Devotional Thoughts for Today
2 Kings 17: 34-41 (NIV)
To this day they do according to the former manner. They do not fear the Lord, and they do not follow the statutes or the rules or the law or the commandment that the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel. 35 The Lord made a covenant with them and commanded them, “You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them, 36 but you shall fear the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm. You shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice. 37 And the statutes and the rules and the law and the commandment that he wrote for you, you shall always be careful to do. You shall not fear other gods, 38 and you shall not forget the covenant that I have made with you. You shall not fear other gods, 39 but you shall fear the Lord your God, and he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.” 40 However, they would not listen, but they did according to their former manner. 41 So these nations feared the Lord and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children’s children—as their fathers did, so they do to this day.
In modern Christianity, it is rare to talk about a proper fear of God. We often present a one dimensional view of God as one who is loving; and we are almost embarrassed to reveal the other aspects of His character, such as His wrath, jealousy, and hatred of sin. Perhaps for that reason, comedians make fun of God as thousands laugh without any fear of God’s anger. There are screenwriters and actors who make up their own versions of God, and we have become so desensitized to it, calling it entertainment. The world has not only become irreligious, but it has become irreverent. A generation ago, no one would have dared to vandalize and desecrate a church, let alone walk in with the intent of harming people in the midst of prayer and worship.
People don’t fear God any more—and that has a lot to do with what is wrong with the world today. Unfortunately, part of the blame is on us because preachers don’t preach it and believers don’t believe it. We would rather hold onto a god of our own design who turns a blind eye to sin and is indifferent towards evil. This is simply not true. Let’s not forget what God says about Himself— that He is a jealous God, a God who reigns down judgment on the wicked. He is the God who hates sin and will ultimately judge the world. This is the God who sits on the throne of heaven and created the world through a single breath of His word, and who can end our existence with the same word.
In the Hebrew, the word for fear and worship are actually interchangeable. To truly worship God, there must be a healthy dose of reverence and awe. God is to be feared because of His power, His greatness, and His holiness. The Scriptures remind us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of learning how to live wisely. When we see but a glimpse of God’s glory, the natural reaction of sinful man is to flee from the presence of such beauty, perfection, and might, and to deal with our sin. Once this healthy fear is lost, we are prone to ignore God’s warnings; and like the Israelites, we cast off restraint and live according to our own desires.
Heavenly Father, we believe that You are good to your children and like a good Father, You discipline the ones You love. Help us to submit ourselves under Your loving discipline and to acknowledge the need to worship You from a place of reverence and awe. Help us to see that a proper fear of the living God leads to a life of wisdom and blessing. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 25
Lunch Break Study
See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” f 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”
Questions to Consider:
- Why are Christians under greater judgment for not listening to God?
- What is the voice of God capable of doing?
- Why should we worship God acceptably with reverence and awe?
- In the Old Testament, the people stood in fear as they heard the voice of God from Mt. Sinai and were judged greatly for disobeying those commands. In Christ, we have heard a voice from heaven, greater than a voice from an earthly mountain; therefore, we are under a greater judgment when we reject His commands.
- The voice of God is capable of removing everything that can be shaken—meaning God can destroy the temporary things of heaven and earth at a mere command. This is how God will usher in the new heaven and the new earth.
- As on Mount Sinai, God is a consuming fire that can destroy everything that stands against His purpose; therefore, we should worship Him with a healthy sense of fear.
I believe that God does not want us to constantly live in fear of Him, for His perfect love should cast out unreasonable fear. He does not want us to be afraid of Him needlessly, but would rather that we fellowship and dwell with Him, growing in our love relationship. Yet at the same time, He wants us to know that He hates sin, especially the sin in our lives. This is where a proper fear of a holy God should come into play: Because He is patient and slow to anger, there are limits that should not be pushed. To fall under the discipline of God is a frightening proposition. If there is habitual sin in your life, turn to the Lord for He will not refuse you, and seek the help of fellow believers, pastors, and counselors to help you overcome that sin.