Every so often, it happens. I’m caught pleasantly by surprise at how the Holy Spirit uses an obscure passage somewhere in the books of the law (the first five books of the Bible) to make a certain truth fresh to my heart.
Here’s this morning’s culprit:
The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so. The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see his great fire anymore, or we will die.”
The LORD said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in their mouth. He will tell them everything I command him.
I can’t speak for individuals, but it seems that the young nation of Israel had something that the western Church as a whole severely lacks: the fear of the Lord.
Often, we revel in the adopted-daughter aspect of our relationship with Him (Ephesians 1:5). We delight that Jesus called His disciples “friends” (John 15:15). We capitalize on the fact that we are loved by God (Romans 8:35-39).
NOTE: I’m not saying any of the above are bad. On the contrary, I advocate them. I’m just concerned that they may stem from an absence of fear in the sovereign Lord of the universe. And while His love is evident throughout the Bible – Old Testament and New – it seems to be only one aspect of His character that we ought to be mindful of.
And while we would probably quite like to hear the audible voice of our God, what did the Israelites say?
“Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see his great fire anymore, or we will die.”
And how did God respond?
“What they say is good.”
The fear of the LORD is…
As part of writing this post, I searched BibleGateway.com for the phrase, “the fear of the Lord is.” This is what it spat back at me:
Psalm 19:9 says, The fear of the LORD is pure […]
Proverbs 1:7 says, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge […]
Proverbs 14:27 says, The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life […]
Isaiah 33:6 says, […] the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure [the treasure of a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge].
And what does our passage in Deuteronomy say (indirectly)?
The fear of the LORD is good.
Shall we discuss?
There are so many nuances and facets to the question of the fear of God. I don’t want to presume for one second that these few hundred words are at all comprehensive. That’s all the more reason to ponder the matter in our hearts, and perhaps to share with each other that iron might sharpen iron.
- Is the fear of the Lord unique to the Old Testament?
- How does the fear of the Lord fit together with love in His design?
- Discuss 1 John 4:18 – “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear“