Cross Points 5.29.22

The Fear of The Lord

There’s an old Jerry Seinfeld comedy routine that states the two biggest fears people face.  The number one fear, he says, is speaking in public, and the number two is fear is death.  “Does that sound right?” Seinfeld asks.  “That means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’d rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy!”  I can tell you about my early adult fear of speaking in public, but for our topic, let’s think more about the fear of death.  It relates to what I’m addressing here, the fear of the Lord.
Blaise Pascal, a French Christian philosopher, wrote centuries ago, “We tend to distract ourselves with diversions to deal with our fear of death.”  And he followed with words about how our fear of death is not as much about extinction as it is judgment.  We suppress what our conscious knows – that we will stand before a living God to whom we must give an account (Romans 2:15-16). 
Truth is, the best way to suppress the fear of death is not with the absence of fear, per say, but with the presence of a different kind of fear.  We drive out the fear of others, the fear of the future, and even the fear of death itself with the fear of God.  Critics will say, “You Christians claim God is love, so why should anyone fear him?”  Why indeed.  Some history may help.
In the Old Testament and New, we see many examples of people showing fear in the presence of God or one of his representatives.  When Hagar was approached by God in Gen. 21, he tells her, “Fear not!”  When Daniel saw a vision in chapter 10 of his book, he falls on his face, trembling, and is told, “Fear not!”  In Luke 1, as Zechariah foresees John the Baptist, an angel appears before him, and we’re told Zechariah was troubled, and fear fell upon him.  The angel says, “Do not be afraid, your prayer has been heard.” When an angel appears to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus, we’re told “the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.  The angel said, ‘fear not’.”  When Jesus first appears to people at his tomb, he tells them, “Do not be afraid.” 
Why this constant reaction of fear, of bowing down in the presence of God’s representatives?  Because in normal day-to-day life we tend to minimize who God is and how we relate to him, but when we are faced with him and recognize his perfection and power laid beside our imperfection and sinfulness, there is no pompous way to respond, we are humbled to the point of fear and falling on our face.  “Be merciful to me, God, for I am a sinner!”  We have not truly recognized God until we understand him in this way.  From that vantage point, we quell our other fears not by denying what is in the dark, but by coming to the light that shines in the darkness.  A light that has overcome the darkness (John 1:5)! 
Then, then my friend, we discover that God is love and we find that such love is not emotional mush, but a very serious thing that incorporates the sacrifice needed to appease the wrath of God.  God provides this sacrifice himself, through Jesus!  But as we come to Jesus, the battle is not over, in many ways it is just starting.  Satan wants us back; sin smiles at the challenge of capturing our attention again.  We are told we must put on armor to fight this battle (Ephesians 6:20).  We will stand IF we stand with God.  This fear of the Lord we speak of paves the way.  It is the beginning of knowledge ((Prov. 1:7), and we need such knowledge if we wish to fight this spiritual battle.
Posted in
Tagged with