The Fear of God: Lost and Found | Part One

Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey | Pastor
First Baptist Church, Spanish Fort, AL

Thomas Herbert Darlow (1858-1927), Congregationalist theologian and Bible scholar, writes, “THE gravest concern of Dr. [Robert W.] Dale [1829-1895] in the last years of his life, was expressed with characteristic directness in a remark of his to Dr. [Charles A.] Berry [1852-1899], which the latter often repeated. ‘Berry,’ he said, with impressive emphasis, ‘nobody is afraid of God now.’  To both men it means that a true vision of the living God is fading out of sight.”  Dr. Robert Duncan Culver (1916-2015) explains, “The generation of the last quarter of the twentieth century may have been the one in which absence of reverential fear of God has been most fully absent from Western civilization.  Some called it secularism.  In our own country all the vices of thought, word and deed described in these passages have inevitably followed.  Whether there has been a formal human conspiracy of the university elite, the masters and servants of information and disinformation in news reporting and entertainment, the philosophy of courts and schools of law and public education is doubtful.  Yet there is no doubt the devil and his minions are behind it. They have conspired.  This world is indeed a Kosmos (cosmos), an arrangement. . . .  Cultivation of the fear of God is a precondition to the obedience of children, to the moral life, to sound social relationships.  No wonder then that societies founded and developed on the ground of such fear of God are falling apart before our very eyes, not that the God of their Fathers has been renounced.”  Mary declares in Luke 1:50, “And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation.”   

Isaiah 8:11-22 reads, “For the Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying: ‘Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’ Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.  The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, And let Him be your dread.  He will be as a sanctuary, But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense To both the houses of Israel, As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  And many among them shall stumble; They shall fall and be broken, Be snared and taken.’  Bind up the testimony, Seal the law among my disciples.  And I will wait on the Lord, Who hides His face from the house of Jacob; And I will hope in Him.  Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me! We are for signs and wonders in Israel From the Lord of hosts, Who dwells in Mount Zion.  And when they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?  To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. They will pass through it hard-pressed and hungry; and it shall happen, when they are hungry, that they will be enraged and curse their king and their God, and look upward.  Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness.”  Isaiah is accused of conspiring against his country as a traitor because he cautioned them about seeking help from man instead of God.  The founding fathers of America sought God’s help to begin this great nation.  I understand America is not a theocracy as was Israel.  Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859) shared, “I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers—and it was not there … in her fertile fields and boundless forests—and it was not there … in her rich mines and her vast world commerce—and it was not there … in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution—and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” Psalm 115:13, “He will bless those who fear the Lord, Both small and great.”

Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005) writes, “Do you know what’s wrong in America today? We have a generation of people who don’t fear God. . . .Friend, I want to tell you when a generation, a world ceases to fear God, that generation, that world, that nation, that community is on its last legs. Somebody says, Well I don’t believe in a religion built on fear. I don’t believe in using fear as a motive.  I do. And I’ll tell you I’m not the only one who does. The medical profession does. They say, Watch your cholesterol, you’ll die of a heart attack. The safety engineer does, he says, Wear goggles, you’ll put your eyes out when you’re working on heavy machinery if you don’t. The traffic expert says, Slow down, you’ll have a traffic fatality. Everybody believes in using fear as a motive—except when a preacher stands up and warns people not to go to hell. They say, I don’t believe in a religion built on fear. Jesus said, ‘Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body and hell.’ I had rather frighten you into heaven than lull you into hell.”

Isaiah 8:13 reads, “The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, And let Him be your dread.”  The fear of God positively effects your life in at least three ways.

I. The fear of God provides a biblical foundation for life.  

From the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery we read, “The fear of God is a fundamental quality of people who know and obey God.”  Thomas Herbert Darlow explains, the fear of God is the “. . . awe and dread of the unseen Power whom they felt to be their Owner and King.  The religion of the Bible begins here. . . God spoke to [the Patriarchs] in warnings and promises.  They trembled and obeyed Him, and He called them and claimed them to be His own.  The revelations given at the bush that burned and the mount that shook were such that Moses himself said, I do exceedingly fear and quake [Hebrews 12:21].  And the whole purport of the Hebrew Law is summed up in Deuteronomy [28:58]: All these words are written that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, the Lord thy God.  A pious man in the Old Testament meant a man who feared God.  That was the dominant note of his temper, the ruling motive in his life. . . .  Now the close of the Bible does not contradict its commencement.  The angel of the Apocalypse, flying in mid-heaven with the everlasting Gospel to proclaim to them that dwell on the earth, cried with a loud voice, Fear God and give Him glory [Revelation 14:7].  Yet multitudes of modern Christians forget or deny that the fear of God has any place in the everlasting Gospel.  They describe it as the mere shadow of ignorance, the survival of early superstition, they tell us that in advance of spiritual experience we must leave it far behind.”

Job 1:1, 6-12 reads, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. . . .  Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.  And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’  Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.’ So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” Job 42:1-10 reads, “Then Job answered the Lord and said: ‘I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ ‘I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.  Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.’ And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.’  So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord commanded them; for the Lord had accepted Job.  And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.”  (Emphasis mine) Now there is a man who fears God!

Are you living a life founded on the fear of God?

Part Two Coming Soon!