What is the greatest need facing our world today? Securityfrom terrorists? Solving world hunger? Clean water for all? Economic, political or social stability? Solving ‘climate change’? I believe the greatest need of our world never makes the list of any polls and isn’t even on the radar for the vast majority of people.
The greatest need facing the Church, our nation, the world, and the greatest need of all of us as individuals – has been, is now, and always will be, to be consumed by ‘the fear of the Lord’.
God’s word to us today is the same as it was to the people of Israel as recorded in the book of Deuteronomy 10:12:
…what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all of your soul. (ESV)
What does it really mean to ‘fear the Lord’ and why is that so important?
According to Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary, it means:
‘A holy awe or reverence of God and His laws, which springs from a just view and real love of the divine character, leading the subjects of it to hate and shun everything that can offend such a holy being, and inclining them to aim at perfect obedience.’
To ‘fear the Lord’ means to honor Him and to have a reverent awe of Who God is: to acknowledge that He alone is God; that He is Sovereign and worthy of our worship and obedience. It’s recognizing that God sees all and knows all, that His ways are so much higher than the ways of man and that He should be feared because He holds the power to send people to eternal glory or judgment.
Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. (ESV-1st Chronicles 29:11)
Fearing God includes such a reverential respect for the Person of God and His holy character that you recognize that His will and His ways are perfect, which leads you to be for what He is for, and against what He is against.
To fear the Lord is to hate evil. (ESV-Proverbs 8:13)
To ‘fear the Lord’ includes fearing the wrath of a holy God Who hates sin and is going to bring eternal judgment upon those who refuse to repent and put their trust in the atoning work of Jesus who died on the cross on their behalf.
Fearing God means taking Him at His Word–knowing that it is impossible for Him to lie– trusting that He will accomplish everything that He says He will do.
The root of the crisis we are in is that we live in a generation that by and large does not know the Word of the Lord, what He requires and the consequences of disobedience. It is imperative that we know what God’s Word says, and that we obey it.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you that you shall be no priest to Me; seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children. (ESV-Hosea 4:6)
In a world where most people live meaningless lives and question what their purpose is, God gives vital instruction:
Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
When we fear God—when we love, honor, respect, and adore Him, we will desire to obey His commandments. And when we obey Him, we do not need to be in fear of His punishment or of the wrath that is to come upon all those who are disobedient and unrepentant.
Over and over scripture records that there are blessings for individuals as well as nations that fear God, and punishment for those who do not.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! (ESV-Psalm 33:12)
America was preeminent in the world and experienced the gracious hand of God’s blessings when we feared Him and depended upon His grace and mercy to sustain us. I remember when most families attended Church together and had a family altar time, when the Bible and the Ten Commandments were taught in our public schools, and schools were opened with Christ-centered prayer. The removal of prayer in 1963 and the Ten Commandments in 1980 from our public schools paved the way for the spirit of lawlessness that abounds in today’s public square. We now live in a nation that embraces that which God calls ‘evil’, and spurns that which God calls ‘good’ (Isaiah 5:20) and we are under God’s judgment for forgetting Him.
Like the Israelites who were promised blessings if they feared and obeyed God and curses if they disobeyed Him (Deuteronomy 28), we too can be assured that we’ll receive blessings if we fear God and curses if we fear anything more than Him.
Oswald Chambers wisely said, “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”
Jesus’ words ought to penetrate our hearts, especially as we witness the persecution of our brothers and sisters across the globe:
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (NIV-Matthew 10:28)
So how is ‘the fear of the Lord’ obtained?
1) By hearing God’s Word
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (ESV-Romans 10:17)
· Are you daily in His Word, listening to what the Spirit of God is saying to you through scripture? Do you obey His Word?
2) By asking God to fill you with the ‘fear of the Lord’
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (ESV-Matthew 7:7)
· Have you asked to be ‘consumed by the fear of the Lord’? You can ask Him now!
How can you help others to have the fear of the Lord?
1) By sharing with them the truth of Who God is as revealed in His Word and through the Person of Jesus Christ.
· Are you regularly sharing the gospel with others or are you allowing the ‘fear of man’ to keep you silent? Ask God to give you His love for others and boldness to share the gospel.
2) By praying for them!
· You can know you are praying God’s will when you ask Him to consume the people for whom you are praying with the fear of the Lord.
May God pour out upon us, our children, and their children ‘the fear of the Lord’ and lead us to walk in the ways of God for the glory of His Great Name!
Written by Julie Van Gorp