Holy fear – 2 words that gripped me even as I talked to the Father on the elliptical this morning, as you do.
I know I’m entering another season with God. Yes, I prayed the awfully bold prayer of having Him examine my heart. I must be mad. Mental. Loco.
Things have happened since then, big and small. Thoughts about Him removing the dross, the idea of the potter and the clay. But today, holy fear. Those 2 words were bright as day in my mind, even as I blitzed through the final interval of my workout.
They are words, or even a concept that sounds familiar. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to delve into the Word.
No idea where to start, so I just typed in ‘fear’ into the search bar on Biblegateway. Hmm 336 hits within the NIV alone (not all relevant obviously). Here we go with most of them…
Genesis 20:11 was the first mention of the “fear of God”, when Abraham was afraid for his life because he was in a place where people did not fear God. God told Abraham to spare Issac in Genesis 22:12 because He knows that Abraham fears Him and would even sacrifice his only son if God commanded it. In “holy fear”, Noah built the ark by faith (Heb 11:7).
In Deuteronomy 6, when Moses passed the commands, decrees and laws God wanted to teach the Israelites, verse 13 says to “Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.” Verse 24 reiterates the importance to fear Him, so that “we might always prosper and be kept alive”. The fear of God keeps people from sinning (Ex 20:20). It even stopped/prevented war (2 Chr 17:10; 2 Chr 20:29)!
Again and again, the Word beseeches us to “fear your God” (Lev 25:17; Lev 25:36; Lev 25:43; Deut 10:12; Deut 10:20; Deut 31:12-13; Josh 4:24; Josh 24:14; 1 Sam 12:14; 1 Sam 12:24; 1 Chr 16:25; Ps 2:11; Ps 33:8; Ps 40:3; Prov 15:16; Ecc 5:7; Ecc 12:13; Is 8:13; Jer 5:22; 1 Pet 2:17). We are called to delight in the fear of the Lord (Is 11:3). Jesus himself in Luke 12 said we should fear God (v5).
People did things in the fear of God and He blessed them for it (e.g. the midwives in Exodus 1). In Exodus 14:31, the Israelites feared the Lord and trusted Moses. Capable people who feared God were placed in positions of authority (Ex 18:21)and were of high standing (Acts 13:50). Uzziah King of Judah was “instructed […] in the fear of God” (2 Chr 26:5) and was blessed with success as long as he pursued God.
Good men were described to have the fear of God (e.g. the man of integrity in Neh 7:2). Job is a great example (Job 1:1; 1:8-9; 2:3). In fear of God, He held on to his faith (Job 23:15), avoided sinning, and did good (Job 31:23). He is feared in the “council of the holy ones” (Ps 89:6) and is to be “feared above all gods (Ps 96:4). Other people who feared God included: Moses (Acts 7:32), Cornelius and his family (Acts 10:2; 10:4; 10:22).
David’s last words spoke of what God told Him, that if someone rules in the fear of God, “he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth.” People were also told to judge carefully (2 Chr 19:7), and to serve faithfully and wholeheartedly (2 Chr 19:9) in the fear of the Lord. God even said to Moses in Deuteronomy 5:28 that if the Israelites feared Him and kept all His commands always, “it might go well with them and their children forever!”
There’s even a section in Deuteronomy 10 called ‘Fear the Lord’:
12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today.16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For theLord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome,who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.22 Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.
Psalm 31:19 speaks of the abundant good things stored up for those who fear God, for those who seek refuge in Him. To fear Him is to be blessed (Ps 112:1; 115:13; 128:1). Things will go better (Ecc 8:12).
His eyes “are on those who fear him” (Ps 33:18). Those who fear Him is accepted by Him without discrimination (Acts 10:35). His salvation is near to those who fear Him (Ps 85:9; Acts 13:26). His love is great for those who fear Him (Ps 103:11, 103:17). He delights in us when we fear him (Ps 147:11). He has compassion on those who fear Him (Ps 103:13). He will “confide” in us (Ps 25:14) and “instruct” us in the “ways [we] should choose” (Ps 25:12).
When we fear him, the angel of the Lord encamps around us and he delivers us (Ps 34:7). We will lack nothing (Ps 34:9). We will be “kept safe” (Prov 29:25). He “provides food” (Ps 111:5) and “fulfils the desires” (Ps 145:19) of those who fear Him. We will have a “secure fortress”, a refuge for our children (Prov 14:26; Jer 32:39; Luke 1:50). It “adds length to life” (Prov 10:27), is “a fountain of life” that turns us away from death (Prov 14:27), and “leads to life” (Prov 19:23). The fearful heart will gain understanding (Is 32:4). When those who feared God were talking, He listened and heard (Mal 3:16). The church grew as it lived in fear of God and encouragement from the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31).
…But what is the fear of the Lord? It doesn’t sound like it means to run kicking and screaming away from God? In Job 33:7, God told Job that holy fear should not alarm him. David prayed that God might give him an “undivided heart, that [he] may fear [His] name (Ps 86:11). The Word says the nations will fear the name of the Lord (Ps 102:15). We are called to “always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.” (Prov 23:17) The “Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord” is mentioned in Isaiah 11:2.
The fear of the Lord is described as wisdom (Job 28:28; Ps 111:10; Prov 1:7; Prov 9:10; Prov 15:33), as pure and eternal (Ps 19:9). It is humility, which brings “riches and honour and life” (Prov 22:4). It is the key to the treasure that is Him – the sure foundation, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge (Is 33:6).
We are told to praise, honour and revere Him if we fear Him (Ps 22:23; Ps 64:9; Is 59:19; Rev 14:7; Rev 19:5). We are to trust in Him in our fear of Him (Ps 115:11). When we fear Him, we obey (Ps 128:1) and shun evil (Prov 3:7; Prov 8:13; Prov 14:16; Prov 16:16). We are also to honour others who fear the Lord (Ps 15:4) that we may dwell in His presence. We are to live our lives in “reverent fear” (1 Peter 1:17). A person who fears God “walks uprightly” (Prov 14:2), gives generously (Acts 10:2), prays regularly (Acts 10:2), avoids extremes (Ecc 7:18), submits to authority (Eph 6:5; 1 Pet 2:18), is compelled to share the Gospel (2 Cor 5:11), and never turns away from Him (Jer 32:40).
I’m not going to say I know what it is exactly yet, but I know He’ll teach me.
Gosh… another dangerous prayer. I’m on a roll.