March 15, 2004

The Fear of the Lord

What is this all about?

I mean, "Fear the Lord"?!? C'mon, that's something for those old-school fundamentalists, right? God is our friend. He is loving and kind. We have no need to fear Him. He is our good shepherd, our counselor, our comforter, our prince of peace. He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Even though God loves us, we are also commanded to fear him. Eccl. 12:13 says,

"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man."

This Fear of God is one of our core duties as human beings.

But it is not only commanded, it is encouraged because of God's love for us. Isaiah 33:6 says,

"He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure."

His love for us knows that our best is to fear Him.

We are unholy, unrighteous, ungodly people. And we have offended a Holy, Righteous God. We have every reason in the world to be fearful of Him. He is angry. In fact, God is angry with the unrighteous every day.

"You, even You, are to be feared; And who may stand in Your presence when once You are angry?"
Ps. 76:7

"But this is only one end of the fear of the Lord. At the other end of the spectrum is a fear reserved exclusively for those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ. This fear of the Lord means reverent submission that leads to obedience ... it includes a knowledge of our sinfulness and God's justice and his anger against sin. But this worship-fear also knows God's great forgiveness, mercy, and love... It knows that in our relationship whith God, He always says 'I Love you' first. This knowledge draws us closer to God rather than causing us to flee. It causes us to submit gladly to his lordship and delight in obedience. This kind of robust fear is the pinnacle of our response to God."
-- Welch

See, Fear of God is more than a simple terror of Him. It is at the very heart of worship, true worship. It is a reverence that acknowledges Him for the placement in our lives where He belongs... on the throne! He is Holy and

" God's grace, we can grow in knowing his holiness, and this knowledge will both expel the people-idols from our lives and leave us less prone to being consumed with ourselves."

... as too many people are. They bow down at the altar of self, and sacrifice all to worship there.
This post was inspired by my own personal battle with the fear of man, and also from the book, When People are Big and God is Small, by Edward T. Welch, which is perfectly suited to battling against the fear of man. Check it out!