Summary: A sermon that seeks to clarify what it means to experience the fear of the Lord

Our mission team that went to Vanuatu was invited to walk to the local volcanoes.

These active volcanoes are a long walk from the coastal villages we were walking in.

One day though we set off at a very early hour and after about five or six hours walking we reached the vbolcanoes.

Then the climb began.

As we climbed up the side of the second volcano the guide we were with stopped me and made me pray before we went on.

The reason for that was he understood the risk.

The volcano is capable of billows of smoke at any moment – the drop either side was not encouraging. On one side is a very deep hole at the bottem of which is a very solid bottem hundreds of feet below.

On the – so called safe side – was a very steep shale slide.

Little wonder that the guide wanted me to pray.

I met an Australian who had been guided up the mountain and he told me that when the mountain had manifested in some way – perhaps a bit of rumbling and emitting of smoke – his guide had run away.


Because these guides understand the dangers of the mountain.

In the same way many people walk on spiritual quicksand, quite unworried because they do not understand the spiritual realities around them.

In the last two weeks I have talked to two people who have sufferred from delusions from being over spiritual.

But that is not the danger that most of us face.

We run the danger of being underdone spiritualy.

Like the tourists on the mountain we can sometimes be in a very vulnerable place and quite oblivious of our danger.

There is a bible verse that describes a quite unusual phenomenon.

PS 19:9 The fear of the LORD is pure,

enduring forever.

The ordinances of the LORD are sure

and altogether righteous.


PS 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.

While I was writing this I was listening to a secular radio station.

The announcer was asking questions about the national anthem.

God of nations, at thy feet, hear our voices we entreat.

He was asking what on earth would we be doing at the feet of God.

The truth is, and he said this, that he had no concept of God or his plans for his life.

The truth is that man will never live his life as God intended it to be lived until he discovers what the bible describes as fear of the Lord.

What then is – Fear of the Lord???

I think in many ways it is discovering – quite simply – who God is.

PS 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom - -

When we talk about fear of someone as good as God we are talking about something quite different to fear of something evil.

In 2 Timothy chapter 1 verse 7 we read:- 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity(fear), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

This is not the same kind of fear that the bible is talking about when it talks about “fear of the Lord.”

This is a crippling fear that stops the believer living the life God called them to live.

This kind of fear is tolerated all too often by Christians.

But Paul provides the antidote one verse earlier in this letter he wrote to Timothy.

He says:- 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Paul says fan into falme the gift of God –

The holy spirit in you will over come this kind of fear.

There is a numonic you can use when you come across the possibility of this kind of fear in your life.


First evaluate all resources.

The Holy Spirit – is God with you.

RO 8:31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?

This is an important aside to our main topic this morning.

If you are walking with God you have incredible resources.

Before you fear.

First evaluate all resources.

But now we are talking about something quite different when we read:-

PS 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom - -

111:10 Concluding word of godly wisdom. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. The classic OT statement concerning the religious basis of what it means to be wise (see Job 28:28; Pr 1:7; 9:10; see also note on Ge 20:11). who follow his precepts. Lit. "who do them." The plural Hebrew pronoun refers back to "precepts" in v. 7 (see 19:7-9, where "The fear of the LORD" stands parallel to "statutes," "precepts," "commands," "ordinances"; see also 112:1).

fear of the LORD. A loving reverence for God that includes submission to his lordship and to the commands of his word (Ecc 12:13). God is our king (Mal 1:14), but even as we stand in awe of him we can rejoice (see Ps 2:11; Isa 12:6). fools. Those who hate knowledge (v. 22) and correction of any kind (12:1), who are "quick to quarrel" (20:3) and "give full vent" to their anger (29:11), who are complacent (1:32) and who trust in themselves (28:26) rather than in God (Ps 14:1). despise wisdom and discipline. See 5:12 and note.

What is more the words fear of the Lord are not just an Old Testament concept – in the book of Acts we read:-

AC 9:31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

When you live close to someone great you can take them for granted. Even treat them badly.

In the English royal family we have seen people bow and scrape appropriately to the kings and Queens of England.

But the closer you get to the throne, it seems, the less respect there is for the monarch.

The marital affairs of recent members of the Royal family show a sense of dishonour for the Royal offices.

It can be the same with God.

Sometimes familiarity can breed contempt.

When you understand who God is then there is a certain kind of respect or Holy fear that grabs hold of you.

One is overawed by the very power and essence of God.

We see this in a number of places in the Bible.

One example would be:

MT 17:1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

MT 17:4 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah."

MT 17:5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"

MT 17:6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. "Get up," he said. "Don’t be afraid." 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

MT 17:9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, "Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."

We only have space to discuss one more occasion although there are many – the one I have chosen is in

Isaiah chapter 6 –

ISA 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:

"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;

the whole earth is full of his glory."

ISA 6:4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

ISA 6:5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

ISA 6:6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

ISA 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"

And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

Here we see the great Prophet Isaiah – one of the greatest Prophets who ever lived – demonstrating what it is to experience the fear of the Lord.

From this moment on Isaiah lives in the fear of the Lord.

It is this life out of understanding something of the magnitude – the might and the purity of God that I want to discus today.

You see, in both these occasions, the disciples and Isaiah only saw what is a present reality. The gained ahighly priveledged glimpse of the glory and power of the living God.

Many people want to run from that but for those of us who believe in God it will produce a response:-

The first thing is

Faith and faithfulness – When Isaiah saw God he was reduced to fear because of his sin – but then his sin was dealt with by the burning coals which I believe are a symbol of what Christ was to achieve in world history 800 years later.

That faith led to Isaiah’s faithfulness:-

ISA 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"

And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

We can’t disconnect our belief in God from our lives.

Like it or not they are connected.

Abraham feared God and even went up on a mountain to give his son to God. And we read of God’s response in

Genesis 22:12-Do not lay a hand on the boy, he said. Do not do anything to him. Now that I know that you fear god, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.

Why does God want us to fear him.

Because he wants us to quiver all the time?

Certainly not - but he does require us to have a correct understanding of our lives and how they are to be lived in relation to God, the church and the world..

God Himself has this to say.

Deuteronomy 5:29- Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever.

This kind of fear for God leads to obedience –

The obedience leads to blessing -Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always,

When you are working in a job and you know that the boss is watching you tend to work right.

When you understand just who God is and how powerful he is you tend to live right.

It is only in a few moments in my own life that I have grasped something of the fear of God.

These are moments that I treasure and hold onto.

Curiously, in the week just past there was such a moment for me.

I had preached last week on the ascension of Jesus in Acts chapter 1 verse 11. Because Heather had been in kids club I was sharing with her how I viewed Jesus’ return to heaven.

As I described to her how it must have bee for Jesus returning to heaven to the aclamation of all heaven and the reunion with His heavenly Father I was bought to tears with the thought of just what it must have meant.

Perhaps I might have had half a dozen such moments in my life.

We need to treasure and dwell on these images of God.

When I was a young man I sat under the ministry of John Brook. John was a man who had a profound fear of God and his ways.

Every morning before he would attend to affairs in his parish he spent a long time poring over the psalms praying through them with a deep devotion.

Eventually he wrote a book on praying the psalms.

Little wonder that much of what he did prospered under his hand.

Much of our society is tilted against fearing the Lord.

Why? Because we are in an age where people live for the moment. They just don’t realise that the moment is oh too short.

Many years ago a business colleague said to me – John you can do all right in business but you need to get this compassion thing out of your system.

He did exceedingly well in business – but this week had the need to contact me – quite out of the blue and tap into the very compassion that he had counselled me to get rid of.

What then does this mean for our lives here in Riversdale Waikaia?

The first thing is to be mindful of the fact that we tred on the edge of a spiritual volcano.

It is only Christ’s gift of taking our place that saves us.

Such a salvation will encourage us to live in fear of the Lord.

Secondly we, like Isaiah, will be keen to know God’s will for our lives and obey His will.

Thirdly we will be in awe of God and live in awe of him. That awe will be marked by regular Sunday by Sunday worship.

It will be marked by a sense of urgency about our sins – regular as they are – at least in my life.

Finally if we really understand who God is – we will have a sense of ugency about transmitting his love to a broken and fallen world.

If we can identify these traits in our lives then we can be sure that we do have a reverend fear of the Lord.