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Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

Now all has been heard and this is the conclusion: fear God and keep His commandments. It says the whole “duty” of man but the original meaning is better stated by saying it is “the whole of man”. In other words, fearing God completes us and makes us into what God created us for.

You may find yourself having to admit that the idea of the “fear of God” is not a reality for you. You haven’t reached to any degree a point in your Christian walk where the awesome greatness and power of God creates any feelings of wonder, reverence and amazement in your heart. Maybe you’ve never had the urge to fall flat on your face, to hide, and be totally gripped in reverence presence of a power so far superior, so incredibly overwhelming and so consuming that you can literally feel your human strength drain away at the mere thought of God’s presence.

If that seems a strange idea to you, maybe you have a “proximity” deficiency. Proximity means to be very close to something, to be within its immediate area of influence, to be near to the actual presence. Proximity makes something real.


  • the region close around a person or thing
  • immediately preceding or following
  • very near : close : imminent

In the mornings, I like to read my Bible aloud and pray while walking the perimeter of our church parking lot. On the corner of our property, there is an electric company substation that is securely fenced in. It’s that type of fence and solid construction that clearly gives you the impression you would be making a big mistake should you decide to climb over it.

All our life we are educated about the dangers of electricity. I was warned many times about the dangers of power lines and not flying a kite near them. We are instructed to stay away from fallen power lines and the awful consequences of not heeding that warning. So I have always been aware of how dangerous, powerful and fearsome these electrical lines were. Even so, because I had never been close to them, they still didn’t invoke the respect from me that I have now. They just looked like metal rope strung from pole to pole running down each street. They never really got my attention.

Then I began walking close to this power substation in the morning. It is scary to think of being inside that fence! First you have this ominous hum and buzz that penetrates you completely through and through. There are these coils and metal casings with thick cables and insulators everywhere. Everything about this fenced areas says DANGER! STAY OUT! You can sense the incredible power and it leaves no doubt as to what the result of foolishness or irreverent curiosity would be.

The difference is PROXIMITY. Being close to power makes it real. Being within the immediate vicinity creates an appropriate fear. Being within the reach of its immediate effects results in a proper understanding of how feeble I am compared to it. And no matter how well you describe it, you can’t really understand it until you have been there yourself.

If that doesn’t hit home with you, think about these other examples:

  • Fire – everyone knows the danger of fire and how insignificant we can be in the face of its fury. Imagine yourself trapped in a burning building. The proximity of the fire would make it more real to you that it could ever be by just having a knowledge of it.
  • Natural disaster – where I live, it’s tornadoes. For you it might be hurricanes or earthquakes. We all have a head knowledge about the destructive power of these incredible natural occurrences. But, ask anyone who has ever been trapped in the path of a tornado, or inside a building being rocked by an earthquake if they have a different respect for them!. They will never see those events the same way again. Proximity has brought them an understanding that can never be gained any other way except by being in the imminent area of affect.
  • Automobiles – everyone is taught the power and danger of motorized vehicles. We have seatbelts and airbags to protect us from the power of a ton of steel hurdling down the road. The human body is no match for the force, weight and destruction that can be the result of a collision. The thought of a car wreck is scary. Many of us have been in minor to moderate collisions, and we have a new found respect for the helplessness produced in that moment of crisis. For those of you who have survived major collisions, you can tangibly experience the terror of that crash just at the thought of it.

My point is, that PROXIMITY is the difference between an academic, intellectual knowledge and truly knowing something in the depths of your heart and soul.

Promixity is the difference between
simple knowledge and true experience.

If the fear of the Lord is something you have trouble understanding, something you have never felt, something you have learned about but never experienced, perhaps you have a proximity deficiency. Maybe you have never been close enough to God to experience His awesomeness, to feel the power and overwhelming superiority of His nature that can only come with close proximity.

Remember, the natural fear of the power and greatness of God is only one aspect of the “fear of God”. It’s not my intent to imply that simple fear is all there is to this idea. But the natural fear in the presence of His power is the focus of this particular lesson.

How do you come into close proximity of God? By spending time with Him. By being alone with Him. By saturating your life with His Word. By focused, diligent and regular prayer. By meditation on His attributes and character. By purposely seeking His presence.

There are no magic formulas or shortcuts. To learn the true nature of the fear of God… you have to be close to Him. Proximity changes head knowledge in to real experience.

This is the conclusion of the whole matter: FEAR THE POWERFUL GOD (obeying His commandments comes quite naturally if we can get that part!)

God of Wonders, we ask that you help us to know a proper fear of You. You have said that is the “whole” of our existence. As we come closer to Your presence, we pray that You will grant us a glimpse of Your true nature. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Contemplation: How close are you to God? Would you say that your life is spent in close proximity to Him? Have you considered that your “fear of the Lord” is directly related to the distance between you and Him?

Application: Proximity to God is the key to just about everything in our Christian life. To whatever degree you are experiencing defeat, mediocrity or victory… examine your degree of promixity to God. Proximity to the Lord requires time, focus, meditation, solitude and discpline.

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?