And they journeyed, and the terror of God was upon the cities that were all around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. (Genesis 35:5)
How is it that such a small group of people could cause so many others to fear them? It certainly wasn’t because they were afraid of their military strength and prowess; they were fearful of their God. The heathen of the land realized that the God of Jacob was the Almighty God. Others would come to understand this as well as future generations encountered the nation that the Almighty had called out as His special treasure.
One of my favorite scenes in the classic movie, The Ten Commandments, is when Pharaoh returns from the destruction of his army in their pursuit of the Israelites through the sea. Completely broken, he collapses into his throne and concedes that, “The God of Moses is God!” The Bible records that Pharaoh’s magicians had realized as much, long before the Red Sea event, when they acknowledged that the plagues were performed by the “finger of God” (Exodus 8:19). Furthermore, the Bible records that all of Egypt came to acknowledge His sovereignty as well, and were fearful of dying if the Israelites were not freed.
The Bible is full of examples where kings and nations lived in dread of Israel because of the God of Israel. And well they should because He promised that wherever His people journeyed, He would cause their enemies to fear them, saying:
“No man shall be able to stand against you; the Lord your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you.” (Deuteronomy 11:25)
I believe that this still stands. I believe that when we are walking upright and united as a people, great and marvelous things will occur on our behalf. As they do, the heathen will tremble — not because of us — but because of the God we serve. However, we should not gloat in this but should pray that the dread of God upon the nations will provoke a change of heart in the nations. May it be that all will come to fear Him, and in the proper way, because He is a great and awesome God.
Blessings and Shalom,