To Fear Or Not To Fear Part 2
by pastor Andy Lauer
Each of these devotional blogs entries is meant to be read on your own or if you have family or friends you live with, to be read together aloud. A suggestion is to do this after you have dinner around the table together. At the conclusion, please spend time in personal reflection or in sharing with one another your answers to the questions at the end. Be sure to conclude with prayer.
Read Proverbs chapter 1
The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7, KJV)
If you read along with us yesterday, you’ll remember that I reminded us of the Bible’s clear call to be fearless in the midst of difficult and perilous times because God, our Helper, our Strength, our Upholder is right there with us. All of that is unequivocally true. At the same time, certainly some of you wondered astutely to yourself, “Doesn’t the Bible also tell us that we should actually fear? As in “fear the LORD”? If you wondered that, you are certainly right. The Bible encourages us both to fear and not to fear.
Obviously, the Bible is either, wrong, confused, or there is something else going on here.
As I share from time to time with you when I’m preaching, we need to recognize that, as the Apostle Paul says, “All I know now is partial and incomplete” (1 Cor. 13:9), and as God said through the prophet Isaiah, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8). In other words, when something in the Bible seems contradictory or incorrect, the problem is not with God’s Word, but with our finite and frail minds; our ability to comprehend all of God’s thoughts is encumbered by our fallenness. We simply don’t have the capacity to fully grasp clearly and perfectly every facet of Scripture. The Bible is correct when it tells us both to fear and not to fear. So how can this be?
Two things will help us answer this important question (the second we’ll look at tomorrow). First, we need a little grammar lesson. In most sentences in English, there are three basic parts: the subject, the verb, and the object. The verb is the action being done. The subject is the one doing the action. The object is the one receiving the action. For example, in the sentence “Fear the LORD” the subject is “you (implied)”, the verb is “fear” and the object is “the LORD.” This is important to understand as we seek to answer the above question, and let me explain why.
Yesterday, we were encouraged not to fear. You and I are the subjects of that command. The verb is “do not fear”. The subject, and this is very important, is whatever trial or enemy we face. In other words, we are commanded/encouraged to not fear anything that could harm or hinder us—again, because God is with us. Jesus himself said as much, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matt. 10:28)
However, in Scriptures like the one at the beginning of today’s devtional: “Fear the LORD,” the subject is still us (you, implied), the verb has changed from “do not fear” to “fear”, but the object has also changed! Yes, the Bible is indeed telling us to fear, but it is telling us to fear a different object: the Lord. Notice what Jesus says in the second half of Matthew 10:28, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both the soul and body in hell.” Jesus is saying there is nothing on earth we should fear—even things and people that can kill the body, but that there is a God in heaven, who has power over both the body and the soul, whom we should consider with a sense of fear and awe.
Fear the Lord? Fear God? It sounds foreign to our ears. Is God really someone of whom we should be afraid? Tomorrow, I’m going to dig into this deeper and provide a Biblical answer for what it means to “Fear the LORD.” Join me then for To Fear or Not to Fear, Part 3.
Pray together or on your own:
Spend some time in prayer today asking God, by His Holy Spirit, to help you understand the Bible more clearly and more accurately. Ask Him to help you not fear anything in this world, but to have an appropriate sense of respect, awe, and reverence for God and His Word.
Reflect with someone else or on your own:
- What are some of the parts of Scripture that you have had difficulty synthesizing together? In other words, what are some parts that have seemed contradictory to you?
- How do 1 Corinthians 13:9 and Isaiah 55:8 help you with parts of Scripture that seem at odds with one another?
- Are you finding it easier or harder to deal with fear during this current Coronavirus pandemic?
- How does understanding the different subjects of the sentences mentioned above help you understand the different ways Scripture speaks of fear? How does it help you deal with any fears you may have related to Coronavirus?