Three Angels' Messages Part 14

            Thanks again for joining us we continue our study of the Three Angels’ Messages, God’s last appeal to our world! Last time we examined the phrase “Fear God,” and noted that the word “fear” could be understood in a negative way (“terror”), or in a positive way (“respect,” “love,” “worship,” “obey”). It is obvious that in the message of the first angel, the word “fear” is used in the positive way. We saw that there are many references in Scripture using the word “fear” in that sense, including the classic, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”  Psalm 110:10; Proverbs 9:10.
Continuing to study what it means to “fear” the Lord, just look at this impressive list of attributes and blessings that attend the one who exercises this type of godly “fear” of the Lord. Why wouldn’t anyone want to receive these benefits?

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 1:7
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him. Psalm 25:14
The eye of the LORD is on them that fear Him. Psalm 33:18
The angel of the LORD camps around those who fear Him. Psalm 34:7
There is no want to those who fear Him.  Psalm 34:9
His salvation is near to those who fear Him.  Psalm 85:9
Great is His mercy to those who fear Him. Psalm 103:11, 13, 17
He will bless those who fear Him. Psalm 115:13
He will fulfill the desires of those who fear Him.  Psalm 145:19
The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him. Psalm 147:11
It will be well with those who fear God. Ecclesiastes 8:12
A book of remembrance is written for those who fear His name. Malachi 3:16
The Sun of righteousness will arise on those who fear Him. Malachi 4:2

            So we see that in the Old Testament while the word “fear” can be either negative or positive, godly fear is to be greatly coveted. The New Testament word shares the same dual aspect. The Greek word phobos appears 39 times in the Scriptures and is the word from which we obtain our word “phobia,” attached as a suffix to a host of English words. It is used in a negative sense, as when the disciples met for fear of the Jews. John 20:19. Paul writes, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by Whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.’” Romans 8:15. John comments “there is no fear in love.” I John 4:18.
            On the other hand, godly “fear” fueled the early Church. We’re informed in the Book of Acts that the churches were “walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit” and were multiplied. Acts 9:31. Cornelius is described as a “devout man and one who feared God with all his household.” Acts 10:2. Peter stated, “In truth I perceived that God shows no partiality, but in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” Acts 10:34, 35.
            Godly “fear” is addressed in the epistles. Paul exhorted the Corinthians, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” II Corinthians 7:1. He instructed the believers in Philippi to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12. Hebrews tells us that Jesus “offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear.” Hebrews 5:7. Peter writes, “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” I Peter 2:17.
            Godly “fear” is highlighted several times in the book of Revelation. “The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great.” Revelation 11:18. The question is asked, “Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?” Revelation 15:4. In praise to God after the fall of Babylon, while John was listening, “a voice came from the throne, saying, ‘Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!’” Revelation 19:5.
            What then does it mean when the Bible, in the positive sense, speaks of “fearing God”? What is the angel addressing when he calls the world to “fear God”? To “fear God” in the biblical sense does not mean to cower in terror, but to have a proper appreciation of His awesome character and might. It is to have an attitude of respect toward the One Who governs the universe, which leads to a relationship of love, worship and willing obedience. It results in the creature having an appropriate relationship with his or her Creator, fitting properly into His kingdom. The world today is in desperate need of such a way of thinking!
            Looking over the multitude of counsels to give reverence to the Lord in godly fear, we can’t help but notice the great number of occurrences that combine godly fear with obedience. This is extremely relevant, in that as we will see, the messages of the Three Angels is both a call to fear and worship, but also to obey our Creator God. “Fear” and “keep” are two words that often appear in close proximity in Scripture. They go “hand-in-hand.”
            Review these passages in this light. The book of Deuteronomy literally breathes this concept. “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” Deuteronomy 5:29. “That you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you.” Deuteronomy 6:2. “Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.” Deuteronomy 8:6. “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.” Deuteronomy 10:12, 13. “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. “That he (the ruler) may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes.” Deuteronomy 17:19.
            On the inauguration of the new monarchy Samuel stated, “If you fear the LORD and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the LORD your God.” I Samuel 12:14. David testified, “I am a companion of all those who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts.” Psalm 119:63. Solomon completed his sermon by saying, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13.
            We need more godly fear today than ever before. There is disrespect in our current world for God that is alarming! In our society there is casualness, a lack of awe, which is foreign to the heavenly intelligences. At the name of Jehovah angels fold their wings. Commonly in our culture He is thought of as “the man upstairs.” Even among professed Christians the name of the Lord is spoken with informal indifference. The all-too-common expression abbreviated as OMG is used by those who then confess to know and respect the Creator of the universe. This is not consistent with “fearing God” in the biblical sense.
            Worship styles today reflect this casual attitude, with worship teams dressing in attire more appropriate for the beach than for the house of the Lord. This attempt to “bring God down to us” is not reflective of the honor and respect which the Sovereign of the universe is due. Worship does not bring Him down to us; it brings us up to Him. Should worshipers today be confronted with the awesome majesty of the divine, they would make haste to cover their faces and repent of their cavalier demeanor. There is need for healthy respect in approaching the Deity, and to this the angel calls when he cries out, “Fear God and give glory to Him.”
            The devil and his angels know the reality of the existence of power of God, but they do not cherish His principles; they do not love and worship Him. Lucifer wanted to be like the Most High; that is, he desired to have God’s power and authority, but not His character. The appreciation of God’s character lies at the root of Bible faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6.    
Satan charged God with being restrictive and austere, saying that His law was impossible to keep. In a proper relationship to our Creator, we understand that these charges are false; we see that God is love and His law is “holy, just and good.” Romans 7:7. We understand that true freedom and joy exist only in walking the safe path of His will. Looking again at the Hebrews passage, we know both that He is (that there is a Supreme Being Who exists and rules the universe) and that He is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. The word “and” in that text is crucial, for it separates those like the devil who confess the existence of God, but reject His character of love. We must know that He is and Who He is.
            When Jesus was on earth, the devils acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God, but have consistently refused to receive Him as a loving God worthy of worship. To “fear” God embraces both concepts. True Christians will not only believe that God exists, but will also cherish the wonderful and inspiring attributes of God’s character which induce an attitude of worship and a walk worthy of their calling. May the Lord fill our hearts with the love, respect, appreciation and desire to worship Him and obey Him in all things encompassed in the angel’s command to “fear God”!
           

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