I’m going to start out this morning with a question: How many here like to watch scary movies? I’m sure there are a number of you.
When I was a teen I used to like scary movies. I liked to watch them because they didn’t really do anything to me. At least…not immediately. So for a little while I was into scary movies, and for 10 years since then I’ve been traumatised by what I saw.
I must have been 9 when I caught one or two scenes from Sixth Sense, and even up until 2 or 3 years ago I couldn’t walk past a table or a bed without looking underneath it in case someone tried to grab me.
The last horror movie I watched was the Eye when I was 18. I was coerced by a friend to watch it, and then when I got home I couldn’t sleep. So I went onto facebook, and this was back when they used to have these short clips where they tell you to listen carefully for a funny sound and then out of no-where this zombie or something appears with great screaming in the background. So scared as I was, this happened to me, and I almost smashed my parents’ pc to the ground.
So fear has always been one of my giant struggles in my life, and only in the last few years have I been able to begin dealing with that with God.
Now some people claim not to be affected by horror movies. I don’t believe you, but that’s between you and God.
But perhaps you’re susceptible to fear in other ways:
Maybe you fear losing your job, and that keeps you up at night
Maybe you fear what’s going to happen in the future, because you’re so uncertain.
Maybe you fear the dark.
Maybe you fear being alone – maybe your fear is being in a crowd.
Maybe you fear letting people down – your boss, your friends, your children.
Whatever your fear may be, we generally understand that fear robs us – it robs us of sleep, it robs us of relationship, it robs us of opportunities.
While our normal understanding of fear has absolutely no benefits – the fear of the Lord is different. While fear as we most often have it always robs us, the Bible tells us that the fear of the Lord is good and right. And that’s what I want to talk about this morning: The Fear of the Lord. And I’m going to make the call by the end of this message that you would become a person who will choose to pursue a fear of the LORD our God.
I did a study on the fear of the Lord with my young adults a few weeks ago, and I was blown away with how many passages in the Bible speak about the fear of the LORD. I had a great time putting them together and learning about what God wants from me.
So I’m going to share what I found with you.
BLESSINGS FOR THOSE WHO FEAR THE LORD
Firstly, God’s Word tells us that for those who fear the Lord, there is wonderful blessing. I’m going to read a few passages, and I’ll ask you to just listen and let these soak in – try to take note of the blessings that the passage speaks about.
[Read Psalm 128:1-4; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 22:4; Proverbs 31:30; Proverbs 16:6; Psalm 25:12-14]
Do you want to have a happy family life? Well…fear the Lord
Do you want to have wisdom to make the right choices in life? Well…the Bible makes it clear that you need to fear the Lord
Do you want wealth, honour and life? Well…fear the Lord
Do you want to be praised by others, ladies? Well…then you need to fear the Lord
Do you want to stop sinning? Well…fear the Lord, and it will happen
Do you want to a happy and peaceful life? Well…fear the Lord
Do you want to please God and have a close and intimate relationship with the LORD? Well…
I don’t know if you’re starting to get the picture here. But God’s Word makes it clear that fearing Him isn’t like the fear that we have otherwise – the fear of God brings life, not death; it frees us, rather than binds us.
These blessings are so awesome! And these that I’ve read are only a small sampling. But when I read them, I got super-excited. As I studied these great blessings, Psalm 25:12 struck me. The psalmist asks, “Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD?” And I wrote down in my little book: Me! Me! I want to be that man.
Maybe you start to ask, like I started to, “How? How can I fear the Lord? What does that mean?”
Let’s look at some application
HOW DO WE DO IT?
Fear of the Lord comes through one thing: Getting to know Him.
One way that we can get to know Him is to seek Him in His Word. Please turn with me to Deuteronomy 31. We’ll read from verse 9.
“So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. Then Moses commanded them: “At the end of every seven years, in the year for cancelling debts, during the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing. Assemble the people – men, women and children, and the aliens living in your towns – so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”
As we study God’s Word and get to know all the amazing things that He’s done, let me tell you – you’ll begin to fear the LORD.
That’s certainly my story. I used to be afraid of so many things – afraid of people, afraid of the dark, I used to struggle with so many sins, and I was weak when temptation hit. But just from spending time in God’s Word over the years, I’ve found my God to be more important than man – that’s what God’s Word says – so why fear people? He’s stronger than WHATEVER might be in the dark – He even has a tight rein on the most powerful demons – so why fear the unknown? And He is faithful to all His promises – He always has been and always will be – so why live a defeated life when I can live the victorious life that He has won for me?
And also, godly fear is God-given. That may sound redundant, but it bears saying. Because I don’t want you to get the idea that simply by reading the Bible you will begin to truly fear God. No – it’s the seeking of God IN His Word that causes us to fear Him, and so find that we please Him in that.
So we can get to know Him as we seek Him in His Word. We can also get to know the LORD as we see Him at work in the world. I’ll read a verse or two from Exodus 14 – you don’t need to turn there.
God has just taken the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt – He’s done it with mighty acts of miracles. And the Israelites walk out of the land, free men and women and children.
They walk for a time and come to the Red Sea. By this point God’s hardened Pharaoh’s heart and Pharaoh has decided to make one last attempt at enslaving the Jews again, or destroying them, so he’s led his entire army out to attack the Israelites.
I’m sure you know how the story goes. The Israelites look back and they see a mighty and powerful army behind them, rushing up to attack. They look forward and they see a sea, with no chance of swimming it for safety. They are stuck between spears and waves – no chance of survival either direction.
But the LORD delivers them. By His power He parts the sea and it piles up on either side, and the Israelites walk through on dry land – an amazing miracle! And when the Egyptians see this, they speed their chariots down the one bank and swarm after the Israelites who are just going up on the further bank.
But just as the last Israelite gets safely out, God drops the walls of water back, right onto the Egyptian army trying to attack His people. What an amazingly dramatic miracle that the LORD performed to show His people, and the world, His power.
The Bible describes that event this way: “That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.” (Ex. 14:30-31)
I’ve seen the mighty power of God in my life. I’ve seen Him heal the sick, provide for the needy, protect the defenceless. And every time one of those minor or pretty major miracles happened, I grew in my fear of His mighty power, and learnt to put my trust in Him.
So we fear God by getting to know Him, and we can get to know Him through reading His Word, and we can get to know Him by seeing Him at work in the world.
HOW DO WE KNOW WHEN WE HAVE IT?
How do we know that we fear the LORD? We know that we fear the LORD when we serve Him – when we obey Him despite stiff opposition.
Abraham was a man who feared the LORD.
When he was 75 years old and childless God called him to leave his homeland and to travel to a faraway land that God would give to him and his descendants.
Abraham feared the LORD and did just that. He left all he knew and went where God called him.
10 years later he still had no land and no descendants. But he feared the LORD and remained where the LORD had called him.
10 years later he still had no land and no descendants. But he feared the LORD and trusted that God would keep His promise.
5 years later, at 100 years old, Abraham received the firstfruits of the fulfilment of God’s promise. Here, finally, was a part of the promise that Abraham could hold on to.
But then a few years after that, with only this one child to hold on to and still no land of his own, the LORD asked Abraham to do something very difficult: “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
No doubt Abraham really struggled with this instruction. How could he possibly obey God in this? It seemed so absurd – beyond unreasonable.
But as you know, Abraham went through with it. He gathered a donkey, some servants, some firewood, and his precious son, Isaac, and set off for the mountain God was sending him to.
When he arrived at the mountain, he made an altar, bound his son and lay him on it, and raised his hand to obey the command of the LORD…..and then the LORD stopped him, saying: “Abraham! Abraham! ‘Here I am’, he replied. ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.’” (Gen 22:12)
I wonder, do you serve the LORD with your life? 1 Samuel 12:24 says “But be sure to fear the LORD and serve Him faithfully with all your heart…”
The greatest example we have of someone who served God faithfully with all His heart was our Lord Jesus. He served God faithfully, and was obedient always, ‘to death – even death on a cross!” (Phil 2:8).
Jesus, our perfect example, served the Lord despite stiff opposition. And when Isaiah the prophet was prophesying regarding the coming Messiah, you know what He prophesied about Jesus?
These beautiful words in Isaiah 11:1-3 “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him – the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD – and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.”
Do you want to follow in the footsteps of Jesus? Do you want to experience the wonderful blessings of the LORD? Do you want to please Him and catch His attention? The Bible makes it clear that if that is your heart’s cry, you need to learn the fear of the LORD.
The one way to learn to fear the LORD is to get to know Him. Are you getting to know Him? Do you have time to seek Him in His word? Do you have the sensitivity to see His mighty work in the world around you? Or are you too distracted by the pretty things of this world?
I hope that you would be encouraged by this message to see that God is calling us to fear Him. Not only is it highly recommended, but it is commanded.
Do you know that one day we will see this Great Almighty God? And when we come before Him face to face the Bible tells us that He will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
How then should we live? Solomon’s wise advice comes to us in Ecclesiastes 12:13 – “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
Let’s close our eyes and pray.
Psalm 128:1-4 “Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labour; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD.”
Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.”
Proverbs 22:4 “Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honour and life.”
Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
Proverbs 16:6 “Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil.”
Psalm 25:12-14 “Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him. He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.”