The Bible tells us we are to fear God, but what does that mean exactly? Are we to be so frightened of Him that we cower back when we speak to Him in prayer? Are we to be so afraid that we cannot be honest with Him when we feel anger or disappointment? Are we to walk this earth like a whipped puppy, fearful that this huge and powerful God may delete us from existence anytime we get under His skin?
And then, there is the other extreme. The Bible also tells us that God is love! So, there are those who say we are not to fear God because He is all loving. He is warm and fuzzy. He will embrace us no matter how we live, what we speak, or how many times we sin in a single day!
Well, this concept of God’s love sounds sweet, but we also can’t ignore the fact that when godly men like Moses, Isaiah, and Saul had an encounter with God, they either fell to their faces as dead men, grew pale and weak-kneed, or were stricken in some way in order for God to get their attention. This was outright scared-to-death fear!
So, where’s the balance?
Shiphrah and Puah were two heroines in the Bible. In Exodus 1, we are told of these two women and their heroic fear of God.
“Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, ‘When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.’ But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live . . . So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.” Exodus 1:15-21
Shiphrah and Puah didn’t just revere or respect God; they feared Him to the point of putting their lives on the line. They didn’t just honor Him; they trusted Him enough to disobey their government and obey God.
Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge . . . ” Unless we get a grip on the truth that God is God, we have no knowledge of Him. We need to realize that when God spoke, the world was created. When He pointed a finger at Satan, the devil was cast out of heaven forever. When He split the Red Sea, He rescued His children and then devoured the enemy Egyptian army with a wave!
When it was time for a Savior to Redeem His people, He implanted the life of His Son into the womb of a virgin girl. When He walked the earth, He healed the sick, cast out demons, and raised the dead. When certain individuals resisted His will and plan, He zapped them! Yes, zapped them! Zacharius lost his speech, Saul lost his sight, Annanius and Saphira lost their lives!
Even today, we see God’s power through a hurricane, tornado, or a bolt of lightning that can fry a human body and set a structure on fire in seconds. Beyond what we have seen, experienced, or fully understand, we are told that God will return like a thief, judging the world and casting Satan and his coherts into the firey pit for eternity. He will force all mankind who ever lived to bow to Him, for He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords! And then, He will bring His children home to heaven and allow those who have rejected His Son to live in separation from Him in Hell. Are you getting the picture of what it means to fear the Lord?
Yes, God is love. Yes, He is compassionate. Yes, He protects, cares, and nurtures His own. But make no mistake, He is so mighty that we ought not to forget to fear Him. Remember, His Word is described as a two-edged sword able to split the difference between joint and marrow! This is a picture of His laser-precise power!
In our day, to fear Him means ruthless abandonment to the ways of this world in order to follow Him. It means we will not bow to government, culture, or family tradition when it contradicts His Word. It means we will speak the Gospel even if it means persecution, rejection, even death. It means we fear no man, no circumstance, no authority, no evil, more than we fear following the Lord with an obedient heart.
The warning for you and me is to understand who we are dealing with. Jesus Christ is Lord! Every one of us will answer to Him one day as King and Judge.
Are your ready for that day? Are you living your life in obedience to the Lord? Do you have a reverent fear in serving Him?