The ‘Fear of the Lord.’ From the time I began to seriously start studying the Bible until now this phrase spoken of in the Bible, namely the books of Psalms and Proverbs, has befuddled me.
We are always in search of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding in the Bible; always looking for some revelation that would instantly change our life. I now understand that this is not how the Bible works but rather that over long periods of time consistent and in-depth study of the Word, the truths of the Bible become engrained in our mind and soul. It is through those truths that we come to know God more and to more fully understand the depth of his incomprehensible love. Through these things, we begin to have a desire to love God and bring him glory in everything we do. As we live as Christ has called us to, we will experience more of God working in our lives.
But still, we are still constantly in search of and asking in prayer for wisdom, understanding, love, compassion, desire and ect.. I read a verses such as Psalms 111:10 which says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.” Proverbs refers to the ‘fear of the Lord’ multiple times, always referring to the things that come along with fearing the Lord such as long life, wisdom, understanding, and humility among a few others. The phrase is always spoken as so matter of fact, as if it is common sense and everyone should have no problem what so ever in doing this, with the greatest things we could ever ask for as the consequence.
Of course I want to fear the Lord! But what exactly does it mean? How do i actually fear the Lord? Of this question I have remained perplexed.
A starting place for me was determining what I thought the phrase was and what it wasn’t. I do think that the phrase does mean being scared of the Creator of the world. All through the Old Testament we are given situations such as God touching Mount Sinai and fire, smoke, clouds, thunder and lightening were covering the mountain and the people were terrified to approach the mountain. Every time that men encountered angels or God in a form of heavenly glory, the men were said to be terrified to the point of being immobilized or falling on their faces, speechless. In Luke’s account of the Transfiguration, when the cloud and voice of God appeared the disciples were said to be ‘afraid.’ I bring these verses us because I think that the idea of God’s presence and glory in some sense is something that we should be afraid of. In a way. The presence of God, when experienced on earth is something we will be afraid of. Of that aspect, the Bible is clear.
Why? Because God is God. For God to be God, I must believe that he is perfect: perfectly just, yet perfectly loving, all powerful, all knowing, eternal, and everything else that we believe God to be. These things make God hate sin; the only thing that separates us from being in relationship with Him. Therefore, he promises because he loves us that he will eradicate all sin and punish those who are living in sin. Hence, Jesus’ sacrifice.
This fear of Thee God of gods and the wrath he will extend towards sin on the earth should make people scared. As Christians we are not afraid of it because we are saved, but it does not cause us to become apathetic towards others eminent demise without Christ. What the ‘fear of the Lord’ cannot be is a fear that paralyzes us from doing anything from fear of sinning or angering the Lord.
Yet through understanding all this, it sheds no light on how we practically fear the Lord, let alone how it leads to wisdom, understanding, life, and all of those other things, beyond simply a fear that motivates you to reading the Word and living the life Christ calls us to live. While on what the right way to ‘fear the Lord’ I cannot say I have any revelation, I have recently experienced what I believe to be the ‘fear of the Lord.’
(I wrote this blog the day after this experience, but for unknown reasons it was deleted and I am only rewriting the blog nearly a month later) It happened in Malawi one night. It was a normal day of ministry with nothing out of the ordinary happening. While laying in bed Tom and I had a discussion for some reason about our fears. Fears about dying, having someone else die, the dark, and all those things which grown men such as ourselves are afraid of haha. But the conversation ended with our rejection of watching scary movies because of a fear of the truths of demons and such. It was not a happy topic and thus was unnerving, but it did not end with giving the devil and power because of us lingering on the ways he is able to attack us. We ended remembering and rejoicing in the almighty power of our Lord who has destroyed sin and crushed the head of the devil like the evil snake he is.
Yet, the unsettled feeling would not leave me. After trying to sleep for some short time after Tom and I closed with prayer, I was wide awake with an eery feeling sitting over myself. I prayed and prayed for guidance, for wisdom, for protection from the attacks of the evil one. My mind was wondering to odd and negative thoughts because of the uneasiness i was experiencing. I knew that what was going on was not of myself. I knew it was of spiritual nature of some sort and this made me afraid. All the while, I could not stop praying. I prayed and prayed and prayed from midnight until 3am, wide awake, for no apparent reason. Until 3:30 am.
At 3:30 am I heard the gate to the compound open and someone very carefully and slowly walking up to the front door of the house. They quietly opened the first door before getting stuck at the locked main door. They fidgeted around and tried to force the door open once or twice before turning around and walking around the side of the house. They went towards a window where 3 or 4 of the girls on my team were sleeping and the person, or thing, or whatever it was stood there for quite some time. Mind you there is a guard dog, who was renown for causing some serious injuries to intruders in the night, who all the while stood in the corner weeping. The person then made their way out of the compound.
I was immobilized during the entire 30-45 minutes. All I could do and all I felt pulled to do was to pray, and pray I did. It hit me a few minutes after that the unsettled feeling and fear, may not have been a spiritual attack but rather the Holy Spirit waking me up, keeping me up, and urging me to pray. I proceeded to wake Tom up and blab the entire thing to him at 4am. We prayed and I finally felt peace and was able to sleep.
I truly believe now that the fear I felt was that of the direct presence and protection of the Lord. I was confirmed in some way the next day by two teammates claiming they also could not sleep a majority of the night, feeling a fear and an urge to pray for whatever reason. They heard someone or something moving outside their window and had that feeling of being watched. I say ‘something’ because I believe whoever was out there had an evil intent to cause harm and not simply steal something due to the strong presence of the Lord urging us to pray so diligently as well as the actions of the dog.
All this to say, during this experience I am becoming more convinced that one aspect of the ‘fear of the Lord’ is an action fear. A fear of the presence of spiritual forces that you know are so much greater than yourself. A feeling of being insignificant and helpless to the power that is speaking/surrounding you.
Exactly what this felt like, I cannot adequately explain and for that I apologize.
But maybe some of you have had similar experiences. Or you have other thoughts/advice concerning this issue of what the ‘fear of the Lord’ is and more of how we as Christians are supposed to ‘fear’ the Lord.