The Best-Kept Secret
Have you ever felt there is phenomenal existential revelation available that, if ever accessed, would blow the lid off all the major questions of life? Maybe not…but what if there is? We would be able to act with certainty and confidence. Fear and trepidation would practically cease to exist. The toil of striving would become a ridiculous timewaster. Wisdom and knowledge would accompany every decision. Let’s stop and think for a moment. For such revelation, what would we be willing to give or do?
It so happens that this revelation is hiding in plain sight in the brown-paper wrapping of a phrase we don’t really understand and therefore overlook. It is contained in the absolute truth of scripture and referenced from the time of Moses, but very few “get it” and most are bored with the concept. The Scripture tells us that even Jesus Himself “delighted” in it (Isaiah 11:3). This reality gives deep insight into the character of God that is so vast and complex that truly knowing Him will see its fruition in eternity.
Simply put, that phrase is “fear of the Lord.” Underwhelmed? Most of us believe we know what it means, having heard it for as long as we’ve known Jesus. But it is much like knowing the sky is blue without having the slightest idea why. The issue for many of us starts with semantics – are we supposed to be afraid of God? If the meaning is really the awe and reverence of God, wouldn’t it make more sense to say that rather than having to mentally translate those words all the time? But God is very precise with His wording, and He gives us essential information about Himself in building blocks.
God introduced Himself to the Israelites through Moses by first sharing His Name. Then He demonstrated His mighty power in the plagues He brought against Egypt and the miraculous deliverance for His people out of that land of slavery. In the desert, the Israelites learned He was their provider and healer. At Mt. Sinai, they experienced His holy Presence in fire on the mountain and above the tabernacle. In addition, they received His laws, which when obeyed, were intended to keep His people holy.
Because God desired relationship with His people, He commanded in Leviticus 11:44, “be holy as I am holy.” Later He added, “Keep My commands and follow them. I am the Lord. Do not profane My holy Name. I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites. I am the Lord, who makes you holy and Who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 22:31-33) For most of us, serious respect comes through a healthy fear of consequences, which God allowed when what was holy was treated casually or with contempt. This was for the Israelites’ own good, but was often misunderstood as harsh legalism that Jesus eventually dispelled in teaching God’s love and grace.
So, fear of the Lord involves grasping the reality of God’s cosmic power, surpassing wisdom, and incredible holiness, along with the unfathomable love that took Jesus to the cross to atone for our unholy sin-natures. Jesus additionally provided the intimacy of Holy Spirit dwelling within us Who knows our thoughts, heart desires, and even the number of hairs on our heads. This deep intimacy is further demonstration of love unparalleled anywhere else.
Fear of the Lord then must include utmost respect for His holiness, and awe-struck love and gratitude for His grace. To focus on one without the other is to miss it altogether – a mistake Christ-followers make in focusing only on Jesus as the friend Who offers salvation and forgiveness, without acknowledging His Lordship. Grasping the totality opens our eyes to understand that truly nothing is too difficult for Him (Jeremiah 32:17), and there are no lengths to which He will not go for His children. These indisputable facts should make our complete trust in Him a no-brainer. It doesn’t mean that we possess all the knowledge we seek, but that we know the One Who does. “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12 NKJV). The true meaning of the fear of the Lord is one secret that really needs to be shared. If Jesus delighted in it, what does that say for you and me?