We live in unstable times, most recently made more unstable by the terrorist attacks in Paris. Yet we have a promise that stability can be found in a treasure that the Lord gives to His people, and that treasure is the fear of the Lord. “God will be the stability of our times, abundance of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is His treasure.” (Isaiah 33:6)
Fear has many facets. The Bible uses it in two ways: First, it calls all nations and ungodly people to “be afraid,” because they do not control their lives; actually God does. He causes nations and leaders to rise, but also to fall. (I am convinced that those who persecute Christians do so because they are afraid of God, and see something of God in those they persecute.) Second, the Bible calls all Christians to have the fear of the Lord. He does not tell us to be afraid of God, but to have a “holy fear.”
What is the fear of the Lord? The Early Church, as recorded in the Book of Acts, was marked by the fear of the Lord. Consider the lives of these believers: They were constantly overwhelmed by God’s unending love, and this greater Love (which is the heart of the fear of the Lord) cast out all their other fears. They did not tolerate sin, because they knew it grieved the Spirit of God and was the key factor that prevented them from being used to the maximum by God. They had complete trust in God and in the promises of His Word, because they understood the heart of God. They were filled with hope and stability in extremely unstable times.
The fear of the Lord is to turn away from evil and sin (Proverbs 8:13) and to turn towards God. This leads us into God’s amazing mercy and grace, in causes us to be enveloped in God’s love and gives us hope for our times and for the future. Hope is not wishful thinking, but rather confident expectation that God will do all He has promised to do.
We must seek the fear of the Lord in our lives. Here is the way to seek it:
1. Search for it as for a hidden treasure. Solomon said, “My son, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:4-12)
2. Ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of the fear of the Lord. One name for the Holy Spirit is “The Spirit of the Fear of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11:2) Ask Him to consume you by His purifying fire, to burn away our sins in His furnace of transformation. Give Him full control of your life, and you will see the glory of God.
3. Make your home in the Word of God. One of the synonyms for the Bible, or the Word of God, is “The Fear of the Lord.” (Psalm 19:9) God’s Word is pure, clean, true, right, sure, trustworthy and perfect. Stand before that Word and allow God’s Holy Spirit to transform you into the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-29). This is what it means to “make your home in the Word of God.” The Word sometimes comes as “wheat” to feed us; at other times it comes as “fire” to burn away our sins, or as a “hammer” to break our hard outer shell to release our inner life in Christ. God’s Word brings light that enables us to see the world as God’s creation, and He continues to create within us a desire to walk away from sin and evil, to no longer compromise with Satan or the anti-God forces of the world. We begin to live a life of surprising joy.
4. Turn away from sin and hate sin. What does God love? He loves you, and He loves the whole world, including those you may see as your enemies. What does God hate? He hates sin, for that is what is slowly destroying you. Nothing can block the flow of God’s love in your life but sin. Satan cannot block it, your enemies cannot prevent you from receiving God’s love. But sin can, and that is why we must come to hate sin in all its many forms.
5. Now receive all the blessings and promises of the fear of the Lord. Now you will be free to turn to God with a deep sense of awe and wonder, filled with expectation that God is going to work in you, and through you to bless the world.
The Old Testament closes with the fear of the Lord, leading to reconciliation in the family and in the world. (Read and meditate on Malachi 3:16 through Malachi 4:3.) When we enter the New Testament we discover a Church that is on fire with the Holy Spirit, what the prophet Malachi referred to as the “company (or community) of those who fear the Lord.” (Malachi 3:16) Just like the Early Church in Acts, we do not need to wrestle with our sins alone; rather, we have a community of like-minded people who will help us. It is a corporate life in the Spirit.
Just as Isaiah said, the fear of the Lord is a treasure in the Church. But like most treasures, it remains hidden. When we discover it, we will find the healing for which we have longed, we will experience fresh joy and intimacy with the Lord, and we will be prepared to bless the world and give it the stability it so desperately needs