Three Angels' Messages Part 13

            Thanks again for joining us we continue our study of the Three Angels’ Messages, God’s last appeal to our world! In the last two times we’ve seen that these messages are particularly directed toward those who are  called “earth dwellers,” which describes those people who think that this life is all there is. Sad to say, that probably includes the greatest majority of the people today. Being an “earth dweller” is the opposite of what the Holy Bible calls us to be. According to Scripture, we are “pilgrims,” “strangers,” “sojourners,” and “aliens,” followers of the One Who said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
            Let us turn our attention to the next part of the message of the first angel, a call to “fear God and give glory to Him.” We can see this as having two aspects. To “fear God and give glory to Him” has to do with how we “think” (“fear God”) and how we “do” (“give glory to Him”). It means to have a proper attitude and therefore a proper expression of that attitude in the way we live. There is the invisible part (what we think) plus the visible part (our actions). Both are important and play a role in our Christian walk.
In a similar vein, we find in the Bible numerous exhortations to amend our “ways and our doings.” This phrase is mentioned 11 times in the NKJV, especially emphasized in the book of Jeremiah. (See Jeremiah 4:18; 7:3, 5; 17:10; 26:13. Add to this another 8 occurrences of the phrase “ways and deeds.”) It likewise describes the combination of our thoughts and feelings (our “ways”), and our actions and behaviors (our “doings”).
            The order of the words is meaningful in that we must first have a proper mental framework with relation to God (to “fear” Him) which will then result in proper behaviors (giving “glory to Him”). With that in mind, notice that in the above mentioned phrase, “ways” always precedes “doings” or “deeds.” Of the two components, the former, “fear God” is the more important, because what we “think” has a direct influence on what we “do.” The mistake many of the Jews made was to think that the “outside” could be correct while the “inside” was corrupt. But that’s impossible! The “Lord looks on the heart.”
            That’s why Jesus wasn’t nearly as concerned about the washing of hands, utensils and food as He was about a clean heart. He explained to His disciples, “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” Matthew 15:18-20. He also said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45. The mental must precede the physical; the thoughts must precede the behaviors. Paul challenged us to be renewed in the “inner man,” and then appropriate works will follow. If we have the “ways” right, the “doings” will be right. If we “fear God” we can then “give glory to Him.” If the source of the river is pure, the water downstream will be clean.
            This combination of “ways and doings” applies also to those who reject God. Concerning the wicked we are told that when the day comes that “burns like an oven,” all the “proud” (those who have an improper mental attitude) and all that “do wickedly” (the resultant unacceptable behavior patterns) will be cast therein. Malachi 4:1. We will see this same dual aspect of the inner, or mental part, combined with the outer, more visible part reflected in the mark of the beast being received either in the forehead (where thinking is done) or in the hand (referring to actions, or behaviors). In Revelation, the description of the mark being in the forehead always precedes the mark being in the hand. More about all of that later.
            Revelation’s invitation to “fear” God has biblical roots that penetrate deeply into the soil of the Scriptures. It is worthy of note that in all three languages relevant to our study (Hebrew, Greek and English), the word “fear” can be used both in a negative or a positive sense. In the Old Testament the noun pachad appears about 50 times, appearing in a negative sense as well as a positive sense. For example, among the curses to fall on Israel if they disobeyed they were told, “In the morning you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were morning!’ because of the fear (pachad) which terrifies your heart, and because of the sight which your eyes see.” Deuteronomy 28:67. In the book of Proverbs King Solomon wrote, “When your terror (pachad) comes like a storm and your destruction comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you, then they will call on Me, but I will not answer.” Proverbs 1:27, 28. These are examples of “fear” in the negative sense.
            On the other hand, this very same noun is used with a positive connotation in the Old Testament. It is used on occasion to represent the Deity, as when Jacob said to Laban, “Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed.” Genesis 31:42. Later, after they had made Jacob and his uncle had made their peace, Jacob “swore by the Fear of his father Isaac.” Genesis 31:53.
            We see the same in the verb form of this word. We find it used negatively in the promise, “Do not fear, nor be afraid; have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God beside Me?” Isaiah 44:8. However, Hosea testified, “Afterward the children of Israel shall return, seek the LORD their God and David their king, and fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days.” Hosea 3:5.
            Another Hebrew verb for “fear” is yare. Used negatively we read, “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Genesis 15:1. When Moses discovered that his murderous act against the Hebrew taskmaster had become known, “Moses feared and said, ‘Surely this thing is known!’” Exodus 2:14. At the crossing of the Red Sea after the Exodus, “Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today.’” Exodus 14:13.
            But then only a few verses later, when the Egyptian forces were miraculously destroyed, we see this exact same word yare used in the positive sense. We read, “Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt; so the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses.” Exodus 14:31.
Note also as you review the following passages, the strong and frequent connection that is placed between godly fear and obedience to His law. In Moses’ last speech he recited to them God’s commandments, statutes and judgments, “that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you.” Deuteronomy 6:2. He continued, “And the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive as it is this day.” Deuteronomy 6:24.
            When considering what the phrase “fear God” means, there can be no clearer commentary than what Moses challenged the people in his farewell address. “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. And to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good. You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast.” Deuteronomy 10:12, 13, 20.
            Following the counsel to reject all apostate prophets Moses counseled, “You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.” Deuteronomy 13:4. As a part of godly stewardship he advised them to be faithful in their tithing, “that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.” Deuteronomy 14:23. If Israel should demand a king to be like their neighbors, the ruler should make ample usage of the written law. “It shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.” Deuteronomy 17:19, 20.
            Concluding his magnificent speech, after recounting the blessings that would attend obedience, Moses said, “If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name The LORD your God, then the LORD will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues--and serious and prolonged sicknesses.” Deuteronomy 28:58, 59. This is an interesting concept, and interestingly, it was proclaimed just before Israel entered the Promised land, to “fear God” lest they receive “extraordinary plagues.” Think of the significance of that! Sixteen centuries after Moses spoke these words, in a proclamation contained in the Three Angels’ Messages of Revelation, geared especially for those on the very borders of the heavenly Canaan, we are also invited to “fear God,” lest the seven last plagues, the most extraordinary plagues of all come upon us. May the Lord lead us into an attitude of godly fear, resulting in works that glorify Him!

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