" ... let not thy dread make me afraid." (Job 13:21)
Throughout the years, I've witnessed the struggle to define what the Fear of God really is ... and what it is not. A friend of mine has said that people will follow their hearts, and so it is with how people define what the Fear of God is to them.
The expanse of extremes range from the old fashioned "fear and trembling" that I was raised with to the more modern "awesome respect" that I hear so often today. Some say we shouldn't tremble at the presence of God because He is our Daddy and we should be able to crawl into His lap and just "love on Him", while others point to a myriad of Scriptural references to a more intense fear of God that drives us into righteousness.
Isaiah 8:13 cries out to "let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread", while Paul echoes this several times with "fear and trembling" and other serious admonitions. Moses' knees smote together and David's skin quaked for fear of God. This is not just "awesome respect" but a deeper level that is not to be addressed lightly. While many today look narrowly at the restrictive attitudes of the old Pentecostal revivals, it can also be said of today's churches that they have thrown all restraint to the winds in order to "walk in Love".
There is a dual nature to the Fear of God that perhaps neither perspective addresses properly. How is it that Job would cry out to not let the dread of God make him afraid unless there is something more to the true meaning of the Fear of God? Proverbs says that there is great confidence in the Fear of God and that it actually makes a man's face to shine, and yet He will in no wise acquit the wicked and the wages of sin is Death.
It is true that it is through the fear of God that men depart from evil, and that righteousness gives a boldness to claim His promises. John's definition of Love is the keeping of God's commandments, not the warm, fuzzy emotions associated with that term today.
Job knew God intimately. He knew not only the loving favor, but also that he would never be able to grasp the utter enormity of His power and His greatness. The carnal mind can never pierce the veil of Eternity to even begin to approach a shadow of it. Talk to anyone who has had the supernatural experience of standing before the Throne of God and they will tell you that the word "awesome" can't even hint at it.
This is the place that Elijah stood when he declared, "the God of Israel ... before whom I stand". Standing that kind of fear of God, he feared nothing else and it gave him the boldness to rebuke kings. He knew his Savior, and the dread of the Almighty gave him his righteousness and his faith. This was not a sloppy respect, but an intensity of realization who God really was.
Let us not confuse the strength and power of the true fear of God with a debilitating satanic fear that destroys our confidence. Neither let us dismiss it with a desire to replace it with a weak Pollyanna Gospel that is more focused on love and which undermines our resolve to strive for righteousness.
It is not a matter of choosing between the fear of God and the love of God. The core personality of God is neither. God's core personality is extreme holiness and burning righteousness (Holy, holy, holy), from which both these things emanate and draw us to.
Instead, let us stand like Elijah with the knowledge that we stand before the presence of an almighty righteous holy God who fills the Universe and spans Eternity, but with the understanding of Job that His fear will not make us afraid to stand in great confidence through the power of the Blood of Jesus.
Brother Dale, www.revivalfire.org