Sunday, March 22, 2009
How Can We Learn To Fear the Lord Part One?
Both Christians and unbelievers must learn to fear the Lord. To the degree that we fear the Lord we will have 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 help us learn the fear of the Lord. We must learn the words which God uses to describe the fear which we should have for Him. The first word we must learn is terror. This describes the most extreme degree of fear. It is totally disabling to the one who experiences it, leaving that person with neither physical strength nor mental ability. The root word for terror in the Hebrew language is (ghay-TAHTH). It means “to prostrate by confusion and fear.” The Greek root is (FAW-boss) which means “to terrify with exceeding alarm.” This terror is precisely the experience which the Apostle John had when he looked upon the reality of God. "And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me…And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not” (Revelation 1:12-17). We need to learn how terror relates to the fear of the Lord. The judgments of God are called “terrors” in Scripture. David declared: “Thy fierce wrath goes over me; your terrors have cut me off” (Psalm 88:16). There is no doubt that God’s judgments upon sin do bring terror to those who experience them. These judgments should be spoken of and described especially among God’s people so that even the thought of sin would strike terror in every heart. This concept lies behind the warnings the Apostle Paul gave to the church at Corinth, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10). “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (II Corinthians 5:11). The next word we must know the meaning of is fright. The Greek word for fright is (ekthahm-BEH-oh) which literally means “to shrink or shiver with fear.” It is a sudden violent fear caused by the appearance of danger and is distinguished from fear and dread by its sudden invasion and temporary existence. When Jesus stilled the storm, His disciples experienced fright. “And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, what manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41). Fright often comes when we encounter a power which is far bigger than we are and which we do not understand. This is consistently demonstrated in Scripture as people witnessed Christ’s supernatural power. When Jesus cured the demoniac, the people feared. “Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear” (luke 8:37). When Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, they experienced fright. “And as they thus spoke, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and said unto them, peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit” (Luke 24:36-37). The next word we must learn is dismay. Whereas terror and fright immediately affect the physical strength, dismay removes the mental ability of a person. The Hebrew word which is translated dismay describes a condition of being drained of confidence and courage to the point where a person literally faints. Our English word dismay probably came from the Teutonic des, which is a negative, and magen which means” to be strong” or “able.” Thus, to dismay is “to remove the strength or firmness of mind which constitutes courage.” Faced with the presence of God’s power, majesty, and splendor, a person would be dismayed. When God appeared to Daniel in a vision, Daniel testified that there remained no strength in him and he was prostrate before the Lord. There is a great tendency among God’s people to be dismayed at the strength of the wicked. Thus, Scripture gives the command repeatedly, “be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed” (Joshua 1:9). When we see the judgments of God on the children of disobedience, we should be dismayed and have no strength like Daniel. However, when we hear the voice of God giving us reassurance and direction, we should be revived. “Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, and said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me” (Daniel 10:18-19). Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.