Since Christmas Eve service at Fuller Life we have been encountered by the shepherds. Even up till now, the theme of the fear-of-the-LORD has been prominent. It’s shown up in Sunday School for a month now, the last two sermons began and ended this way (2 Corinthians 5:11; 7:1). We want to pay attention to this mighty subject.
Why does fear-of-the-LORD matter? First off, it’s not an archaic, outdated Old Testament thing that isn’t for us. On the contrary, we began this matter in the New Testament (Gospel of Luke with the Shepherds) and have most recently seen it in the NT (see Corinthians above). The other objection that comes includes, “Hey, God is a God of love, we aren’t supposed to fear Him!” In response to this, we need to consider that any authority figure in our lives demands an element of fear. Police officers are to be respected for their authority to serve the community. Teachers/professors are to be given our attention so we might learn. The fifth commandment says to honour your father and mother that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving to you (Deut. 5:16). Further, in the Scriptures, elders, deacons and pastors all have an authority that is meant to be acknowledged and respected and loved (please pray for your church leaders!). Fear in these senses are to be shown respect through submission. Even Ephesians 5:21 -22 commissions husbands and wives to submit to each other, why? Out of fear/reverence for Christ Jesus our Lord. Fear-of-the-LORD is integral to Biblical faith.
Now that we have established that fear-of-the-LORD is crucial to our life with God, let’s dig a little more. What exactly is it? It is an outcome of having met God, not simply a prerequisite before knowing God. Once you meet Him, this will happen. It will evoke a sense of awe and cause even terror. We meet God in His holiness and we experience a primal dread that overcomes us. It’s as if we are coming unglued. We need this, or else we will fall into conceptual pitfalls that consider Jesus as our buddy who is always playing nice to me. Not so! He is holy and other and high above the heavens! There is a reason that Israel told Moses after hearing the living God at Mount Sinai that they only wanted Moses to speak to God on their behalf, no more God speaking directly to them (Exodus 20:18-21). Encountering the LORD in His radiant glory is to be awestruck and pain-stricken all at once. The fear-of-the-LORD is a dependent trust and submission that induces humility in us. This is a good thing and to be hoped for all to experience for the sake of properly relating to our Creator, Redeemer, Lord and Judge. Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness (Psalm 29:2)
Fear-of-the-LORD is about taking God seriously. Take the words of Jesus seriously. Take what the Holy Spirit says to the churches seriously. Don’t be flippant or dismissive. Don’t allow your education or learning or modern lifestyle keep you from taking to heart what you hear from the living God. God indeed is the Lord of love, but there is that deep sense of wanting to please Him and not offend Him that drives us. Following Jesus Christ is about trusting His wisdom. The fear-of-the-LORD is that wisdom that enables a walk with God in this generation. Be wise today and fear Him and pray for His merciful hands to shepherd us into, along and by the way that leads to everlasting life. Amen.