Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Fear of the Lord

Got inspired by a blog..only to realize the writer has long since ceased to tend that particular garden. So I'll add my tuppence here. :P

From Jan

"We are told to fear God- I have heard that explained as a different kind of fear, not a "bad" fear. What do you think it means to fear God? Is there a better word, or is that simply what it is, to have the same intense feeling that is fear?"

From Fred

"Well I don't know if I know the answer to your question or not, but I think Proverbs 9:10 sheds a little diffrent light on the fear of God. It says The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. This kind of couples wiht Proverbs 8:13 which says To fear the Lord is to hate evil: I hate pride and arrogance,evil behavior and perverse speech." My note in my bible says The phrase "fear of the Lord" doesn't mean fright or terror. it means "a good relationship with God" based on reverence and respect for him and his commands. Here, for instance, the fear of the lord means righteous living. So I don't really know how to answer your question exactly. But I do know that fear of the lord doesn't seem to mean fear as we usually know it. I don't think we should be scared of God...but let's recognize his greatness and be humbled by that."

from Zack::
"For when they tried to look as Aslan's face they just caught a glimpse of the golden mane and the great, royal, solemn, overwhelming eyes; and then they found they couldn't look at him and went all trembly" - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I just finished reading this, and thought of your blog.

I agree that knowledge of the Lord will (or should) bring fear and trembling. I will compare it to the fear I got when I leaned over the railing at Niagara Falls. To behold such power, magnificence, beauty, and awesomeness. To realize how powerless and tiny I am in comparison. To have knowledge of the Lord, to me, is to realize how little control I have, and to understand how much Greatness is beyond and around me. God created everything. I guess this type of 'fear' is more like 'reverence' or 'awe-struckness'. However, along with this (and more than this) I was also 'afraid' of Niagara Falls. The slight butterflies in the stomach. The heart begins to race. As I leaned over the rail, I was afraid, but I also was extremely alive! To be so close to such awesomeness was scary yet exhillarating. If Niagara falls is this magnificent, what can we say of its Creator? Niagara Falls must be like watching a dripping faucet as compared to the face of God.

I thought of Aslan too. C.S. Lewis was trying to help a modern audience understand what deep adoration the sudden appearance of He who is perfect wisdom, strength, and purity would inspire. Its not an easy topic for mortals.

God is good. God is completely just. God is the source of all wisdom. God is also the ultimate power not only in, but beyond the universe. Proverbs 16:14 mentions that there is death in the anger of a king. How much more is this true of God?

It is great to understand God is so wonderful that He actually deserves all of our love and adoration. It is amazing to contemplate His Love for us, awesome to consider His glory, humbling to understand how unworthy we are of His attention (let alone of so much sacrifice on His part) and terrifying to know what we really deserve at His nail-scarred hands.

"The fear of the Lord" which brings wisdom can encompass all of this.

IMHO limiting our understanding of the "fear of the Lord" to awe is not good. Awe is hard to get a grip on when we have little sense of the restrained power that actually confronts us. More folks would behave themselves better if they thoroughly understood that "the (meek and mild) image (of Jesus) we present" (Michael Card, "Scandalon") is not a complete picture of Messiah/God.

I think people forget that God is not bound by the same limitations Christians have.

Christians are not to judge because that is God's job. (2 Tim 4:1, Heb 12:23) It is He who judges all sinners who do not repent (2 Peter 2:9) AND chastises His erring children (Heb 12:7). Christians do not seek vengence because vengence belongs to the Lord (Heb 10:30). Christians are ordered to refrain from strife whenever possible because "the Battle Belongs to the Lord." ( Google credits this song to Petra, but I know it from one of John Michael Talbot's praise albums) 2 Chron 20 :15, Prov 21:31, 1 Tim 2:2, James 3:17, Rom 12:18,

Whenever we call down judgement on one another, we are judged equally harshly ourselves. (Matt 7 :1-2 , Luke 6:37) Whenever we refuse to forgive others, we put ourselves square in the path of God's wrath. (Matt 6:15 )

God is meek and mild to those who will receive Him that way, but a literal Holy terror to those who will not receive His mercy. The only wise posture to adopt before an all-knowing, all-powerful Judge is thankful humility for the clemency you receive from Him (because we have all transgressed against Him).

A healthy fear of the Lord is indeed the beginning of wisdom as it discourages you from making decisions that put you on the wrong side of God's promises.

Acceptance of His forgiveness is the next step.

"Our God is an awesome God! He reigns from Heaven above in wisdom, power, and love. Our God is an awesome God."
Rich Mullins, 'Awesome God'


pb said...

We are indeed the children of God, our Father, who can bestow good things. The absolute absence of God is a horrible emptiness that cannot be filled, much worse than the death of a human parent or spouse.

Those who cannot accept God and His demands are doomed to a life (and hereafter) of eternal appetite that cannot hope to be sated.

My truly atheist/humanist acquaintances are forever trying to find the next good thing, and the search consumes them. They are never happy, they rarely smile or have a kind word about anyone or anything. It hurts to watch them stumble along in life.

Maybe it's not the fear of the Lord, but the fear of losing Him, or His approval. A life without a loving God and his Son? The inability to believe in something greater than just our stomachs and our other physical urges? To see the night sky as a terrifying abyss dotted with meaningless points of light? To see all other people as competitors waiting to rob us of, well something, and not as lovely graces given us by a loving Parent to enjoy?

Pretty scary stuff.

Shushan said...

Pat, that is an awesome reply

& I Agree competely. Losing the grace that fills my world with grace and joy would indeed be cause for fear!

Makes me remember Michael Card's song "Joy in the Journey" lyrics "remember the hopelessness when you were lost?"

Lyrics - Joy In The Journey

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey

And all those who seek it shall find it
A pardon for all who believe
Hope for the hopeless and sight for the blind

To all who've been born in the Spirit
And who share incarnation with Him
Who belong to eternity stranded in time
And weary of struggling with sin

Forget not the hope that's before you
And never stop counting the cost
Remember the hopelessness when you were lost

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey

And freedom for those who obey...
The longer I walk with Jesus, the less sense the alternative makes to me.