He Makes Me Tremble

John (not his real name) was a fearless toddler, a foster child in our care, a long time ago. The tyke who could not, or would not recognize dangers, big or small, required constant supervision. In spite of our vigilance, he was constantly injuring himself, with falls, scrapes, and burns. He is a prime example of the way that healthy fear serves us well!  The Word tells us that “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:7, NLT)  Life makes sense when we begin with the right perspective about who we are and Who God is;  with reverential worship, with awe, with humility.

David’s inspired words are 3,000 years old but they might have been written today. “Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts. They have no fear of God at all. In their blind conceit, they cannot see how wicked they really are. Everything they say is crooked and deceitful. They refuse to act wisely or do good.” (Psalm 36:1-3, NLT) Like little John who did not perceive the danger of the deep end of the swimming pool or the possibility of a tumble down a long stairway, if we lose our fear of the Lord, we will refuse His direction. In our headlong pursuit of a way that seems right to us, we will do great harm to ourselves and others.  The proverb is true- “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” (Proverbs 16:25, NLT)

Are you raising an objection to the ‘fear of the Lord’ insisting that “God is a loving Father?”  He is! But our theology today is so unbalanced in the direction of His grace that we forget His is also the One to Whom each of us will give an account.  A tragedy of modern Christianity is the how much of the Scripture we ignore about the judgment of God that is reserved for those who refuse to fear and serve Him.

Have you ever watched a weak, ineffective parent, one who has been convinced that the child must always be coddled and comforted, try to provide guidance to a toddler? That two year-old will slap, kick, and be generally obnoxious when he figures out that he is charge of his world. A wise parent knows that while he is his child’s protector and advocate, he is not a buddy pal. He will endure that child’s anger by giving fair, firm, and consistent guidance without the endless negotiations that are so common to this age of parenting. A good parent projects wisdom that invites their child to submit to their guidance. Early on, the wise parent teaches their little one to trust and obey, because that is the best way to avoid danger and harm.

If we Christians are taught only the grace of God, if we only learn of Jesus, as our Friend, but never understand that He is our Lord; we will never develop that awe that causes us to bow our knees before God’s will. In truth, we must know that God owns us (a definition of being holy). He is to be revered, and yet so often we trivialize His demands. Moses went before the people of Israel and taught them that the ‘fear of the Lord’ was not just a phrase. It is a way of life. “These are all the commands, laws, and regulations that the Lord your God told me to teach you so you may obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy, and so you and your children and grandchildren might fear the Lord your God as long as you live. If you obey all his laws and commands, you will enjoy a long life. Listen closely, Israel, to everything I say. Be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you, and you will have many children in the land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.” (Deuteronomy 6:1-3, NLT)

He went to tell them to integrate God’s word into their lives. A real respect, a holy awe, is not just for visits to cathedrals or for Sunday mornings in church! “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-9, NIV)

Do you know Him in His fullness, or have you only glimpsed a part of Who He is? Is your only concept of God based on the gentle Jesus or have you also seen the fearsome Lord of the Revelation of John?  He is both! We will find a healthy fear of the Lord when we know that He is Savior and Lord.  Oh may God restore in us a deep sense of awe that causes us to tremble before Him, to love Him with our whole heart, to serve Him without excuses or reservations.

Here’s a word from the Word. Have you formed your own god, a worthless god? Or, have you desired to know the Living God? “This is what the LORD says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them. For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.” No one is like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. Who should not revere you, O King of the nations? This is your due. Among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you.” (Jeremiah 10:2-7, NIV)

Good and Gracious King
(a song of worshipful awe from CityALight)

I approach the throne of glory
Nothing in my hands I bring
But the promise of acceptance
From a good and gracious King

 I will give to You my burden
As You give to me Your strength
Come and fill me with Your Spirit
As I sing to You this praise

 You deserve the greater glory
Overcome, I lift my voice
To the King in need of nothing
Empty handed I rejoice

 You deserve the greater glory
Overcome with joy I sing
By Your love I am accepted
You’re a good and gracious King

 O what grace that You would see me\
As Your child and as Your friend
Safe, secure in You forever
I pour out my praise again

 Holy, holy, Lord Almighty
Good and gracious
Good and gracious
Holy, holy, Lord Almighty
Good and gracious King

Words and music by Jonny Robinson, James Ferguson, Michael Farren

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