In Exodus 20, God descended upon the mountain in Sinai. Fire fell, and the earth shook. A trumpet sounded from within the ascending smoke; thunder and lightning crashed. Moses spoke, and God answered him. When the people beheld the might of God, they ran away from the mountain, insisting that Moses be the one to communicate with God so that God wouldn’t slay them. Moses explained that God wanted them to experience His presence--not so they would fear death, but so they’d recognize His might and avoid sin.
That’s the power of the fear of the Lord. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction,” Proverbs 1:7 declares. We are familiar with the benefits of fear. Healthy fear causes us to run from poisonous snakes and to steer clear of hot flames. It gives us sense. It helps us govern our lives. Fear of the Lord gives us wisdom for life and eternity. It comes from knowing God through His Word. Just as the voice on the mountain was God’s Word spoken to His people, Scripture is His voice to us. God’s Word--on the mount and within pages—reveals his authority and gives us a clear understanding of His expectations and the consequences of breaking those expectations, much like sundry communication revealed my father’s nature and his will to me.
That revelation requires a response. Will we become more conscientious because of a healthy dose of respect, or will we distance ourselves with rebellion or avoidance?
Israel’s fear did not put a barrier between them and sin. It put a barrier between them and God. They ran from His presence, seeking their comfort instead of God’s commands. Today, there’s a similar preference for avoiding the confrontation of the Word. By putting distance between us and God and His Word, sin remains unchallenged. The protective nature of fear is removed, and with fearlessness comes rebellion, denial, and delusion. Sadly, disobedience still has consequences. God’s nature remains unchanged. His holiness still demands judgement. His love still mandates discipline and rebuke. He comes near, not with thunderings, but with grace, and beckons that we behold Him. We can choose to run. If, however, we acknowledge that God says what He means and means what He says, and we stay in His presence, our awe, honor, and respect of His nature elevates. Mindful of His majesty and might, we are humbled that One so awe-inspiring invites us close so we can know Him. When we accept His invitation, He abolishes the kind of fear that torments and replaces it with the security of His love. Then, when the tempter comes, our God-fear takes action based on our understanding of His pleasure and the assurance of His care for us. “Uh-uh. I aint do’in that,” we say. “I know God. He loves me. And I love Him too much to choose mischief!”
Tip/Tidbit: Are you going through life indifferent to the consequences of your choices? Seek to know God and let the discovery guide you into your best life.