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The Fear of the Lord

By: Pastor Wilson Suwanto

Psalm 19:9 ~ “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever”

The force of nature like tsunami, typhoon, hurricane, earthquake, can be frightening, and we are all afraid of them. We pray and hope that they never strike us. Just imagine the destruction they cause, and more than just physical destruction, imagine their impact on the children and survivors. Nightmares, fear, and distress continue to haunt the survivors long after the disaster itself.

If the force of nature can inflict such devastation on humankind, we can only imagine how powerful God is. God created the wind and sea, the heavens and the earth. Who can withstand His power? Who can withstand His wrath? If we fear the force of nature, we should fear God even more.

On the one hand, Christians are told not to live in fear. God often says, “Do not fear” or “Do not be afraid.” God’s presence gives us comfort and assurance so that we do not have to live in fear. But the Bible also teaches us to live in the fear of God. Exodus 20:20 expresses this truth, “Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.'”

If we fear God, we do not need to fear anything else. If we fear God, then we will experience God’s sweet comfort which says, “Do not fear.” If we fear God above anything else, we will walk in faith, not fear. People who do not have the fear of God, will fear everything. Herod was afraid of the child Jesus that he ordered the killing of toddlers in Bethlehem. Herod was afraid that Jesus would take his place, but he did not fear God that he commanded the killing of innocent children.

“The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever,” David writes in Psalm 19:9. When we fear the Lord, we will not do things that offend Him. We will have the boldness to do the right thing. When we do not fear God, we will not have the courage to do the right thing, but we will be bold in committing sins.

We love to be surrounded by God-fearing persons. Don’t we pray for God-fearing leaders? If our leaders are God-fearing, they will not do injustice to us. If they are God-fearing, they will not oppress us, right?

If our spouse is God-fearing, he or she will be faithful, right? If our boss is God-fearing, he will not mistreat us or take away our salary, right?

We love God-fearing people. God calls us to be such people. He wants us to fear Him above everything. There is a tendency to consider all forms of fear as unhealthy. Some experts say that fear is not healthy at all, and it is bad for the soul. I disagree. Some fears are healthy, and even necessary.

What will happen to our world if children do not fear punishment, or citizens do not fear the consequences of breaking the law? It is wrong to suggest that all fears are wrong. Isn’t the fear of hell that drives many people to Christ? When there is no fear of God or punishment, people will do anything. We should not replace the Bible with pop-psychology.

Many people say that fearing God only means respecting Him. It is not wrong, but it is incomplete. Fearing God is more than just respecting Him. It is being seized with reverence, admiration, and wonder for God’s character and power. Some people say that we should not fear God like we fear a wild beast. Well, we should fear Him more than we fear a wild beast because our God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29).

When we fear God above everything else, we will be able to appreciate God when He says, “Do not be afraid.” We are aware of the potential destruction He can inflict on sinners, and we are truly seized with awe when He inflicted that destruction and punishment on His Son, Jesus Christ. Can we imagine if we were the ones hanged on the cross?

When we fear God, we understand that God could have punished us for our sins, which we deserve. He did not punish us not because His lack of will or power to do so, but because of the abundance of His grace. That grace should make us grateful and fearful at the same time.

Let us serve and worship Him because He is God. Let us thank Him all the time because He is good. Let us fear Him because He is powerful and mighty, and He alone can truly comfort us, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matt. 14:27).