One of the major problems in society today is a lack of the fear of God. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of the fear of God in the church too. It is dwindling among the believers today. The Bible says, ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes’ (Romans 3:18; Psalm 36:1). People do not choose to fear the Lord these days (Pro. 1:29). When we choose to walk in the fear of the Lord, we will be richly blessed (Psalm 112:1-10) and our church will also grow by leaps and bounds (Acts 9:31)! The Spirit of God is the Spirit of the fear of the Lord and our God delights in the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2, 3).
THE FEAR OF THE LORD IN THE BIBLE
The fear of God is so important, that the phrase “fear of the Lord” appears 27 times in the Bible, “fear of God” appears 8 times, “fear Him” (with reference to God) appears 23 times, “fear the Lord” appears 33 times, “fear God” appears 17 times, “feared God” appears 5 times, “feared the Lord” appears 10 times, “feared Me” (with reference to God) appears once, “fear Me” (with reference to God) appears 8 times, “fears God” appears 4 times, “fears the Lord” appears 7 times, and “fears Him” (with reference to God) appears once(NKJV). So that’s at least 144 references to fearing God in the Bible, with 19 of those appearing in the New Testament. If so much emphasis is placed on fearing the Lord, then I believe that we need to know what it means and how we can go about doing it.
Some consider the fear of God to be an Old Testament concept, no longer relevant now that we understand God’s love and are under grace. There is so much discussion of the goodness of the Lord these days and rightly so. His goodness is part of His perfection and beauty which attracts His children to Him. However, as much as the church needs to hear of His goodness as a foundational life changing truth, J.I Packer warns in his classic Knowing God that one always needs to talk of the “goodness and severity of the Lord.” Without that perspective, God becomes some fluffy Santa Clause figure that is no God at all. The apostle Paul, writing in the New Testament, told believers to be “perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Again, in Ephesians 5:21, Paul instructed believers to be “submitting to one another in the fear of God”. The apostle Peter also instructed believers to “fear God” in 1 Peter 2:17. In fact, walking in the fear of God was something that characterized the church in the book of Acts, where we read that the churches were “walking in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31). Furthermore, the book of Revelation includes the commandment to “fear God” as part of the “everlasting gospel” (Revelation 14:6-7).
Our Lord Jesus Himself commanded, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). This saying of Jesus reveals two important things. Firstly, we are not to fear man. Secondly, we are to fear God. Jesus reveals that the fear of God is rooted in knowing His ability to punish us, and in knowing the severity of that punishment – “fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”. We should walk with a healthy “fear”, knowing that we will one day appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Therefore, we ought to adopt the attitude that Paul commended to the Philippians when he wrote, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13).
WHAT IS FEAR OF THE LORD?
The fear of the Lord is a deep seated reverence for God that causes men to want to please Him at all costs. The Bible says, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ’God is a consuming fire’ (Hebrews 12:28-29). This reverence and awe is what the fear of God means for Christians. Fear of God is to fear His Word and obey His commandments (Psalm 112:1; Deut. 6:2; Eccl. 12:14). Abraham proved that he feared God by not withholding his only beloved son in obedience to God’s voice. God himself testified, ‘Now I know that you fear God (Gen. 22:12). To fear the Lord is to hate evil (Prov. 8:13). Job feared God and hated and shunned evil (Job. 1: 1, 8). Joseph feared God in his life and ran away from evil (Gen. 42:18; 39:9). A true Christian is one who behaves himself a Christian when no one is watching him.
Fear of God is doing good. It is not enough to hate evil. We must be people who do good if ever fear God. The Bibles says, “You shall not curse the blind, but shall fear your God;…you shall not do injustice…not be partial…not go about as a talebearer…not hate your brother in your heart… not seek revenge…not bear a grudge against anyone…Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and fear your God (Lev. 19:14-18, 32). Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God (Lev. 25:17). Do not take interest or accept bribe, and rule over others ruthlessly but fear your God (Lev. 25:36, 43).
THE Blessings of the fear of THE LORD
The Bible says, “What does the Lord require of you, but to fear the Lord your God…for your own good?’ (Deut. 10:12, 13; 6:24).Let me mention some of the many good blessings the Lord bestows on them who fear Him.
1.God prepares good things for them.
How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you. Psalm 31:19
2. The angel of the Lord comes to protect them.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Psalm 34:7
3. They lack nothing.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. Psalm 34:9
4. They become close confidants of God
The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. He will teach them his ways (Psalm 25:12-14)
5. God fulfils the desires of them and listens to their prayers
He fulfils the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:19
6. God rewards them with wisdom
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One understands. Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; Psalm 111:10
7. The Lord adds length to their lives
The fear of the Lord adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short. Proverbs 10:27
8. They will have a secure fortress for their children.
Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.Proverbs 14:26
9. God keeps them from the snares of death.
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death. Proverbs 14:27
10. Their lives will be untouched by trouble.
The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble. Proverbs 29:23
11. They will get riches and honour and life from God.
Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honour and life. Proverbs 22:4
12. They don’t need to fear anyone or anything.
Those who don’t fear God will fear other gods, magic, witchcraft, people, Second coming, judgement, hell etc. There are many ‘fear nots’ in the Bible. They are for those who fear God. Those who fear God can be bold as lions (Psalm 91:5, 6). Oswald Chambers says, “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that, when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”
The day will come when the Lord will separate whose who fear Him and those who do not. Malachi 3:16-4:3 is the tale of two, the one who did not fear God and the one who did fear Him. Where shall you stand? BLESSED IS THE MAN WHO FEARS THE LORD!