What is the fear of the Lord? Is it also mentioned in the New Testament?
How do we respond to a loving God who reached down to take us out of the slime of sin and clothed us in victory from the bondage of sin through the blood of the Lamb?
Ps 18:16 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.” NIV
How can we respond to divine love?
The Israelites also had experienced triumph over a life in slavery. God rescued them in miraculous ways from the bondage imposed on them by the Egyptians and led them through the waters of the Red sea to victory of a life free of slavery. Let us examine the response of the Israelites towards that kind of divine love. Let us remember that 1 Cor 10:11 “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.”
At first the Israelites were ecstatic. Who wouldn’t be? What once was considered a lifetime of bondage had evaporated in front of their eyes, and freedom was obtained for them from God Himself! Wow! Ex 15:20-21 “Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing.” NIV Their rejoicing seems to be quite similar to those experienced in charismatic circles.
But what happened after that? A few weeks later they started to complain and desire to go back to the slime they had come from. Num 11:4-6 “The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost — also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” NIV
How fast we forget the blessings God bestows to us! Here was a nation blessed by God, rescued from slavery, led by God Himself, fed by the Almighty Himself (manna) and all they can think of is the land they used to live in bondage! Don’t we fall often times in the same trap?
God could not bless them. Although the Promised Land was right before them, they could not enter it. Their attitude prevented that.
Heb 3:18 “And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? NIV
It was not because they had no knowledge from God. Oh no! God Himself had instructed them.
Heb 3:16 “For who, having heard, rebelled.” NKJV
The problem of the Israelites is that they did not fear the Lord!
Deut 5:29 “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” NIV
Now what is the fear of the Lord? The Israelites did not fear the Lord, but what about us? Do we fear the Lord? We better ask this ourselves.
Heb 4:1 “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.” NIV
Even the New Testament encourages us to fear the Lord.
2 Cor 7:1 “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” NKJV
What is the fear of the Lord? This is a notion that is quite strange to a lot of believers. It is easy to talk about loving the Lord. But it isn’t that popular to talk about fearing the Lord. However, the Bible is our guide and we will follow what it instructs us to do. Let us examine this together more closely.
Prov 16:6 “Through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil.” NIV
Wow! The fear of the Lord is a motivation for us to avoid doing evil. The fear of the Lord is thus our ally and is a quite powerful motivator!
Ex 20:20 “Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” NIV
Moses confirms this. The fear of God is a motivator for us to not sin. Notice that “the fear of God” is not the same as being afraid of God. The two terms are not the same! However, notice the reaction from the Israelites when God appeared at mount Sinai: Ex 20:21 “The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” NIV
The Israelites where staying a distance from mount Sinai. Why? Because they were afraid of God. However, Moses went where God was. He was hungry for God. He was a God chaser. He was not scared of God. He had the fear of God with him. This is the difference between a God fearer and one who is not. The God fearer will want to be where God is. He is attracted to God, while the other keeps his/her distance from God.
The result is quite revealing. Those who were afraid of God, sinned a few days later, building a golden calf to be their God, while the one who had the fear of God was enjoying God’s company and staying away from sin. In other words, being afraid of God will not keep us from sinning. However having the fear of the Lord will be a motivator for us not to sin.
Prov 16:6 “Through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil.” NIV
2 Cor 7:1 “Therefore, since these [great] promises are ours, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates and defiles body and spirit, and bring [our] consecration to completeness in the [reverential] fear of God.” AMP
We have found out that the fear of the Lord does not mean to be afraid of our Father in heaven. It keeps us from sinning. Let us dig some more in God’s Word.
Phil 2:12-13 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” NKJV
Heb 12:28-29 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire” KJV
Here we discover what the fear of the Lord really means. Too often we take our own salvation for granted and slip back in attitudes and sins of our past. We don’t do it intentionally. It just happens gradually, without us noticing it. Before we know it, we are just like our neighbour Joe, or our colleague Joanne (these names are made up), and both of them are not saved!
What happened? Just like the Israelites, we took our deliverance from our bondage for granted and started to long for that bondage again. We did not have the fear of the Lord with us. Not being afraid of the Lord, but the fear of the Lord involves avoiding hurting God at any cost. It involves being aware of the terrible consequences our actions can have and avoid doing anything that is not according to God’s will.
To really understand God’s will, I would like to draw a parallel to married life. In fact the Bible encourages us to do so. Oftentimes the Bible compares our relationship with Jesus with the relationship between a bride and a bridegroom. Jesus is the bridegroom. We are the bride. John 3:29-30 “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” NIV
Just like a bride loves the bridegroom and vice versa, we love the Lord as well. Mark 12:29-30 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” NIV However pure love includes fear. A fear to not hurt your beloved one. A fear of consequences from inconsiderate actions and its possible consequences.
Imagine a world where both husband and wife will try anything possible to avoid hurting their beloved partner. Imagine a world where both husband and wife think of possible consequences their actions will have and will avoid actions that will have a negative impact on their partner. Wouldn’t divorce in a world like this being an unknown entity?
The same is true with our love towards our loving Saviour. To be pure, it must include fear. Fear from possibly hurting our Saviour. Fear of the possible consequences of our actions may lead and make us estranged from our beloved Jesus. No falling away is possible if we keep the fear of the Lord with us. This is why the fear of the Lord is so important to all of us!
As you can see, the fear of the Lord is a fact not only in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament as well. It is a motivator to be in the center of God’s will because we could not imagine hurting God and facing a possible eternal separation from Him by being wilfully disobedient.
Will you join me in prayerfully considering the impact that the fear of the Lord will have in your life? Pray with me to be filled with the fear of the Lord. It will keep us from sinning, in other words it will keep us from breaking our relationship with Jesus, the reason why He had to die on the cross. Will you join me? Praise be to God for saving a wreck like me! Thank you Jesus. I love you and I fear from hurting you and possibly becoming estranged from you. Answer His call now at http://www.answers2prayer.org/saviours_call.html .
Mediate on the following promises made to those who fear the Lord:
Acts 9:31 “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Sama’ria had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit it was multiplied.” RSV
Heb 5:7 “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear.” RSV
Ps 34:7 “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” NIV
Ps 33:18 “But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.” NIV
Ps 145:19 “He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.” NIV
Prov 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” NIV
Ps 128:1-4 “Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD.” NIV
New Testament scripture shows that we are to fear the Lord our God. Fear meaning awe and reverence.
Our Lord in Matthew 10:28 commanded us to fear the God who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Our Lord’s prayer in Gethsemane was “heard for his godly fear”—as the Revised Standard Version translates Hebrews 5:7. (The Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich lexicon translates the Greek noun here as “reverent awe and fear.”)
The repentant criminal asked the other criminal in amazement at Calvary: “Don’t you fear God?” (Luke 23:40).
When our Lord wanted to indicate the character of the unjust judge in a parable, he did so by saying that he “neither feared God nor cared about men” (Luke 18:2).
God’s people are described in the New Testament as those who are “living in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31).
The mother of our Lord praised God that “his mercy extends to those who fear him” (Luke 1:50).
The apostle Paul called upon Christians to “make holiness perfect in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1 RSV)
“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).
“Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Eph. 5:21).
The apostle Peter urged them to “love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (1 Pet. 2:17), and to “live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear” (1 Pet. 1:17).
The “fear of the LORD is that knowledge wherein we acknowledge who God is, and trust Him to chart our path. We surrender our will to His, and our wisdom for His.” “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” Psalm 111:10. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7. “And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” Job 28:28.
Yours, because of Calvary,
Delmer Lawson Jesus loves you and I do too email@example.com
There is no other Divine admonition (advice) mentioned in Holy Scripture, which appears even close to the number of times of the simple warning that we are to fear the Lord. This Divine warning that our eternal life rests upon our fear of the Lord appears a myriad of times from Genesis to Revelations, and with good reason. (a) If those souls outside of Christ have no fear of Divine Judgment and eternal perdition, if they have no awareness of the Power and Justice of a Holy God, they will never seek His salvation. If we don’t know we have a life threatening cancer, why would we ever seek a physician and a cure? Thus, concerning our spiritual, eternal fate] knowing that our everlasting spiritual lives are in danger and that we are powerless of ourselves to effect a cure, is the first step towards life. (b) Christians would feel no need to restrain the base impulses of their flesh, if they did not have a healthy fear of the discipline of a Holy God, of a Loving Father, Who would never allow His dearly loved children to waste their lives in dissipation.
Parenthetical note: We must add that for Christians, the fear of the Lord is not a cowering fear of Divine punishment or as a result of any concern of their ever being in danger of being losing their life in Christ; fear in this case, means to hold Almighty God in awe and respect for all He is and all He has done, knowing we serve an awesome God and a Father worthy of our Trust.
As usual the dear Holy Spirit doesn’t leave us to run to and fro trying, through vain efforts, to define what the fear of the Lord is, He tells us plainly:
“The fear of the Lord [is] to hate evil…”
“All evil in general, evil thoughts, evil words, evil actions, evil company, evil worship, and evil doctrines [are meant here]; and by “the fear of the Lord”, which [demonstrates] itself in an hatred of evil, because of the loathsome nature of it, and being contrary to God and his will; and as it appears in the glass of the law, and especially in the glass of pardoning love, is meant not the fear of his judgments and wrath, or a distrust of his grace and goodness, much less an hypocritical fear, or a mere show of devotion; but a reverential affection for him, which is peculiar to children; a filial, godly fear, which is consistent with strong faith, great joy, and true courage; and is opposite to pride and self-confidence, and is accompanied with real holiness; it takes its rise from the grace of God, and is greatly increased and promoted by the discoveries of his love and goodness: this is brought into the account and description of wisdom, to distinguish it from carnal wisdom; to commend wisdom from its holiness; for this the beginning of wisdom, yea, wisdom itself.” John Gill
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.”
Whether we be sinners or saints, the redeemed or the lost; having a fear of the Lord is Divine Wisdom. For the lost, to fear the Power, Majesty and Justice of the Lord unto Salvation is surely Wisdom, for it is wise indeed to escape the wrath of God and enter into Life in Christ. For the Redeemed it is surely Divine Wisdom to walk worthy of His Love, to demonstrate our love for Him by our obedience, respecting His Divine Guidance in all things, fearing the natural penalties consequent upon our disobedience, and in consideration of His Grace and our unworthy state, to stand in awe of His great Mercy and unconditional Love. In the case of the Redeemed, it is impossible to truly love others, especially our enemies, until we have a deep appreciation for God’s Love and the outflow of this knowledge is genuine, Divine Love expressed towards others.
There are many verses on this subject and many worthy aspects to consider in any study of this matter, but at the first step, before any other step is possible – we must, in fear of God, hate evil in ourselves and the world around us. This fear of the Lord, hating evil and desiring to escape it deleterious affects is truly the fruit of Divine Wisdom.