Summary: There is a fear of God that is healthy and blesses our lives. There is also a fear toward God that drives us away from him. Which do you have?
This week we finished Deuteronomy and began Joshua. Here is the transition of leadership from Moses to Joshua and leaving the wilderness to entering the promised land of Canaan.
Moses’ life ends on Mount Nebo and God himself buries Moses somewhere in Moab on the wilderness side of the Jordan. Thus concludes the life of the greatest leader of the Old Testament. Imagine 40 long years of leadership under one Prophet of God. Imagine having one preacher for 40 years. That’s what happened in Centerville, TN with Paul Rogers. He served as minister there for 46 years before he died. Centerville is a town of about 4000 and the Centerville Church of Christ grew to over 800 members during Paul Rogers’ ministry. I spent a week there with him back in the summer of 1996. He was a father figure for practically the whole community. I remember him telling me that he dreaded local elections because invariably more than one member of the church there would run for the same office in town.
But I digress. Moses has done what no other leader in the Bible ever did accept Jesus. God used Moses to lead a nation out of idolatry and slavery and forge them into a people belonging to God. He delivered the law to them. He mediated the covenant of God to them. He set up the priesthood and the worship for them. He received and implemented the plans for the tabernacle for them. There was no one like Moses before or after until Jesus.
Interestingly, the name of the man to whom Moses passed the baton of leadership of God’s people to is, in Greek: Jesus. Joshua is the Hebrew form of the name Jesus. How fitting. Moses didn’t lead them into the promised land. He brought them through the wilderness, but not into the land of promise. It took Jesus to do that. Joshua. That is no coincidence.
Tonight I hope we will be able to discover the power of courage that God gives to those who come to him and follow Jesus. But this morning, I want us to consider one more lesson from God’s word here about the fear of the Lord. Last week I did a sort of overview of the fear of God in the books of Moses in the morning and the fear of God in the New Testament in the evening.
I’m sure all of you who were here last Sunday can remember the three points about fear that we covered. In fact, let me just call on one of you to stand where you are and remind the rest of us what those were. Ok? Let’s see… Who can I call on?
Perhaps it would be better not to make one person stand out. Maybe it would be better to call on three of you and let each one tell the rest of us one of the points on fear that we covered…
Does that make anyone nervous? To be honest I only remember them because I spent so much time finding and sorting them for my sermon last week. 1. Do not fear men. 2. God says, “I will put the fear of you on your enemies.” 3. You are to fear God alone, and keep his commandments.
Today, I’d like us to explore the meaning and application of fearing God more.
To help us understand this, we need to think of God in terms of our Father. I remember a time in my early youth when I thought my dad was the strongest man in the world. I figured he could beat up any of my friend’s dads with one hand tied behind his back. Dad was the smartest man in the world too. I wished he was president of the country, because if he was president, this country would do the right thing! Dad could straighten out all that mess up there in Washington DC. In my eyes, my dad could do no wrong.
But, I’ll tell you, I also had a trembling dread and fear of him too. If I disobeyed him or sassed my mother in his presence… umm umm, it could be bad. My dad was not to be messed with. I remember one time talking to my sister in the next room after dad had turned off the lights and told us to go to sleep and he and mom went to bed too. We kept whispering and giggling and dad turned on the lights and repeated that we were to be quiet and go to sleep, and then he turned them off again. Why we did it, I don’t know, but we kept communicating through the wall, tapping and whispering and laughing and then lightning struck. He came with a belt and when he was finished, we were quiet and went to sleep.