Summary: Three questions today. 1) What is the fear of God? 2) Why should we fear God? 3) How can we encourage the fear of the Lord in our lives and the lives of others? (Material adapted from David Hocking on Blue Letter Bible under The Fear of God)
C.S. Lewis’ book, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, contains some powerful quotes that are a good reminder of the nature of God and how we relate to him. In the story, Aslan, the great lion, portrays Jesus. Part of a conversation between Susan (one of the 4 children in the story) and Mr. Beaver: Mr. Beaver says, “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Oh,” says Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “Safe?” says Mr. Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” The Lord of Scripture is not “safe,” but he is good (“Those who fear him” vs. 7 and “Fear the Lord” vs. 9 contrasted to “Taste and see that the LORD is good” vs. 8).
We find this same situation illustrated by Lewis again in The story of Jill and the Silver Chair. Jill, this little girl who's the central character, develops a relationship with Aslan, the lion of Narnia who is the Lord. And the most tender, precious, close relationship of love that you could imagine develops between this little girl and Aslan. But first Jill had to learn to fear the lion. So, she meets him in the beginning at a stream where he's standing. He's huge and menacing and awesome. "Are you thirsty?" asked the lion. "I'm dying of thirst," said Jill. "Then drink," said the lion. "May I…could I…Would you mind going away while I do?" asked Jill. The lion answered this with only a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at his motionless bulk she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move away for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic. "Will you promise not, not, not to do anything to me" Jill asked," if I come?" "I make no promises," said the lion. Jill was so thirsty that by now without noticing it she'd come a step nearer. "Do you…do you eat little girls?" "I have swallowed up girls and boys, women, men, kings, emperors, cities, and realms," said the lion. And he didn't say this as if it were boasting nor as if it were sorry nor as if he were angry; he just said it. "I dare not come and drink," said Jill. "Then you will die of thirst," said the lion. "Oh dear,” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then." "There is no other stream," said the lion.
Thesis: Three questions today. 1) What is the fear of God? 2) Why should we fear God? 3) How can we encourage the fear of the Lord in our lives and the lives of others?
What is the fear of God?
If we study each reference in OT to fear we find that "fear" means fear. Many try to downplay this but fear still contains a sense of being afraid. This understanding of fear is never to be absent from the Christian’s heart-never. Now part of my relationship to God involves my fear of God. In fact, Biblically speaking all believers fear God and all nonbelievers do not fear God. But there is a lot more than this.
What is the fear of God? Several things:
1. Biblically speaking the fear of the Lord brings wisdom “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;” Psalms 111:10, NIV. If we want to know the meaning and purpose of life and how everything functions and works-if you want wisdom and knowledge, the Bible says, "you need the fear of the Lord." Those who fear God are going to be much smarter and wiser, especially with the application of knowledge, than those who do not.
2. “and if you look for it (wisdom) as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:4, 5, NIV. What is the fear of the Lord? It is the knowledge of God. When we say "fear of God," we are not talking simply about being scared; but we are actually talking about knowing God, and fear is a consequence of that.
3. Fearing God is a respect for the power of God's Word. Why do some people not pay much attention to the Bible and what the Bible has to say? “Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” Psalms 33:8, 9, NIV. Talking about God, the Creator of the universe. If remove God-In the beginning God created- we are now on a road of moral and intellectual darkness. Accompanying this is a disrespect for the word of God. God spoke and it was done. The material, physical universe is the product of the creative breath of God and so is man and woman. By the way, so is the written Word of God. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16, NIV. The fear of God or lack thereof tells a lot about our understanding of the Bible.