In the last few Relationship Tuesdays, we have been looking at what it means to fear God. It’s not just an awe and respect that we ought to feel. It is an actual fear. And that fear does not stem from a fear of reprisal and punishment. It stems from this relationship of created/Creator. As Creator, God is more than we will ever be. And while we were created in His image, we will ever be only that, an image--a restored image in the resurrection but an image all the same.
Every instance of a created being not fearing God comes from the idea of becoming more than a creation. Even Satan’s prideful rebellion was based on a lack of fear of God. If he had feared God, the idea of taking the throne and becoming like the Most High would have never entered his mind. And he paid the price for not having an appropriate fear of the Creator.
But, it seems that with us, God often starts His conversations with the phrase “fear not”. There’s no doubt we are to fear Him, but almost universally that fear comes about for the wrong reasons.
Look at what Isaiah says when he stands before the throne: “"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Isaiah 6:5
That phrase “woe to me” it’s a translation of the word “oy”. This word has lost some of it’s connotation over the years. You’ve probably heard this word in the movies somewhere from some grumpy old Jewish person saying, “oy, it’s humid out” or something similar. “Oy” when Isaiah was using it was the equivalent of our “ooohhh”; it’s passionate grief or despair.
Isaiah is in despair because of his sin.
But God says, “fear not” because He doesn’t want our fear of Him to stem from a fear of reprisal or punishment for sin. Remember in 1 John 4:18, John writes, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
For the next few posts in our look at having a relationship with God, we’re going to talk about God’s love, a much more agreeable topic than fear to be sure, but I wanted to start with the fear of God so that we keep in mind who it is that we’re talking about when we talk about God’s love. He is not our equal in this relationship, like say a husband and wife for example. And we’re never going to grow up and be equal to Him, like with our parents.
He is beyond us in every way and worthy to be feared, and yet He loves us, and He wants us to love Him. And within that context, He doesn’t want our fear to derive from the fear of punishment because we’re sinful people.
Up Next: Love and Sin