Ready for more “fear of the Lord?” I am. I am elated to be resting in the fear of the Lord. No, it is more than that. I am so excited to be living in the fear of the Lord! Do I have your attention? OK, then let’s do this thing.
In the last post I showed how we have fundamentally misunderstood the “fear of the Lord” so much so that, I believe, it has moved us from relationship with Jesus but instead deep into religion. Let me be clear. Jesus came to set us free from religion and instead reveal the true nature and character of God. We grow in relationship with our Father in Heaven when we believe and trust in His good character. The Bible calls this faith. Paul says many times that we have a right relationship with God through and in this faith. The Bible calls this right relationship righteousness. On top of all that, Jesus sets us free from all our fallen-nature junk and the works of the enemy. He does that by coming to live inside us. We become one with the Holy Spirit and He reveals to us the love and goodness of God. We are transformed by His love. We are set free from ourselves by His goodness. We overcome sin and any other obstacles by His Grace. We get clean and refreshed by His mercy. We fall in love with Him when He baptizes us with His fire. We are transformed into a new creation by His presence.
So can you see that God is all about relationship? Can you see that Jesus came to liberate us not save us from and angry God? This is why the “fear of the Lord” has to be a good thing. God only gives stuff He is made of. He is infinitely good so He gives good. My “fear” of Him must be something to do with good.
“Yeah, but Lance don’t you know what the Greek word means?”
Yes I do. As a matter of fact, here it is just so there is no debate:
5401 phóbos (from phebomai, “to flee, withdraw”) – fear (from Homer about 900 bc on) 5401 (phóbos) meant withdrawal, fleeing because feeling inadequate (without sufficient resources, Abbott-Smith).
And you are right. It is the same word from which we get words like phobia which is an irrational fear of something. But just in case you don’t know the whole story let me show you where Phobos comes from. Phobos was a Greek “god” that represented fear. Want to see what mythology says about this guy?
Those who worshipped Phobos often made bloody sacrifices in his name. In Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus, the seven warriors slaughter a bull over a black shield and then “touching the bull’s gore with their hands they swore an oath by… Phobos who delights in blood…”(Atsma). Ares’s son, Kyknos, “beheaded strangers who came along in order to build a temple to Phobos (fear) from the skulls.” (Atsma).
OK, I am really trying to be nice…however if you hear anyone trying to terrorize you with the “fear of the Lord” you need to run the other way. You need to reject it, flush it, discard it, burn it, eject it, or whatever you need to do for your sanity. It is not good news. It is not the Gospel. It is not Jesus. It is not God. If you want, please take this post (and the previous one and I am sure many other sources) and lovingly give it to the Phobos worshiper so they can get a revelation. OK, that was probably too harsh but, wow! really!?
As a reminder Jesus made the substitution of “worship” for the word “fear” when He quoted the scriptures to satan in His temptation:
Matt 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” (ESV)
Deut 6:13 You shall [reverently] fear the Lord your God and serve Him and swear by His name [and presence]. (AMP)
Alright, I am done with the rant so let me encourage you! Check out this verse:
Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. (ESV)
This is so awesome, really it is. Remember the bad guy Saul who was running around and killing “Christians” before Jesus knocked him off his horse? This same Saul comes to the disciples in Jerusalem after his “conversion.” They are terrified. Barnabas comes with him and they meet with Saul. They are absolutely blown away by what they see. Here is the number one enemy of the Church and he is standing there completely transformed. it is a miracle. God had the power to take a religious zealot bent on violence towards the followers of Jesus and set him free from hate fueled religion. God brought Saul, a known killer of the way, and transformed him into the greatest preacher of Grace that ever lived.
They had just witnessed a profound miracle. I would say that this miracle was beyond anything they thought could happen. So now they are “walking in the fear of the Lord.” If you just witnessed a person raised from the dead, wouldn’t you be “walking in the fear of the Lord?” Wouldn’t you be waiting in anticipation for what comes next? Wouldn’t you be so excited like Christmas Eve as a little kid. I know you can see it. God is coming, God is coming is your chant. You are worshiping and praising. You are ready to defeat the works of the devil. You are wide-eyed and breathless with the thought of what the next moment may bring. That is the “fear of the Lord.”
Not convinced yet? How about one more passage (for now):
Rom 3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (ESV)
This verse is at the end of the “no one is righteous” passage in Romans. Remember…relationship. What Paul is saying is about relationship. These people he describes are out of relationship with God, they have turned to themselves and it is a violent environment. Now with a new understanding of the “fear of the Lord” or “God is with us in power” or “God is about to do another miracle” or “God is so awesome and powerful nothing is impossible for Him” or …Want to see where this quote of Paul’s comes from? Psalm 36. 36:1b is Romans 3:18. Here are a few verses that explain what the wicked are missing:
Ps 36:7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 8 They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. 9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. (ESV)
This Psalm is about how much God is for us. The wicked (restless, agitated, disruptive, fearful) have turned away from God. They don’t know He is for them. They have no “fear of the Lord” meaning they don’t know how this awesome, powerful and loving God is for them. So the “fear of the Lord” is not just the anticipation of His supernatural goodness manifest but the delight of His person. Come on. Now your fallen-Adam processor has to be completely hung up but your innermost being is shouting with joy.
I apologize for the graphic images of Phobos. I am truly sorry for any “fear” that I may have spread. Please take a step back and listen to the Holy Spirit. God is not angry. God has rescued from OUR ANGER. God has rescued us from OUR FEAR. God has rescued us from OUR PHOBIAs. The first action by a fallen Adam was to hide from God in fear. This was the first irrational fear or phobia. If you are in dread of God please come out of the bushes. Don’t listen to someone who teaches terror. Don’t use the fear of punishment against someone else. We don’t need religion to find Jesus. We don’t have to use the fear of punishment to see a savior. We need to bring Jesus to rescue people from their fears. We need to bring Jesus to set them free.
So I am ready to live in the “fear of the Lord.” I can’t wait to see what He is going to do next. Maybe tomorrow someone will get out of a wheelchair. Maybe tomorrow someone will encounter the love of God and be set free from shame, guilt, hurts and hangups. Maybe someone will have their heart healed and find joy for the first time. Yep, “fear of the Lord.” Bring it on!