The fear of the Lord is very important, however, we seldom hear people preach about it. There are more than 300 references to the fear of the Lord in the Bible. The two most important themes that occur throughout the whole Bible is firstly, the grace of God and secondly, the fear of God. It is like a train running on two tracks, grace and the fear of God. When we think about grace, we also think about subjects relating to grace such as, the love of God, God’s favor and God’s goodness. If we keep a good balance between the grace of God, and the fear of God we put ourselves in a position to experience the blessings of God and to reach our goals. Moreover, as we approach the end of the age, we must learn to live in the fear of the Lord, if we want to stand strong for Jesus.
There are a number of Scriptures that connect the fear of the Lord and the grace of God.
Romans 11:22, “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God:” God’s goodness is linked to His grace. Hebrews 12:28, ““Having grace, let us serve the Lord acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” To serve God acceptably, we must do it “with reverence and godly fear.” We see the connection of grace and the fear of the Lord. We have another example of this in Acts 9:31, “…and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” The comfort of the Holy Spirit is about experiencing the love and the grace of God. However, when they also feared the Lord, “the church was multiplied!” There was fruitfulness in their ministry and they could achieve their goals.
In the Old Testament we have the example of King David when he tried to bring the Ark of the Lord back to Jerusalem. David is a type of God’s grace, a man who loved God, a man after God’s own heart. We know what happened, Uzzah touched the Ark, and God killed him. We read in 2 Samuel 6:9-10, “And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, how shall the ark of the LORD come to me?” David always loved the Lord, but he needed learn about the fear of the Lord before he could bring the ark back to Jerusalem. In the same way, in order to reach our spiritual goals, we must not only love God, but we must also fear Him. The ark also speaks of the glory and the presence of God. Therefore, the fear of the Lord is also important if we want to experience God’s presence and glory.
What is the Fear of the Lord?
In the New Testament, the Greek word in most cases is the word “phobos,” which means fear, to be reverend, respectful, to show honor, etc. For example, we read that we must serve the Lord “with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)
To the unbeliever or backslider, the fear of the Lord means: To fear, to be frightened and to be terrified. They are afraid that God will judge and punish him and send them to hell. Jesus said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
However, to the believer and those who want to follow Jesus, the fear of the Lord means, reverence, to show respect, to be careful and to stand in awe. Moses said in Exodus 20:20, “Do not fear (be frightened); for God has come to test you, and that His fear (reverence, fear) may be before you, so that you may not sin.” Therefore the fear of the Lord to the believer, is not a fear of punishment or hell because Jesus carried our punishment on the cross and gave us the gift of eternal life. However, it is the fear that we can lose God’s favor, His blessing and calling. Furthermore, it is also a fear that we can lose our eternal rewards.
How do we know that we are living in the fear of the Lord?
Firstly we will be serious about holiness.
The Bible says “Perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 7:1) To do this means that we will not hide our sins and failures, but we will be quick to repent and acknowledge our sins before God. We will also be careful never to grieve or quench the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, we will be serious about obedience:
Obedience is a manifestation of the fear of the Lord. We have the example of Abraham when God appeared to him and told him to offer up his son Isaac. We know what happened! As he was about to kill his son, the angel stopped him and said, “for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” (Genesis 22:12) God only knows that we fear Him when we obey Him. Those that fear the Lord will be quick to obey His word. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commands.” (John 14:15)
In Proverbs 8:13 we read, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil, pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.” We will love what God loves and we hate what He hates. He hates pride, gossiping. conflict, bitterness, rebellion, etc. He loves obedience, for example: Forgiveness, generosity, faithfulness, love, etc. We read in Isaiah 66:2, “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.” If we fear the Lord we will regard the Bible as the word of God, as if God Himself is speaking to us. We will take every word that we read seriously.
Thirdly, we will respect His presence:
It does not mean that we cannot enjoy His presence and make a noise, sing and dance, but in our hearts we show Him great respect. When we know that we are in God’s presence, we will not allow ourselves to be distracted with other things. In Psalm 2:11 we read, “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” Even when we praise and rejoice, we realize that we are standing before a mighty and holy God.
Psalm 89:7 says, “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, And to be held in reverence by all those who are around Him.” Those that want to be around Him, who want to draw close to Him, they must hold Him in reverence. God wants to draw near to us, but there is a condition, He will only do so if we show Him reverence!
In Leviticus 10:1 we read how Nadab and Abihu died in the presence of God because they offered “profane fire”. The word profane means “lack of reverence.” In verse 3, Moses explained what happened. “This is what the LORD spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.’ “So Aaron held his peace.” Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 5:1-2, “Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore, let your words be few.” When we worship, pray or spend time with God, we must show Him our deepest respect.
Fourthly, we will see al things in the light of eternity:
Although we are saved by faith in Jesus, we will be rewarded in eternity according to our works. What we do on earth will affect us for the whole of eternity. To the Born-again believer, the issue is not where he will spend eternity, but how he will spend eternity! There are many scriptures that speak about the judgment seat of Christ and that we will be judged according to our works. For example Romans 14:10,12, “We must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ … So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God.” Notice it says “we all!” That includes you and me!
We also read in the 2 Corinthians 5:10-11, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men...” When we realize that our actions on earth will affect our eternal existence, we will be motivated to live in the fear of the Lord.
Peter gave us this serious warning in 1 Peter 1:17, “And as you call upon the Father, who without partiality judges each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout your time of sojourning here with fear;” Therefore, if we live in the fear of the Lord, we will live with purpose and use every opportunity to make an eternal investment. We will have an eternal perspective.
Fifthly, we will be aware that God knows everything and sees everything:
The Bible says in Hebrews 4:13, “… there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” God knows all our thoughts, sees everything we do and hears everything that we say and even knows the motives of our heart. There is nothing we can hide from Him. For example, if we traveling on a road and we are aware that a traffic policeman is watching us, we will be careful how we drive! In the same way, God is watching everything we do. It is like a big screen in His heavenly office that shows everything that we do. When we live in the fear of the Lord, we will realize that “Someone is watching us!” Psalms 11:4 says, “The Lord is in His holy temple, The Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.” God also listens to all the words that we speak, Jesus said in Matthew 12:36, “… that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” Furthermore, He also knows our thoughts and motives. We read in Romans 2:16, “… God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”
The benefits of the fear of the Lord:
In Isaiah 33:6,we read that the “fear of the Lord is His treasure.” When we live in the fear of the Lord, we will discover that God has wonderful things prepared for us. It is like opening a treasure chest! The Bible says that “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
Let us look at some amazing scriptures:
Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Godly wisdom is given to those who live in the fear of the Lord. This wisdom will give us the ability to make the right decisions and know the will of God. This is an important key to be successful in our lives.
Psalm 25:12, “Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. He himself shall dwell in prosperity…” The fear of the Lord is important if we want to find our calling and ministry. Furthermore, it is a key to a prosperous life.
Psalm 25:14, “The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.” The word secret also implies “intimate, sweet satisfying companionship.” The fear of the Lord is a key to intimacy with God. If we add the fear of the Lord to our hunger for God, we will go all the way into experiencing His presence.
Proverbs 3:7-8, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.” We have a similar verse in Proverbs 10:27, “The fear of the Lord prolongs days.” In order to have our days prolonged, we must have good health. The fear of the Lord is one of the keys to health and long life.
Proverbs 14:26, “In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence.” The fear of the Lord gives us boldness and sets us free from all other ungodly forms of fear. When we fear the Lord, we will have also boldness to tell others about Jesus.
Proverbs 19:23, “The fear of the LORD leads to life, and he who has it will abide in satisfaction; He will not be visited with evil.” What a wonderful promise! Jesus said the He has come to give us life and life abundantly.
Psalm 145:19, “He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.” What a wonderful promise!
Psalm 147:11, “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy.” Jesus said that He always did that which pleased His Father. Living in the fear of the Lord, is pleasing to God.
There is a wonderful and important verse about the fear of the Lord in Malachi 3:16, reading in the King James Version, “Then they that feared the LORD spoke oft one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.”
This verse says that those that fear the Lord spoke often to one another. In other words, they would connect with one another and have fellowship with one another. Their commitment to the local church was a high priority. They took seriously the warning given in Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the matter of some, exhorting one another, the more so as we see the day approaching.” Furthermore, “a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD…” This may have eternal consequences and be an issue one day when we stand before the Judgment seat of Christ in eternity! The Message Translation puts it this way, “Then those whose lives honoured God got together and talked it over. God saw what they were doing and listened in. A book was opened in God’s presence and minutes were taken of the meeting, with the names of the God-fearers written down, all the names of those who honoured God’s name.” What a wonderful promise to those who fear the Lord!
We read about the Children of Israel in Proverbs 1:29 that they “did not chose the fear of the Lord.” This means that the fear of the Lord is a choice. When we make this choice, God will give us the grace to do so. We read in Hebrews 12:28, we read, “Having grace, let us serve the Lord acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” To serve God acceptably, we must do it “with reverence and godly fear.” Living in the fear of the Lord is the wisest choice that we can make because, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Amen.