Monday, August 11, 2014

The Fear of The Lord

 It's said several times through the Bible, notably in Proverbs but also in Psalms, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The Hebrew word used tin these instances, יִרְאַ֬ת, means fear, awe, or dread. Many of us should set aside the notion that the "fear of the Lord" is simply reverence or respect.

 If a child does something their father has instructed them not to do and the father finds out, there's a myriad of reactions from the child, but some of the more common are confession or denial; either of these relates to the punishment.
 Confession, like pleading guilty in court to minimize your sentence, is used when the child wants to make right and face less discipline. Denial happens when the child wants to get out of the repercussions of their actions, even if it means piling on more disciplinary action when the truth does comes out. Both of these stem from fear--two different versions of fear, but fear nonetheless.
 On the one hand, there is wise defense; on the other, foolish "shrinking away." The fear of a judge's sentence may lean a defendant to either of these, and only the one has wisdom in it; confession leading to repentance.

 The fear of the Lord, when we dig into it, is not running away, but confrontation of one's own wrongdoings, confession and repentance of sin. This isn't simply respect, though.
"...fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Gei-Hinnom (Hell)." Matthew 10:28
 Revere Him who can destroy the soul? No. Reverence is an aspect of fear, but only a fragment of it. We are to revere God above all else, but this is not the intended context at this particular time. In this verse, Jesus is saying to be afraid of God for He can kill the mortal, temporary body, but He alone can also destroy the eternal soul in the fires of Hell. For another verse to put this into context . . .
"It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!" Hebrews 10:31
"We are not the kind who shrink back and are destroyed; on the contrary, we keep trusting and thus preserve our lives!" ibid. vs. 39
 We are to come before Him with trembling and fear, for, as it says, it is terrifying to fall into the hands of the living God. Terrifying. Not respectful, not reverent, not any of those things. Terrifying.
 We come shaking in fear. But nevertheless, we approach. We approach Him because we can. Despite the knowledge that He may throw us into Hell for the sins we've committed, we are to step forward.
 And with the boldness we have to approach Him (how presumptuous of us!), we dare not shrink back nor hide our sin. We tear our clothes, lay ourselves spiritually naked before Him and declare, "Have mercy on me, a sinner!"

 This is another way of seeing the beginning of wisdom: approach God with terror in your heart--but approach nonetheless!
 To recoil is foolishness.

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