A Healthy Fear

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.  Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today.  Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.  For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.  He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.  And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.  Fear the Lord your God and serve him.  Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name.  He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.  Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.

–          Deuteronomy 10:12-22

 

So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.  He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him.  When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened.  Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

–          Acts 9:28-31

 

“My assurance is to be built upon God’s assurance to me. God says, “I will never leave you,” so that then I “may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6). In other words, I will not be obsessed with apprehension. This does not mean that I will not be tempted to fear, but I will remember God’s words of assurance. I will be full of courage, like a child who strives to reach the standard his father has set for him. The faith of many people begins to falter when apprehensions enter their thinking, and they forget the meaning of God’s assurance— they forget to take a deep spiritual breath. The only way to remove the fear from our lives is to listen to God’s assurance to us.

“What are you fearing? Whatever it may be, you are not a coward about it— you are determined to face it, yet you still have a feeling of fear. When it seems that there is nothing and no one to help you, say to yourself, “But ‘The Lord is my helper’ this very moment, even in my present circumstance.” Are you learning to listen to God before you speak, or are you saying things and then trying to make God’s Word fit what you have said? Take hold of the Father’s assurance, and then say with strong courage, “I will not fear.” It does not matter what evil or wrong may be in our way, because “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you….’ ”

“Human frailty is another thing that gets between God’s words of assurance and our own words and thoughts. When we realize how feeble we are in facing difficulties, the difficulties become like giants, we become like grasshoppers, and God seems to be nonexistent. But remember God’s assurance to us— “I will never…forsake you.” Have we learned to sing after hearing God’s keynote? Are we continually filled with enough courage to say, “The Lord is my helper,” or are we yielding to fear?”

–          Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

 

“When we come into this sweet relationship, we are beginning to learn astonished reverence, breathless adoration, awesome fascination, lofty admiration of the attributes of God and something of the breathless silence that we know when God is near.

“You may never have realized it before, but all of those elements in our perception and consciousness of the divine Presence add up to what the Bible calls ‘the fear of God.’”

–          Rev. A. W. Tozer, Whatever Happened to Worship?

 

I had another one of those moments.  My bedtime dose of Oswald Chambers talked about fear and my morning dose of Tozer talked about the fear of God.  I usually take that as a nudge to start writing.

 

In the Scripture from Deuteronomy 10, Moses is exhorting the people of Israel to fear God.  Most people have no problem with this exhortation for Old Testament times, but they lose the context of the ‘fear of God’.  They don’t like it associated with the God of the New Testament.  But right there in Acts, the people feared God and the church grew.  Maybe that is something to think about.

 

If the Israelites had feared God, they might have obeyed Him, and the history books from the later part of Joshua through 2 Kings would not look so bleak.  The Israelites thought they were ‘hot stuff’.  Once they had a little land of their own, they quickly forgot God.  But they kept God in their back pocket in case they had troubles.

 

But in Moses’ exhortation, he defines the fear of God to be something very similar to what Tozer mentions:  reverence, adoration, fascination, admiration, and breathless silence in God’s presence.  Moses reminds the people of God’s great miracles.  God has power.  God has the power to simply remove us from existence.  That’s a scary thought, but the fear of God is more along the lines of a ‘healthy fear’, an awed reverence and acknowledgement that God is God.  God is more than our mortal minds can imagine.  We fear the unknown, thus fear is a good, healthy word for understanding that we cannot comprehend in our finite minds the totality of God.

 

God wants a relationship with us, as Tozer mentions in his first sentence.  He does not want us cringing in fear.  Reverential awe is fine, but not shaking in our boots.

 

That brings up the Chambers discussion on ‘not fearing’.  Chambers does not remove ‘the fear of God’ from the discussion, but he reminds us that the world is a scary place.  There will be times when we will be afraid, but in each of those times, we can call upon God to be our strength.  In a way, it is why Moses mentioned the awesome miracles God performed.  God is there for His chosen people with awesome power.

 

I recently heard someone say that a hero is a person who is scared, but they muster up enough bravery just a little bit longer to rescue their fellow man.  I heard of a Medal of Honor recipient who said that the hero is the guy that was so scared that he ran in the wrong direction.

 

The military training establishment will lay claim to some of the making of a military hero.  They will claim that the training is real and tough, because they want the person in danger to react the way they were trained to react.  They do the best they can to scramble your brain so that you will slip into that familiar mode of the well-trained soldier or sailor.

 

I don’t know if I believe that or not.  I was in uncomfortable positions during war games (since I served in peacetime) and other exercises.  I was also involved in natural disasters after getting out of the military.  I seemed to be jittery to no end until it became crunch time.  Until the crunch time, I was calculating various scenarios and the choices that were available for each.  When it became crunch time, there were much fewer choices.  My mind snapped toward my best option, and I was clear headed.

 

You can call that the result of good training, but I think that God has something to do with it.  We can be in the midst of unbelievable hardship, and yet be calm knowing that God is with us.

 

Psalms 46:1-3 says it well, God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.   Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

 

Yes, God is that awesome.  To see God for the first time, we will probably get weak in the knees.  We will finally see His full power, but, for now, remember that His full power gives great strength to those who belong to Him.

 

Soli Deo Gloria.  Glory to God Alone.

 

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  1. For those who were looking for my 3:30pm post. I was an hour and twenty minutes late. My bad eyesight did not see the difference in 3pm and 11pm. Oops. When I caught it, I just published immediately. Sorry for the delay.

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