Sunday, April 24, 2011

Don't Be Dumb, Fear God!

     "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.  His praise endures forever," Psalm 111:10.
     Being that the name of this blog is taken from Deuteronomy 6 and that Holy week is now over, I think it would be a good idea to study, for a few posts at least, the background and text from which this blog is anchored upon.  The book of Deuteronomy are Mose's sermons of the law and his instructions to the Hebrews concerning their lives and entrance into the Promised Land.  Deuteronomy, in the Hebrew, means, "These are the words".  In the immediate context of Deuteronomy 6, we have Moses restating the Ten Commandments, preparing the Hebrews hearts for entrance into the Holy Land.
     What really impresses me about Deuteronomy 6 is the repetition of, "fear the Lord".  Three separate times, verses 2, 13 and 24, we are admonished to "fear the Lord".  In fact, God commends the Hebrew people in chapter 5 for fearing Him and keeping His law and He exhorts them to continue in this fear(and obedience) that, "it might be well with them and their children forever!"  You'll also notice that the fear of the Lord brackets the shema(Deut. 6:4), the greatest commandment(v. 5) and the command upon which this blog is named.  In fact, the fear of God brackets the whole Bible, from Genesis 42 to Revelation 19.  It is my contention that the fear of the Lord is a precursor to the word "faith" that we are so familiar with in the New Testament.  Faith is used only twice in the Old Testament while the fear of the Lord is common place.  Even so, the New Testament hardly abandons using the phrase.  In fact, we read in Acts 9:31, that the early churches were, "walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit...".  There seems to be a close parallel in the New Testament between the fear of the Lord and faith and it seems this is an honest understanding of the same truth in the Old Testament.
    "Well, so what you say, big whup!  Are you saying you want me to walk around whimpering and cowering all day in the fear of the Lord."  Obviously not!  But scripture is so saturated with this phrase, from beginning to end, that it is important to understand it.  Even more, our modern, Americanized Christianity has seemingly blacklisted the mention of the fear of the Lord.  When we do encounter this phrase, people often soft sell it by saying that fear actually means respect and honor, God certainly does not want us to fear Him in its literal sense!  Well, tell that to Ananias and his wife Sapphira and the earliest church!  The Holman dictionary explains, "Confining the believers attitude toward God to "reverence" or "awe" rather than "fear" may lose sight of the divine character that compel obedience-His perfect holiness and righteousness and His unlimited power and knowledge...To fear God is to have allegiance to Him and consequently to His instructions, thus affecting one's values, convictions and behavior."  John MacArthur puts it rather succinctly, "The fear of the Lord is a state of mind in which one's own attitudes, will, feelings, deeds and goals are exchanged for God's."
This is precisely what the Hebrews in Moses day understood, and God applauded them for and what we need today!  I whimper when I fully consider God's grace exactly because I understand how awesome He is!  So I guess we should whimper when necessary but with the understanding that "If God is for us, who can stand against us."  Precisely because we are born again, we should fear Him.  We know from what we have been saved and what his might hand can do!
     Finally, what God is really telling the Hebrews through Moses is that if they want to be wise and intelligent, fear Him!  We are to fear Him and keep His commandments.  To keep His commandments we must learn them and teach them to our children. Our fear of the Lord will drive us to learn it more earnestly, to love more deeply and to live it more perfectly! We are to teach them to our children morning, noon and night.  We are to teach them at home, in church and in the world.  We are to teach them while we are eating, working and playing.  We need to teach them while they are awake and it should be the last thing they hear before their head hits the pillow!  I can only guess that David the Psalmist learned this from his father Jesse and then Solomon repeated this wisdom in Proverbs.  I leave you with this question: have you feared God today or have you been dumb?

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