Since I was a little kid I’ve heard people say about “Fearing God” or that so and so has “a healthy fear of God”. That always confused me as I was also taught that God was loving and kind and cared for us. He sent his Son to us to save us from our sin, what would there be to fear?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
At our church, this weekend we were studying through the book of Daniel and started with the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3). In that chapter, we learn that King Nebuchadnezzar build a large gold statue that everyone was ordered to bow down and worship under penalty of death. Those three refused and were brought before the king. When asked why they refused and threatened again, they replied (Daniel 3:16,17);
O Nebuchhadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown in the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty
But it gets even better as they continue on in verse 18;
But even if he doesn’t, Your Majesty can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.
Wow, they knew that God could save them, but even if he did NOT save them, they would not worship any other god but the one true God. They feared nothing on this earth, not the king, not the fiery furnace, nothing more than they feared God.
Daniel in the lion’s den
The next part we covered was in Daniel 6, the story of Daniel in the lion’s den. In short, a new king, King Darius the Mede, signed a new law that said, for the next 30 days anyone who prayers to anyone, divine or human — except to the king — will be thrown to the lions, probably a pretty horrific death.
Daniel was a man that prayed three times a day and despite the passage of this law, he continued to pray three times a day to God with his window open, not hiding it at all. It would have been very easy for him to change his pattern and hide his prayers or pray in secret. But he did not, he loved and feared his God, more than he feared the lion’s den. Most of us know the outcome, Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den and God sent an angel to seal up the lion’s mouth and he emerged the next morning without a scratch on him.
But what does the fear of God mean?
We saw two great examples of people that feared disobeying our God more than the feared anything thrown at them in this world. But what still does fear of God really mean? As Christians, fear of God is an extreme reverence and awe of our awesome God. We are so in awe of our God that we fear displeasing him. I like this analogy that R.C. Sproul puts to it in his short article, What Does it Mean to Fear God?
…thinking of a child who has tremendous respect and love for his father or mother and who dearly wants to please them. He has a fear or an anxiety of offending the one he loves, not because he’s afraid of torture or even of punishment, but rather because he’s afraid of displeasing the one who is, in that child’s world, the source of security and love.
We should have a health respect and adoration for God and shouldn’t take that relationship flippantly. We still need to keep that knowledge that God can be frightening, part of the motivation to be reconciled with God is fear of God’s judgement.
With the fear of God, we need not fear anything else
As we saw in the stories presented in the book of Daniel, they feared God more than they feared any kind of torture, punishment or even death. The fear of displeasing the one that they loved and stood in awe and adoration of was greater than the fear of anything in this world.
What our your fears? Do you fear something in your life now? Is it fear of being unemployed or homeless? Or perhaps the fear of being alone? Could it be your health or something as mundane as a fear of spiders? Sure these things can be uncomfortable at a minimum and could in some cases lead to greater hardship or even death, but when we have a God that we love, adore and fear in great adoration and awe, what are those things? We have a God that has overcome death. One that has sent his son to die for us in our place and then he rose from the grave. What else need we fear?
We read in Isaiah 8:13;
Do not fear anything except the Lord Almighty. He alone is the Holy One. If you fear him, you need fear nothing else.
What a great promise, when God is with us all day, every day, we need fear nothing else!