Fear the Lord

Volcanic eruption of a lava fountain.God knows how to spark holy fear in people’s hearts, through supernatural acts of judgement. In the last several centuries He hasn’t chosen to, but this “sleeping volcano” isn’t sleeping. 

What Fear of God isn’t

There’s some confusion as to what the fear of the Lord is. Some have defined it as a holy awe, but 21st century Christians don’t usually feel awe about anything, unless they are 6 years old or younger. The word awe has almost no emotional meaning for us as adults.  I believe Hollywood has made us a little jaded.
Nor is true holy fear defined as being frightened by the appearance of God’s supernatural messengers. Nearly everyone encountering angels cowered away, but out of natural terror. At the same time, a man or woman often encountered an angel because he or she possessed a true fear of God.
So what is it?

Here’s My “Fear of the Lord” Checklist:

1. People who fear the Lord shun evil. 

28 And he said to the human race,
    “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
    and to shun evil is understanding.” Job 28:28 (NIV)
People who fear the Lord obey Him. They seek to please God rather than men, even at great personal cost. Exodus 1 provides an early example of righteousness under extremely bad conditions.

A large pyramid in Egypt with 3 tiny tour buses parked in front.In ancient Egypt, Pharaoh grew concerned because the enslaved Israelites kept multiplying. He ordered the two Jewish midwives to kill every boy born, but let the girls live. Slaves themselves, the two women repeatedly disobeyed, because they feared God. Afterwards they told Pharaoh a ridiculous lie which he believed. (Exodus 1:15-21.)

Were the Jewish midwives terrified of Pharaoh’s wrath? Yes–that’s why they lied. But even when faced with possible torture, both women kept doing what was right. Interestingly enough, the midwives’ quietly courageous defiance took place 80 years before God’s miraculous signs in Egypt.

So as far as the midwives knew, God hadn’t even nudged an ant hill for His people in living memory. But both still honored and feared their God.

In contrast, scripture often proclaims people who live evilly lack this characteristic. “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:9-18)

2. The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
    To him belongs eternal praise. Psalms 111:10 
Why is fearing the Lord the beginning of wisdom? First, it’s a very wise choice; God has a purpose for everything He asks us to do and our understanding comes after we obey. For example, forgiving our enemies frees us from past emotional pain, but if we never forgive, that benefit remains hidden from us. It really is a faith walk.
Stylized drawing of a pink pig.In Exodus 15:26 God promises the newly freed Hebrews that if they obey all his commands they won’t suffer any of the Egyptian diseases. Centuries before scientists discovered disease-causing microbes, God gave the Hebrews rules about eating only certain foods, handling dead bodies and cleansing themselves. It worked. They avoided many serious diseases when they obeyed His laws. Centuries later we see clearly how the Almighty protected His people from sickness.

3. Humility is the Fear of the Lord.

Humility is the fear of the Lord;
    its wages are riches and honor and life. Prov 22:4 NIV
A humble believer admits their weaknesses; they frequently cry out to the Holy Spirit for help, wisdom and guidance. They depend on God because they aren’t willing to depend on themselves.

Proud Christians Rely on Themselves.

NASA image of a solar flare on the surface of the sun.Unfortunately a proud Christian lives in the opposite way; their attitude toward their Redeemer is “Lord, don’t worry, I’ve got this.” The proud are unteachable, incapable of admitting when they are wrong and unable to offer a real apology. They don’t want God’s direction; they’re certain of their own navigation skills—until they crash. After the smash-up, humility often begins to grow, but it’s a very painful process.

How about You?

Do you shun evil? Promptly obey your heavenly Master every time? Walk humbly before your God, trusting in Him rather than yourself?
If the answer is yes, congratulations
.
If no, I know Someone who can help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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