SEARCH THE ARCHIVE

? SEARCH TIPS
Exact phrase, enclose in quotes:
“keyword phrase here”
Multiple words, separate with commas:
keyword, keyword

In our last several installments we have been considering the very important scriptural theme of the “fear of God.” It is our intention to continue this consideration for some time. We have seen how predominant this theme is in Holy Scripture. Everywhere, again and again, the Word of God exhorts us to fear God and characterizes the true people of God as a God-fearing people. In fact, the very heart of true godliness, of true religion and sincere Christianity, is the fear of God. No man can say that he is a Christian if he does not manifest in his life true godly fear. We have seen something of what it means to fear God. Godly fear is a profound, humble, holy, reverential awe in the presence of God that dominates and controls one’s whole being. Godly fear is born out of a profound spiritual knowledge of who and what God is. The god-fearing man knows that God is the sovereign, majestic, infinitely great, almighty, perfectly holy and righteous God. Godly fear comes to the man who knows God’s infinite greatness and holiness and his own smallness in God’s sight, and furthermore his own awful sinfulness in God’s holy presence. The more profoundly that the child of God comes to know what this means in all its implications the more he will fear and tremble at the presence of God. If a man really spiritually knows who and what God is there can be no other reaction than one of exceeding great fear and trembling. Godly fear comes to the one who is deeply conscious of the fact that this God is everywhere present. In Him we live and move and have our being. Our whole life is lived in His presence. All things are naked and open before Him with Whom we have to do. We cannot escape His presence. His all-knowing and all-seeing eye beholds the whole of our life. He not only sees our outward life He knows every thought and inclination of our heart completely. Godly fear is characteristic of the one who has a true sense of what this great sovereign, holy, and righteous God requires of man. God has sovereignly made man for His own purpose to glorify Him. God requires that we love Him with all our heart and soul and strength and mind. God requires that we be holy even as He is holy. These are exceedingly awesome and fearful requirements.

We must hasten to consider another aspect of the fear of God. Where does the fear of God come from? How is it that the godly man fears God? What is the origin of this fear? The reason why this is so urgent is that we know from scripture that it is not natural for the sinful man to fear God. The apostle Paul in Romans 3:18 characterizes all men as they are by nature when he says, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” The natural man knows the terror of the Lord because the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness of men. The natural man knows nothing of true godly fear. He ever flees from the presence of God because he hates God. His greatest desire is that God would not be. He seeks to deny God, to expel Him from every sphere of his life and from all his thoughts. In this of course he is the greatest fool. For God is. And God is the awful, righteous, and holy judge of those who deny Him and who do not live up to what He requires of every man. So awful and terrible is God that He is a consuming fire to all the workers of iniquity. 

Scripture is very clear on the fact that the only reason why men fear God in true godly fear is because He Himself has placed that fear in the hearts of men. How urgent it is for us to understand this if we are to understand the crucial scriptural exhortation, “Fear God”! There is especially one passage of scripture which mentions this specifically and beautifully that I would like to consider in some detail. This passage is found inJeremiah 32. In this chapter the prophet Jeremiah prophesies of God’s wonderful dealings with His people Israel after they have been chastened in Babylon because of their great abominations against the Lord their God. Jeremiah speaks of the wonderful dealings of God’s sovereign grace and mercy according to His everlasting covenant with His people. The amazing wonder of these dealings is that the Lord performs this in spite of the fact that, as the Lord says earlier concerning Israel, “they have done only evil from their youth, for the children of Israel have only provoked me to anger with the works of their hands.” Jeremiah 32:30. Yet God speaks concerning Israel these beautiful words of comfort, “Behold I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will cause them to dwell safely; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart, and one way, THAT THEY MAY FEAR ME FOREVER, for the good of them, and of their children after them; and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, and I will not turn away from them, to do good, but I WILL PUT MY FEAR IN THEIR HEARTS, that they shall not depart from me. Yea, I will rejoice over them in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.” Jeremiah 32:37-41

It. would take much more space than this article permits to give a detailed consideration of this passage in all of its beautiful parts. I would like to call attention especially to some of the details of this passage as they relate to our subject of the origin of the fear of God. Notice first of all that this passage states very clearly that it is God Who places His own fear in the hearts of His people. This is His sovereign working. He places His fear in the hearts of those who formerly did great evil in His sight and therefore did not fear Him. Notice in the second place that this is according to God’s wonderful goodness. God delights to do His people good. Therefore He places His fear in their hearts. The fact that God placed His fear in the hearts of His people is for their own good and for the good of their children after them. Notice that God placed His fear in the HEARTS of His people. He does not merely reveal to them in an outward way that He is a fearful God. This they would soon forget as they so often did. After the fearful revelation of God on Mount Sinai when God spoke to Israel amidst thunderings and lightnings and the voice of a trumpet exceeding loud, the people of Israel trembled with great fear and they pleaded with Moses that he would intercede on their behalf. But how soon Israel forgot that fear. Within forty days they were worshiping the golden calf. .The same thing happened in Israel after the fearful demonstration on Mount Carmel at the time of Elijah. This fearful demonstration caused Israel to fall on their faces and cry, “The Lord, He is God, the Lord, He is God.” But how soon after this they forgot the Lord their God and turned again to do great wickedness and worship Baal. But our text says that God will now place His fear in the HEARTS of His people. The heart, we know, is the spiritual center of a man. Out of the heart are all the issues of life. As a man thinketh in his heart so is he. And God will place His fear in the hearts of His people with such sovereign efficacy that they will FEAR HIM FOREVER. Surely all of this refers to the New Dispensation. It refers to the coming of Christ Who will do this through the pouring out of His Spirit in the hearts of His people. Finally it refers to the everlasting blessed state of God’s people. 

Central to this whole passage is the wonderful fact that God will do this, that He will place His fear in the hearts of His people, according to His everlasting covenant of grace with His people. The very fact that men fear God is because GOD causes them to fear Him as a blessing of His everlasting covenant of grace. According to that everlasting covenant of grace God delights over His people, He rejoices over them to do them good. He will plant them in the everlasting land of His covenant assuredly with His whole heart and with His whole soul. 

It is especially the fact that it is according to God’s everlasting covenant of grace that He causes His people to fear Him that has tremendous implications for all that we have said concerning this theme of the fear of God. We have seen that the fear of God is very much related to our knowledge of God. In the measure that we know who and what God is, and that in a true spiritual way, we shall also fear Him. The covenant, we know, is God’s intimate personal relationship of friendship with His people. In the covenant God declares concerning His people, “They shall by My people and I will be their God.” In the sphere of the covenant God causes His people to know Him in all that He is, in the fullness of His goodness and blessedness, His wondrous love and grace and mercy. In the sphere of the covenant God causes His people to know His greatness and power to save them and His wonderful faithfulness and mercy to forgive all their sins and blesses them with His own highest good. It is when the child of God knows this that he truly fears God. 

How does God work that fear in the hearts of His people? Surely He does this not as though they were stocks and blocks but in harmony with the fact that they are moral rational creatures. The truth of this is most clearly brought out in that well known passage of Philippians 2:12-13: “Work out your own salvation WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” God places His fear in our hearts through the wonderful power of His Holy Spirit. By that Spirit He has shed His love abroad in our hearts. And by that Spirit He makes us willing from our hearts to fear Him with godly reverential fear. 

Therefore also the scriptures often speak of the Lord’s teaching us His fear. It is for this reason that God reveals to us His greatness, His holiness, and His righteousness that we might learn to fear Him. God teaches us His law that we might learn to fear Him. How this was brought out on Mount Sinai! Moses speaks of this in Deuteronomy 4:10: “Specially the day that thou, stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.” The whole of God’s revelation is given to God’s covenant people that they may learn to fear Him. 

The Lord’s dealings with His people are for the purpose of teaching them His fear. Even when the Lord chastens us He chastens us in love as a Father in order that we might learn His fear. This was true of Israel when they were led into the Babylonian captivity. The Lord chastened them that they might learn to fear Him. 

That man who fears Jehovah is truly blessed. How often the Psalmist speaks of this. Surely then it ought to be the earnest prayer of all of God’s saints, “Place Thy fear, oh Lord, in my heart; teach me daily all of Thy law that I might fear Thee; show me Thy glory and Thy righteousness that I might fear Thee.” In our last several installments we have been considering the very important scriptural theme of the “fear of God.” It is our intention to continue this consideration for some time. We have seen how predominant this theme is in Holy Scripture. Everywhere, again and again, the Word of God exhorts us to fear God and characterizes the true people of God as a God-fearing people. In fact, the very heart of true godliness, of true religion and sincere Christianity, is the fear of God. No man can say that he is a Christian if he does not manifest in his life true godly fear. We have seen something of what it means to fear God. Godly fear is a profound, humble, holy, reverential awe in the presence of God that dominates and controls one’s whole being. Godly fear is born out of a profound spiritual knowledge of who and what God is. The god-fearing man knows that God is the sovereign, majestic, infinitely great, almighty, perfectly holy and righteous God. Godly fear comes to the man who knows God’s infinite greatness and holiness and his own smallness in God’s sight, and furthermore his own awful sinfulness in God’s holy presence. The more profoundly that the child of God comes to know what this means in all its implications the more he will fear and tremble at the presence of God. If a man really spiritually knows who and what God is there can be no other reaction than one of exceeding great fear and trembling. Godly fear comes to the one who is deeply conscious of the fact that this God is everywhere present. In Him we live and move and have our being. Our whole life is lived in His presence. All things are naked and open before Him with Whom we have to do. We cannot escape His presence. His all-knowing and all-seeing eye beholds the whole of our life. He not only sees our outward life He knows every thought and inclination of our heart completely. Godly fear is characteristic of the one who has a true sense of what this great sovereign, holy, and righteous God requires of man. God has sovereignly made man for His own purpose to glorify Him. God requires that we love Him with all our heart and soul and strength and mind. God requires that we be holy even as He is holy. These are exceedingly awesome and fearful requirements.

We must hasten to consider another aspect of the fear of God. Where does the fear of God come from? How is it that the godly man fears God? What is the origin of this fear? The reason why this is so urgent is that we know from scripture that it is not natural for the sinful man to fear God. The apostle Paul in Romans 3:18 characterizes all men as they are by nature when he says, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” The natural man knows the terror of the Lord because the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness of men. The natural man knows nothing of true godly fear. He ever flees from the presence of God because he hates God. His greatest desire is that God would not be. He seeks to deny God, to expel Him from every sphere of his life and from all his thoughts. In this of course he is the greatest fool. For God is. And God is the awful, righteous, and holy judge of those who deny Him and who do not live up to what He requires of every man. So awful and terrible is God that He is a consuming fire to all the workers of iniquity. 

Scripture is very clear on the fact that the only reason why men fear God in true godly fear is because He Himself has placed that fear in the hearts of men. How urgent it is for us to understand this if we are to understand the crucial scriptural exhortation, “Fear God”! There is especially one passage of scripture which mentions this specifically and beautifully that I would like to consider in some detail. This passage is found inJeremiah 32. In this chapter the prophet Jeremiah prophesies of God’s wonderful dealings with His people Israel after they have been chastened in Babylon because of their great abominations against the Lord their God. Jeremiah speaks of the wonderful dealings of God’s sovereign grace and mercy according to His everlasting covenant with His people. The amazing wonder of these dealings is that the Lord performs this in spite of the fact that, as the Lord says earlier concerning Israel, “they have done only evil from their youth, for the children of Israel have only provoked me to anger with the works of their hands.” Jeremiah 32:30. Yet God speaks concerning Israel these beautiful words of comfort, “Behold I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will cause them to dwell safely; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart, and one way, THAT THEY MAY FEAR ME FOREVER, for the good of them, and of their children after them; and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, and I will not turn away from them, to do good, but I WILL PUT MY FEAR IN THEIR HEARTS, that they shall not depart from me. Yea, I will rejoice over them in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.” Jeremiah 32:37-41

It. would take much more space than this article permits to give a detailed consideration of this passage in all of its beautiful parts. I would like to call attention especially to some of the details of this passage as they relate to our subject of the origin of the fear of God. Notice first of all that this passage states very clearly that it is God Who places His own fear in the hearts of His people. This is His sovereign working. He places His fear in the hearts of those who formerly did great evil in His sight and therefore did not fear Him. Notice in the second place that this is according to God’s wonderful goodness. God delights to do His people good. Therefore He places His fear in their hearts. The fact that God placed His fear in the hearts of His people is for their own good and for the good of their children after them. Notice that God placed His fear in the HEARTS of His people. He does not merely reveal to them in an outward way that He is a fearful God. This they would soon forget as they so often did. After the fearful revelation of God on Mount Sinai when God spoke to Israel amidst thunderings and lightnings and the voice of a trumpet exceeding loud, the people of Israel trembled with great fear and they pleaded with Moses that he would intercede on their behalf. But how soon Israel forgot that fear. Within forty days they were worshiping the golden calf. .The same thing happened in Israel after the fearful demonstration on Mount Carmel at the time of Elijah. This fearful demonstration caused Israel to fall on their faces and cry, “The Lord, He is God, the Lord, He is God.” But how soon after this they forgot the Lord their God and turned again to do great wickedness and worship Baal. But our text says that God will now place His fear in the HEARTS of His people. The heart, we know, is the spiritual center of a man. Out of the heart are all the issues of life. As a man thinketh in his heart so is he. And God will place His fear in the hearts of His people with such sovereign efficacy that they will FEAR HIM FOREVER. Surely all of this refers to the New Dispensation. It refers to the coming of Christ Who will do this through the pouring out of His Spirit in the hearts of His people. Finally it refers to the everlasting blessed state of God’s people. 

Central to this whole passage is the wonderful fact that God will do this, that He will place His fear in the hearts of His people, according to His everlasting covenant of grace with His people. The very fact that men fear God is because GOD causes them to fear Him as a blessing of His everlasting covenant of grace. According to that everlasting covenant of grace God delights over His people, He rejoices over them to do them good. He will plant them in the everlasting land of His covenant assuredly with His whole heart and with His whole soul. 

It is especially the fact that it is according to God’s everlasting covenant of grace that He causes His people to fear Him that has tremendous implications for all that we have said concerning this theme of the fear of God. We have seen that the fear of God is very much related to our knowledge of God. In the measure that we know who and what God is, and that in a true spiritual way, we shall also fear Him. The covenant, we know, is God’s intimate personal relationship of friendship with His people. In the covenant God declares concerning His people, “They shall by My people and I will be their God.” In the sphere of the covenant God causes His people to know Him in all that He is, in the fullness of His goodness and blessedness, His wondrous love and grace and mercy. In the sphere of the covenant God causes His people to know His greatness and power to save them and His wonderful faithfulness and mercy to forgive all their sins and blesses them with His own highest good. It is when the child of God knows this that he truly fears God. 

How does God work that fear in the hearts of His people? Surely He does this not as though they were stocks and blocks but in harmony with the fact that they are moral rational creatures. The truth of this is most clearly brought out in that well known passage of Philippians 2:12-13: “Work out your own salvation WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” God places His fear in our hearts through the wonderful power of His Holy Spirit. By that Spirit He has shed His love abroad in our hearts. And by that Spirit He makes us willing from our hearts to fear Him with godly reverential fear. 

Therefore also the scriptures often speak of the Lord’s teaching us His fear. It is for this reason that God reveals to us His greatness, His holiness, and His righteousness that we might learn to fear Him. God teaches us His law that we might learn to fear Him. How this was brought out on Mount Sinai! Moses speaks of this in Deuteronomy 4:10: “Specially the day that thou, stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.” The whole of God’s revelation is given to God’s covenant people that they may learn to fear Him. 

The Lord’s dealings with His people are for the purpose of teaching them His fear. Even when the Lord chastens us He chastens us in love as a Father in order that we might learn His fear. This was true of Israel when they were led into the Babylonian captivity. The Lord chastened them that they might learn to fear Him. 

That man who fears Jehovah is truly blessed. How often the Psalmist speaks of this. Surely then it ought to be the earnest prayer of all of God’s saints, “Place Thy fear, oh Lord, in my heart; teach me daily all of Thy law that I might fear Thee; show me Thy glory and Thy righteousness that I might fear Thee.”