Summary: This was designed as a New Years sermon to teach Christians what is an appropriate fear and what is not. Biblical texts are also explored showing the blessings associated with proper fear of God.
Fear God … and nothing else!
Happy New Year! The beginning of a new year is a good time for new beginnings. What have you decided to start fresh on this year? A change in attitude? A new diet? A new budget? A new exercise regimen? Whatever resolutions we make are meant to make life better. We want to get better and do better than last year.
So let’s look at what the Bible says is the beginning point for anyone who wants to improve in wisdom.. In Proverbs 1:7, Solomon said, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This was the same thing his father, David, said in Psalm 111:10 … The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
The fear of the Lord is the BEGINNING of wisdom. That seems like a good starting point for us on the first Sunday in 2014. What we’re going to find out is this --- If you fear the Lord, you don’t need to be afraid of ANYTHING else!
Let me ask this question: What are you afraid of? What is your greatest fear?
A 2005 Gallup Poll listed the top 10 things feared most by teenagers:
1. Terrorist attacks
7. Crime and violence
8. Being alone
9. The future
10. Nuclear war
The top ten phobias in a 2011 medical survey included snakes, heights, closed-in-spaces (like elevators), the dark, storms … and the dentist!
Fear is a natural part of the human condition. Fear isn’t always a BAD thing … in fact, it’s necessary for survival.
I remember one time when we were about to pull cookies out of our oven, my grandson, David was standing nearby and reached out his hand to help open the oven door. I could see he was about to burn his hand so I shouted out, “David No!!!” It scared him so much he began to cry m… but my loud warning also stopped him from touching the oven and saved him from a burn.
We tend to think that fear is a bad thing, but in certain circumstances it can be very good if that fear keeps us safe.
One time, when I was in Kenya riding around with the missionary in his land rover, we came upon a pride of lions. We stopped the vehicle, rolled down the windows, and started taking pictures. There were probably about 10 lions there, several females, cubs, and a big male with a huge shaggy mane. He got up and started roaring at us and walking toward us.
I was afraid that at any second he would break into a run and charge at us. I wanted us to roll up the windows and start moving away. When we finally did I realized that my heart was beating rapidly and I was sweating. I was spooked, to say the least! That was a healthy fear --- and justified!
1. What does it mean to fear God?
But what does it mean to fear the Lord? An example of what that might feel like comes from a description of Aslan the lion in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe … (book 1 in the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis.) As Mr. and Mrs. Beaver tell the children about the great lion Aslan, they learn he is no cuddly, fairy tale animal. They learn that few can stand before him without their knees knocking.
Young Lucy asks Mr. Beaver, Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"...
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good.”
C.S. Lewis tells us that “people often think that a thing cannot be good and terrifying at the same time. If the children in Narnia had ever thought so, they were cured of it now.”
So what would it be like to actually come into the presence of God? It’s a good question to ask, because this will happen to every one of us one day!
Let’s take an inventory of people in the Bible who encountered God, and how they reacted to that meeting with God:
• Abraham “fell on his face” (Gen. 17:3)
• Moses “hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God” (Ex. 3:6)
• Balaam “bowed his head and fell flat on his face” (Num.22:31)
• Joshua “fell on his face to the earth and worshiped” (Joshua 5:14)
• Isaiah felt that he was undone (Isaiah 6:5)
• Ezekiel fell on his face (Ezekiel 1:28)
• Daniel felt like a man who had been drained of all his strength (Dan. 10:8)
• The 3 disciples who saw Jesus transfiguration “fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.” (Matt. 17:6)