Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Fear the Lord”
Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid[d] and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” 21 The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.
When I was younger, my mom disciplined my siblings and me whenever we misbehaved. Like many Asian parents, the means of her discipline ranged from clothe hangers to rolling pins. I remember vividly our mom telling us to kneel on the kitchen floor to receive our punishment. Because we feared these punishments, my siblings and I eventually learned to obey.
In this passage, as the Israelites were listening to the Lord giving them the Ten Commandments, they witnessed a trembling sight on the mountain. They heard thunder and the sound of trumpets; they saw flashes of lighting blazing across the mountain; in fact, there was smoke on the top of mountain. Understandably, they became so fearful at this sight that they no longer wanted to directly hear the voice of the Lord. Rather, they wanted the Lord to speak only to Moses and then have Moses speak to them. However, in verse 20, Moses reassures them that their fear was positive and healthy because it will keep them from sinning.
In our society, fear has become an entirely negative word. There are so many social media posts that encourage people to overcome their fear of failure. Even in our faith, we often quote verses such as 1 John 4:18 (“There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear”) or Joshua 1:9 (“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged”). These verses are spoken over people to encourage them. Certainly, it is important to be free from fear; nevertheless, Moses is reminding us that not all fear is unhealthy. In fact, Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” This fear was meant to keep the Israelites from walking away from their destiny to be God’s instrument to bless other nations. It is not simply about behaving correctly, but being concerned with what God desires rather than what we desire.
This morning, reflect on this question, “Do you fear the Lord?” Like the Israelites, God desires us to be a blessing to others. However, the first step of becoming that blessing is to fear the Lord.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You that You are a God who loves us. However, because of culture and preference, I have forgotten to fear You. Please instill this healthy fear, so that I can walk in wisdom and become a blessing to those around me. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Romans 10
Lunch Break Study
Read Acts 5:1-11: Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
Questions to Consider
- What sin did Ananias and Sapphira commit?
- What was the purpose of Peter asking Sapphira a second time concerning the property?
- What was the result of the death of Ananias and Sapphira?
- Ananias and Sapphira sold their land in order to give the proceeds to the church. However, after Satan entered their heart, they decided to withhold some of the money. They thought they could get recognition from the church for being generous while keeping some of the money for themselves.
- Peter asked Sapphira a second time because the Lord had mercy upon Sapphira. He did not want Sapphira to suffer the same fate as her husband.
- When the church saw and heard what happened to Ananias and Sapphira, it instilled a great fear in the whole church. They knew that God desired holiness, and that their sin had consequences.
As you reflect on this morning’s passage, what are some reasons why we have become desensitized to the fear of the Lord? How do you feel this has affected you or the church?