Saturday, April 14, 2007

Why should We Fear the Lord?

The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom; So says the Bible in the first chapter of the Wisdom Book of Proverbs. As with many things in the Bible, it is simplistically stated, in other words, placed on the easily reached ledge of human understanding so that the “common man” may reach it and understand. But there too is the rub: from the beginning of time right through to the current day, the societal elites would rather move the wisdom ledge up a few notches so that they become the gatekeepers of “knowledge and wisdom”. Into this battle steps the endearing simplicity of God’s scripture. God is saying, “Fear Me”. Fear Me as an ant should fear a giant human being as they co-exist in the nature of life. Not because the human being has any natural predisposition to destroy the ant but because he has the capacity to do so.

It is the Fear of the Lord that spurs Christians to live in awe of Him. God is an awesome being. Just stop for a minute and consider the natural world. You know, the one that CANNOT be replicated by man…no matter how hard he may try: How powerful are the winds of a tornado? How hot the lava flow of a volcano? How about the brutal winter of the mountain peaks? The unconscious viciousness of a great white shark? The indiscriminate shaking of a 7.0 earthquake? All these are the creations of the living God. Try as he might, man cannot dismiss these realties. Think of it: if man could, would he not simply do away with such horrors of natural living? But he can’t. Listen to God’s declaration of His authority in Romans Chapter 1: The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20). God’s invisible qualities! They are made plain to us. Deny it all we want, they are plain! We can lie to ourselves, but all men instinctively know the difference between the invisible quality of the waves of the seashore and the mechanical replication of these waves in an experiment chamber of a natural museum. You know, the ones created by machinery and man’s intellect. On the other hand, God recreates them every second of the day on millions of beaches around the world!

Job is oftentimes quoted as the most patient man who ever lived. You’ve heard the saying… “the patience of Job”. As I’ve read the book of Job, I must say that I did not see any evidence of superhuman patience being displayed by the man, however I did see the awesome power of the Lord displayed in some of the most incredible words ever captured in print: Listen to God speak to Job as He rails against Job’s presumptuous position of self righteousness as Job (understandably) tried to fathom why so many calamities had befallen him despite his righteous living:

Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind: “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much.

About the Earth
Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone...Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east? Have you made daylight spread to the ends of the earth, to bring an end to the night’s wickedness?...“Have you explored the springs from which the seas come? Have you explored their depths? Do you know where the gates of death are located? Have you seen the gates of utter gloom? Do you realize the extent of the earth? Tell me about it if you know! “Where does light come from, and where does darkness go? Can you take each to its home? Do you know how to get there? But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced!

About the Weather
...Who created a channel for the torrents of rain? Who laid out the path for the lightning? Who makes the rain fall on barren land, in a desert where no one lives? Who sends rain to satisfy the parched ground and make the tender grass spring up?

About the Animals
...Who provides food for the ravens when their young cry out to God and wander about in hunger?...Do you know when the wild goats give birth? Have you watched as deer are born in the wild? Do you know how many months they carry their young? Are you aware of the time of their delivery? Will the wild ox consent to being tamed? Will it spend the night in your stall? Can you hitch a wild ox to a plow? Will it plow a field for you? Given its strength, can you trust it? Can you leave and trust the ox to do your work? Can you rely on it to bring home your grain and deliver it to your threshing floor? The ostrich flaps her wings grandly, but they are no match for the feathers of the stork. She lays her eggs on top of the earth, letting them be warmed in the dust. She doesn’t worry that a foot might crush them or a wild animal might destroy them. She is harsh toward her young, as if they were not her own. She doesn’t care if they die. For God has deprived her of wisdom. He has given her no understanding. But whenever she jumps up to run, she passes the swiftest horse with its rider. “Have you given the horse its strength or clothed its neck with a flowing mane? Did you give it the ability to leap like a locust? Its majestic snorting is terrifying! It paws the earth and rejoices in its strength when it charges out to battle. It laughs at fear and is unafraid. It does not run from the sword.

About the puny wisdom of man
Who gives intuition to the heart and instinct to the mind?…Is it your wisdom that makes the hawk soar and spread its wings toward the south? Is it at your command that the eagle rises to the heights to make its nest?...Then the Lord said to Job, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” Will you discredit my justice and condemn me just to prove you are right? Are you as strong as God? Can you thunder with a voice like his?
(All excerpted from the Book of Job Chapters 38-41 NLT)

Oh that we as modern human beings would humble ourselves before our Creator! Who of us can answer God’s questions to Job from above? I speak here to those who claim not to believe in God. Answer those questions. Forget that they come from the Bible! Take them as philosophical questions from another mortal (and temporarily alive human being). Answer them with the wisdom from which they were crafted. Have your answer make sense so that reasonable people can hear and accept.

God is not saying to Fear Him as one would fear a predator on the prowl, as one would fear a thief coming to steal your possessions. Two hundred and fifty two (252) times throughout his Biblical letter to us God uses the word fear out of reverence and honor. Many times Jesus said believe in God as a child. When we were children, we had a sense of fear for our parents (particularly our fathers). For most, that fear was not because we were afraid he would harm us. For most of us, that fear prevented us from doing bad things! Because we knew the punishment that would ensue. But, instinctively we knew that any such punishment was not meant to destroy us. It was meant to correct us. To cause to learn and to grow into decent responsible adults. As children, that fear for our parents co-existed harmoniously with our love for them! Such is the Fear of the Lord! We are nothing more than His creation. It stands to reason, that our natural behavioral reflexes would reflect his nature, even though we are incredibly flawed and have perverted his nature within us.

Lets look at a few scriptures which puts into context this Fear of the Lord:

  • But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, (Psalm 33:18)
  • …But select capable men from all the people--men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain--and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. (Exodus 18:21)
  • Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:14)
  • The LORD heard you when you spoke to me and the LORD said to me, "I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever! (Deuteronomy 5:28)
  • Now let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery." (2 Chronicles 19:7)
  • The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalm 34:7)
  • Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. (Psalm 34:9)
    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
    (Proverbs 1:7)
  • The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. (Proverbs 14:27)
  • But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." (Mark 5:32-34)
  • (Jesus speaking again) “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. (Luke 12:4-5)
  • Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. (Acts 10:34)
  • Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. (Ephesians 6:5)
  • By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)
  • Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth--to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water." (Revelation 14:6-7)
  • Then a voice came from the throne, saying: "Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both small and great!" Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. (Revelation 19:5-7)

From the beginning of the Bible to the end of the Bible, God exhorts us to Love Him with fear and trembling! Don’t let a prideful haughty world tell you “not to love a God who you have to fear!” That is only the puffed up lack of humility that never gets anyone anywhere! Man only wants himself to be exalted. Man wants to make himself the king and master of his world. In doing so, he reduces his creator to a powerless crutch for those who have no intellect. However heed the word of the pure and simple logic of the God who knows Who He is: You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "He did not make me"? Can the pot say of the potter, "He knows nothing"? …"Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, `What are you making?' Does your work say, ‘He has no hands'? …Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 29:16; 45:9; 64:8)

We live in a world that has little fear of the Lord. People kill their children (born and unborn) because they have no fear of God. Men beat their wives because they have no fear of God. Parents teach their children to become suicide bombers because they have no fear of God. Parents fail to discipline their children because they have no fear of God. Husbands cheat on their wives because they have no fear of God. Hollywood mocks Christianity in their “art” because they have no fear of God. People have multiple sex partners because they have no fear of God. The wealthy share little of what they have because they have no fear of God. We live our lives day after day in many ways that show we have no fear of God! But God says: Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3)

(All scripture courtesy of the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted)

A God who sends people to Hell?