We’ve been talking about what it means to “fear” the Lord. So far, we know …
- Its importance: it is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).
- Its purpose: to keep us from sinning (Exodus 20:20).
Today we consider what the fear of the Lord is by meditating on Isaiah 8:12-14.
Do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts . . . Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary.
How can God be our fear and sanctuary – after all, when you fear one person, don’t you hope another person rescues you? Similarly, as we discussed on Friday, how could Moses tell the Israelites not to be afraid while also telling them to have the fear of God in their hearts?
To illustrate. Although my 2-year-old niece Isabelle loves to obey her parents, she disobeyed her dad on Saturday. While searching for a missing shoe, she systematically looked inside each of the drawers in her kiddie kitchen. Upon discovering that the shoe was not in each drawer, she promptly threw the drawer. Her dad gently said, “Now, Isabelle, don’t throw those drawers. If you throw another one, you’ll go to time out.” Sure enough, she threw a drawer and then went to time out. She screamed the entire ten seconds of time out. When her dad picked her up, she laid her head on his shoulder, grasped his arms, and refused to be held by anyone else.
The fear that Isabelle experienced in time out is similar to the fear of the Lord that the Psalmist and Moses discuss – namely, a fear of losing the love and favor of the Father. Isabelle feared being out of favor with her dad forever – even though he himself knew that he loved her unconditionally and completely. How much less torment and fear would she have had to experience had she simply obeyed him and not thrown that drawer?
Like Isabelle, we have a Father who loves us unconditionally – even though we may question it. Although he lovingly disciplines us, he would rather us not disobey him at all so that we never wonder whether his love is unconditional. Accordingly, we’re told to put the fear of the Lord in our hearts now so that we will keep from disobeying and, thereby, getting ourselves in time out. So, let us strive to fear losing the favor and love of the Father because there is no better sanctuary in all of creation than that of the Father’s arms.
Cross-reference passages: To fear the Lord means to be blessed by him (Psalm 25:44, Psalm 31:19, Psalm 34:7, Psalm 103:11, 13, Psalm 145:19). God makes incomparable promises to those who fear him (Psalm 33:18, Psalm 147:11).