Summary: All people must develop a healthy fear of the LORD in order to be in right relationship to God. To fear the Lord is to have an appropriate awe and respect for God’s holiness and power.
Understanding the Fear of the Lord (Part 1)
May 14/15, 2005
MAIN IDEA: All people must develop a healthy fear of the LORD in order to be in right relationship to God. To fear the Lord is to have an appropriate awe and respect for God’s holiness and power.
OBJECTIVES: Listeners will understand what it means to “fear the LORD”. Listeners will examine their lives to see if they truly hate evil and if they truly respect God’s holiness and power.
INTRO: “No fear”. It’s on clothing, it’s in commercials.
But having no fear is stupid. Little children with no fear of heights can get hurt badly. Having no fear of boiling water on a stove leads to burns. Having no fear of getting hurt leads to reckless driving. It may sound really brave to say “I have no fear”, but in many situations, fear is a very healthy thing to have!
In our spiritual life, fear is also a very healthy thing to have! In fact, having no fear of God has disastrous effects in our lives, and in the effectiveness of the Church.
The concept of the Fear of the LORD is found all throughout the Bible, with about 200 passages that teach those who are willing to listen how important this attitude is in our relationship with God.
In Deuteronomy 5:29, Moses reveals the heart of God toward His chosen people. Moses has gone to speak with the LORD, and the LORD says to him…
Deut. 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!
God here sounds like the parent of a wayward child, doesn’t He? He longs for His children’s hearts to be inclined to fear Him – not for his own sake, but for theirs!
Did you hear that? God loves you and desires that your life go well, and that your children’s lives go well. But it comes in exchange for something. That “something” is living your life in the fear of the LORD.
Now, because I long for you to enjoy the benefits of a life blessed by God, and because I want my children and your children to know the same benefits, I’m going to embark on a new teaching series on the fear of the LORD. It’s going to be a challenging series. We’re all going to have to wrestle with our own responses to God and to His word. But I’m convinced it’s going to be worth it! Because the key to developing an intimate friendship with God is understanding and developing a healthy fear of the LORD. So friends, I hope you’ve got your hiking boots on, because the higher ground awaits us!
Before we go too far into this series of messages we need to start right at the beginning and get a clear understanding of what is meant, and what is NOT meant, by this phrase “the fear of the LORD”. This week and next we’ll be looking at two key parts of what it means to truly fear the Lord as the Bible instructs us.
ILLUS: Isaiah 6:1-5
Isaiah 6:1-5 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. 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. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
“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.”
Notice Isaiah’s response to his vision of the Almighty. When He saw Yahweh in all his glory – he cowered before him. It was as if in the glory of God’s presence, all of his own sin was magnified. What seemed OK when around other people was utterly contemptible in the presence of a holy God.
ILLUS: When camping you get used to a certain level of dirt and grime on your body and clothes, but when you come home the first thing you do is clean yourself up. You wouldn’t think of going to a friend’s home before you got rid of that grime.
This gives us just a glimpse into what Isaiah felt like when he came into contact with the presence of Yahweh. “I am filthy. I don’t deserve to be here. In fact, I think I’ll probably be struck down right here and now by God – and he’d be just in doing it!”