Reverence of God

The fear of the Lord is not merely an Old Testament matter. Peter urges, “Fear God” (I Peter 2:17). Jude, the brother of Jesus warned that infiltrators had penetrated the fellowship of the church and were virtually undetected. He called them ‘spots’ in the love feasts, dangerous apostates. The word is spilas, the term used to cause a ship to spill its contents as it runs on a hidden ledge of rock, a reef just under the surface of the water. The term was used of men who by their conduct wrecked others morally. Their most telling mark, they “feast with you without fear,” a reference to the table of the Lord. In their lack of reverence, they “serve only themselves.” The absence of the fear of God renders them as impotent; empty clouds with no hope of rain; as autumn trees void of fruit, twice dead and rootless (Jude 1:12). Jude gives the image of these men as being blown about by the winds, an inference of the spirit world.

John Murray says, “The fear of God is the soul of godliness.”[1] Jerry Bridges in his wonderful book, The Joy of Fearing God, says “the fear of God is the animating and invigorating principle of a godly life. It is the wellspring of all godly desires and aspirations.”[2] Murray calls it “… the reflux in our consciousness of the transcendent majesty and holiness of God.”[3]

When the disciples were on the sea with Jesus, he stilled the winds and calmed the storm, and Mark notes, “And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!’” (Mark 4:41). This is not a fear of the storm, but a fear of Jesus. Paul urges obedience on the believers at Philippi. They were to work out their salvation with ‘fear and trembling’ (Philippians 2:12).

Deuteronomy 13:4 gives us the fruit of an appropriate fear of God. Men who fear him, “walk after the LORD …. keep His commandments and obey His voice … [they] serve Him and hold fast to Him.” King Saul feared the people more than he feared the Lord (I Samuel 15:24). And whom you fear, you obey. Isaiah 50:10 equates the two – fear and obedience are conjoined.  Such a person, the prophet says, ‘has no light.’ The renewal under Haggai is rooted in a restoration of the fear of the Lord. “… all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD … and the people feared the presence of the LORD” (Haggai 1:12).

Adapted from The Praying Church Handbook, Volume I, Foundations, a new resource by Alive Publications.


[1] John Murray, Principles of Conduct (Grand Rapids: MI; Eerdmans, 1957), 229.

[2] Bridges, 25.

[3] Murray, 236-237; Bridges, 25.

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