Fear (What is it?)

I blame Joe.

He got me onto this topic of fearing God. But I can’t seem to stop thinking about it.

Last time I was grappling with what the “fear of the Lord” means and how it seems to relate to obedience and trust. However, I can’t get the picture out of my mind of the Israelites at the base of Mount Sinai with their hands over their ears, begging Moses to be God’s spokesman, rather than hearing God Himself.

Did they fear God? If so, then why did they die in the desert in disobedience? (As an aside, I believe that Moses feared God, and yet hung out with Him for 40 days on the mountain and even asked to see His glory.)

What about Isaiah? While serving at the temple, God shows up and Isaiah says, “Woe to me, I am undone!” Did he fear the Lord? I’d say so.

I guess what I’m wrestling with is: What does walking in the fear of the Lord look like in my own life? I’ve not yet had a direct encounter with God, but I’m sure that I would fall on my face if I did. But does that mean that the “fear of the Lord” is walking around, looking over your shoulder, afraid to do anything and waiting for God to zap you–that He’s playing whack-a-mole, anytime your head pops up?

Should I be afraid to say “God” and “whack-a-mole” in the same sentence?

I don’t think God works that way…And yet there is still something to be said for fear/reverence/awe for God.

I have recently gone back and listened again to an excellent podcast series by Derek Prince on the topic (sorry, you have to register to get to it). His definition of fearing God goes something like:

The Fear of the Lord is obedience to the 1st of the 10 commandments. ‘You shall have no other God’s before/beside me.’ Adhering to that commandment will bring about the fear of the Lord in our life. We have to give God total preeminence. We must never put anything else in our lives before or beside him (no person, influence or motivation). We must never put anything in our lives at the same level of God.

Then he said something that struck home with me (I’m paraphrasing):

If God is willing to reveal Himself to us, and share Himself with us, and come into our lives, and offer us His fellowship –the Almighty God to the creatures of dust that we are–if he offers that privilege to you and me. How dare we offer him a place in our lives, but not first place? It’s an insult! It’s almost unthinkable that we should be motivated that way.

And now I see it: Fearing God is putting Him first…in everything. Always giving Him “first dibs” in our lives, and submitting our will, our desires, our dreams to Him. Not to a stern and angry God who punishes sinners, but a Loving Father who gave up all He had so that He could relate to me.

I realize again that I don’t fear God…And I can’t do it on my own. But realizing my own inability makes me want to fear God.

And I know just Who to ask to teach me how.


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