20(Proverbs 01,07) The Fear of God
Today we are talking about the fear of the Lord. And we are talking about those who fear God, "When A Man Fears God". What kind of person will they be? Will they be a person who will come to know God personally? In Proverbs 1:7 the Bible says, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." So regardless of how much college we may have or university training we may have, we don't have wisdom unless we fear God.
Now, we need to understand what the fear of the Lord is and what the fear of the Lord is not. The fear of the Lord is not a cringing kind of fear. It is not being afraid of God. That is not what we mean when we say the fear of the Lord. We are not talking about being afraid of God. We are not talking about being afraid of what God may do to us. Or believing that God is a policeman who is waiting for us to break one of the laws so that He can pounce on us and punish us. We are not talking about that kind of fear. God doesn't want that kind of fear from us.
When we talk about the fear of the Lord we are not talking about the kind of fear that causes anxiety or the kind of fear that causes us to shy away from God. This is not the fear of the Lord. The Bible talks about the bondage of fear. There is a fear that comes from Satan and he would like us to believe that God is not a good God. God is a vengeful God. God is out to get us, He is out to hurt us, and Satan would like for us to believe that God is not a person in whom we can trust, but He is someone that we truly have to be afraid of in a negative sense.
But the fear of the Lord is not a negative term. It is a positive term. To fear the Lord means to take God seriously. It means to believe in Him. It means to believe that God is who He says He is. That God will do what He says He will do. And That God means what He says. It means to take God seriously. It means to obey God completely. If we fear God, we will obey God. It means to love God with all of our heart and it means to serve God whole-heartedly.
We are going to look at these as we look at our lesson today. God longs for us to fear Him in this sense, that is take Him seriously. The Bible says in Deuteronomy 5:29, "Oh that there was such a heart in them that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always; that it might be well with them and for their children, forever." God was looking for a nation who would fear Him, who would recognize Him as sovereign of the universe. It means to recognize God's position, to recognize God's possessions, to recognize God's power. And He was looking for a nation that would do that.
So in Deuteronomy 5 God is saying, oh that my people would have a heart for me that they would fear me and keep all my commandments? Do you think that most Americans fear God? Do you think most in our society take God seriously? Well, most of the time we hear people joking about God. We hear people talking lightly about God. Well, that is a sign that people don't fear God, that they don't take God seriously. And the Scripture calls a person like that a fool. The Scripture says a person who doesn't fear God is a fool. It says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline."
The person who says I don't want to hear from God, God doesn't tell me what to do, I don't want to follow His instruction, is a fool, the Scripture says. So the contrast between the believer and the unbeliever, the saved and the lost, is the one who fears the Lord has begun to have wisdom. And the one who does not fear God is a fool no matter how intellectually bright he may be.
So to fear God is to take God seriously. And I thank God that there are enough people in America left that take Him seriously that they do not want marriage that is not between a man and a woman. I thank God there are still enough people in America who take Him seriously enough that they really would like to see God back in the public discourse. That they really would like to see a stop put to all these abortions on demand and abortion used as some kind of birth control. I thank God there are still enough people left in America who can vote their conscience over their pocketbook. And when I see that I think there is hope for our nation.
Obedience is proof of fearing the Lord. In Acts 9:31 it says that when they feared the Lord the church grew. It says, "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied." It says they were walking in the fear of the Lord.
I. WHEN A MAN FEARS GOD HE HAS COME TO KNOW GOD
To fear God will always be to our advantage because the Scripture says, we will always be rewarded for fearing God. Proverbs 13:13 says, "...He that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded." Deuteronomy 6:24 says, "And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always...". God says this is for our good. So when a man fears God it shows he knows God. Proverbs 9:10 says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."
The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom. Proverbs 15:33 says, "The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom..." and Psalm 11:10 says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever." And these are folks who know the Lord, not just about Him, but they know Him. So a man begins to know God when he starts to fear Him. He continues to know God as he continues to walk in the fear of the Lord, as he continues to live before God in the fear of the Lord.
Now notice, this is a fear that has to be chosen. To fear God or not to fear God is a choice that people make. Proverbs 1:29-30 says, "For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof." And he goes on to say in that same chapter, "therefore I will laugh when calamity comes upon them." God says, I am going to have the last laugh. They can laugh at my people, they can laugh at me, they cannot take me seriously, but God says, I am going to have the last laugh. When calamity comes on them like a storm, God says, I am going to laugh. He said, "Then they will call unto me and I will not answer them. They will seek me but I will not be found of them." Why, because they chose not to fear the Lord. It is a choice that we make.
Not only that, but it is also, the fear of the Lord is a learned fear. It is something we develop. In Deuteronomy 4:10 the Scripture says, "the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children." So it something we learn, to walk in this fear of the Lord. In Psalm 34:11 the Psalmist said, "come ye children, harken unto me and I will teach you the fear of the Lord." So it is something we learn and that is the fear of the Lord.
II. WHEN A MAN FEARS GOD HE DESIRES TO PLEASE GOD
Now the fear of the Lord is something to be desired. Nehemiah 1:11 says, "O LORD, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king's cupbearer." Notice he said, I desire to fear thy name. He said, prosper I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy." We must desire to fear the Lord. It is something to be desired.
It is something that requires obedience to God. The Book of Ecclesiastes is a rather dark book where the writer tells about his journey in life. King Solomon talks about all the things that he has accomplished and how they brought him no joy, riches brought him no joy, intellectual pursuit brought him no joy, all the wives and concubines he had brought him no joy, all of his houses and land brought him no joy, all his victories brought him no joy. And then he comes to the conclusion of the Book and 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." What he concludes is from the time of your youth until the end of your life, it ought to be a life that walks in the fear of God. So it means to trust God.
When a man fears God he also seeks to live for God and to live an obedient life, a holy life. Proverbs 3:7 says, "be not wise in thine own eyes, fear the Lord and depart from evil." So when a man fears God, he lives a separated life. He lives a consecrated life. He lives a godly life. He walks in the commandments of God. Proverbs 14:2 says, "he that walketh in uprightness feareth the Lord, but he that is perverse in his ways, despises Him." Proverbs 14:16 says, "a wise man feareth and departs from evil, but the fool rageth and is confident." So he is saying here that when we fear God we can tell it by the deeds in our life.
The fear of the Lord is demonstrated in the way that we live. And we know that is exactly what the New Testament teaches. Ephesians 2:8-10 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." And even though salvation is by grace a free gift, God has preordained that we should walk in good works. And we are not saved by good works, good works are not the root of salvation because it is a gift of God, but good works are the fruit of salvation. And a life that is rooted in the right place will have the right fruit. Jesus said, "By their fruit you shall know them."
III. WHEN A MAN FEARS GOD HE FULLY TRUSTS GOD
Now, when a person fears God, they are also a person who has a deep confidence or assurance in God. And this is one of the blessings of fearing God. Proverbs 14:26 says this, "in the fear of the Lord is strong confidence." And His children have a place of refuge. So fearing God increases our confidence. That seems to be contradictory, fear and confidence. It would seem as those terms would be at odds with each other but like so many biblical terms that seem to be at odds with each other, they go hand in hand.
Because if you fear God you have confidence before men. And because the great men of God in the Bible feared God they could stand before men courageously. Elijah was a great prophet and because he feared God he could stand before kings and declare God's truth. He feared God therefore he had confidence with men. And the fear of God fills your soul with a deep assurance. Proverbs 19:23 says, "The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil." He shall abide satisfied.
So many people are seeking for peace and you never find peace by seeking for peace. Peace is found in a relationship with the Lord Jesus. When you fear Him, then peace will come as a by-product. So the writer of Proverbs, Solomon says "the fear of the Lord tendeth to life and he that hath it will abide satisfied." Paul said I have found whatsoever state I am in, there with to be content." So that contentment comes from a deep confidence in God. Those who fear God have confidence in God. They have trust in God. In this sense, fear and trust go hand in hand.
Now confidence is gained by fearing the Lord because the one who fears God lives on intimate terms with God, in a close relationship with God. In Psalm 25:14 David said, "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He will show them His covenant." I like that. God has a secret that He shows to His people that is concealed from nonbelievers. They cannot know the secret of the Lord. Believers know the secret things of God because they are revealed to us by the Holy Spirit when we walk in the fear of God. And it says, He will show them His covenant. And of course, we are living under the new covenant that Jesus talked about when He gave the Last Supper and He said this is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
This deep assurance makes us sure of God's protection. Psalm 34:7 says, "the angel of the Lord encampteh around them that fear Him and delivereth them." What a picture that is of protection. The angel of the Lord camps around them that fears God. We have an angel who follows us around. We have an angel who watches over us. We have angels assigned to us because we fear God. We have God's protection. The President has the Secret Service. Well, we also have Secret Service assigned to us by God! The angels of God are assigned to us. In Hebrews 1 the Bible says that He makes His angels ministers to those who are the heirs of salvation." We are the heirs of salvation. The angels are ministers to us.
You say, well I didn't know I had an angel ministering to me. Well, you do because God's Word says you do. That angel has protected you in times of danger. Maybe when you didn't even know you were in danger, that angel was there to protect you. We studied about angels in this class and we learned all about angels or a great deal about angels.
It also gives us God's provision. Psalm 34:9-10, "O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing." It talks about the Lord's provision for us. The young lions are going to suffer hunger. Out there in the desert when there is nothing to eat, when there is a drought, when it comes wintertime and no wildlife is moving around the young lions are going to suffer hunger but they that fear the Lord will not want for any good thing.
Psalm 33:18 says, "Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him..." and that means in a good sense. Not that God is checking up on us, but God is watching over us to provide for us because we hope in His mercy. So we have true joy and satisfaction when we fear the Lord.
IV. WHEN A MAN FEARS GOD HE WHOLLY SERVES GOD
Next look at this, when a man fears God he will serve God whole heartedly. Psalms 2:11 says, "Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling." II Chronicles 19:7& 9 says, "Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts. And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart." You remember it is said of Caleb that he served the Lord whole heartedly. It says, "He wholly followed the Lord his God." Caleb wholly followed the Lord his God. When a man fears God he will serve God devotedly and whole heartedly.
Hebrews 11:7 tells us about Noah and it says, "by faith Noah be warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his house." Noah was moved with the fear of God. He believed God. He took God seriously. When God said I am going to send a judgment, a flood upon the world and I want you to build an ark for you and your family. Noah began to find the hammers and the nails. He took God seriously. It says he was moved with fear.
Fear is not always a bad motivation. Fear can be a self-preserving instinct. He was moved with fear and because he was moved by fear it says it saved his household. He became an heir of the righteousness, which is by faith. How do we know he had faith? We know he had faith because he responded to what God told him to do in obedience. He was moved.
Now if you just hear something and you are not moved to obey it, that is not faith. As you know James says, "faith without works is dead being alone." Faith is always an action word. Faith is a verb. Faith is something you do. Belief is something that produces a result. So the one who fears God, serves God whole heartedly.
Psalm 2:11 says, "Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling." And again that sounds like a contradiction. Rejoice with trembling. If I rejoice am I going to tremble? Well, yes, because it is such a strong emotion. It is such a strong and powerful thing to fear God. It affects your whole being.
In Hebrews 12:28 it says, "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:" So, reverence and godly fear are in the same sentence. Godly fear and reverence is kin to one another. So fearing God is much like having reverence for God. Respect for God. That is what he is talking about.
So, does it really pay to fear God? Well, you know we learned from the Book of Job the answer to that question. You recall the story of Job and how he lost everything he had. How in just a matter of moments, bad news came to him that he lost all of his possessions. Then bad news came to him that he had lost his sons and his daughters and their families. Everything was gone. And then Satan comes before the Lord and he says, "Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land." So it paid off that Job feared God. And of course in the end God restored Job two fold. He had twice as much in the end of the Book as he did in the beginning of the Book.
The Psalmist said in Psalm 86:11-12, "Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore." So the Psalmist is saying it pays to fear God. And I will fear God with all my heart.
That is the only kind of service that God accepts. That is wholehearted service, whole hearted devotion to Him. When a man fears God he knows God. When a man fears God he has confidence in God, he has confident assurance from God. When a man fears God he is going to obey God and he is going to serve God, whole heartedly. And people will know if we fear God.
I thank God for the people in this land who fear Him, who take Him seriously, who believe that God is who He says He is, that God means what He says, and that God will do what He says He will do. But we can still count on the promises of God and the Word of God and that what God says still is in affect today just as it was in the time in which He said it.
The Bible says that believers are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Salt is to penetrate and preserve. It was used as a preservative in the time of Christ. To preserve meats so that they wouldn't spoil. Believers are here to preserve this world from evil.
And then salt penetrates. If you put it in food it penetrates food. And it flavors food. And we are to give flavor to society. We are to give a flavor of righteousness to society. We are to give a flavor of morality to society. And if we don't give a flavor of morality and righteousness to society, then we are not doing our job. Jesus said we are to be the light of the world. He said, "A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. So let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glory your Father which is in heaven." That means that we as believers have to stand up, we have to be counted and that we have to allow the light of God to shine through us, the light of His truth, the light of reality, that God is God and man is man and that God is real and His Word is real. And what God says in His Word is still in affect today just as it was when He said it.
And I believe that there can still be revival for America. If God's people will continue to press on, if God's people will continue to be faithful, if God's people will continue to walk in the fear of God, I believe the day could come when we could see a true spiritual awakening in this land from coast to coast, from sea to shining sea. There could be an awakening across this land where the Holy Spirit would move, as we have never seen Him move in our lifetime. There could be that great later reign upon the earth before Jesus comes. And I pray that we could see it happen in our land.