Monday, July 3, 2017


You shall follow the Lord your God and FEAR Him;
 and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, 
serve Him and cling to Him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

True or false:

God is scarier than this world.

Is He scarier than terrorists?  Is He scarier than public opinion? Is He scarier than your teachers or your nemesis or your neighbors or your boss? Is He scarier than the thugs that walk down the middle of the road? Is He scarier than your own father?  What do you think?

How you answer that will tell me if you understand what the fear of the Lord truly means. Most will tell you that to fear God is to have an awe and respect for Him, just as you would respect your earthly father.  Um...kinda but not really.  It goes much deeper than that.

When we relate our respect for God to our respect for another human, we're just not in the same ball park. We might do it as a reference point, but it's a pretty simple word picture, compared to reality.

So how do I explain what it means to fear the Lord?  It starts with recognizing Who He is.  I'm not talking about the God who destroyed the world with water, or the God who sent fiery serpents into Israel's camp, or the God who says He'll send hailstones mixed with blood and fire to the earth in the last days.  I'm talking about the God who said, Let there be light and suddenly reality was filled with bright, radiant whiteness.  The God who filled the seas with creatures beyond our wildest imaginations and the heavens with some of the most beautiful aerodynamic wonders.  The God who placed the earth on the exact orbit, in the exact position in our solar system, so that life could exist, who spoke the world into existence, who created humanity in His own image to live forever.  

When we realize that God is not in our category, that He's not a fallible man, with unreasonable outbursts and selfish ambitions, then we need to acknowledge our longing to know Him.  Like an orphan longs to know where he came from, God has set eternity in our hearts and created a longing that only the One whose image we bear can fill.  Not only can we see our Maker's handiwork in all that surrounds us, from the microscope to the stethoscope to the telescope, but we can see Him clearly in His Son.  The life He led, the path He took, the teachings He told, the miracles He performed all pointed to the heart of a loving God.

So, none of this is overly scary, is it?  Why do we call it "fear of the Lord" if it's not a little scary?  Truth be told, there is a scary aspect to it.  Because of our sin, we are born into eternal death.  Death is our destiny, eternally separated from our Creator, in torment, suffering for the rebellion in our hearts against Him.  The flooding, snake-infesting, hail-dropping God is still a reality, but we have to understand that His wrath is a consequence of our rebellion. 

Upon salvation, the wrath of God is appeased because Jesus' sacrifice is sufficient payment.  But we still live in a broken world, where sin and consequences abound.  Sometimes we bear the burden of other people's brokenness, but all too often we bear the consequences of our own sin.  As we walk in the Lord, growing and applying what we are learning about our God and His will for us, we become more vertical in our mindset, knowing that God blesses our obedience and He disciplines our disobedience.  

Knowing that God is loving and kind, gracious and merciful, patient and long-suffering, we can choose to live lives that bring Him glory because we also know He is completely present and involved with us on a daily basis.  Why would we choose to walk in rebellion when we know the goodness of the Lord?  Better yet, why would we choose to walk in rebellion when we know how God deals with sin? 

As believers, we must never forget the awesome power and magnitude of the Lord's strength.  We must not put ourselves even in the same category as Him.  We may bear His image but we are not made from the same materials.  He is God.  He is holy. He is awesome and He is to be feared.  Yes, it is awe and respect, but there is an aspect of understanding His power in His wrath, that although we will never experience it, we still are in fear of it.  This is why Christians are called "God-fearing" people.  We know that God will not sit idly by while sin rules and reigns, and because we fear the Lord, we choose to live lives that are honorable and God-glorifying. Because we fear the Lord, we don't cheat on our taxes or steal from our employers.  We don't cheat on our spouses and we don't lie to each other.  We know God is watching and we desire to live lives that bring glory to Him in all things.

So, is God scarier than terrorists, thugs or others?  He is scarier because He is more powerful and though incredibly, sacrificially loving, He is holy and will pour His wrath out upon sinful man.  Proverbs 9 tells us that fearing this God is the start of true wisdom.  Deut. 13 says that after choosing to follow God, we must fear Him - see Him as He truly is.

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