…is not the one you run from. It is the fear to enter into and embrace. There is no stronger protection, no greater wisdom, no deeper treasure to be found outside of the fear of God.
“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life”
“The fear of the Lord leads to life: then one rests content, untouched by trouble”
“The fear of the Lord adds length to life…”
(Proverbs 14:27, 19:23, 10:27)
“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.”
‘Fountain of life’, ‘the key to God’s treasures’…yet, why so seldom preached?
Entering into a true fear of God begins to empty us from self sufficiency, self satisfaction, and self determination. It is a place of relinquishment – all that we are, all that we have, may be required on God’s altar. We are so willing to sing, “I am a friend of God!” but do we count the cost of this ‘friendship’? Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command”. (John 15:14)
Abraham, friend of God, obtained this privileged and honored place after demonstrating his fear of God, obeying His command to sacrifice Isaac. For our benefit, God declared, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son.” (Gen 22:12) God knew what was in Abraham’s heart, his willingness to sacrifice and obey, but through this chosen vessel, God reveals to us the desires of His heart. If we fear God, we will obey, “…all nations on earth will be blessed, because you obeyed Me” and therein is great reward…costly great reward.
Nearly three quarters of Holy Scripture is the ‘Old Testament’, establishment of law, the outpouring of prophecies, revelations of God and His ongoing outreach to man. Page after page reveals the power, majesty and sovereignty of God, self described as ‘a consuming fire’ whom alone should be feared and whom alone owns the word awesome. The grace and love of the New Testament, manifested in our Savior, was bestowed upon those who, for generations, lived knowing the fear of God. The revelation of God’s love completed their deep cry for the awaited Messiah, one who would atone and rescue them from certain and otherwise inescapable judgment. Knowing the fear of God prepared their hearts to receive the love of God.
Basking in God’s love alone is wading in shallow waters….it may seem safe, but never yields the flow of living waters availed to us from God. Worse is man’s inclination to fashion God in his own likeness, tailor His ‘love’ by our emotional standards, and live in the false security of God’s easy friendship. When life grows dark, when hardship and tragedy strike, from these shallow waters come the accusations, “Why this if God loves me!”
The one who knows God fears God and takes His Word seriously. “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at My Word”. (Isaiah 66:2) Is there any greater honor than being esteemed by the Creator of the Universe?
Unlike the terrors of the world, our own deep anxieties and fear of man, the fear of God does not paralyze us but rather motivates us to serve Him, to do His will and offer ourselves as His vessels. “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men”, said Paul in II Corinthians 5:11. At great cost and sacrifice unto the Lord, the Apostle Paul faithfully served the Lord – a ministry that propelled the Gospel throughout the world. When God is awed, magnified in our hearts, we are bowed low to the place of humility. It is there where He exalts and raises us to worship and serve Him. In friendship, the Lord shares His heart and grief for fallen man and engages us to represent Him to the world.
Spiritual greatness, wisdom, protection from temptation, even springs of life come forth from this right standing. Motivation and inspiration to serve and sacrifice are grounded in this powerful place of acknowledgment. Yet, while it is common to be plagued and tormented by worldly fears, can we generate a fear of God within us, the fear that delivers us from all others?
Fear of God comes from knowing God – we know Him through revelation from His living Word. It is not a natural inclination, we are not predisposed to fear and obey God. It must come from willfully seeking the presence of God, waiting upon Him to reveal the truth as we read and meditate upon scripture. It must come from a willful decision to obey what He reveals toward us. When the Lord calls us to a task or correction it may well be out of our capacity…often the desire to obey is beyond us. Therein our relationship grows, matures, and yields fruit as God Himself enables a surrendered heart to obey and accomplish His will.
Satan is not the greatest enemy to our faith – our own complacency lulls us into spiritual death and uselessness. The ‘complacent’ fail to fill their oil lamps, they bury their God given talents. They are not ‘esteemed’ by God but risk their place in His Kingdom. It is the fear of God that compels us to draw near to Him and there in His presence we rightly view our smallness, our sinfulness, and the brevity of our life. Under His shadow, He who never sleeps will fan the flames, even the embers, of our faith for His glory.