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The fear of the Lord

A healthy and proper fear of God is sadly lacking in most parts of the world today. People are happy to think of the love of God, His goodness, grace and mercy, but they are uncomfortable with thoughts of His awesome power, pure holiness, justice, and judgments.

And so many create a God of their own liking, a false god, and acknowledge and praise him instead—telling themselves that he is the real god. This idolatrous god in their mind, is a self-delusion, and often results from false teachings.

There are many people who consider themselves Christians who comfortably ignore the reality and fulness of who God truly is. Our Creator evicted Adam and Eve from paradise because of their sin and newly born sin nature. He placed the curse of death on that couple and all their descendants, including you and I. Due to Adam’s sin, he cursed the Earth—and, today, that still affects many parts of our everday lives.

When the depravity of man became worldwide and exceedingly great, He destroyed the Earth with a global flood catastrophe, saving only Noah and his family. All people of the world still live with the enormous effects of that judgment. Later, at Babel, He took away humanity’s single language, because of mankind’s evil and attemps to form a one world government and false religion. Today, we still live with the strong effects of the confusion of langauges and the dispersal it brought.

God utterly and spectacularly destroyed the sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah. He turned a mother into a pillar of salt, for disobediently looking back to those cities. He rained down plagues, great hailstones and lightning to destroy enemies of God. He commanded His Chosen People to destroy entire cities because of the stench of their evil and idolatrous ways.

Sadly, many evils arose among God’s Chosen People, and they were severely punished, as commanded in no uncertain terms by God (see punishments). Two priests (sons of Aaron) broke some fundamental rule of consecration in their offering of “strange” “unauthorized” incense fire to the Lord, and He immediately consumed them with fire from Heaven (Leviticus 10:1-3).

God is our Creator, thus He owns us and has authority over us. He is our sovereign.

But now, O Lord,
You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all we are the work of Your hand. —Isaiah 64:8 NKJV

Do you thus deal with the Lord,
O foolish and unwise people?
Is He not your Father, who bought you?
Has He not made you and established you? —Deuteronomy 32:6 NKJV

God is called “the Fear of Isaac” (Genesis 31:42, 53), i.e., the God whom Isaac feared. In the Old Testament, the fear of the Lord is an indication of true devotion and reverance. It is a fear combined with love and hope, and is therefore not a slavish dread, but rather filial reverence.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge… —Proverbs 1:7a KJV

And unto man he said,
Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom… —Job 28:28a KJV

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. —Psalms 19:9 NKJV

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust. —Psalm 103:8-14 NKJV

In the New Testament

A holy fear of the Lord is also urged in the New Testament to prevent carelessness in relationship to God, and as an incentive for repentance. During the pivotal time of the Early Church, God publicly killed a husband and wife (Ananias and Sapphira) who attempted to deceive God and the Church (Acts 5:5).

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. —Matthew 10:28 NKJV

Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men… —2 Corinthians 5:11a NKJV

…let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. —2 Corinthians 7:1b NKJV

Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we? —1 Corinthians 10:21-23 NASB

…work out your salvation with fear and tremblingPhilippians 2:12b NASB

submitting to one another in the fear of God. —Ephesians 5:21 NKJV

…serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. —Hebrews 12:28b-29 NKJV

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.” —Hebrews 12:5b-6 NASB

The Apostle John experienced a glimpse into the reality of God and his heavenly servants. In the Book of Revelation, he recorded,

I saw another angel flying in midheaven,
having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth,
and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;
and he said with a loud voice,
Fear God, and give Him glory…” —Revelation 14:6-7 NASB

The Mountain of Fear and the Mountain of Joy

The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Hebrews contrasts the fearsome scene God’s people faced at Mount Sinai with what God offers the redeemed and regenerate soul through Christ.

For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. For they could not bear the command,

“If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned.”

And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said,

“I am full of fear and trembling.”

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. —Hebrews 12:18-24 NASB

Article Version: August 30, 2017