“And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, 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 forefathers 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 alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt. Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. Your forefathers 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” (Deut. 10:12-22, NIV).
Let’s read again verse 12-13, “And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, 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?”
What does the Lord your God ask of you…? The verse continues, “but to fear the LORD your God…” And you can also find the words, “to love him.”
How can we love the Fearsome God? Or to fear the Loving God?
We try to explain that to “fear” God means we ought to revere or respect Him. But, the Son of God made it clear that we should really fear God.
Jesus Christ said in Luke 12:5, “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” We read also in Matthew 10:28, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
According to Christ, we need to really fear or be afraid of “the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” He is a Fearsome God.
We read also in Deut. 4:23-24, “Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the LORD your God has forbidden. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”
Psalm 18:8 adds, “Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it.”
And the prophet Isaiah declares:
“See, the Name of the LORD comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire. His breath is like a rushing torrent, rising up to the neck. He shakes the nations in the sieve of destruction… The LORD will cause men to hear his majestic voice and will make them see his arm coming down with raging anger and consuming fire, with cloudburst, thunderstorm and hail.” (Isa. 30:27-28, 30)
“The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: ‘Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?’" Isa. 33:14.)
The psalmist also proclaims, “Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you” (Psalm 90:11).
We read the same verse in New King James Version, “Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.” The Contemporary English version states, “No one knows the full power of your furious anger, but it is as great as the fear that we owe to you.” The Good News Translation renders it: “Who has felt the full power of your anger? Who knows what fear your fury can bring?”
No wonder, “Even the demons… shudder (or tremble.)” The psalmist also states in Psalm 119:120, “My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws.”
We also read in Jeremiah 5:22-24:
“’Should you not fear me?’ declares the LORD. ’Should you not tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it. But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away. They do not say to themselves, `Let us fear the LORD our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’”
How, then, could we really love the Being -- who deserves not just our respect and reverence, but we need also to fear?
Consider also Micah 6:8-9, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Listen! The LORD is calling to the city -- and to fear your name is wisdom – ‘Heed the rod and the One who appointed it.‘“
Notice very well that we will “walk humbly” with God as we fear His name. We also read in Proverbs15:33, “The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” And in Proverbs 22:4, “Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.” Notice again that “humility” is associated with the “fear of the Lord.”
Now, let’s contrast those verses with Proverbs 3:7, which says: “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil” and Psalm 36:1-2, “An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.”
Humility is in the heart of those who fear God, but those who are wise their own eyes, those who exalt themselves – who flatter themselves – those who are stubborn and rebellious hearts -- who are proud -- have no fear in God.
Thus, if we fear God – meaning, we are humble before God – we are not “stiff-necked” – then, we can really love and delight in Him, even praise Him – especially, if we realize that we are no longer the object of His wrath.
Now, study very well Psalm 18:1-19:
“I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him--the dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered [the enemies], great bolts of lightning and routed them. The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of breath from your nostrils. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”
God’s wrath is directed to those who harm His people.
As we read in 2 Thess. 1:6-9, “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power…”
Like the rest, we were also “stiff-necked” – we flatter ourselves, proud and do not fear God – but because of God’s Grace, He made us the object of His love – not of His wrath (Eph. 2:3-4).
Are we included with those people He referred in Deut 30:6, “The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.”? He would “circumcise” our hearts, so we are able to really love Him.
And are we among those in Jer. 32:38-40, “They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me”?
Do we really love and fear God?
Are we included in the blessings mentioned in Psalm 31:19, “How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you”?
Did He give us the singleness of heart, so we will always fear Him? Did He inspire us to fear Him?
If we really fear Him, we will not withhold the most precious one/thing from Him (Gen. 22:12). We will not take advantage one another (Lev. 25:17). We will be merciful even to our subordinates (Lev. 25:43). We will heed correction (Prov. 15:32-33). We will praise Him (Ps. 22:23).
Yes, if we fear Him, we will really love and rejoice in Him!
PRAYER: Our Almighty and Merciful Heavenly Father – the Fearsome God – who deserves our Greatest Awe and Adoration. We bow down before Your Glory and acknowledge our helplessness and sins before You. We do tremble before Your Power and so grateful for Your Grace and Mercy. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.