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Bible verses about Fear of God
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 5:1-2

To Pharaoh, Moses' God is only one among many gods, a powerless entity that he need not fear. His disrespect and irreverence are clearly products of his ignorance, and these produce his disobedience. Since irreverence produces disobedience, then true reverence will produce and promote obedience. This clarifies why growing to know God is so essential: The fear of God is a major step toward practical godliness. The Bible and God's Spirit are the major elements that promote the knowledge of His mind and will.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sovereignty and Its Fruit: Part Ten


 

Exodus 6:2-8

God says He is going to do all this, which has a direct connection to why we eat unleavened bread. "I, I, I, I"—all uttered by God about what He will do. But the Israelites did not agree because the persecution that they had received just prior to this had put fear into them. So what does God have to do?

He could have thrown up His hands, but He said He would do these things. He had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to bring Israel into the Promised Land. Since God does not go back on His word, He decided to do it anyway, even though they do not agree. So God, in His mercy, began to work in a way to bring them into agreement with what He wanted to do. He did not give up, even though they were resisting Him stoutly at this time.

God had set His mind. Do we think God has made His mind up to save us? We had better believe He has! Nobody can resist Him! He will save us! But He will not save us until we come to the place where we really know that we did not do it. As hard as we might think it is, the part that we have to do—so tiny in comparison to what God does—He gave us the power to do! That is what Pentecost is about.

We have to come to understand that God is our Savior. All we have to do is cooperate! When we cooperate with His will, it works! His way of life works, and what He is creating in us will be created. As we see here, Israel dragged its heels, just as we do from time to time, resisting Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unleavened Bread and Pentecost


 

Exodus 20:20

God is so concerned about us fearing Him because, if we fear Him, we will depart from sin. Fearing God is an essential element of godly character. Developing this vital attribute will bring about abundant blessings in our lives. It is an important part of the process of salvation because we must choose to fear God in the face of all the carnal fears before us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God


 

Leviticus 9:22-24

They fell on their faces out of fear, reverence, respect, awe, and wonder from the knowledge that God was in their midst. The last verse shows that God accepted Aaron and the priests because everything was done according to His will.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Examples of Divine Justice


 

Deuteronomy 14:23-26

Verses 23-26 contains admonitions to go to the place God chooses, turn the increase into money if needed, and to spend it on whatever the heart desires, rejoicing with each other before God. However, the chapter's theme remains as a vital component of the instruction. God wants us to enjoy the fruit of our labors, as He also does when we obey Him. He also wants our relationship to be many-layered. Our focus, of course, should be off the self, centered on God, and extending outward toward others.

The rest of the chapter addresses this outward orientation with teaching to share with those who are less fortunate. It tells us to make sure that the needy are also able to rejoice and enjoy this time of fellowship and prosperity. The chapter ends by telling us that when we do these things, we give God good reason to bless us in whatever we set out to do.

Throughout these verses, we see God, very active in the lives of His people, admonishing His people to follow His lead. God is quite concerned about His people and His spiritual body. He cares what we do to ourselves both inwardly and outwardly, physically and spiritually (I Corinthians 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:18-22), and He cares how we treat each other as members of "the body of Christ" (I Corinthians 12:27).

While He allows us to partake of things we desire, Deuteronomy 14 shows that God does impose limits; He wants us to exercise self-control. He expects us to be givers and not just takers. This applies to sharing our money, food, drink, activities, and fellowship with others, and we should make special effort to share ourselves with Him in prayer, study, meditation, and church services during this time of plenty. After all, one of the purposes of going to the Feast is to learn how to fear God, and we do this by spending time with Him.

Staff
Whatever Your Heart Desires


 

Deuteronomy 18:17

God tells Moses that the Israelites were correct in their fear. What does He mean by this? Probably, He means that they would indeed have died if they had had any further direct contact with Him. Paul gives a taste of the sheer terror and expectation of death the Israelites felt in Hebrews 12:18-21, 25-29.

Staff
The Prophet


 

Psalm 2:10-11

A hundred other verses say essentially the same thing: We must have the fear of God in us. Nevertheless, many persist in believing that, in Christianity, the fear of God has been replaced by love for God.

There is no doubt that God wants us to fear Him. Notice that Psalm 34:11 says that the fear of God is a quality that we must learn, indicating that we do not have this characteristic in us by nature. The fear of God, then, is different from the fears we normally have in life. Thus, it must be learned.

Fear is a powerful motivator. Our normal understanding of fear spans from being a mild apprehension or awareness of anxiety all the way to outright, bowel-moving terror. As an extreme, it creates the "fight or flight" response. Why, then, does a loving God want us to fear Him? Would He not rather want us to snuggle up to Him with no thought of fear?

Many people have that conception, but it is a mistaken one. We must not forget that God is not a man; He is God. He reminds us in Isaiah 55:8-9 that He does not think like a man. Yes, He wants us to love Him, but even in that love the sense of fear should always be present.

Recall that Psalm 2:11 commands, "Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling." To a Christian, fearing and rejoicing seem to be an odd couple. Paul writes in Philippians 2:12 to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Ordinarily, we associate "trembling" with fear, of being frightened. What is there to fear and tremble about in taking salvation to its conclusion?

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 says, "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." Within a Christian setting, we are much more comfortable with this command to love, yet notice verses 1-2:

Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the LORD your God to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.

Immediately preceding and following His command in verse 5 to love Him, He also affirms that we are to fear Him (see verses 2, 13). The sense of verses 1-2 is that this fear is produced as we keep His commandments, not before! Clearly, fear of Him and love for Him cannot be separated from our relationship with Him.

Isaiah 8:13 adds another interesting aspect. "The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread." Surely, we might think that someone as close to God as Isaiah did not need to fear Him, but here God commands Isaiah to fear him. Why? Because the fear gained within the relationship with Him always motivates movement in the right, godly direction, regardless of the intensity of life's circumstances.

What about I John 4:17-18? Does it not contradict the assertion that our relationship with God should contain godly fear?

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

This passage does not contradict in the least, once we understand the kind of fear the apostle John is writing about. The clue to this fear appears in verse 17 in the term "boldness." John is referring to being bold in spite of the circumstances we face from life in this world once we are converted. The love of God works in us to dispel the fear of disease, oppressions, persecution, and death, but it does not drive out the fear of God. If it did, John would be contradicting what the Bible says elsewhere about the necessity of continuing to fear God. Christianity has not replaced the fear of God with the love of God, as many wrongly believe. Instead, the two work hand in hand.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sin, Christians, and the Fear of God


 

Psalm 10:4

This is of major concern because the first commandment is the most important. A proper understanding of—and thus obedience to—the other nine depends largely on this one.

This does not mean "the wicked" never thinks of God. He may even "belong" to a church and attend fairly regularly. He is not an atheist, but he does not fear God. He has no regard for Him and may in fact purposefully avoid Him. This person has conveniently chosen to live without God except to meet society's conventions. He is effectively worshipping himself.

This nation has more and more frequently been led by men and women answering to this description. They have been largely responsible for impressing their concepts upon society, which has been swept along in absorbing their ideas. People may still frequently talk about God, but He is not feared and obeyed. Idolatry is doing its damage, and reaping of the whirlwind is not far off.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The First Commandment (1997)


 

Psalm 14:1-5

Let us hope that none of us is this "blind." From my experience as a minister, it is possible that Christians can be what David describes as a "fool." One may say, "Well, since my conversion, I have never said that there is no God." Maybe we have and never realized it!

How could that happen? "Fool" here is nabal. Remember the story of David and Abigail? Abigail's husband was named Nabal, and he was a fool. It means someone who is contemptible, someone who is empty. It does not mean "an atheist" or one who has no contact with God. It does not even mean that such a person does not see God in His creation. The fool that David describes here may readily admit that God is Creator and claim that this belief plays a major role in his life.

This person, this "fool," though not an atheist, lives as if he believes no God exists, either to bless with reward or to curse with punishment. A nabal is not stupid; he is not a person who does not reason at all. He is a person who reasons wrongly. A nabal is a person who chooses or assumes to ignore the fact of God's authority over his life. He sees God as an "absentee landlord" who may be safely disregarded because he assumes that God is not really active in His Creation. Now that is foolishness!

In biblical contexts, foolishness can be sin! The fool's problem is not with his brain but his heart. The fool is capable of grasping the things of God, but he possesses no real fear or reverence for God and the things of God. This results in nothing less than a "practical atheism." Even though he may readily admit that God is Creator, he lives his life as though God is nowhere around. He has produced a dichotomy between what he intellectually knows and the way he lives. God says such a person is a fool. He is, in reality, saying in his heart, "There is no God."

That is sobering because any of us can fall into this state, as Psalm 14:5 implies: "There [fools] are in great fear, for God is with the generation of the righteous." Like us, the fool is aware of God. When the punishment, the curse, for sin comes—when God begins to reveal Himself as the Judge of sinners—then the fool, because of what He knows of God, also knows great fear. If he truly thought, "There is no God," the fear would not exist, but he knows that there really is a God, though his life belies it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Do You See God? (Part One)


 

Psalm 25:14

Secret is also translated "counsel," but it is closer in meaning to "confide," indicating two people pressing or leaning together in quiet conversation, a posture that friends take when they share a confidence between them. It initially suggests intimate friendship, then that God opens His mind to those who fear Him so that He can more carefully instruct them in His way and will.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part One): Fear


 

Psalm 31:19-20

These promises to those who fear God are invaluable. In persecution, those who fear Him are aware of His faithful presence. Though He cannot be seen, He is there, watching over His loved ones to spare them being overwhelmed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part One): Fear


 

Psalm 33:18-19

The eye of the Lord is on all men, but it is directed with special attention toward those who fear Him. The nations of this world have their security in military power. Our security is in God. It is good to reflect on this regarding the Tribulation and Place of Safety because this not only promises His presence but also His deliverance.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part One): Fear


 

Psalm 34:8-11

The fear of the Lord is not something that comes naturally but that must be learned. It is in fact the essence of true religion. An "essence" is what makes something what it is; it is the real nature of a thing. The fear of the Lord is the real nature of the religion, the way of life, of God.

It is in us to fear instinctively when we are little children. We fear being left alone. We fear falling. We fear sudden noises. We fear the dark and lightning and thunderstorms. We fear many things almost instinctively because our first reaction is always to protect the self. Not all of these fears are wrong or negligible by any means, for they are what cause us to act to preserve our lives.

The fear of God does not come so naturally. We have to begin doing it consciously, and we have to learn to do it and grow in it. The Bible shows that it is not in man to fear God instinctively.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God


 

Psalm 34:11-14

David makes an interesting statement here regarding the fear of God. We must learn the fear of the Lord; it is not something we have by nature. We find the evidence of this in the conduct of all who have lived since Adam and Eve. Romans 3:18 is just as true now as it always has been: "There is no fear of God before their eyes." The reason it must be taught becomes obvious once we understand that it arises and grows from one's relationship with God.

The relationship begins with God's calling. Before that, we may have sincerely believed that He exists, but we certainly did not know Him. Respect cannot exist between two parties—especially the quality of respect God desires—when they do not even know each other. Knowing of someone is far different from knowing him. This is certainly true of God, as the world has been flooded with misinformation about Him. Psalm 34:8 supports this: "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" David exhorts us to experience a relationship with Him, for only then will we know that He is indeed good.

David adds in verses 12-14: "Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it." He urges us to understand that the fear of the Lord grows as the relationship develops. The relationship develops when we follow through in submission to God in conforming to His way of life. As we do this, we begin to get a taste of what it would be like to spend eternity as His companion in marriage.

The desires to please Him, not to disappoint Him, and to strive to protect the relationship grow from abject self-concern to preserve one's life to reverential awe for His great goodness and zealous desire to preserve and glorify His name within an increasingly intimate relationship. We can see how this would motivate what we do with our life and time. It would drive and guide us in how we did things. If we truly respect someone, we try very hard to give him the best possible quality in all we do for him.

Consider this in light of the dating process and the feelings that bring couples together in marriage. As Christians, we are now in the courtship period preceding marriage to our Savior. Access to and fellowship with Him, coupled with submission within the relationship, feeds a growing respect for Him and His way. By this, we come to know Him, and we are motivated to reciprocate His loving respect and to produce growth and the fruit of God's Spirit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part One): Fear


 

Psalm 130:4

Notice the direct connection between being forgiven and fearing Him. We are forgiven so that we might learn to fear Him after experiencing His mercy! Does this not suggest that the fear of God is in some regards different than our normal perception of fear?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sin, Christians, and the Fear of God


 

Proverbs 1:1-7

The ancient Hebrews associated wisdom with our modern term “skill,” even though “skill” is not a direct translation of the Hebrew term. “Skill” implies what wisdom is in actual practice: excellence in quality or expertise in the practice of one's occupation, craft, or art. People may acquire many skills in life, but the Bible focuses on human life and its God-given purpose. Therefore, a practical definition of biblical wisdom is “skill in living according to God's way of life.”

To refine it further, biblical wisdom is unique to those truly in a relationship with God. That biblical wisdom is a gift of God reinforces this fact, and according to James 1:1-8, we should ask for it and He will give it. James cautions that we must be patient because God gives it through the experiences of living within a relationship with God. Living requires time, and in some cases, a great deal of time because we are often slow to learn. God gives wisdom for us to make the best practical use of all the other gifts He gives, enabling us to glorify Him by our lives. As it is used, it displays a host of characteristics similar to the fruit of the Spirit (see James 3:17-18).

Proverbs 1:1-7 helps to clarify wisdom by showing that it consists of such other godly characteristics as knowledge of God Himself, the fear of God, understanding, discernment, discretion, prudence, justice, judgment, equity, etc., all of which, melded together and used, produce a skill in living that—this is important—is in alignment with God's purpose and way of life.

Undoubtedly, some people are worldly-wise. However, biblical wisdom and worldly wisdom are not the same skillset. Biblical wisdom contains those spiritual qualities that are in alignment with and support God's purposes. Though wisdom may provide a measure of worldly success, that is not its primary purpose.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Eight): Death


 

Proverbs 1:7

The biblical fear of God runs the gamut from a mild respect through a deep, abiding, and reverential awe to sheer terror—a terror that causes the skin to crawl, the hair to stand on end, the throat to release a scream, the bowels to move, or the body to faint or collapse, groveling on the ground in a vain attempt to disappear, as Isaiah did (Isaiah 6:5). Fear can be an extremely effective motivator. Many of us have seen, heard, or experienced something so fearsome that the "fight or flight" response kicked in. The terror moved us to take immediate steps to defend ourselves physically or seek protection by running from the danger.

However, fear can also be a two-edged sword. Though it undoubtedly motivates, it can also paralyze us into doing nothing but rolling ourselves into a fetal position. In relation to God, a most subtle and deceptive problem is that, because we cannot literally see Him, we do not feel that responding to Him is of immediate concern. In this way, fearing God is not like our reaction to a lion suddenly jumping out of the jungle and confronting us on the path.

The result, though, can be just as deadly! The major difference is timing. Because of God's patience, the end comes more slowly if our reaction is not correct and no repentance occurs. Nonetheless, our relationship with God may die because not having the proper fear invites apathy and procrastination. Our fear must have enough of an "edge" that we are motivated to act correctly—but not so much that we are paralyzed into inaction. That "edge" grows as true knowledge of Him increases.

Some may think that God does not require of us this level of fear. However, for "trembles" in Isaiah 66:2, the Septuagint uses a Greek word that means a reverential awe that has an "edge" to it. God will "look on" a person who has this kind of fear. Without the proper fear of God in us, there will be precious little reciprocation of His love shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5).

Romans 12:1 makes it clear that overcoming in this way of life requires sacrifice. We all know how costly sacrifice is sometimes. Our apprehension of making sacrifices required to submit to God's will stops us on occasions, motivating us to draw back from obeying. In this case, the problem is fearing the wrong thing! Sometimes, the degree of the fear of God we need comes close to sheer terror because we are often so difficult to convince!

However, what is necessary as a matter of course is an abiding reverential awe.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part One): Fear


 

Proverbs 1:20-30

Fearing God is a choice. Each and every day of our lives, we are faced with many pressures, forces, and influences that compel us to react. We must make a choice: "Shall I go this way, or shall I go that way?" One way represents the fear of God; the other way represents the fear of men, the fear of the loss of pleasure, the fear of the loss of some other physical, social, or cultural "need" that we do not want to lose.

Notice the verbs in this series of verses: "hated," "did not choose," "would have none," "despised"! Is it any wonder that Romans 8:7 says that the carnal mind is enmity against God? We begin to understand that it was the fear of God, given as the gift of God, that drove us to react, drove us in the direction of the very One who holds in His hands the issues of life! God instilled that reaction within us!

There is an antagonism toward wisdom—toward God. Wisdom is not hiding. People have access to common wisdom, which is described as being right out there on the street—out in public. It is in the forest; it is in the city; it is on the job—it is everywhere! We are surrounded by it! This is why God can make the accusation that the Gentiles who do not have the law are a law unto themselves when they do what the law says is right (Romans 2:14). Their own conscience bears them witness that they understand what is right and what is wrong (verse 15)!

Proverbs 1 shows that God (personified as Wisdom) uses just about every device imaginable to awaken people to what is right, so that they will fear evil. We see Wisdom threatening, laughing, and warning, like a dog baring its teeth. If a snarling pit bull braced to attack every time we were about to sin, we would fear, would we not? Our skin would crawl, our hair would stand on end, and we would be almost spitless!

God has not chosen to warn us in that way, but He does warn us through His Word. He also warns us through the fruit of sin, which we see in this world as well as in our own lives. It is almost as if Wisdom is saying, "I told you so, but you would not listen!"

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God


 

Proverbs 2:1-6

God's Word is like His other creations. Like air, it too has multi-faceted uses. In fact, it seems as though its uses are inexhaustible. It does not matter whether one lives in the time of Abraham, Moses, David, Ezra, Christ, or now. Its directly stated words or their spirit will apply. God's Word is so infinite and pure that it is always valid, always true, always applicable, and always an inexhaustible source of guidance. Jesus says that God's "word is truth" (John 17:17). Solomon adds, "Every word of God is pure" (Proverbs 30:5), and David writes, "The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times" (Psalm 12:6).

Psalm 119:17-18 states, "Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep your word. Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law." The author of this psalm has the right idea. Asking God for guidance into His Word should be our request each day. Understand, however, that it is one thing to deem the Bible a great book because of its reputation—it is another to study the Bible soberly, seeking for instruction in righteousness. This we must do.

Solomon instructs us in Proverbs 2:1 on the necessary attitude toward it: "My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you. . . ." We should treat God's Word like treasure, as something precious. We should not treat it merely as something expensive but personally desired and used as our guide to life. Possessing it in this manner is within reach if we stretch ourselves or make sacrificial effort to have it. It is such a powerful tool that we should approach it as if it is the pearl of great price. Yet, this treasure is not something put in a safe-deposit vault and taken out only to look at on rare occasions. We are to seek it so that it can produce success and beneficial results in us. It is the most useful tool readily available to man to guide him in the most important area of life—his relationships with God and fellow man.

Verses 2-6 add a great deal of understanding about how vigorous and persistent our efforts should be toward possessing the treasure of God's Word. The phrase "incline your ear" (verse 2) pictures a person cocking his head and cupping his ear with his hand while straining to hear—understand—more distinctly. It depicts exerting physical effort, and the word "heart" shows we must apply strenuous mental effort as well. Admittedly, God's Word is not always easy to understand. It is a tool that requires varying levels of skill to use. At times, we must research patiently and diligently in many areas of Scripture to get as comprehensive a picture of its teaching on a given subject as possible.

In verse 3, "cry out" more literally means "invite to come." It is admonishing us to be open-minded as we research its pages. Our heart easily deceives us through lifelong prejudices and biases because we have passively accepted them as true. When God's Word challenges them, we are often moved to defend them. "Lift up your voice" adds greater intensity to "cry out," showing that we should not be passive regarding these biases. We need to search into them sincerely, and if we find them to be wrong, reject them.

By reminding us that the things we consider to be valuable usually have to be laboriously dug for and brought up from the depths, verse 4 urges us to pursue the riches of God's Word seriously.

Verse 5 then introduces an exceedingly interesting and essential principle we need to know for our growth. Proverbs 1:7 informs us, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge," but Proverbs 2:5 adds that the fear of the Lord is also a goal in our search for wisdom. This is important to understanding "knowing God" because the thrust of the Bible reveals that we can only come to know Him by obeying Him, by striving to be morally perfect. The fear of the Lord is a major motivator in producing conformity to Him and His will. It helps us enormously to reverence Him deeply, and if we do, it will result in sincere obedience from the heart. In this context, the Bible essentially equates the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God.

Verse 6 confirms that God is the source of all ethical authority as well as the blessings that flow from obedience to the knowledge of Him. The preceding verses urge obedience to Him as the principle of life because it results in knowing Him. Therefore, the fear of the Lord, the knowledge of God, understanding, and wisdom are all part of the same spiritual "salad." They are inextricably linked as necessary for those who want to please God and live the abundant life He intends for His children. Though we can properly define them as technically different from one another, in reality, they cannot be separated. The glue that holds them together is obedience to what we already know while we strive to improve all of them together. Verse 9 to the end of the chapter expounds the benefits of our search for this treasure.

In Psalm 119, the author shows how many varied and distinct elements are in fact linked in order to comprise a whole generally called "the law." The same principle holds true of those elements of Proverbs 2:1-6. The psalmist asks God to deal bountifully with him (Psalm 119:17-18), so he can keep—obey—what he learned as he searched out each element. This shows that we need to consider the whole package in Proverbs 2:1-6 because each of these elements draws on the others for support while simultaneously producing fruit toward the others.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part One): Introduction


 

Proverbs 8:13

Proverbs 8:13 defines the fear of the Lord as "to hate evil." This definition suggests the kind of conduct the proper fear of God produces in practical application. If we hate something, do we not take steps to avoid it? Perhaps one of our major problems is that we do not hate and fear sin and its penalty strongly enough. The fear of God, along with the other elements of motivation, strongly induces us to be non-conformists to this world's ways. This is vital to our continued growth, as the apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:2, "Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould" (Phillips' translation). It will be impossible to grow if we are conforming to this world.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Two): Vision


 

Proverbs 31:30

When God describes the ideal woman, she is portrayed as one who fears God. In order to be deserving of this praise, she must possess this particular characteristic—and a lot of it! We must also assume that "what is good for the goose is good for the gander"! God is no respecter of persons, and if God praises a woman because she has the fear of God, then He will also praise a man because he, too, fears God.

I John 3:4 defines sin as "the transgression of the law," and John 17:3 defines eternal life as "to know God." Here is a Bible definition of the fear of the Lord:

The fear of the LORD is to hate evil, pride, arrogance, and the evil way. (Proverbs 8:13)

This is why the woman pleases God and receives His praise. The knowledge of God, which is instilled as a gift, compels or constrains one to depart from evil. In other words, it leads one to keep the commandments of God.

The person makes the choice to do what is right and good and thereby evidences his inward disposition, his inward attitude, proving what is in his heart by what others see on the outside—his conduct. He departs from evil. God is taken into account in his life in every circumstance, in every aspect, and in every situation, and he makes the choice to do it God's way. The person learns to hate evil and to love to do what is right, good, and pleasing to God! Godly living is the fear of the Lord!

The obverse of the coin is true too. If the fear of God is to hate evil, then the fear of God is also to love a godly way of life. The fear of the Lord is filled with moral content.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God


 

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11

Men search for the answers to life's big questions. They are aware that there is a Creator God, as Romans 1 so clearly shows. We know from our own experiences that multitudes of the public believe that God exists, but how many of those know the purpose that God is working out? The closest they have been able to come is to believe people go off to heaven when they die. That is not the purpose God is working out. It is so much more majestic, so much more grand and glorious than that—there is no comparison between the truth and that which man has concocted!

In addition, people do not seem to understand the connection between God's purpose and our lives right now. What are we supposed to do with what we understand? They do not understand that God is on a character-building mission, and it requires our cooperation with Him. That is exactly what God through Solomon suggests here: that no one can find out the work that God does from the beginning. Why? Because they do not fear Him! The fear of God must be given; it must be instilled within a person—and it must be instilled by God!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God


 

Ecclesiastes 7:11-14

Solomon is comparing two powers that offer their possessors the ability to defend themselves against many of the vicissitudes of life. On the one hand is money and on the other, wisdom. Money can help one avoid and even preserve a person from many of life's difficulties. Wisdom, however, can give him something no amount of money can—life. Wisdom produces things material possessions cannot because it is insurance against willful self-destruction, whether physical or spiritual.

Consider in verse 13 literally means "to see." It counsels us to understand that some situations cannot be rectified. No amount of money or wisdom will prevent them from occurring. We can do nothing about them because circumstances are beyond our powers, and we should not fret overmuch about them. An obvious example is the impossibility of a person being able to stop wars, floods, riots, or a hurricane. Each of these can bring devastation and a great deal of personal pain that may be entirely unavoidable. All one can do in such a case is to deal with the aftereffects as wisely as possible.

Verse 14 carries on the thought, counseling us that good and bad times occur in everybody's life. There will be situations that are seemingly unjust, such as the righteous seeming not to be prospered, becoming diseased and dying young, while the evil are prospered with wealth, good health, and long, comfortable lives. These things occur in every culture on earth. We are to consider—to see—that God overrules all and is well aware of what is happening. He may even be directly involved in causing the kinds of circumstances that upset our sense of fairness (Isaiah 45:7). We must never allow our thoughts to wander from the reality of the depths of God's involvement in governing His creation.

The passage concludes by drawing our attention to the future. It is beyond our abilities to know precisely what is going to happen. How long will our present trial last? Will we be drawn into another? Are we pleasing God? Will we be prospered to a greater level? When will Christ come? Solomon is not saying we should not think about the future, but that we will never know precisely what is coming. Thus, we should not be overly concerned about it. We must live our belief that God is on His throne, which allows us to be emotionally stable.

Solomon does not begin to give an answer to the thought he is posing until verses 18-19, and even then, it is a very brief answer: "It is good that you grasp this, and also not remove your hand from the other; for he who fears God will escape them all. Wisdom strengthens the wise more than ten rulers of the city." The combination of the fear of God and wisdom, which is the fruit of vision, appear together as a solution.

Because the circumstances he posed will affect all, Solomon's advice is to keep on following wisdom. This is a precursor to the climax of the book where he says, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). It also foreshadows Romans 8:28, where Paul writes, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

In his terse statements, Solomon is saying, "Keep on following the revelation of God, for this is wisdom. The vision of His overall purpose is wisdom. It is an unerring guide through good and bad times. Always consider—see, discern—that an unseen Hand is involved in events, even those of our seemingly insignificant lives."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Two): Vision


 

Ecclesiastes 11:9-10

Whereas chapter 11 concentrated on exhorting us to be enthusiastically committed, the beginning of chapter 12 exhorts us not to forget God in our enthusiasm. It is easy to do.

Rejoice, he says—but do not forget God! God intends life to be good, but do not forget Him. This means, then, that if we enjoy life yet remember God, we will enjoy the things that He allows us to have, but we will never allow them to control us and will always keep our appetites in check because we fear God, want to impress Him, and want to do right and good. In this way, we will truly enjoy what God has given.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

Isaiah 6:5

Isaiah, like Moses, became unglued in God's presence. We may conclude from these two examples that we are better off the way things are, that is, unable to see God physically. Being face-to-face in the presence of God should not be something we feel the need to experience. What we have of the revelation of God is sufficient to produce the right mix of fear and devotion—if it is given half a chance.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God


 

Isaiah 8:11-12

Isaiah is talking about fear. The historical background is that Judah felt threatened by the presence of the Assyrian empire. They were sweeping down and conquering all of the nearby nations. Judah was frightened. As the people of God, what should they have done? In deep respect, awe, and faith, they should have cried out to God for His protection. He is the Lord of heaven and earth. He governs it all. He could easily have stopped the Assyrians. However, the people conspired with other nations, saying to them, in effect, "You protect us. We will ally with you. We are afraid of the Assyrians, but if we join together, we will have enough power to fend them off and be safe."

God looked at that as a conspiracy against Him. He was their Lord, their King, their God. He certainly had the power to protect. And thus, His instruction to Isaiah: "Do not enter into that conspiracy with them."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God


 

Isaiah 8:12-14

Just in case we thought it was sufficient to stand only in reverence or awe or respect of Him, Isaiah adds, "Let Him be your dread!" God is asking, in effect, "Of whom are you more afraid, the Assyrians or Me?"

In The Interpreter's Bible Commentary appears an interesting comment regarding this passage. The editors saw clearly that God was instructing Isaiah to turn away from the bulk of the Israelites and aim his message at a tiny remnant of people who were willing to be obedient and faithful in response to God. He tells the prophet to reject the main body and pay attention to a small group, the remnant that desires to be faithful to God. He said, "I will become a snare, a trap, to those who are turning away from Me. They will stumble as a result of not having the fear of God and because of their faithlessness."

God does not seem the least bit worried that His people should dread Him. Indeed, this dread, rather than hindering a proper relationship with Him, is advanced as producing a positive benefit. He becomes a sanctuary, a place of abode, to which his people can run for safety. He is a place of safety for those who fear Him!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God


 

Jeremiah 23:21-22

When Moses tried to relieve the oppression of the Israelites on his own strength forty years before, nothing happened. He ran to do the work of the Lord, but God was not in it. The point that God is making is that, no matter how sincere a person is, if he is not tuned into the will of God, even though he does a great work and is noble and pure of heart, real success comes from God because God is in it - not due to the efforts of the man. The result then was a sincere effort but futile. Moses created a stir, but it was ineffective because God was not in it. It was not His will. It did not become His will until forty years later.

What happened to Moses in the intervening years was that he was truly humbled and converted. He had given himself to God to such an extent that he was almost afraid to move, and God had to bring him back a way to restore some of his initiative. However, now that initiative would be used in harmony with a strong relationship with Him. Since Moses truly had the fear of God, he took God into account in every action. That is what the fear of God does to a person: It makes a person consider God and His desires in everything that he does.

Moses grew to know God so well that he could interpret God's mind as few men ever could. Many people have strong beliefs, but are they right? Are they in harmony with God's will? A belief must not only be strong, but it must also be right. It is proved right in the process of living: Righteous actions will produce godly fruit. This is why Jesus says, "You will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16). The fruits of a person's life will show what a person believes, producing in him a resolution that his actions are God-ordered and he dare not turn aside or change them.

Are we living what we believe?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Conviction, Moses and Us


 

Daniel 11:32

The circumstance prophesied in Daniel 11:32 is gradually taking shape on the horizon. Those who know Him and "see" Him are those who so respect and revere Him that they never want to be out of His presence nor disappoint Him. The Bible describes such people as "fearing Him." Fear is generally defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by exposure to danger or expectation of lack or pain. Its synonyms include "dread," "terror," "panic," "alarm," and "fright." Though it contains elements of these characteristics, the fear of God is most certainly not dominated by them. This particular quality of fear is not abject terror.

The fear of God centers on worshipful admiration and appreciation. It is a wonder, awe, delight, pleasure, and warm approval of all He is in His Person. It esteems Him above all others because of the awesome, loving mixture of His intelligence, creativity, generosity, wisdom, kindness, patience, and mercy, all within an aura of overwhelming and yet subdued power. These qualities are not ones that a person immediately recognizes, but rather ones that an individual comes to know as the result of experience with Him. His qualities draw a person to God rather than repel him in cringing terror.

Psalm 34:11, a psalm of David, a man after God's own heart, makes a telling statement regarding this fear: "Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD." This fear is not natural to man; it is not built into the carnal mind. Human nature will reject it because the carnal mind is enmity with God (Romans 8:7).

Godly fear is a quality of reverence and respect of God that must be learned, and only those whom God calls and converts can learn it, because doing so requires a relationship with Him to come to know Him. The unconverted do not have this relationship. Those who fear God will do great exploits regardless of their human status, great or small. To be in that position, we must make the best use of the relationship that He enables by His calling. We have to respond by seeking Him to remain in His spiritual presence, or we will never learn the fear of God nor have it as part of our characters.

The fear of the Lord is a necessary, foundational plank supporting a life lived in faith. It is a strong influence that drives us toward God and His way, not one that incites us to flee from Him. It is not only foundational to this way of life, but it is also a fruit of it, learned and strengthened in the character of those who pay the costs of living by faith. The sons of God live in the present yet always look to the future in the Kingdom of God, humbly accepting His judgments on their lives. They strive to make good, daily use of His Word. Such people will receive God's spiritual blessings and do exploits.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty, Part Three: The Fruits


 

Habakkuk 2:2

First, God allays some of the prophet's fears by implying that what He has told him is not necessarily a revelation of doom and despair. It may seem that way, but ultimately, the vision is encouraging, hopeful, and glorious. This is why He instructs him to write it down plainly so people will understand it and be encouraged by it—and thus run.

Hebrews 12 contains a similar metaphor of running. Perhaps Paul had Habakkuk in mind as he wrote it, since he quotes Habakkuk in Hebrews 10:37-38. The apostle explains in Hebrews 12:1 that the race we run is our Christian lives. We can take the words of Habakkuk and run because we know that it all works out right in the end (Romans 8:28). Our Savior has already done His work, so if we finish our race, we will be saved. There is no doubt about this because He is not only the beginner of our faith, but He is also the finisher of our faith. So we can run with patience, just as God told Habakkuk to do. Even if it seems to tarry, patiently wait for it, because it will happen just as He has promised. His will will be done.

In Hebrews 12:5-11, Paul goes through a section on discipline, chastening, correction. This is what Habakkuk had just heard—that God would discipline, chasten, correct His people by the wicked hand of Babylon. Paul says in Hebrews that if God does not chasten us, we are bastard children! The chastening, though unpleasant, is for our good. We may not like the humiliation of it, but we can patiently endure it because it is for the best.

Our chastening is not a time to lag or worry but to strengthen ourselves through God and move forward because it is important that we endure and finish (Hebrews 12:12-13). When things get tough, the tough get going. Do not be like Esau (Hebrews 12:15-17), who had a great promise and inheritance and threw it all away for some temporary relief. We should never settle for temporary relief if it will knock us off the path! It is not worth it because it will end in bitterness, tears, disappointment, and failure.

Paul shows in Hebrews 12:28 how we should approach God, even when things do not seem to be going the right way. We must serve Him acceptably with reverence and godly fear, just as Habakkuk did. Yes, he questioned Him, but he said, "You are God, and You know something that I do not understand, so I will wait patiently. I will see this through, and then I will respond." If we do not approach God properly, we may find ourselves caught under the heel of the Chaldean with the sinners.

"That he may run who reads it" suggests a herald, like in medieval times, who went from place to place with a message from one person to another. God is instructing Habakkuk to put the revelation down clearly so that someone in the future can take it and deliver it into the right hands, those who need to hear it. Anyone in the end time who is speaking God's words fulfills this.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Habakkuk


 

Habakkuk 2:18-20

Fifth Woe: Idolatry, particularly the second commandment, as God speaks mainly about graven images. Obviously, the first commandment also applies.

One can almost picture God pronouncing this woe with a shake of the head. How can any people be so stupid as to worship a gold- or silver-covered block of wood or stone? The idol is not even alive, much less can it give blessings or help in time of need! Yet, God is alive and active in the affairs of men. He is sovereign, sitting on His throne in heaven, and all everyone on earth should stand before Him in awed reverence. As Jesus says, "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Habakkuk


 

Malachi 3:13-16

Malachi wrote in Judea between the return from Babylon and Christ's birth. During that period God's people had grown lackadaisical in their worship, yet a faithful few remained.

"'Your words have been harsh against Me,' says the LORD." God accuses them of calling Him into account for what was happening within the nation. They were experiencing difficult times, just as the people of God have frequently endured difficult times. These are times when we cry out to God, "Why, God? Why are you allowing this to happen? When are you going to intervene?" but He does not seem to be listening.

"Yet you say, 'What have we spoken against You?'" They did not feel that their accusations were against God, but He gives them an example (verses 14-15).

The faithful can see that these others are not very godly. Maybe they see that "the proud" are sinning openly, breaking the commandments of God. Maybe the proud do not have a submissive, quiet, and gentle spirit. Maybe they are aggressive and assertive, and they maneuvered themselves to the head of the group. And they seemed to be getting away with it!

Notice what these faithful people did in response to the difficult times they were enduring as part of the ekklesia (verse 16). All of God's faithful people should do these things:

1). They feared God. They respected and revered Him. They stood in awe of Him. Some may have even felt an appropriate measure of terror.

2). They thought on His name. They meditated on it. It can suggest that they esteemed His name. They spoke highly of it. They honored Him. They looked to Him, though they were complaining for leadership and guidance. His name, of course, stands for everything that He is. He does not have just one name, He has many names. They show, or advertise, what He is, what He will do, and what He requires.

3). They fellowshipped with one another. No doubt they spoke of their trials and their blessings, about the things that were going on in the ekklesia of that day, of their studies into God's Word, of their plans, of their expectations of the Kingdom of God. God heard! God watched and responded, maybe not when they would have liked Him to respond, but God did respond in His time, when it was right for His purposes.

So will He respond to us!

Then God makes a wonderful promise to those who fear Him: "'They shall be Mine,' says the LORD of hosts, 'on that day that I make them My jewels [special treasure—margin]. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him'" (verse 17). In Isaiah 49:15-16, God says, "Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands...." He is watching! He is aware of what is going on, and He will act!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Guard the Truth!


 

Matthew 9:8

The people were stunned, moved to glorify God, filled with fear, and confounded. It is no surprise that the witnesses to the miracle were amazed at the astounding healing. Each of the three gospel writers uses a different Greek word to express a variation of a state of awe. Nevertheless, considering the great impact this miracle had on observers, most of them were not moved to have faith in God. Though filled with awe at His mighty works, they were not convinced or converted. Faith is not produced through sight (II Corinthians 5:7). Miracles and physical proof do not instill faith. God must call a person, opening his mind to His truth (John 6:44). Today, people tend to think that sensationalism will convert sinners, designing their religious presentations to impress people and increase followers by physical rather than spiritual quality.

In addition, the people were moved to glorify God in their limited way (Matthew 9:8). Yet, their reaction to the healing did not cause a change of heart in them.

Luke writes that they were all "filled with fear" (Luke 5:26). It can be terrifying to be near the power of Almighty God. Paul states, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31). Realizing his own sinfulness in the presence of the perfection and might of God, Peter knelt in fear at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Luke 5:8). Again, however, most of the witnesses to the paralytic's healing refused to overcome their sins and change their lives.

James notes that even the demons believe and tremble before God (James 2:19), yet they, of course, have never been converted. This principle should enlighten us about the professed religion of others. Being filled with awe, glorifying God, or experiencing fear are not enough in themselves; they are merely beginnings of understanding and wisdom (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10).

Some witnesses to this miracle said, "We never saw anything like this!" (Mark 2:12). Others exclaimed, "We have seen strange things today!" (Luke 5:26). They were confounded. The miracle they witnessed was one of a kind, different from anything they had ever seen before. No other "gods" compare with our God the Father and Jesus Christ!

In Luke's account, the word "strange" is the Greek word from which the English word "paradox" derives. It suggests true things that are contrary to all common sense and ordinary experience. The things of God are beyond the understanding of mere human beings. In this miracle, we see the incomprehensible sovereignty and glory of God in His comfort and healing of the sick through His Son Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Paralytic (Part Two)


 

Matthew 10:27-28

It is not unreasonable that we should fear God. Jesus Christ Himself says that we are to fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. Why? He is the only One who can revoke the judgment of Gehenna fire. The wages of sin is death in Gehenna fire. If we want to escape this punishment, we can see that it is closely connected to whether or not we actually fear God.

Why? What does the fear of God have to do with escaping a judgment that would otherwise take us into the Lake of Fire?

This series of verses in Matthew 10 contains some encouragement, indicating that, if one really fears God, then there is no need to be fearful of others. Proverbs 29:25 plainly tells us, "The fear of man is a snare." This is an attitude in which we do not want to be entrapped. It is obvious, in the context of Matthew 10:27, that He is talking about fear in the sense of "dread." We are not to fear men because the worst that they can do does not even begin to match the worst that God can do! The basis for this is what God is: omnipotent and omniscient, and in Him are the issues of life and death!

The Christian life is our calling; this is our only chance for salvation. We have been personally chosen by God. The elect are an insignificant number, and we are even more insignificant personally. Yet, He has given us this calling. The world population is somewhere in the vicinity of six billion people, and out of this huge number are a miniscule few who are truly converted and have been given the Spirit of God. This is not something that we want to pass up! The fear of God is crucial to our salvation!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God


 

Matthew 22:37

Jesus expands the first commandment in what is called the great commandment of the law. Among all the things in our lives that we are to devote to God, this leaves very little out! It impacts on every facet of our lives. What can we do that does not involve our very life, emotions, and intellect?

This commandment, therefore, involves the fear, service, obedience, and worship of the great God who is the Creator. The dictionary definition of worship says it involves intense admiration, adoration, honor, and devotion to someone or something. Practically, worship is our response to our god.

If we respect someone greatly, does not our respect cause us to behave differently because of him? If we know he will be in our area, do we not try to spend some time with him or at least see him? Maybe we plan to give him a gift. If we know his habits, do we not try to emulate him, such as copying his manner of dress or his speech? When we are in his company and he suggests we do something, are we not moved to comply?

In Western civilization, people and institutions reach heights of admiration that drive some to do all sorts of unusual things. Teens, mothers, and even grandmothers will swoon over a crooning singer. Fans will practically tear the clothing from a rock star. Boys and men idolize athletic heroes. At political conventions, grown adults will act like mindless fools in behalf of their candidate.

It is this principle that is involved in keeping the first commandment. The respect and response we give to men, things, or the self should be given to God. Do we devote as much time, concern, or effort in admiring God's great abilities as Creator as we do some human performer? God created the potential for the abilities and beauty we may admire in humans. His abilities are far greater!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The First Commandment (1997)


 

Mark 4:37-41

The disciples feared exceedingly! They were learning that God is not a man, and the proper level of respect was beginning to be nurtured in them. We never become so familiar with God that we lose the edge of proper apprehension mixed with reverential awe and respect.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sin, Christians, and the Fear of God


 

Romans 3:18

Why are people lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (II Timothy 3:4)? Why are people so indifferent to the state of their spiritual well-being? Why has the Bible been relegated to little more than a coffee table display? Why are people so defiant toward heaven and so little concerned about sin? Romans 3:18, following a long list of sins prominent among men, says in summation, "There is no fear of God before their eyes."

Do today's churches of this world teach the fear of God, or has their teaching turned Him into a divine, snugly teddy bear, a benign but doddering grandfather, or maybe an absentee landlord busy doing other things? God's Word says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7), adding later, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" (Proverbs 9:10). These two verses, even without any other confirmation, reveal that the fear of God is very important, yet so frequently the ministry of this world tries to blunt the force of the word "fear." Nevertheless, it means in Hebrew exactly what it means in English, encompassing everything from a faint but grudging respect to outright terror.

However, neither outright terror nor faint respect produces a good relationship. Neither will win another's heart. God wants more from us, more than a mere healthy respect. He wants us to have a deep, abiding, and reverential awe for Him. Being all-powerful, holy, just, good, kind, careful, encouraging, inspiring, merciful, patient, loving, forgiving, and wise, He is far more than One we should simply respect.

Americans, especially, have been taught to be familiar and casual in our attitudes toward others, and this carries over into our attitude toward and relationship with God. It is a form of the "I'm just as good as you, and you will just have to accept me just as I am" approach. A disrespectful and sometimes even defiant attitude is born. But what is the Bible's counsel? Paul tells us that even among ourselves, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself" (Philippians 2:3). What about familiarity with God? Peter tells us to honor all people, love the brotherhood, and honor the king—but we are to fear God (I Peter 2:17). Do we hear much teaching that will incline us to revere God's majesty?

Do we unconsciously think that the fear of God is something only the unconverted need? Since Proverbs 9:10 says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom," and since wisdom in its simplest form is skill or right application, who needs wisdom more than God's children? Reverential awe is wisdom's foundation, because it moves us to obedience, and God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him. Paul writes in Philippians 2:12, "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out you own salvation with fear and trembling."

We need this quality more than anybody does because our eternal life is on the line. It used to be that someone known to believe in God was referred to as "God-fearing." This was obvious to others because they knew the person obeyed God and was very concerned about what God said. It marked his relationship with God and set him apart from others. Fearing not only makes a great witness before others, it also pays great dividends, as Psalm 103:13 shows: "As a father pities His children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him." We all want God to be compassionate toward us.

In I Peter 2:21, the apostle instructs us to follow Christ's steps, suggesting that He is the model after whom we must pattern our lives. Did He fear God? "[Jesus], in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear" (Hebrews 5:7). Notice especially the link connecting His being saved from death and being heard because He feared. Christ acknowledged God's sovereignty through a deeply held reverential awe, showing that answered prayer, eternal life, and the fear of God are intertwined.

This is true because the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is right application, and right application is obedience. Jesus obeyed God perfectly. His fear was not an occasional burst of deep respect—as ours so often is—but sustained and built throughout His entire life. It had to be this way because His trials intensified as He aged, and His need of godly fear became ever more urgent.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sovereignty and Its Fruit: Part Ten


 

Romans 3:18

The fear needed is not a servile, cringing, and enslaving terror, but a mixture of love, admiration, and respect for what He is. He is a Father who pities His children; a Ruler who looks on the one who is poor and of a contrite heart; a Physician who heals the body, cleanses the spirit, mercifully forgives, and gives sound counsel so that His children can work out their salvation with fear and trembling.

When the fear of God enters a man's evil heart, godly knowledge, understanding, and wisdom can begin to grow. Why? Because in making better choices, the person begins to break his enslavement to his own evil heart, from which comes all the defiling corruption that leads to death, as Jesus shows in Matthew 15:18-20:

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.

By nature, man is focused on his sense of self-importance, so pride dominates his attitudes and therefore his choices. The corrective is something that will humble, and it begins with him being able to compare himself appropriately with the greatness of God. Man will live either to serve himself or to seek to serve and please God. It will be one or the other because no man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).

When Moses goes before Pharaoh in Exodus 5:2, he says, "Let my people go." What is Pharaoh's defiant response? "Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go." That was his problem, and it remains a major hurdle for us too. We must come to know the Lord. From this, a simple truth arises: Not knowing God promotes irreverence of God, as Pharaoh clearly shows. Thus, not knowing God promotes disobedience. Knowing God, on the other hand, promotes the fear of God and humility before Him and thus obedience.

Knowing God in His sovereignty works to remove every ground for man to rely on himself and boast. Salvation is of the Lord; it is by His grace through faith. Man wants to think that he is contributing greatly to his redemption and salvation, but John tells us we are born, not of the will of the flesh, but of God (John 1:13). If we understand God's sovereignty, it leads us to praise Him for the glory of what He is: He is our salvation! In addition, we desire salvation for the very purpose of humbling ourselves before Him that we might glorify Him. This means that we can wisely turn only one way: We must choose to submit to His will.

The exercise, the actual use, of humility in daily life is a choice. Each time we submit to God's instruction, we are humbling ourselves before Him. Once we know what God's will is, we must still deal with choosing to use humility by submitting to it. Is that not what God says in Deuteronomy 30:19, that we must choose life rather than death? "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live." Fully accepting God's sovereignty provides us the proper comparisons so that we can wisely make right choices.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty, Part Three: The Fruits


 

2 Corinthians 13:5

This verse applies at all times, not just during the spring festival season. Here, "faith" is used in the sense of the truth. Those who are in the truth live by faith. They live according to their beliefs in God. The truth is the center of their lives, and by it they direct and choose the course of their lives. The Feast of Tabernacles involves seeing if we are living by faith or sight. It shows whether we are led by God's Spirit or carnality. It reveals whether we can separate temporal vanity from spiritual reality.

God is very concerned, not only with what we do, but also why we do it. This makes fearing God vitally important. Doing everything in relation to Him and His purpose converts ordinary, mundane acts to ones of spiritual significance. If we have a deep and abiding respect for Him and His Word—arising from an awareness that He personally is a part of our lives and has great, awe-inspiring plans for us—we have a powerful motivation to make choices based on faith in Him.

We can easily make the acceptance of Christian faith a substitute for living it. Jesus says, "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). Each person must do his own examination. One may hear a sermon that affects him and be shown where he is wrong, but true conviction of wrong is not reached until one sees his sin and condemns himself. The fear of God works this in us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Preparing for the Feast


 

Hebrews 5:7

Notice especially the link connecting His being saved from death and being heard because He feared. Christ acknowledged God's sovereignty through a deeply held reverential awe, showing that answered prayer, eternal life, and the fear of God are intertwined.

This is true because the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is right application, and right application is obedience. Jesus Christ obeyed God perfectly. His fear was not an occasional burst of deep respect—as ours so often is—but sustained and built throughout His entire life. It had to be this way because His trials intensified as He aged, and His need of godly fear became ever more urgent.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sovereignty and Its Fruit: Part Ten


 

Find more Bible verses about Fear of god:
Fear of god {Nave's}
 




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