often get snared to rely on self. This breeds fear especially when we begin to see our hardest efforts yield whirlwinds. We look for Hagar to ‘make things happen”. This produces anxiety-babies than grow up into giants.

“Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes” 

Psalm 37:7

Path to Overcoming

Battle in the Soul 

Fear is rooted in believing a lie. Believing the lie, creates a foothold for the spirit of  fear to deceive us. Believing the truth, the promise of God, even if it may include some sort of suffering (for righteousness sake), drives out fear like light drives out darkness. The truth sets you free from fear. The truth of who you are in Christ and that Christ is always with us, drives out the fear of unworthiness and abandonment. The spirit of fear likes to operate in darkness. We are no longer slaves to fear because we know who we are in Christ, as the famous worship song goes. Believing, resting, relying on the truth of God’s word, delivers you from the snares of lies. Lies are falsitites. They exaggerate pleasure and minimize sin and they are poison that kills slowly.

Fear is a coward spirit, it is anti-courageous. When you resist it by choosing to believe the truth, stand firm on the truth, it slithers away back into its own confusion and torment. It is self-consuming, it is the snake spirit that eats its own tail.

It is a divided spirit hence its fall is sure, just like the fear-mongering people, the Hittites, they are no longer but the people of God outlive them all. The spirit of fear looks in each new generation for soft targets. Traumatized souls are often soft targets. Rejected souls and independent and isolated souls are targets. 

But thanks be to God, just as the spirit of death died by its own poison on the cross of Christ, so fear swallowed itself whole and drowned itself in its own dark bottomless pool of black fear! The people that worshipped the god of fear died out with their god. God’s people overcame and conquered and live on. Fear is not our portion, Christ is our portion.

Besides standing in faith and believing the truth on the promises of God, we need to repent of having the fear of man or any other fears. We have to repent from the heart. Fear God! He loves us!

Battle in the Body

Practical wisdom helps in this battle. We are not just soul or spirit, we are bodies too. Some advice on a body level: physical exercise is helpful, frankincense and myrrh hot baths work, the therapeutic effect of pets is a thing! Nature has a role to play too. Let’s learn from cats’ supreme ability to relax and sleep in the weirdest of times and places. And dogs, they really model trust to us. After all, Caleb, which means loyal like a faithful dog, the great warrior-spy, defied the six fingered sons of Anak and inherited wholly his portion. Tel Aviv, which is a target of regular missile attacks i.e. subject to regular stressful situations, has the highest amount of dogs per capita of any city in the world 17 people to a dog. When inner turmoil boils, its time to go outside. Don’t overthink. Don’t underthink. Find the Jesus rhythm. The wild order of a mountain forest is calming.

The Tel Avivian’s have learnt the therapeutic benefits of pets.  Red wine in moderation has its place too, as Paul prescribed to Timothy for his stomach issues. Timothies’ timidity struggle and stomach pain were no doubt linked – he suffered from anxiety and Paul’s advise is twofold, one directed at his soul “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control. 2 Tim 1:17  and one at his body: “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” 1 Tim5:23. We need body and soul approaches to overcome Tarhun, god of fear.

Be still and know He loves you. Mediation is massive. Christian meditation has physiological benefits, it slows the heart rate down, we acquire the ‘peace of God which rules in our hearts’ this way.

Role of Authentic Community

Fellowship with the saints, slow time with family and friends … solid community life cannot be overemphasized. Two hour church events on a Sunday is not community. Community is the kind you can call at 02h00 with a flat tyre and know you will not offend those you asked for help. If you’re single, don’t live alone, find some other singles and share a house. Single men sharing with single men and single women with women. We have glamourised our independence and individualism, to our detriment. We were created to live in community. We were created in the image of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the ultimate community. Holy hugs provide human contact, love in action. Contact reduces anxiety. For those married, conjugals are a God designed stress relief besides it being a phyiscal demonstration of love for your spouse.

Beauty Therapy

“Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”

Ps 119:37

Beauty has power to transform. We become by beholding (2 Cor 3:18). We go in the direction our eyes look. If we watch what the evil do more than what the Father’s Hand is doing, we become vulnerable to fear. The Spirit of Tarhun loves his tall hats and bloating his actual stature. Fear is like yeast, it bloats things. The spirit of fear is the small cousin of pride. They share the same parent – rebellion. It wants you to look at it but let us refrain from filling our vision with the victories of satan in the news headlines. Let us turn our eyes away, not in rancid denial but in fullness of wisdom and joy of the Lord, knowing as we contemplate the beauty of the Lord, we become vessels of beauty in a world of ugliness. Beauty lives with holiness, they are twins. Where you find one, you will find the other. As we mediate on His Perfect Law of Liberty, we see Beauty Personified, we heal. And the healed, heal. 

Stop to smell the flowers is not an optional extra, it is essential for survival. We need to seek out beauty in the spirit and natural. We are to celebrate things of beauty. Beauty is everywhere, if you look for it. Beauty in the small places. Beauty in the movement of a horse in gallop. Beauty in the crunch of fresh bread. Beauty in music. Beauty in art. Art is a survival technique. Great art is therapeutic. Christians are beauty seekers because “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Make space for more beauty in your life. Make less space for evil, shut your eyes from watching the Horrors of Hollywood and headlines. God is in Sovereign control. Be still and know that God is God and we have no need to fear.

Another type of beauty is comedy. Laughter is as medicine to the soul. Enjoy your favourite read. Laugh.

Praise and Worship

Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, part-fulfilling the messianic role of Christ. Gratitude, thanks and praise lifts weights. Listen to beautiful music.

The presence of fear and anxiety is often evidence that the fear of God is absent. The Fear of God displaces all other fears, including the fear of man. If you are afraid, let it be your schoolmaster, pointing you to Christ, the Fearless. Resist the intimidation of the spirit of fear and so stop anxiety in its tracks. Do not let fear be a slave driver causing a slow death in your body.

Lastly, pray. Pray in tongues, all the time. Tongues is a game changer, it bypasses our understanding and prays perfect prayers aligned with the heart of God. If there were a silver bullet to dealing with fear, it would be tongues imho, a very great gift of the Holy Spirit in our warfare from this foul spirit. Meditate on the word day and night. Become strong through the joy of the Lord, at His right hand are pleasures forevermore.

And breathe, deeply of the love of God, the giver of life.

“So do not fear, because I am with you!” Isa 41:10 … to the end of the age. Amen.

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