Fear in the Hearts of Men

“Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”
—Luke 21:26

OUR LORD’S GREAT PROPHECY, dealing with events that would transpire when he would return to set up his kingdom, tells how men’s hearts would be failing them for fear, especially as they would see events coming which would cause this fear. The United States of America has been blessed in that, as a nation, we have not had to endure the horrors of war in recent times as has Europe and other regions in the world. The terrorist attack destroying the twin towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 changed that feeling of security.


The Rockland Journal News on November 28, 2003 reported, as did many other newspapers, of another terrorist attack being planned. The brief article had a heading, “Official: Al-Qaida Plans 2nd U.S. Strike.” The article said:

“A top counterterrorism official says al-Qaida operatives dropped plans this year for several small attacks in the United States to focus on plotting a ‘more spectacular’ assault comparable to the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“The U.S. counterterrorism official, who has access to all intelligence on the terrorist group, told USA Today this week that officials have no specific evidence to indicate how or when al-Qaida might try to launch a massive strike on U.S. soil.

“But, the official said, interviews with al-Qaida detainees, intercepts of communications from suspected operatives and other sources have yielded evidence that Osama bin Laden’s network still has a command structure and determination to launch an attack that might rival the suicide hijackings.

“About 3,000 people were killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“‘It’s clear that al-Qaida wants to strike here’ and that it continues to seek opportunities for ‘a catastrophic attack,’ said the official, who asked not to be identified.

“Recent intelligence reports indicate that al-Qaida remains fascinated by the idea of using aircraft as missiles, despite the additional security at U.S. airports since the September 11 attacks, the official said.

“U.S. analysts still say explosives typically used in more limited assaults, including vehicle bombs in suicide attacks, remain al-Qaida’s most likely weapon here.

“But intelligence reports suggest that some of the network’s operatives think that an attack using chemical or biological weapons could be a way to top the September 11 attacks, the official said.

“Such weapons can be difficult to use, but al-Qaida has sought them for years.

“It’s unclear whether the group has access to chemical or biological weapons. But those weapons represent a more likely concern than nuclear arms, U.S. analysts say. The latest intelligence on al-Qaida’s possible intentions comes at a time of heightened tension about terrorism here and around the world.

“A series of deadly bombings of synagogues and British interests in Turkey has led some U.S. analysts to suggest al-Qaida is starting a new wave of attacks.”


On the day that the World Trade Center and a wing of the Pentagon were destroyed, a book reached bookstores entitled Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War. It became an instant best seller. Usually, timing of publication can be pivotal to a book’s success, but this book, written by three New York Times reporters scores high on content and readability. The book was reviewed in the April 8, 2002 issue of the Chemical and Engineering News Journal. The title of the book review article was “Biological Apocalypse.” We quote some excerpts from the article.

“The book opens with an overly long description of the first large-scale bioterrorism attack in the U.S. That bizarre event, unlike the recent anthrax outbreaks, garnered little publicity at the time. In 1984, members of the Rajneeshee cult in The Dalles, Oregon, salted local restaurant salad bars with salmonella. The cult was intent on influencing the outcome of an upcoming local election by packing voting booths with its own followers and some imported homeless people while sickened locals remained at home. Internal dissension derailed the plan from ultimately being carried out, but the cult’s test run of the plan sickened more than 750 people.

“From the salmonella event, the book moves on to a thorough, if at times uncritical, historical account of biological weapons research beginning with the Cold War era. The authors describe in some depth the massive, covert, and illegal offensive bioweapons program of the former Soviet Union. Although the Soviets signed and ratified the 1975 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) that banned the production of these weapons, they ignored that prohibition for decades.

“It is not clear even today whether the Russians have completely dismantled the bioweapons program they inherited. And the lingering mystery of the cause of a 1979 outbreak of inhalation anthrax about 850 miles east of Moscow that killed more than 60 people in Sverdlovsk, now called Ekaterinburg, remains officially unsolved. The Russians have yet to address evidence for an accidental release of spores from a military complex carefully documented in Jeanne Guillemin’s 1999 book, Anthrax: The Investigation of a Deadly Outbreak.


“Until President Richard Nixon ordered a halt to U.S. offensive biological weapons research in 1969, America’s program was as ambitious as the Soviet’s. Beginning with the then-secret 1942 program headed by George W. Merck, president of the drug company bearing his family’s name, Germs meanders through the history of the U.S. program. Among the interesting byways it travels are those describing elusive U.S. efforts to produce agents that would incapacitate but not kill populations in Cuba and Vietnam, and the revelation that the Central Intelligence Agency kept a cache of biological warfare agents after Nixon’s 1969 order.

“As their story moves to the present, the authors outline Iraq’s successful efforts to rapidly amass a bioweapons arsenal that could have been used against U.S. troops during the Gulf War and how ill-prepared the U.S. was to fight on a germ-infested battlefield. United Nations’ inspectors were sent to Iraq after the 1991 war to find and destroy these weapons. After destruction, the inspectors were to continue monitoring to ensure that Iraq did not rebuild its arsenal. But they were kicked out by the Iraqi government and have not been allowed in the country for several years.”

The book reports on research programs which the United States considered to be defensive in nature, and therefore allowed under the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) ratified in 1995, but which may border on being offensive. It also touches on the possibility that smallpox, (stocks legally residing in Russia and the United States) could fall into the wrong hands and be devastating. The review concludes saying:


“‘Germs’ provides readers with a more global overview of biological weapons, however. Not only does it give the history of biological weapons research, it also painstakingly documents the bureaucratic bungling, political infighting, and intelligence failures that have left the U.S. vulnerable to a threat the book’s authors consider real and increasing. Despite President Bush’s initiative on bioterrorism, including the establishment of the Office of Homeland Security and a huge influx of funding to counter bioterrorism, the U.S. effort remains uncoordinated and haphazard. The author’s conclusion is chilling, ‘We remain woefully unprepared for a calamity that would be unlike any this country has ever experienced.’”

The publicity given to terrorist attacks and to bioterrorism in particular is real cause for fear. Jesus saw this coming upon the world of mankind. The fear occurs because men don’t know what to do to prevent the events from happening. As the book reviewed on ‘Germs’ reveals, we are woefully unprepared to cope with such attacks.


The Apostle Paul describes our present day society as “this present evil world.” (Gal. 1:4) Satan’s methods are still being used and he has many evil ways. In the Book of Proverbs, Solomon wrote how men in general would not seek the Lord’s wisdom. The Lord has made himself available, but the people have rejected his counsel. Solomon wrote, “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.”—Prov. 1:24-31

This rejection of the Lord’s counsel causes the Lord to say, ‘I will mock when your fear cometh.’ Only the Lord can remove that fear. So to those who do hearken unto him, the Lord says, “Whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” (vs. 33) Earlier in the chapter Solomon speaks, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (vs. 7) The Hebrew word yirah, translated ‘fear,’ has the meaning of reverence, whereas the Hebrew word pachad, translated ‘fear’ in verses 26, 27 and 33, means dread. There is the shade of distinction in the Hebrew words translated fear. In the New Testament, when Jesus speaks of ‘men’s hearts failing them for fear,’ the Greek word for fear is phobos and means terror. There is no line of distinction in the Greek as there is in Hebrew.


Later, Solomon tells how the Lord’s people can acquire knowledge of the Lord and, in so doing, have the fear (reverence) of the Lord. He says, “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints. Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.”—Prov. 2:1-9

What a blessed state this is for those who seek the knowledge and wisdom of God. They are pictured by the psalmist as saying, as they behold the catastrophic events of this present evil world, portrayed in the Psalm 46 by mountains (kingdoms) being carried into the seas (raging humanity), “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (in the time of trouble). Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” (Ps. 46:1,2) God is pictured in this psalm as a high, steadfast, immovable tower of strength to which we can flee to escape the tumultuous and disastrous events pictured in the psalm. Within this tower we safely abide.

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the brethren in Galatia he introduced his letter with these words:

“Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Gal. 1:3-5) As we realize that both God, the Father, and his beloved Son, Jesus Christ, have made it possible for us to be delivered from this present evil world, we can repeat the Apostle’s sentiments and say Amen.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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