Monday, March 23, 2009

How Can We Learn to Fear of the Lord Part Two?

Believers and unbelievers alike, need to learn to fear the Lord. To the degree we fear the Lord we will obtain His blessings, and to the degree that we do not fear the Lord we will experience His judgments. Scripture states that there are certain things we can do to cause us to learn the fear of the Lord. We need to learn the meaning of the word astonishment. Astonishment relates to the inability to speak in the face of an awesome and overwhelming situation. The Greek word for astonish is (thahm-BEH-oh), meaning to “stupefy.” Our English word comes from the French estoner. This word is derived from the Latin ex meaning “out” and tonare meaning “to thunder.” It literally means, “to be thunderstruck, to be struck dumb.” One who is truly astonished is stunned with sudden fear, wonder, and amazement. When Paul was on the road to Damascus, he was astonished at the appearance of Christ and His message to him. “And he said, who are thou, Lord? And the Lord said I am Jesus who you persecute: it is hard for you to kick against the goads. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? (Acts 9:5-6). Let’s learn how astonishment relates to fearing God. In the presence of the omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing) God, we should hold our tongues in astonishment. God advises us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). We are further warned in Ecclesiastes to hold our tongues when we go into the presence of God, and to be more ready to hear than to speak. “Be not rash with your mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few: (Ecclesiastes 5:2). The next word we need to learn is tremble. Trembling is the physical result of overpowering fear. The English word comes from the Latin tremor, meaning “to shake involuntarily, to quiver, to quake.” A graphic illustration of trembling occurred in the life of Belshazzar. “In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another and his lords were astonished” (Daniel 5:5-9). Another example of trembling and trepidation is given in the account of the guarding of the tomb of Christ. “His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men” (Matthew 28:3-4). The last word we must learn the meaning of is dread. The word dread expresses more than fear but less than terror and fright. It refers to an intense uneasiness or alarm excited by expected pain, loss or other harm. Also unlike the word terror, dread is less sudden and more sustained. Daniel ascribed the quality of dread to God in his prayer. “And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments” (Daniel 9:4). Isaiah had a dread of his sinful condition in the presence of a Holy God. “Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of as people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6”5). Let’s examine how dread relates to the fear of the Lord. We should have such awe at the power and authority of God that sinning against Him produces a fearful dread of sure judgment. On the other hand, the dread of God should not make us afraid if we are justified by Christ. Job stated of God, “Shall not his Excellency make you afraid? And his dread fall upon you?” (Job 13:11). As for him, he acknowledged his sin: “How many are mine iniquities and sins” make me to know my transgression and my sin” (Job 13:23). However, he also said, “I know that I shall be justified” (Job 13:18). Therefore he prayed, “let not thy dread make me afraid” (Job 13:21). Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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