The topic of the “fear of the Lord” is not one you hear a great deal about today. Can’t remember the last time I heard a sermon on the subject, a message at a conference or even anything on talk radio. It may be passé within modern Christianity. Hopefully, my experience is an anomaly because it is anything but when one opens the Bible. Vine’s dictionary states that it is used 330 times in the Old Testament. In my education on effective communications, repetition is one of the keys to ensure understanding of the message. Good leaders practice it. God had that figured out long before mankind. He knew we needed to hear it over and over and over again. Perhaps a good opening question for new Dads just starting out at a parent’s conference might be: “If you want your children to grow up to be men and women who will love Christ and walk in His ways; would you be willing as a father to make some adjustments?”
So what does the “fear of the Lord” actually mean? The first thing that comes to mind is to be afraid, that’s what fear generally means. There is a passage in Exodus 20:20 where Moses says to the nation of Israel when God descends on Mt. Sinai and he says: “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” NIV He uses both words (afraid and fear) in the same sentence to communicate a truth about our fear of God. In this particular case, to understand that to fear God is to abstain from sin. God wants us to know that He is the One who made the heavens and the earth and all that is therein. He descended on Mt. Sinai in dark clouds, lightening and smoke and with the sounding of a loud trumpet. The people of Israel fell back in fear. God’s power and might were in full display. This fear is one of reverence, awe, and submission to a God who is worthy of our worship and our obedience. God knew that our fear needed to be channeled correctly. When we get it wrong bad things happen! Proverbs 29:25 states that “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” NIV We take the wrong road in the midst of our circumstances and end up in deep weeds. That’s what happened to several of the Israelites a short time later when they turned their worship of God to worship of a golden calf made by human hands. For many, it cost them their life.
In the book of Proverbs we learn that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. That’s where we begin. To grow in my understanding of what it means to fear God, I need to recognize where I stand in comparison to God. God made me, He is my creator. As Isaiah so clearly outlined: God’s ways and His thoughts are so much higher than mine! He instructs and counsels me, not the other way around. As God said to Job: “The fear of the Lord — that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.” NIV
In understanding what it means to walk in the fear of the Lord, the characteristics of our life will also change. In addition to the areas noted above: avoiding sin and growing in wisdom; we will also grow in 1) hating evil – Prov. 8:13, 2) godly worship – Psalm 5:7, 3) living in purity – II Cor. 7:1, 4) administering justice – II Chronicles 19:7, 5) godly service – Psalm 2:7 and the list goes on. The apostle Paul instructs that when we become a Christian we become a child of God and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The outcome of our new relationship in Christ changes our perspective on fear. In Romans 8:15, it states, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry “Abba, Father.” NIV As children of God, we seek not to disappoint Him, but to please Him. Those who love God, obey God. They walk in the fear of the Lord.
Our relationship with our heavenly Father models a Dad’s earthly relationship with his own children. David highlights this connection in Psalm 34:11 when he says, “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” God has also not left us without a roadmap. You can find the directions to the treasure of walking in the fear of the Lord at Proverbs 2:1-5. Read the passage through once and then again and again and again; up to fifty times. By then you should have it memorized. Let the words soak in deeply for a time, then seek to put them into practice in your own life. Your journey to walking in the “fear of the Lord” will be underway. Be sure to share your new discoveries (treasures!) with your children. They will be grateful…….and they will be blessed.