Love is shown by fear of the Lord. People who are full of God’s truth are people who live in awe of God. What I want to do in today’s post is explain what fear of the Lord means, why it is necessary, what good comes from it.
What is the fear of the Lord? The fear of the Lord is the heartfelt response to God’s power and holiness.
God’s power is unmatched. He boasts in Isaiah 43:10-13 ( NIV ) “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?”
God’s holiness is unimpeachable. When the prophet Isaiah had a vision of God in His heavenly temple and saw the seraphim hiding their faces and their feet and singing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty” how did he respond? He cried out, Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty (Isaiah 6:5, NIV). Isaiah felt so dirty in the presence of such holiness he thought he was going to die!
When you are given comprehension of the power and holiness of the Almighty, you can’t help but respond in fear. This isn’t a fear of evil, this is a fear that is grounded in seeing God for who He is in all of His glory. When we see the fearsome holiness of God Almighty you can only respond with Job and say (Job 42:5-6, NIV ), My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.
God expects us to be in awe of Him. He says in Deuteronomy 10:12-13 ( NIV )
And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
God expects us to be teaching our children to fear Him. In Deuteronomy 31:10-13 (NIV) instructed Israel saying
At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing. Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the aliens living in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.
So the fear of the Lord is the heartfelt response to the power and holiness of God. This fear of the Lord is something God expects us to have, cultivate, and teach to each other.
What good comes from having fear of the Lord? The more I studied this in preparation for this post the more amazed I became. Listen to what I found:
The fear of the Lord produces wisdom. Proverbs 9:10 (NIV) Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
It encourages truthfulness. Exodus 18:21 (NIV) But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain.
It leads us to act with righteousness. In 2 Samuel 23:2-4 (NIV) David says, The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue. The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me: ‘When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth.’
It leads us to be just. God commands in Leviticus 25:17 (NIV) Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the LORD your God.
It moves us to be good. Samuel says in 1 Samuel 12:23-25 (NIV) As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away.
It comes with humility. Proverbs 22:4 (NIV)says, Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.
It gives us confidence because of God’s grace. The Psalmist says in 130:4 (NIV) But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.
The fear of the Lord brings peace. We read in Acts 9:31 (NIV) Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.
It helps us remember why we need to be forgiving. At the end of the parable of the Unmerciful Servant, Jesus says in Matthew 18:35 (NIV) This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.
It moves to be thankful. Psalms 66:16 (NIV) Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.