Monday, February 3, 2014

God All Fearsome

By Roxann Morgan 
You will write about fear.
The above is what I heard the Lord speak, after I was asked to write a post for this series. For days I wondered what fear I had allowed to take root to require this kind of examination, and then I remembered my battle with the fear of man. 

You see, I was given a word from the Lord for my generation, and sure enough I hid from church for more than a month to avoid sharing it. Yes, I said more than a month! 

While in hiding I could barely sleep without having some kind of conviction for disobeying the Lord. Yet still I hid. I continued to hide even when I finally went back to church, and I would have gotten away with it too, were it not for the One who sees what is done in secret and exposes them. I was literally called out. I will not share the means by which I was summoned to the microphone, but I found myself slowly walking up to the platform at church with my journal in hand to deliver the message. The message was this: We are a generation who substitutes the joy of the Lord for entertainment; we have forsaken the path marked out for us. If I (Roxann) was not spared the rod because of indiscipline and I am in the house, what is left for those who are outside?

It was difficult for me to speak those words because I was so consumed by the fear of the opinions of others. I was so gripped with fear that after I shared I sat in a corner and sobbed uncontrollably.  

I will be honest, God was able to use that ordeal to work on my heart, and I sincerely prefer the love of God to the affections of men. That said, this article is not about the fear of man; it's actually about a lack of fear—a lack of the fear of God.

We're in a time when to invoke the name of Jesus causes great offence; it's an obvious sign that we have embarked on a generation full of misplaced fear. We fear being unpopular; we fear being different; we fear fear; but the fear of God is becoming a distant memory. If we are to speak truthfully, we would admit that the fear of God is a subject that offends even those of us who profess Christianity. We take offence at the God who is to be worshiped for both His lavish grace and terrible wrath. 

We have even found various phrases to replace the fear of God. For some of us, in order to omit the fear of God we dwell on grace, mercy and compassion. Although there is grace, mercy and compassion to be found in God, we will have a lopsided view of the God of all creation and miss a genuine appreciation for His grace if there is not first a sobering encounter with the fear of Him.

So, what does it mean to fear God?

To fear the Lord is to see Him as He is in all His holiness and to see ourselves as we are—a people dead in our transgression but for His grace.  

Let’s dig into Exodus 33.

Moses asked what many of us Christians sing and talk (and even write) about, not fully understanding its gravity: Moses asked to see God's glory. A mere mortal asked to see the face of the everlasting God! God, in His great mercy, grants Moses his request with this weighty word: 

And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”

Now, I’m not going to suppose that I know everything about this, but I will tell you what I believe the Lord showed me in this Scripture. 

When God declared that no human can see His face and live, He was not lying. He didn’t change His mind about that, because when we come face to face with the Father through Jesus in repentance, we die. There's a death that occurs in our lives when we turn to Jesus in repentance, but His promise to us is that when we enter into this sacred place of repentance by His blood, we will be saved (John 10:9). 

We are coming to Him to lose our lives (John 12:25), to give ourselves to Him completely (Luke 14:26, Romans 12:1), to die to sin so that we can take hold of the life that is truly life (Romans 6:1-14). This salvation is by His own blood shed for us on the Cross (Hebrews 10:12, Romans 5:9), and in Him we're given a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:14-17) by rebirth (John 3:3-7).  

God makes it plain to us that in His promise of salvation there is a promise of death, and this is a death that we are commissioned to die daily by taking up our cross and following Him (Luke 9:23). We are admonished to daily put to death every worldly and sinful act (Colossians 3:5-10), since we who belong to Christ are considered to be crucified with Him (Galatians 5:24). 

Jesus is the only way we can see the face of God and die so that we might live; for there is no other name in heaven or under heaven by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12). 

Those are strong words to describe the sacrifice of being a disciple of Jesus. The promise of death is sure, but it comes with the promise that in dying daily our lives will be hidden with Jesus in God. When Jesus who is our life returns we will be with Him (Colossians 3:3). 

Until we have come to face to face with the great severity of God as is it expressed for us in the Cross of Christ, we will not be able to see the abundance of His kindness in it. Until we see God as He truly is, as the God with a burning anger against sin and an extravagant outpouring of mercy upon those who fear Him, we will miss the necessity of Jesus. The Cross of Jesus is the hand of God extended to rescue dead and wretched men. That is His great, glorious and wondrous mercy; it’s the same unfathomable mercy that the Bible says even angels long to look into (1 Peter 1:12). 

This is the beauty of the fear of the Lord: As we walk in the fear of God we will be brought into the lavish love that has been expressed to us on the Cross. The more we walk in the fear of the Lord, the closer He will draw us to Him by His Holy Spirit. We must all come to the place where we will be able to say like David did in Psalm 130:4, "With You there is forgiveness; therefore You are to be feared."  

We will understand that we stand in the hope of the only One who is able to pardon sin and ransom mankind to Himself; therefore He is to feared. We will be able to boldly declare as Peter did in Acts 10:43, "To [Jesus] all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”

To fear God is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13), no matter how many popular trends may emerge in this generation. He is to be feared. He is to be adored.

So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him"
(Acts 10:34-35).

Prayer: I prayed and asked the Lord what to pray and all I could hear was Psalm 51. So my prayer for you is that you would pray Psalm 51 for yourselves and ask Him to break your heart. Amen.

[See Roxann's complete article, "God All Fearsome," and read about her on her blog, In the Cool of the Day.

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