This past week in chapel at King’s Ridge Christian School, I got the opportunity to speak on Proverbs 1:7. Proverbs 1:7 is considered by most to be the purpose statement and foundational verse for the entire book of Proverbs. What Solomon says in this verse is that our fear of God is the basis by which we gain knowledge and wisdom. Those that don't fear God walk without godly direction. Instead of spending my time in chapel focusing on what godly wisdom looks like or what it means to be knowledgeable on the things of the Lord, I thought it was far more important to talk about what “fear” looks like in light of a God who we know to be loving and peaceful and merciful.
I'm the oldest of three kids and one of my childhood idols growing up was Tom Sawyer. I liked nothing more than tricking my brother and sister into accomplishing tasks that were supposed to be accomplished by me. I got them to clean my room with me on a regular basis. More times than I can count, do I remember them helping me clean the bathroom. Daily household chores were a group effort in my mind. As long as the group was helping me do my chores and I wasn't helping them do their's. This led to a lot of let's call them “opportunities for growth” with my father and I. I can remember one specific Saturday where each of us were supposed to be cleaning our own individual rooms. In order for us to get to go play with each of our own friends we had to have our rooms clean first. I had tricked my brother and sister into believing that if we all cleaned my room first then we could all clean my brothers room and then my sisters. Clearly had no intention of actually helping them clean their rooms but I had persuaded them into believing that a group effort was the easiest and most beneficial way to accomplish the task at hand. As we were cleaning my room I specifically remember hearing my father walk in the front door and hear him walking down the hallway towards our rooms. Immediate fear struck my heart. I knew my father would see right through my trickery and it would be punishment to pay. Naturally, I tried to get my brother and sister to hide under my bed so he would not anything wrong was happening. Pretty shortsighted on my part I think. (I should've gotten them to confess that they didn't want to clean their rooms and they only wanted to clean mine) However, my dad caught me right in the middle of my trick red-handed. I can remember the trepidation and trembling that overcame my body as I had to face up to the punishment of my loving, kind father. He was not happy. In fact he was angry and I was about to experience the full weight of his wrath for the wrongs I had done. The fear I had for my dad in that moment was based purely upon the guilt of my own sin and also upon the power and position my father held over me.
Proverbs 1:7 echoes the type of fear that is similar to this. A type of fear that walks a fine balance between respect/reverence and literal trembling before a mighty and powerful God. In fact, the Bible is laced with very good reasons for why we should fear God. In Acts 5, we see that God's displeasure with Ananias is so great that the second Ananias lies to the disciples he drops dead. All throughout Psalms we hear of God's power as causing the mountains to melt before Him and the earth to shake in His presence. Isaiah gives us a clear picture of how even angels and heavenly beings get on their knees, face down before our holy, righteous God. There is no situation found in Scripture in which God-fearing men and women or angels don't find themselves prone before the presence of our God. Why fear God? Because His capacity, capability, might, power, knowledge, and His hatred for sin is beyond our understanding. He is to be feared purely because of what He's capable of.
However, back to my story with my brother and sister, I found myself in literal trembling because I was guilty. You know who was not trembling? You know who was not shrinking before his presence? My brother and sister. Why? Because they were not guilty. My father's wrath was not coming for them. In fact, for them, my father's presence meant a clarification of where they were being tricked. My father's presence and their respect for him meant that a situation in which they were being tricked would be made clear to them. Literal knowledge of their own situation would be brought by my father's presence in the room.
It is the same with our God today. Who should shrink and shrivel before mighty powerful wrathful God? Those who are guilty and who's guilt still stains their lives before Him. Who should feel protected by a mighty, powerful God with no end to his capacity? Those who are not guilty and whose sin has been covered by the blood of Jesus on the cross. God's wrath is fully seen, visibly clear in his pouring out of the just payment for our sin on his Son. God does not sit in heaven and shrug his shoulders at our sin. He does not look down on our rebellion and simply look the other direction. He is a just, righteous God who must respond to unrighteousness with the due punishment. He did, through pouring out his full wrath and judgment on his own Son for our sake. Believers who are covered and saved by faith in this truth are not seen as guilty before God but as protected by God. For the unbeliever out there who does not have faith, the God of the Bible is real and He is all-powerful and he does not sit in heaven rolling His eyes at your sin. He is to be feared and His wrath is a very real thing. The God who created all that we know and experience does not overlook our sin. In fact, He looked to His right hand and poured it out on His own flesh and blood. For the unbeliever out there, I pray that the magnitude of God does cause some trepidation and trembling in your heart. Such that you don't want to sit before our holy righteous God with guilt on your shoulders.
God is to be feared. For the believer and the non, His capacity and power are beyond our understanding and His position commands reverence. Regardless of where you stand before God, these facts remain the same. Think about what he's done and what he's capable of doing as you approach Him in prayer. Think about how powerful He is and how much he knows as you approach reading His word. If you have this kind of respectful, reverent fear of God, it changes how we approach Him. It changes how we talk about Him. It changes how we act day in and day out in light of a full understanding of who He is.
Oswald Chambers said the following in his work “Run today's Race.” “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else. “Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord.””
I pray you would remember Isaiah 66:2. That a true believer is marked by a humble and contrite spirit before God and a trembling at the truth of who He is and what He's done on our behalf.