Friday, 19 April 2013

What Does It Mean To Fear The LORD?

I wonder if there is some confusion about what it means to Fear the Lord?.....  

Psalm 147:11 The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Psalm 145:19 He fulfils the desires of those who fear him, he hears their cry and saves them.

Psalm 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

Psalm 112:1 Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands.

Psalm 2:11 Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.

Psalm 19:9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.

Psalm 33:8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him.

Psalm 34:9 Fear the Lord you his saints, for those who fear him, lack nothing.

I've heard a few people say lately that they don't really like those verses - that talk of fearing God. Some were Preachers. Some were bible college lecturers. All called themselves Christians. All were exposing their hearts. Yet for me, those verses have the opposite effect. I love them. They are some of my favourites! So much is promised. So much is given.

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In the Hebrew to fear, means to be afraid, stand in awe, revere, dread, honour. Or, as my NIV text note says, “those who fear the Lord are those who honour God and order their lives in accordance with his will because of their reverence for him”. It is “the sum of what the law requires of man”.

I can understand that some people don't like to think about being afraid of God. Of quaking in their shoes at the Almighty God. But I think that a certain amount of fear is healthy. We're talking here about a God so powerful he created the world with a few words. A God who can wrench the sea into dry land with a spoken word. Who can raise the dead, heal the sick and cause the ground to open up and swallow those who disobey his commands if He so chooses. To me, a God that powerful needs to be revered. For I find that when I don't, I don't take him seriously when He says something. I start to become arrogant and proud and cocky. 

“Surely it's not that big a deal” I tell myself. 

I disobey. 

"If you love me, you'll obey me." - Jesus.

It is my fear of the Lord that calls me to turn my TV off when there is sex, swearing, nudity, adultry, rudeness and crudeness. It is my fear of the Lord that calls me to not dress revealingly, to not get drunk, to submit to my husband, to submit to God's word and to declare what God calls wrong – wrong. For who am I to argue with the creator God on what is and isn't sin?

It is fear of the Lord that taught me that women are to have different roles to men, particularly in the church; that we are not called to be pastors and elders and have authority over men or teach over men. It is fear of the Lord that leads me to accept God's reasoning - because women were deceived first, created second and God's law demands it, though it is in direct opposition to our current culture and may well make us the laughing stock of many. 

It is fear of the Lord that calls me to obedience. Not a fear of psychological terror but one of love, power, awe, humility – an understanding that I am nothing and HE is everything and I submit because I love him. I submit because he showed me grace. 

I see his moral law and I see my failings. 
I see his judgment. 
I see my rebellion and his offer of forgiveness through repentance. 
I see his salvation and his enabling gift of his Spirit.

It is fear of the Lord that keeps me from lying, stealing, cheating, coveting, hating and lusting. For through repentance I see my own brokenness and sinfulness. I see clearly his word and moral law as good and perfect! As wisdom.

There is no burden in what is wise.

It is fear of the Lord that keeps me passionately following after God my saviour, hungry to know him and hungering for his righteousness and his presence. For when I fear the Lord, He is all I need and his presence is so real, it saturates my soul! 

I am drenched. 

My desire for him and his presence overwhelms everything else.

Once you have known it, nothing else will ever come close to satisfying you.

“Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of his judgement has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water” 

That is the eternal gospel that is to be proclaimed to all peoples, nations, tribes, and languages (Rev 14:6,7). For when that is proclaimed, it brings repentance and people are saved and forgiven and cleansed through His grace. Praise God!

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