The fear of God. Often we try to explain away that the fear of God simply means reverence and respect. There may be some validity to that—but actually, to fear God is something much greater than we realize. It seems that the farther away we get from the actual creation of the world—that is, the more history unfolds— the farther we seem to be from actually understanding what it is to have a pure, genuine fear of God.
Where should we go to get a clearer picture of this important quality? Your school textbook explains concepts in the beginning of the book. Later in the book it is assumed that you already know those things, so the author builds upon them. Likewise with God’s textbook, the Bible.
So, in order to understand the fear of God, let’s start in Genesis. That’s where this fear is first described by Jacob while he was alone in the wilderness.
“Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (, ).
Dreadful! That’s no light description. Jacob was overtaken with wonder and astonishment. When Jacob’s father Abraham encountered the Almighty, he fell on his face (). So did Saul of Tarsus ( , ). What should we learn from the depiction of Moses in the mount? “Ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:” ( ).
“Who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all [them that are] about him. O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee? Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them” (). “Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great in might. Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee” ( , ).
“By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast” (). “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” ( ). God made the universe out of nothing! All He has to do is speak and it happens! There is a scientific law that matter cannot be created nor destroyed—it can simply change form. Yes, that’s true—it cannot be created by human power. But, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord” ( )?
“Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men” (). “Has not God given you every evidence of His love? Did He not allow Jesus to come to this world as our pattern? Men could not endure the perfection of Christ’s character, and they took and crucified Him. There is a crucifixion that must go on in our lives, a constant dying to self and sin. We must walk circumspectly, that our lives may preach the gospel of Christ to those with whom we associate. If we will speak and walk circumspectly, the light of Christ will be revealed in our lives.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, p. 25. This light of Christ being revealed in our lives is evidence of His activity right now. The Holy Spirit is working in your life. That’s why you decided to read this article in this magazine. God is drawing you with cords of love. Perhaps the biggest thing He wants you to know about is His forgiveness! “If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared” ( , ). Because this forgiveness is so great, so vast, so unsearchable, we fear Him. We fear Him because we love Him. “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” ( ).
“Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” (). “The youth will not become weak-minded or inefficient by consecrating themselves to the service of God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The youngest child that loves and fears God is greater in His sight than the most talented and learned man who neglects the great salvation. The youth who consecrate their hearts and lives to God have, in so doing, placed themselves in connection with the Fountain of all wisdom and excellence.”—Messages to Young People, p. 329. [Emphasis supplied.]
“See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire” ().