When we think of “fearing” the Lord, we usually conjure up images from the Old Testament.
The flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the sacredness of the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant, the many times in which people dropped dead because of their sin…
Every nation learned to “fear” the Lord and His people. And many times, when His people turned from Him, He brought them back through punishment (correction) and fear.
He was, and is, a jealous God. Passionate to His lovers, and just as zealous toward His foes. He is all powerful, all knowing, all holy, and yet—all love.
And that is what we have sought under our new covenant. His love. Forgetting that love is also submission, sacrifice, and reverent awe toward the being that bends low for our sake, and for our redemption.
Jesus was the only way we could truly enter His presence again. The sacrifice of lambs was never enough, no matter how spotless and innocent they were, they could not cover the cost of our sin. And likewise, God could not deny Himself and His Holiness to be with us. As we read, most could not survive it.
-The rope tied to the priest who entered the Holy of Holies in case he died. The time Uzzah, one of the Ark bearers, carelessly slipped and touched the Ark and died as well.
God was there, but had to remain distant. Unlike how He walked (beside) Adam and Eve in the Garden.
Today of course, we are symbolically in that Garden again. With God’s own Holy Spirit “in” us! We’re now His dwelling place!
But like the Jews, we have forgotten the fear of the Lord in our time of peace.
Churches will preach of God’s mercy and love until they are blue in the face, but will kindly skip over our proper response toward Him.
Praise and worship isn’t merely thanksgiving for all He has done, but an open acknowledgment of all that He is. A submissive awe, a reverence for His greatness and goodness. It is through our fear that we truly understand how blessed we really are.
Think of it! The God of the universe created us because He wanted us to exist. He made us in His image and gave us authority (dominion) to reign with Him. He created the stars and earth for us to enjoy and marvel at.
He then lowered Himself to be with us and to know us intimately! He wants to be involved in every fabric of your life, as both our Father (we call Him father!) and friend. And He has promised us an eternal inheritance with Him.
Despite all our sin and rebellion, despite killing His heavenly Son, He still loves us, and could never bring Himself to destroy us. He gave us His Son to save us. Our very God, romanced His creation and gave all that He could give to save it. He became a man and dwelt with us in order to serve and to know what it’s like to be us.
And now we carry His heart within us—the new temples of His dwelling place. All He ever wanted (our hearts and love) is now His throne seat.
How can we look at this and not marvel? How can we not fall to our knees in reverent praise? How could we ever dare sin against Him and His Son? How can we be a part of the greatest story ever told and it not transform every fabric of our lives?
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” (Job 28:28, Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10…)
It is this fear that should propel us into action when the Holy Spirit calls us to it. Why? Because if we truly fear the Lord we wouldn’t have room in our hearts for fear of man.
In our understanding of God and His character we wouldn’t hesitate or doubt Him. But would instead fear missing out on His goodness!
It is the church that has hidden all verses containing the word fear and the Lord together. And that is because of today’s culture and it’s definition ascribed to “fear.”
Clearly, the Hebrew/Greek meaning differs to our current one. There are many types of fear and not all of them are bad. In this instance fear equates to reverence/respect/awe. Not punishment/abuse/harm etc.
God doesn’t want us to cower before Him as we have even seen displayed in the Bible, when angels appeared before the Jews they said, “do not fear!” God doesn’t want servants who follow out of fear but friends who follow out of genuine love. However, we cannot dismiss this reverence that is so called, “the beginning of wisdom”, and much more in the Bible.
I suppose a more relevant example of this healthy fear, is our respect for authority; police officers, judges, etc. Or even our respect and submission to our husbands (in healthy relationships—the husband is the head who requires respect, while the wife is the helper who requires love).
God is not a dictator or a bully. Just like in marriage, there is sacrificial giving on both ends. We (the church/bride of Christ) are to respect Him, while as He (the groom) loves us unconditionally (Ephesians 5:25).
Today, I witnessed the fear of man play out before me and immediately laughed at the insanity of it. I fear the Lord more.
He is love. And in His love He will let us choose whether to remain in that love or not. And such is where the very real fear of Hell exists. Hell is…in all honestly, the only place where God’s presence doesn’t exist.
Even in the darkest corners of the earth, God’s presence can still be found or felt by His people. We have taken this for granted and can’t even begin to understand what it would be like to not have access to Him. It is through Him we have any hope/peace/joy/purpose/security—you name it! Without Him there is only darkness.
And sadly, many will choose that darkness.
I must say that I am still discovering what it means to fear the Lord my God. But I believe that it is vital to know and understand fully what this means, for our sake and for the effectiveness of the church.
Too often I have witnessed either a church that has removed the “God-ness” from God (the laws, and the punishment of sin) or a church that has completely removed the love and mercy of God, His “Human-ness” as you will—in the form of Jesus Christ (our new Adam).
Both are toxic places to be as neither truly understood who God is and who we are in relation to Him. We are neither worms nor equals. (The true worth and value of humanity has already been determined by God/Jesus Himself!)
We will go deeper into the subject of our worth/value next time. For now let us merely reflect on our heart posture toward God. Do you fear Him? Do you find it hard to grasp the majesty of God and His great love for us? Or do you struggle to view Him as God at all?
In other words, who is God to you?