Fear & Love God
When we fear God it takes us closer into the fullness of His glory and His love, filling our whole being with power, love and self control and the fear of all else becomes trivial.

Fear & Love God

            God is revealed in the Scripture as a loving God for He is love, while on the other side we are commanded to enter into His presence with fear and trembling. We, who believe and receive the Son of God as our Redeemer, are blessed and filled by His grace to be children and family members of God, while those who reject Him are destined for hell fires till eternity. In actual fact what should be our relationship with God that we may rejoice in His love while also remain protected from His anger?

            What sort of relationship does God desire from us? The All-knowing Almighty God called out to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, ‘Where are you?’ (Genesis 3:9). The call was not to find out their whereabouts but a cry of a loving Creator to His children why they were not there to meet Him at the appointed place.  As per Rashi, The Jewish Rabbi, God desired to have a conversation with them in love to avoid frightening them. Adam and Eve had received God’s blessings in material form in the Garden in all the fruits and through obedience of all the animals and beasts of the field. Then what caused such fear in their minds to hide from Him? On the other hand Cain had killed his brother Abel and still tried to brazen it out with God when asked by God by saying, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper’ (Genesis 4:9). Cain tried to hide his sin from God while Adam attempted to hide himself. We cannot do either of the two from God who created all of mankind to have a close relationship with them, despite their capacity to sin by misusing the free will given to them.

              All of creation was created by the Word of God and only in creating man all the Three Members of the Holy Trinity joined and ‘the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life’, a part of Himself (Genesis 2:7). Moses in his final instructions said, ‘And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul’ (Deuteronomy 10:12). A God who in His love for us has provided all that we need, expects nothing from us in return except our love. Fear of God is to express our gratitude to Him for what He has provided.

             In like manner, reciting a blessing before eating is acknowledging His Divine presence in our life and also think about the inner spiritual aspects of eating. Lord Jesus quoted Scripture to the devil in answer to his suggestion to miraculously turn stones into bread and eat, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4). The food that we eat is the result of God investing His Divine will and energy in creating everything in the beginning. While eating we receive the physical matter but also the life spark that God invested in creating it.

              The Hebrew word for love is ‘ahavah’ with its root in ‘hav’ which means to give and giving is the root of love. Love is not about me, the lover, but about the other, the one being loved. In love ego is put aside to fulfill the needs and desires of the other. Apostle John experienced the love of Lord Jesus from close quarters to say, ‘God is love’ and He desires nothing but love from us (1 John 4:8). Two persons in a drunken state were talking to each other, while one was saying to the other, ‘I love you’, to which the other replied, ‘no, you don’t’. But the first person insisted, ‘I love you with all my heart’. The second drunk then told him, ‘If you love me, why don’t you know what hurts me?’ What he implied was that if the first one loved him, he would have known the reason for his drinking and helped soothe his hurt feelings.

            True love is not about how you feel in someone else’s presence but how you make them feel in your presence. Love that we see all around us is infatuation which is physical and fades away after satiation of the lust. God’s love for us is ‘agape love’ which is about grace and mercy to the most undeserving through thoughtfulness and selfless giving. This love is action oriented and not about feelings only. True love then creates fear lest the beloved be hurt by my actions. Feelings keep us focused on ourselves while action shifts the focus to the other. King David exhorts us to ‘Serve the LORD with fear and trembling’ (Psalm 2:11). The Hebrew word ‘yirah’ means ‘fear, reverence’ and is used more for reverence. What David is saying is not fear of punishment but fear of a ruined relationship with God due to our sinful living.

               Apostle Paul’s message to the congregation in Philippi was, ‘continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His purpose’ (Philippians 2:13). Many teach that we can lose our salvation by not working for it whereas the message is to express the love of God towards others with humility and respect, for God works in believers to act as per His purpose towards our sanctification. Trembling is not about physical weakness but spiritual, to express our complete dependence on God. That is the type of relationship God desires to have with His people where He becomes and remains the only source for all of their needs. It is like the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years were covered by the pillar of cloud and wall of fire, that protected, provided for them manna from heaven, strengthened them physically and led them into the Promised Land.

               How to open our hearts to God in fear and trembling? Lord Jesus prayed to God the Father three times, the same prayer, in Gethsemane Park, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will’ (Matthew 26:39-44). The very purpose of His coming as Man was to the Redeemer of mankind in fulfillment of the prophecy of Genesis 3:15. How could He then seek an answer to such a request for letting Him escape the sufferings? The prayer of Gethsemane Park is not about escaping physical suffering but the spiritual agony of a Son who had never ever been spiritually separated from His Father, which would definitely happen when our sins were heaped up on Him on the cross.

             Satan was happy to see Lord Jesus’ crucifiction and death, for till then nobody had ever ascended into heaven after death. Lord Jesus emphatically declared, ‘I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again’ (John 10:17-18 ). His prayer was opening up His heart to the Father in heaven, about the agony of separation, even though for a very short duration. Love does not mean to always toe the line but to express his opinion fearlessly with the understanding that he will be understood by the other party. The Son of God, while praying in Gethsemane Park was fully aware of the love of the Father and that the LORD searches the heart and examines the mind to uncover what is the hidden purpose of anything we speak (Jeremiah 17:10).

             The LORD God commanded Abraham, ‘Take your son, the son you love-Isaac- and go to the land of Moriah. Offer him there as a burnt offering’ (Genesis 22:2). This was the son of the blessing through whom ‘all the nations’ were to receive the blessings. God’s command to Abraham was about his love and reverence for Him and that set the limit to what this could reach. This love for God is beyond the universal rules that bind humans to one another. Our religious life oscillates between victory and defeat, majesty and humility, master and servant and in this God commands to let go of the most loved possession for His ways are beyond our ways (Isaiah 55:8). God did not desire human sacrifice for that would give license to the human bombs. Isaac was no longer a child and the love of both father and son for God was tested and in like manner Jacob was also tested by God. Lord Jesus quoted what Moses was told by the LORD (Matthew 22:32), ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ for God desires an individual relationship with each of His children and deals with each one of us individually (Exodus 3:6).

            Before his death, Moses’ final message to the Israelites is in the Book of Deuteronomy, called ‘Devarim’ in Hebrew, meaning the ‘words’ and in this Book, two words are repeated more frequently. First ‘shema’ meaning listen, understand and obey appears 91 times and the word ‘ahav’ for love is used 45 times in the Old Testament. Our LORD God, who has chosen us is unlike anyone else, for He listens to us, to those who follow Him and are loyal to Him. The simplest yet difficult way to express love is through attentive listening and then responding and doing what you hear. The Shema command from Moses and also from God the Father is about the same, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him’ (Matthew 17:5).

         Invariably in our prayers or otherwise, we are more concerned about telling God what we desire rather than listening to Him to find out what He desires of us. The reason given by most people is, ‘I never hear His voice or the Lord does not speak to me’. Prophet Elijah introduced himself to king Ahab of Israel that he stands before the LORD God and then declared about no rain on the land for three years, and it was so (1 Kings 17:1). Later he defeated and caused the killing of 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Ashera through God’s hand.  But filled with fear at Jezebel, the queen’s threat, he fled to ‘Horeb, the mountain of God’. There ‘the LORD passed by’ but He was not in the great and strong wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire that followed (1 Kings 19:11-14). God spoke in a ‘still small voice’ and repeated His question, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah’. We tend to seek God in great miraculous things while running away from where He wants us to be, out of fear, for self glory or to avoid a situation while He is always ready to talk to us.

           Moses assured the Israelites that God ‘will not leave you nor forsake you’ and the same promise was made by God to Joshua (Joshua 1:5). The writer to the Hebrews, repeated the same message of assurance to believers (Hebrews 13:5). A God who repeatedly says about being with us, not out of some necessity but His love, cannot be happy to be a silent spectator in the happenings of our lives. But are we not tuned in to listen to His voice and try and look into His heart to see the hurt that we have caused to Him by our words and deeds. Apostle John implies this situation, ‘If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9). This letter was addressed by Apostle John to the believers and we must earnestly seek not only forgiveness and cleansing but also guidance and strength to hear and follow His Word.

              What to expect in our walk of fear and love of God? The true identity of a believer is that he belongs to the ‘chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light’ (1 Peter 2:9). He has chosen us to bless us in innumerable ways. Lord Jesus has blessed us and given us ‘authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you’ (Luke 10:19). The greatest challenge for a believer is to live in faith in these blessings, hearing and following His written Word and under the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

          The only recorded prayer of our Lord reveals another great blessing given to us, believers, for Lord Jesus declared to God the Father in heaven, ‘the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as we are one; I in them, and You in Me’ (John 17:22-23). His desire for all believers is to see them as one in faith and for that the glory is given to us. Apostle Paul identifies Lord Jesus as the Second Adam and a life giving spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45). Thus the glory of Adam at the time of creation is restored to us by the Lord, enabling us to be in God’s presence, be victorious and exercise dominion.  The fear of the Lord is the fear of falling away from such a loving God and then suffering the consequences of our action as listed by Moses in Deuteronomy 28:15-65. – Living in His love and obedience, we shall be made the head and not the tail but in disobedience, ‘cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out’.

            Even when one is away from the LORD God due to sin, He still calls and assures us of His love, saying, ‘then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you’ (Jeremiah 29:12-13). This loving God assures us that though a mother may forget her nursing child, He will never (Isaiah 49:15). King David, the man of God’s heart experienced and lived in the fullness of God’s love and fear (Psalm 9:1-3). He could rejoice and sing praises to God and seek God’s permission to build a magnificent house for God to dwell in Jerusalem. But when denied, he did not grumble and complain but continued to make preparations and explained the detailed design to Solomon, his son while contributing a massive amount of gold, silver and other precious things from his own resources.

          We can be like Judas Iscariot, who betrayed His Lord for his expectation of establishment of an earthly rule were dashed by the suffering Messiah. Or we can be like Apostle Simon Peter who grieved over his desertion and was restored back to the close relationship and entrusted with great responsibilities for the future. King David said, taste and see that the LORD is good and anyone who once enjoys this pleasure continues to live a life full of love and reverence for Him. Moses was commanded by God from the Burning Bush to take off his sandals for the place had become holy due to presence of the LORD God. How much are we transformed with the presence of the Holy Spirit in us? But do we ever feel and live as being perpetually in the presence of God!! 

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