Isaiah 2:10 Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust, From the terror of the Lord And the glory of His majesty. (NKJV)
When you approach God in prayer, the first order of business is to contemplate Who you are about to speak to. The world is much too casual today about God describing Him as “the man upstairs” or “the big guy”, whether from embarrassment or ignorance.
God is portrayed in Scripture as awesome (Duet 10.17), terrifying (Psa 90.7) and the common response to His presence is to fall flat on your face (Rev 7.11), unable to stand in the presence of His holiness. God is so holy (Lev 11.45), so majestic (Job 37.4), so powerful (Psa 66.1-4) that we should feel like crawling under a rock and hiding from Him rather than face His unfathomable purity.
If we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, do we have to be scared of God? No, not in the sense that we cannot know what to expect from Him. In other words, we don’t have to be “gun-shy” in God’s presence as if He were irrational and unpredictable.
We can know what to expect from God
as long as we are in line with His Word
and have a proper reverence for Him.
Should we fear God? Most certainly. We have almost lost the concept of healthy respect and fear in our culture. If this is foreign to you, let’s say you’re standing in the middle of the road and a city bus is racing 90 mph straight at you. It would benefit you to have a healthy fear of its power and the potential consequences of ignoring it. Do you need to be afraid of it? Only if you ignore it or treat it casually. If you respect its power and presence, then you need merely to step out of the way of its path.
You don’t have to be afraid, but you do
need a healthy, fearful respect.
Today’s culture of relative truth and arrogant individualism would leave you talking about your rights and the nerve of anyone to judge you for standing in the way of the oncoming bus even as it ran you over. In the same way, many will still be asserting their right to ignore God while passing through the gates of eternal condemnation.
Anytime you express the Biblical idea of “fearing God”, you will be faced with accusations of being harsh, judgmental, negative, old fashioned and Puritan. This torrent of criticism causes many to back down from the plain Scriptural truth of God’s nature. Is God loving and patient? Absolutely. Is God merciful, compassionate and kind? Beyond measure. But that is only part of His character.
- God will not share His rightful place with anyone – Isa 48.11
- God is jealous and will not tolerate competition – Deut 4.24
- God is not intimidated by man – Job 38.2
- God is judgmental of sin and wickedness – Mal 3.5
- God’s anger burns against the sinfulness of men – Num 32.14
- God’s wrath will be poured out on those who hinder the Gospel of Christ – 1Thess 2.14
- God will send you to an eternity of punishment in hell if you choose to ignore Him – John 3.18-19; Psa 9.17; Matt 18.6-9
When we enter into God the Father’s presence through prayer, it is not a casual thing. It should be a routine and consistent part of our life, but never flippant or casual.
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. (NKJV)
A proper fear of God results in our obedience and humility. A healthy fear of God will help us avoid sin and disobedience. It helps us to truly understand the gulf that separates us from God, a gulf that is only traversed through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. The fear of God is the acknowledgement that He has provided only one way of reconciliation, only one path to His presence and that is the narrow way of atonement through the Lamb of God who died that we might have life (John 20.31).
As you enter into prayer today, take some time first to contemplate Who you are about to speak to. Yes, He is Abba Father, our Heavenly Father, full of love and mercy, but He is also an Awesome Fearsome God of Holiness and Judgment. Meditate on the attributes of God: love, mercy, kindness, compassion and forgiveness. But also on His jealousy, judgment, intolerance of sin and demands for righteousness.
Majestic and Fearsome Lord, help us today to see You fully. Give us understanding of the infinite chasm that separates Your Holiness from our best attempts to be good. Instill in us a proper fear and reverence of You. May it cause us to understand Your love and mercy even more. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Do you think it is an old fashioned notion to “fear God”? Do you treat God like your buddy, or a kindly old Grandfatherly type? Or, do you merely approach Him without much thought at all? Would you characterize your prayer time as casually presenting your wish list for today to the “man upstairs”?
Application: God forbid that we ignore His whole nature. God is love, but also Judge. God is patient but full of wrath. God is merciful but also jealous. Resist today’s trend towards a “feel-good”, shallow concept of God. He encompasses all things holy, both loving and fearsome. We can only feel good about Him, when our understanding lines up with His truth.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?