The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 14:21-30 He who despises his neighbor sins, But happy is he who is gracious to the poor. Will they not go astray who devise evil? But kindness and truth will be to those who devise good. In all labor there is profit, But mere talk leads only to poverty. The crown of the wise is their riches, But the folly of fools is foolishness. A truthful witness saves lives, But he who utters lies is treacherous. In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, That one may avoid the snares of death. In a multitude of people is a king’s glory, But in the dearth of people is a prince’s ruin. He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly. A tranquil heart is life to the body, But passion is rottenness to the bones.
I once heard in a workplace prayer group years ago that the fear of the LORD didn’t really mean to “be afraid”, because our God does not want anyone to fear Him the way we oftentimes think of fear, but rather means a “Holy reverence” or a fear akin to that which a child may have for their parent. I do not disagree with these notions. In fact a case for this perspective could be made from scripture that these are aspects of the fear of the LORD. However, in this case, the “fear” of the LORD as spoken here does not merely mean “holy reverence” or “parental fear”, it means literally, to be terrified, or in awe of.
Years ago in my early 20’s I went skydiving. Just prior to jumping out of the plane the “jumpmaster” had me and the instructor strapped to my back step out of the open hatch of the plane at 15,000 ft and place one foot on a little step about 8 inches wide with our other foot still planted on the floor of the planes cabin. We stood there, leaning out of this moving plane for what seemed like an eternity, until we received the command to “Jump!”. Terrifying does not begin to describe those 5-10 seconds of standing half in and half out of the plane, or the 8 seconds of acceleration which followed my exit from the plane. As with any analogy which seeks to explain the attributes of God in human terms, the fear I have described here is insignificant to that which the LORD and His Holiness and hatred of sin ought illicit within us. My fear as I stood on the step of that plane pointed to the reality that it is not natural for a man to be dangling outside of a plane at 15000 feet, and should have driven me to fight, kick, and scream my way back into the relative refuge of the plane. Now, had I been without a parachute, that is exactly what would have happened.
In a similar, but far greater way the fear of the LORD, coupled with His commands, ought to lead us to flee temptations and sin right into the arms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The fear of the LORD in the heart of a Christian ought not only be a Holy reverence or paternal fear, but a fear which recognizes how complete and perfect God’s hatred for sin is, and not only sin, but workers of iniquity. A biblical fear of the LORD will lead a believer to recognize the very present danger they are in as they skirt the edges of temptation and sin, outside the refuge of God’s Son Jesus. God hates workers of iniquity brothers and sisters. Practitioners of sin. Those that walk in darkness whose manner of living is void of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Is this you?
In regards to the fear of the LORD, Matthew Henry states that:
“It is a sovereign antidote against sin and temptation. Those that have a true relish of the pleasures of serious godliness will not be allured by the baits of sin to swallow its hook; they know where to obtain better things than any it can pretend to offer, and therefore it is easy to them to depart from the snares of death and to keep their foot from being taken in them.”
One of the telltale signs that a person has a genuine, biblical fear of the LORD, is in how they respond to the commands of God.
Consider Noah. In Genesis 6:11-13 we read: “Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. Then God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.’”
Here we see God communicating to Noah that because of sin, destruction was coming upon the sons of men. What follows are a series of commands issued by God to Noah regarding the construction of the ark: make the ark out of gopherwood; make it with rooms; cover it with pitch; make it 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits tall; make a window, a door in its side, with lower, second, and third decks. After these commands, God then issues a promise to Noah “But I will establish a covenant with you”. The chapter concludes with “Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did” (Gen 6:22). Noah was a man who had found favor in the eyes of the LORD (Gen 6:8), and because of this grace God had shown him, he recognized the bible truth that the wages of sin is death. He recognized that God was Holy, Holy, Holy, and hated sin, while man was corrupt and sinful. When God told Noah that He was going to destroy mankind from the face of the earth, pouring His wrath out upon man by means of a terrifying global flood, Noah believed Him, feared Him, and responded accordingly in faith, without which it is impossible to please God. God commanded, and “Thus Noah did”.
It is so simplistic. It is so very basic to what our relationship with God ought to be, is it not? God commands. We obey. There is a line from C.S Lewis’ book A Horse and His Boy that goes “To hear is to obey”. It is uttered by subjects of the Calormen leader called the Tisroc in response to any command or request made. This isn’t how we respond to God though, is it? Our obedience is far too often predicated with a bunch of “yeah buts and what about that's?”
Jesus asks “Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). The answer is simple really. We do not fear the LORD.
We fear man. We fear looking foolish in front ofman. We fear rejection by men. We fear losing our reputations. We fear how obedience to God may affect our standing among our coworkers. We fear that family and friends will turn their backs on us. We fear how the world will respond to us, and view us. But we do not obey the commands of God or fear Him, the One Who can throw both body and soul into hell.
If you are able, please kneel and let us repent of this treason against God Almighty.
Save me entirely from sin. I know I am righteous through the righteousness of another, but I pant and pine for likeness to thyself; I am thy child and should bear thy image, Enable me to recognize my death unto sin; When it tempts me may I be deaf unto its voice.
Deliver me from the invasion as well as the dominion of sin. Grant me to walk as Christ walked, to live in the newness of his life, the life of love, the life of faith, the life of holiness. I abhor my body of death, its indolence, envy, meanness, pride.
Forgive, and kill these vices, have mercy on my unbelief, on my corrupt and wandering heart. When thy blessings come I begin to idolize them, and set my affection on some beloved object —children, friends, wealth, honour; Cleanse this spiritual adultery and give me chastity; close my heart to all but thee. Sin is my greatest curse; Let thy victory be apparent to my consciousness, and displayed in my life.
Help me to be always devoted, confident, obedient, resigned, childlike in my trust of thee, to love thee with soul, body, mind, strength, to love my fellow-man as I love myself, to be saved from unregenerate temper, hard thoughts, slanderous words, meanness, unkind manners, to master my tongue and keep the door of my lips. Fill me with grace daily, that my life be a fountain of sweet water.
From The Valley of Vision, titled “A cry for deliverance”.
Please join me in standing, and listen to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
Revelation 21: 1-4 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 03/08/2020 liturgy of Sovereign King Church written by Aaron Sabie.)
Sunday 10:30 AM