Sunday, March 4, 2012

Fear God and Win

Fear God and Win
March 5, 2012
Exodus 14:31 "And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant."

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. You've undoubtedly heard this proverb before, but has it changed your life? I've probably heard it a million times, even sang about it since I was young, but the choices I make in life oftentimes don't reflect my true fear of the Lord. In other words, I act foolish, do foolish things. You might be able to relate with this, if you are honest with yourself. It is easy to deny the times we act like fools, making decisions and choices we would expect others not to make. If we truly feared the Lord, our lives would be completely different. But what does it really mean to fear the Lord? Is there a clear description of this in the Bible?

Some people say that to fear the Lord is to respect Him and honor Him, that it is not a fear of His might or power or anger or wrath. While fear can definitely mean reverence, I would suggest that the fear of the Lord has more to do with His mighty power and what that power can do.

In the Old Testament, the Children of the Lord were familiar with the might of the Lord and what He could do. Recall Noah and the great Flood. The story was passed down for generations, people understood the calamity of the event. They knew the flood was the result of the Lord's disgust with the inhabitants of the earth. The story of the flood instilled fear into people. The Children of the Lord also witnessed the mighty hand of the Lord, His power and what He could do, when they were leaving slavery behind in Egypt. There were, of course, the ten plagues inflicted upon the Egyptians and then the magnificent parting of the Red Sea. The Lord miraculously parted the sea to allow His people through; then the sea closed up and killed the entire army of the Egyptians while the Israelites stood watching. The Bible says the people saw the power of the Lord displayed; they feared Him and trusted Him because of what they saw.

It is interesting that fear and trust could be in the same sentence. Usually if you are afraid of someone, you don't trust them. But the Israelites' fear of the Lord was far deeper than just being afraid He would smite them. He was their Heavenly Father, someone who wanted to protect them. They saw His protection over them against their enemies and realized His great love for them, but they also saw what His power could do if they lost His affection. The Lord promised many times over in the Bible that if we live a sinful lifestyle, disobeying His commands, that He would be quick to discipline us. If we understand His power, then we should respect what His discipline could do to us with His mighty hand.

But, if we fear Him and live as His children, following His precepts and being mindful of His discipline, then we don't have to live in fear of His wrath AND we will gain His protection over us. If we live with a healthy fear of the Lord's power and His promise to discipline us if we turn from Him, then we will naturally obey His commands. If we naturally obey His commands, then we don't have to live in fear of His wrath; we can trust in Him. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A wise man will understand this.

The Bible also gives us another promise of what living in fear of the Lord could do for our lives. It is a verse that binds together fear and obedience: "Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the LORD." Psalm 128:1-4

Don' take my word for it; look it up: Ex 14:40-41, Lev 26, Deut 6:24, Deut 9:18-21, Deut 10:12, Josh 4:24, Psalm 128, Psalm 33:18, Proverbs 9:10, Micah 6:8, 2 Cor 5:11

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