The fear of the Lord

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From “How to become a Christian”: Chapter 6 – The bad news first – sin and its consequences.

The reality is that the Bible tells us that “our God is a consuming fire” and that we are to fear and respect Him.  Consider the following passages. I will put in capital letters each of the references to the “fear of God” or the “fear of the Lord” to illustrate how clearly the concept is emphasised in the Bible.  There are many other verses too, which I could have added:

Let all the earth FEAR the LORD;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.

Psalm 33:8 (NASB)

The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to FEAR, he is the one you are to DREAD,

Isaiah 8:13 (NIV)

28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29FOR OUR “GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE.” 

Hebrews 12:28-29 (NIV)

18Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who FEAR Him,
On those who hope for His lovingkindness,  

Psalm 33:18 (NASB)

Yet the reality is that most of mankind does not fear God. On the contrary, it ignores and despises Him:

There is no FEAR of God before their eyes

Romans 3:18 (NIV)

To get a picture of God’s Holiness and the awe and reverence we need to feel towards Him, imagine the Niagara Falls.  If you were to go too close to the edge, then the immense power of that waterfall would sweep you away to your death. Yet if that happened, it would not be the fault of the waterfall.  It is in the very nature of the Niagara Falls that it has colossal power.  You therefore treat it with respect and fear.  You would be a fool not to fear the Niagara Falls. 

That is partly what is meant when the Bible repeatedly tells us that we need to fear God.  It is a consistent theme emphasised throughout the whole Bible.  Here are some more verses to prove that fact and to prove that I am not over stating any of this or taking it out of context:

Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to FEAR me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!    

Deuteronomy 5:29 (NIV)

13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter: 
FEAR GOD and keep his commandments, 
for this is the whole duty of man. 
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (NIV)

49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me holy is his name 50His mercy extends to those who FEAR HIM him from generation to generation.   

Luke 1:49-50 (NIV)

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
FEAR THE LORD and shun evil

Proverbs 3:7 (NIV)

1At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2He and all his family were devout and GOD-FEARING; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. 

Acts 10:1-2 (NIV)

26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only A FEARFUL EXPECTATION OF JUDGMENT and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31IT IS A DREADFUL THING TO FALL INTO THE HANDS OF THE LIVING GOD.

Hebrews 10:26-31 (NIV)
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