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The ‘Fear of the Lord’ has always been a fascinating topic and one that has caused not a small bit of confusion. Are we supposed to be afraid of God? Isn’t God love? Are we missing something? I don’t presume for one minute to have a full understanding but I do feel God has given me some insight that I can share. Some of the confusion on this can be cultural or based on language and translation. However, the two main things that I see as a problem are that we are either consumed with fear of the wrong things and therefore are confused or we don’t want to fear anything because of our arrogance. I’ve suffered from both at different times in my life.
Fear isn’t the same thing as terror. I fear getting electrocuted enough to not stick a screwdriver in the wall outlet. However, I don’t pull the covers over my head at night, terrorized by the idea that there’s electricity running through cables in the walls of my house wondering when it’s going to jump out and get me. I have a healthy, rational fear of the nature of electricity and it guides my behavior allowing me to enjoy and appreciate its benefits. This is the difference. In knowing God, His power, His nature, His judgement and His kindness I can relate to Him in rational, Holy fear. When I don’t, I experience the consequences much like I would if I abandoned all rational fear and stuck a screwdriver in the wall outlet. The electricity would affect me adversely because I didn’t treat it with the fear and understanding required. It’s not because the electricity sought to destroy me. It’s not personal. It’s just powerful. (Click Here To Watch Me Teach On This Topic)
A Big Terrorist in the Sky?
One of the primary words we translate as ‘worship’ in the Bible is a Hebrew word that means ‘to bow down’. As strange as it may seem, the thing you fear you will bow down to and serve. Many ancient cultures were afraid of the sun, or the weather or fire and so they devised ways to worship those entities with the hopes of having a favorable relationship with that entity. They worshipped something they did not understand completely out of fear. The devil wants to convince us that this is how God wants our relationship with Him to be. He takes the concept of ‘the fear of God’ and tries to pervert it into this sense that God is some big bully in the sky that we must submit to or get fried. Bullying, like terrorism, is one person wanting to cause another to fear them in order to control their behavior. Though you may be able to manipulate and control people that way it is only out of terror and fear of pain, not out of love, respect and the rational fear of genuine power and authority. Both circumstances have an element of fear and an element of worship but there is a significant difference. One is full of life and one full of death. (Click Here to Read ‘Mind The Gap’)
Today we’ve replaced such objects of worship like the sun or the rain with the fear of being disliked, or not seeming significant. It’s called ‘the fear of man’. We worship the approval of people, bowing down to the latest fads, trends and mindsets in hopes of being accepted and celebrated. We can chase money and material things out of fear of not wanting to seem unsuccessful. We bow down and worship, without realizing we are being bullied by the enemy of our souls. Solomon addresses this in Proverbs 29 where he says ‘Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.’ We fear the opinions of men and perform to get their approval, only later to find out we feel stuck and have lost our freedom to be who God has made us to be. The opinions of men are a horrible god to worship, and yet so many bow down on a daily basis. Could the issue be that we haven’t wanted to fear God, so we’ve chosen to fear something else? (Click Here to Read ‘People Pleasing Power Drain‘)
Holy Fear Isn’t Scary
There is an element of fear in worship but it is not to be terror. It is vitally important that the object of our worship, be something/someone that does not desire to manipulate us or terrorize us into submission. There is only One. The almighty, powerful God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob who sent His only Son, Jesus, to suffer and die in our place who proved His love and demonstrated His desire to care for us. As we fear Him and rightly relate to His power & authority in holy, rational fear, we are enabled to be in a healthy relationship with Him that leads to righteousness, peace, joy and fulfillment. When I become complacent and lose sight of that Holy fear, I become lax in my relationship and suffer the consequences of allowing sin to enter through disobedience and arrogance. Even then God tells me to ‘fear not’ and invites me to come close again in repentance. He accepts me and restores me to right relationship that is secured within the bounds of a healthy, rational ‘fear of God’. (Click Here To Read ‘Don’t Let Disappointment Dis-Appoint You’)
Don’t worship lesser things. Don’t bow down in fear to the opinions of people, the pressures of society or your own lusts. Don’t worship those bullies that will only try and manipulate you and rob you of peace and joy. Submit to God and His Word in humility and with reverent fear that is designed to protect and care for you. When you do, you realize that the Fear of God is nothing to be scared of.
From the Bible
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He makes known to them His covenant. -Psalm 25:14 ESV
The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble. – Proverbs 19:23 NIV
Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” – Exodus 20:20 NIV
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