1 Samuel 12:24 (CSB) “Above all, fear the LORD and worship him faithfully with all your heart; consider the great things he has done for you.”
This is a wonderful verse but it contains a phrase that has fallen on hard times these days.
“The fear of the Lord” isn’t something we talk much about anymore. In fact, it seems more than just a little unpleasant. We want to relegate it to the Old Testament and wipe our hands clean of the concept.
But, when we read through the New Testament, we see “the fear of the Lord” on its pages, too!
Acts 9:31 (CSB) “So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.”
2 Corinthians 5:11 (CSB) “Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your consciences.”
Colossians 3:22 (CSB) “Slaves, obey your human masters in everything. Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.”
Sometimes, “the fear of the Lord” is defined by some folks as simply a holy awe. We are told that we are to simply stand in wonder of our God and there is absolutely no reason to fear Him.
There are others who say that we are certainly to fear the Lord. But some of those folks seem to forget that the Lord is our Father if we are trusting in Jesus. So, can it be said that our relationship with God is healthy if we are scared of our Heavenly Dad?
To better understand the concept of “the fear of the Lord,” let me momentarily tell you about our family trip in the summer of 2017. We went to the Grand Canyon.
Virtually everyone would agree that the Grand Canyon is breath-taking. It is beautiful!
But, part of the experience is fear. It is beautiful but it isn’t to be trifled with. An average of 2-3 people fall to their death each year. But, as long as you respect the rules of gravity, your heart may race but you will be free to enjoy the experience.
To give you a feel for what it was like, I took this 1 minute, 32 second video as I walked along a trail and then stepped up to the railing. Hold on!
To be honest, I was a little scared when I took this video. If I had stumbled, I would have been seriously injured. If I had slipped over the railing, I would have died.
And yet people flock to this place! Why? Because of the beauty, danger, and the humility of the experience. If people want to see beauty, they can visit an art gallery or a meadow filled with flowers. But, if they want their heart to race as they are taking in the beauty, they visit the Grand Canyon and walk up to the edge. If they want to feel big and powerful, they can build an ant farm but if they want to feel small, they visit the Grand Canyon.
Friend, there is something within us that LIKES to feel small in the presence of something dangerous. In fact, feeling so small and the element of fear we experience in those moments is in some way the very reason we enjoy being in those places.
I would submit to you that this feeling within us is what its like to “fear the Lord.” If we truly understand who God is, how infinitely powerful He is, how passionately He despises sin, and how quickly and resolutely He can move against the one who offends His holiness (we are incredibly grateful that He is also gracious and loving!), and if we understand just how small we are in the presence of an omnipresent, omnipotent God, then we would begin to understand a little better what it means to fear the Lord.
In much of contemporary Christianity, God is nothing but a glorified Santa Claus. He is harmless, cuddly, and loving … and ONLY loving. The fear of the Lord doesn’t even make sense to those worshippers.
But, little do they realize how their distorted view of God is opposed to who God really is if they would only read their Bibles. Further, little do they realize how much they are robbing themselves of the thrill and happiness that can come when they stand before the dangerous God of the Bible and worship Him … and love every minute of it!
I love the following lines from “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” I’ll end with the words of C.S. Lewis:
“Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”