Thoughts to Ponder

Fear of the Lord

I have been thinking about people's view of God. I have long thought that the new cheap gospel that is preached in churches today has caused people to think of God as the Genie in the Sky who is there to do their bidding. But recently I realized it is even more than that. There is no fear of the Lord anymore. Now when I say fear, the word could easily be replaced by awe, respect, reverence, or any other word that shows a high degree of honor and elevation in the person's view.

I have heard people say things to the affect that they can't wait to get to heaven so that they can jump into Jesus' arms and give Him a big hug. I am often told that I am not Christ-like because I dare to speak out about this or that doctrine or movement that I believe is unbiblical; I am told that Jesus would never judge or speak harshly to anyone. I hear people say that they want to give Jesus a high-five.

Now you might think that there is nothing wrong with any of this, after all God is our loving Father and Jesus is our loving Savior, so why not feel familiar with them? Well have you ever heard the statement that familiarity breeds contempt?

We know that the Apostle John wrote Revelation and we know that John described himself as the disciple that Jesus loved. We know that he was the disciple that leaned his head on Jesus breast at the last supper. So if anyone was familiar with Jesus it was John. Now look at how he handled seeing Jesus in his vision:

Rev. 1:12-18
    Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; [13] and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. [14] His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. [15] His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. [16] In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.
    [17] When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, [18] and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

"When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man." John didn't jump into His lap, he didn't slap Him on the back, he didn't hug Him and He didn't high-five Him. What John did was fall on his face in reverence and fear of the awesome greatness and wonder of his risen Savior.

Another man who I would say had an intimate relationship with God was Ezekiel. Ezekiel was spoken to by God and given God's words to repeat to the exiles, yet look how he reacted when he saw a vision of God:

Ezekiel 1:26-28
    Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man. [27] Then I noticed from the appearance of His loins and upward something like glowing metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from the appearance of His loins and downward I saw something like fire; and there was a radiance around Him. [28] As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking.
Ezekiel 3:22-23
    The hand of the Lord was on me there, and He said to me, "Get up, go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you." [23] So I got up and went out to the plain; and behold, the glory of the Lord was standing there, like the glory which I saw by the river Chebar, and I fell on my face.

When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt He met them and gave them His law, but look what happened:

Exodus 19:18-20
    Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. [19] When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. [20] The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

Exodus 20:18-19
    All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. [19] Then they said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die."

Our God is an awesome God, yet we get so familiar with Him that we think that we can act like His equal. We are not His equal, we are nothing. God loves us because of who He is, not because of some hidden quality He sees in us. The religion of self-esteem has blinded us. Not only to who we truly are, but to who God truly is.

Should be fear God? You bet we should. We need not fear His wrath, because Jesus took that upon Himself to free us from judgment, but that does not mean we should not fear God. Let me show you what God says about fearing Him.

Proverbs 1:7
     The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
     Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 10:27
     The fear of the Lord prolongs life,
     But the years of the wicked will be shortened.

Proverbs 14:26-27
     In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence,
     And his children will have refuge.
     [27] The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
     That one may avoid the snares of death.

Proverbs 15:16
     Better is a little with the fear of the Lord
     Than great treasure and turmoil with it.

Proverbs 15:33
     The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom,
     And before honor comes humility.

Proverbs 16:6
     By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for,
     And by the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil.

Notice that all those quotes are from Proverbs. You might not know it, but Proverbs is referred to as God's psychology manual for mankind.

Two more quotes will show that we should not lose the fear of the Lord.

Acts 9:31
    So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.
2 Cor. 6:16-7:1
    Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
    "I will dwell in them and walk among them;
    And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
    [17] "Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord.
    "And do not touch what is unclean;
    And I will welcome you.
    [18] "And I will be a father to you,
    And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,"
    Says the Lord Almighty.
    [7:1] Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

It is great to think of God as our heavenly Father, and a loving Father at that, but when we become too familiar with Him that we no longer truly respect and revere Him, we have done damage to ourselves. This familiarity is all part of the cheap gospel preached today. People believe that God loves them unconditionally and that He accepts them unconditionally. They are half right.

Yes God does love us unconditionally, if He put conditions on His love, we would all be lost because we can't meet His expectations. However, He does not accept us unconditionally. For one we must believe there is a God then, we must believe in His Son.

Hebrews 11:6
    And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

So you aren't unconditionally accepted unless you believe in God.

John 14:6
    Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."
You are not unconditionally accepted. To be accepted you must come to the Father through Jesus Christ.

If we will just remember how sinful we were and yet that God loved us and that He took our punishment and placed it upon His Son, we will never stop living in fear of God, which brings holiness, wisdom, and keeps one away from evil.

E-Mail Ralph

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September 2008