Fear can be one of 2 things, a Godly fear or a worldly fear.
In the blog post on How to overcome fear in life, we looked at worldly fears, in this post we look at the fear of God.
The church has become weakened by humankind’s need to please and fear of criticism. Rather than offend people, we are taught that we don’t really have to fear God, fear in the Bible only means we need to respect and revere Him. This is false. God says we must fear Him, we must tremble in His presence.
At first, you may find it difficult to merge the idea of a loving God with one who is to be feared, but I will explain here what that looks like. The best way is to let the word of God speak for itself so I will refer to a number of scriptures.
God the creator and ruler of the universe
When earthquakes rock our earth and lava spews across roads, when storms destroy everything in their path, you had better believe that God is showing us His power. Is this somebody to be merely respected as you would a headmistress or your boss? No, this is the power of the mighty God who gets to decide if you live out eternity in heaven or in hell. This is the God we serve. Respect? I think that is an understatement.
“I feared the anger and wrath of the Lord, for he was angry enough with you to destroy you.” (Deut 9:19)
God wants us to fear Him because then we will turn from evil. (Prov 16:6)
“But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.: (1 Samuel 12:24) He performs miracles to demonstrate His power to us because if we don’t fear Him, how can we trust Him?
In the presence of God’s majesty
When God spoke to Moses from within the burning bush in Exodus 3:1, Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. God told him to take off his shoes as he was on Holy ground. Later in Exodus 33, God tells Moses He will cover him with his hand because Moses was not allowed to see God’s face. There are many examples of similar encounters in the Bible, where men have fallen to the ground in His presence. This is a God so powerful, we cannot even look upon His face and still live.
How can we love and fear God?
The same way we love Superman, Rambo and big strong heroes who fight evil with good. This is a simplistic illustration, I know, but the concept is the same. It is difficult to love a person who you fear because they have used cruelty to harm you. You CAN love somebody who is strong and powerful and uses that power to protect and provide for you. I wouldn’t want to be His opposition, but as long as He is for us, we are guaranteed to win any battle. If God was weak we could do it all ourselves.
We fear God to begin with, but that fear turns to love as we experience more of Him every day. It is easy to love Him for his compassion, tenderness, forgiveness and unfailing love for us. I will explain more of this further on.
“Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in His kindness.” (Rom 11:22) Appreciate both the kindness and the strict justice of God.
A Biblical fear of God
In pursuit of perfection
“He breaks off every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so that it will be clean and bear more fruit.” (John 15:2) The breaking off is what we fear, but as we see here, it is to perfect us.
“Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of fear for God.” (2 Cor 7:1)
One of the ways we fear God is to fear punishment. The Holy Spirit prompts us when we do wrong so that we may turn from doing wrong. This kind of Godly fear will taper off as we are perfected in his love.
Fear of God is good
The command to fear God comes with a promise. To say you don’t fear Him is denying this inheritance.
“How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.” (Psalms 31:19)
Here are some examples of the goodness He promises us:
That we may enjoy a long life
“These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.” (Deuteronomy 6:1,2)
Promise of provision
“Who then is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him. He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. The Lord confides in those who fear him; He makes His covenant known to them.” (Ps 25:12-14)
“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. Fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” (Psalm 34:7-11 )
“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.” (Psalm 128:1-4)
“Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4)
For our children
“He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children, it will be a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.” (Prov 14:26-27)
“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!” (Deuteronomy 5:29)
“But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and his righteousness with their children’s children – with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.” (Psalm 103:17-18)
“Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” (Psalm 112:1-2)
“The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.” (Prov 19:23)
“But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.” (Psalms 33:18-19)
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:7-8)
Why does God tell us to fear Him?
What starts out as fear of God, causes us to obey His commands. If we do not obey, God disciplines out of love because His purpose for us is to reflect His image. As we grow to realize this, our wisdom increases and we learn to understand and know the heart of the Father more acutely. Our love for Him grows and out of that, willing obedience culminating in perfect love. This is God’s will for us. In that place of perfect love, we are closest to Him. Faith and fear cannot co-exist in the world. As faith increases, fear subsides. God uses our fear to build our faith, but we have to trust enough to let go.
“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:1-5)
God is for us, not against us
Fear in the world would cause many of us to shrink away but fear for God draws us closer to Him. The Bible says it is our prime duty to fear Him and obey His commands. (Ecclesiastes 12:13) Fear Him and He will reveal His great love.
“The Church needs to become a gloriously dangerous place where nothing is safe in God’s presence except us. Nothing–including our plans, our agendas, our priorities, our politics, our money, our security, our comfort, our possessions, our needs.”~ Acts 17:11.com website.
Charles Spurgeon said we fear the world because it is closer to us, where God seems so far away. Yet He is not. The Holy Spirit is within us, you can’t get any closer than that. Trust and have faith in God and He will overcome your worldly fears.
I have mentioned quite a few scriptures in this post and this is not all of them. Take time to read through them, then pray and meditate on them.
If you would like more information on fear, preceptaustin.org has the most extensive amount of information I have ever seen on the subject. Visit their webpage and type “fear” into the search box.
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