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FEAR OF THE LORD - PART TWO

 

By Dr. Richard B. W. Ing

March 15, 2007

 

When we begin to fear the Lord, we begin to know Him and knowing Him is wisdom and knowledge.  We need to approach God with the proper attitude and understanding.  Those who see God only as a Santa Claus who wants to bless and prosper everyone, sees only a small portion of whom and what God truly is.

God is love; but God is also the Lord of hosts.  He is a fierce warrior.  The Old Testament uses the name “Lord of hosts” 242 times.  This is a significant name and the word “hosts” has a very specific place in His name.  Isaiah, the prophet, said, “(T)he Lord of hosts is His name.”  Is. 48:2.  Jeremiah said, “(T)he Lord of hosts is His name.”  Jer. 10:16.  The word “hosts” means, “a mass of persons organized for war (an army) battle, company, soldiers, warfare,” among other meanings.  (Strong’s Concordance)  God is not a passive god who only loves and blesses.  He goes to war and leads an army.  He judges and inflicts punishment upon not only His enemies, but also those among His own people that rebel against Him.  He will judge and punish entire nations. 

God allowed the Assyrians to wipe out the northern kingdom of Israel because of disobedience and rebellion.  One hundred twenty years later, the southern kingdom of Judah rebelled against God.  He allowed the Babylonians to destroy and take captive the entire nation of Judah.  God has not changed.

The Lord’s “hosts” is not just an army of angels.  It is also an army of followers.  When Joshua was about to come against the city of Jericho:

          And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?  And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come.  And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?  And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy.  And Joshua did so.  Jos. 5:15.

Most Bible scholars agree that the captain of the Lord’s hosts is Jesus.  It was no ordinary angel.  If it had been an angel, Joshua would not worship him.  Jesus is the captain of the Lord’s host.

God called every Christian to be a soldier.  2 Timothy 2:3-4 says, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”  Today, very few Christians act like soldiers fighting against the powers of evil. 

Strange how hardly anyone calls God “the Lord of hosts” today.  It seems like everyone calls Him “Santa Claus.”  They see God as a loving, compassionate, merciful God and they fail to see Him as a fierce warrior that will judge and punish those who rebel against Him.  We need to go back to calling God the “Lord of hosts.”

While it is true that the New Testament does not use the title “Lord of hosts,” it constantly alludes to war against the demonic kingdom.  In fact, the bulk of Jesus’ ministry on earth was fighting against Satan’s kingdom.  Every time Jesus healed someone, cast out devils and raised the dead, He was taking back territory from Satan.  The New Testament was dedicated to teaching the saints how to become good soldiers for Jesus Christ.  It maps out many strategies of spiritual warfare.  The Book of Revelation reveals the final battle between the people of God versus the kingdom of darkness.  Our Lord is a God of power and judgment against all evil.  Jesus is the captain of the Lord’s host.

PRIDE

Pride can lead one to lose the fear of God.  When Jeremiah, the prophet, went around warning the prophets and priests of coming war, they wanted to kill him. 

         Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die.  Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant?  And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord.  Jer. 26:8-10. 

But when the princes of Judah (the civil rulers) heard what Jeremiah had prophesied, they came to the temple.  “Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears.” Jer. 26:11.  Jeremiah repeated his warnings.  “Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets; This man is not worthy to die: for he hath spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.”  Jer. 26:16.  Despite Jeremiah’s warnings, the people did not fear God.  In the end, Jeremiah’s life was spared but God allowed Babylon to destroy His people and temple.    

The people said, “Wherefore hath the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us?  or what is our iniquity?  or what is our sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?”  Jer. 16:10.  In other words, “Show us what we have done wrong.  Where are our sins or iniquity?  God is blessing us, so He must be pleased with us.”  They refused to acknowledge that they were not really worshipping God.  They continued to worship idols and the prosperity message was popular.  They were actually worshipping self.  No one feared Jeremiah’s words because they chose to believe what they wanted to believe.

One can be like the citizens of Judah during Jeremiah’s time - proud, confident and deceived into thinking that they pleased God because He was prospering them.  They did not know their sins and iniquities and confidently rejected Jeremiah’s warnings.  In the end, multitudes perished and many others were taken prisoner by Babylon.  In a sense, the church at Laodicea was like God’s people in the days of Jeremiah.  Rev. 3:14-18. 

LOSING YOUR SALVATION

Contrary to the teachings of some denominations, one can lose his salvation.  Revelation 3:5 says, “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels.”  If Jesus says that, the overcomers’ names shall not be blotted out of the book of life that means some Christians’ names will be blotted out. 

Matthew 10:37 says, “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followed after Me, is not worthy of Me.”  Every Christian that does not bear his cross to follow Jesus is not worthy of Jesus.

In Matthew 22:2-14, Jesus related the following parable:

        The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.  Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.  But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:  And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.  But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.  But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.    Mt. 22:2-7.

Bible scholars agree that the above passage refers to Israel at the time of Jesus.  They rejected John the Baptist and killed him and all the apostles of Jesus.  They rejected the King’s invitation to join with His son, Jesus, and instead killed the King‘s servants that came to call them.  Because of that, destruction came upon God’s own chosen people.

Jesus continues:

        Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.  Go therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.  So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as t hey found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.  And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:  And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?  And he was speechless.  Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  For many are called, but few are chosen.  Mt. 22: 8-14.

According to Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, “Those and those only, who put on the Lord Jesus, that have a Christian temper of mind, and are adorned with Christian graces, who live by faith in Christ, and to whom he is all in all, have the wedding garments . . . There are many in the church who are false friends to Jesus Christ, who say that they love him while their hearts are not with Him.”  Pg. 255.  (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, Massachusetts, 1992)  The Commentary goes on to say that, false Christians are hypocrites, and will be cast into the darkness of hell.  Many are called, but only a few are chosen.

In Matthew 24, Jesus told the parable of His return:

        Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye thing not the Son of man cometh.  Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?  Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.  Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.  But and if that evil servant shall sway in his heart, My lord delayed his coming; and shall being to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teethVerses 44-51.  (Underlining added)

Note that Jesus is not talking about the unbelieving Jews; He was talking about His servants, the believers.  We have nothing to worry about if we are found worthy, but woe to those who are not. 

In Matthew 25:31-32, Jesus says,

         When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left . . . And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

You can lose your salvation.

CHOSEN

To have the fear of the Lord in us, we need to choose it.  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.”  A healthy fear of the Lord is a matter of choice, just as loving people is a choice.  “I choose to fear the Lord” is a proactive choice by which to live life.       

The Bible says that either you choose life or you choose death.  If you ignore the commandments of God, you are choosing death and making a covenant and agreement with death.   Is. 28:15.  On the other hand, if you choose to walk in God’s command-ments, “. . . your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.”  Is. 28:18.  The choice is clear - choose God’s ways that lead to life, or choose the way of the flesh, the world and the devil that lead to death.  Ro. 8:2-11. 

Isaiah 7: 14-15 says, “. . . Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.  Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.”  Even Jesus had to learn to choose good and reject evil. 

Isaiah says, “For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant.”  Is. 56:4.  Fearing God is a matter of choice. 

LEARNED

The fear of the Lord has to be learned.  Just praying for it is not enough.  “[Specifically] 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.”  Deu. 4:10.  Of course, learning to fear the Lord is a lot easier if one stood at the foot of a huge mountain and heard the booming voice of  God come rolling down.  Nevertheless, the passage says “. . . that they may teach their children.”  Fear of the Lord must be learned through various experiences and teachings.

Psalms 34:11 says, “Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.”

A DESIRE

There must be a desire to fear the Lord.  Nehemiah said, “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.”  Neh. 1:11.

One can walk away and never have a desire to fear God.  Many Christians today have absolutely no fear of God.  Why?  Perhaps they have been taught that God is all love and blessings and have never known the judgment of God.  That also indicates that they do not really know the Lord.  If they did, they would know that He has more than one side to His nature and character.  He will judge righteously.

Note:  In the next newsletter, we will explore some of the benefits of fearing God.


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