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Sunday: To Love and to Fear God — 26 Comments

  1. I know this is not a perfect illustration but it may help.

    Last year Carmel and I went to Iceland where we went on a self-drive tour of the country. In ten days we essentially travelled around the edge of Iceland in a rental car. We are Australians and at home, we drive on the left and the steering wheel is on the right, but in Iceland, it is the other way around. Carmel felt very uncomfortable sitting on the wrong side of the car and seeing the edge so close. I had to do a mental shift because essentially all the road rules were reversed and nothing about driving was automatic in my mind.

    We were in Iceland to enjoy the scenery (and photograph birds of course) and we knew that to do this we had to obey the road laws. We were very conscious of the road rules and it took us about 2 days before we were comfortable driving on the "wrong" side of the road. Carmel still reminded me from time to time that I was too close to the edge, but that was simply because the roads did not have nice white lines on them to indicate the edge like they do in Australia. If I had disregarded the Icelandic road rules or worse, insisted that Australian road rules were perfectly fine, then we probably would have contributed a couple of numbers to the Icelandic road toll (which incidentally stood at zero for the year when we visited). Furthermore, we would not have achieved our aim of enjoying the scenery and the birds of Iceland (I even managed to get a few photos of Puffins).

    Spiritual lesson coming up: Fear or respect for God is the foundation for living a satisfying and fulfilling life.

    Amen!(39)
  2. Today’s lesson states:

    “The more we learn about God, the more we come to love Him because of His goodness; and yet at the same time, the more we come to know about God, the more we can fear Him, too, because we can see just how holy and righteousness He is and how sinful and unrighteous we are in contrast, and how it is only by grace – undeserved merit – that we are not destroyed.”

    Unless I am very much mistaken, the lesson appears to be implying that we should fear God (in addition to loving Him) because His holiness and righteousness would cause Him to destroy us if it were not for His grace.

    What I find in scripture is that it is sin’s inherent nature that destroys - not God. Sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4) which means to be in violation of the Law/s (Principles) that are necessary for life. For example, if I breathe in carbon monoxide instead of oxygen, my brain will fail to be supplied with the oxygen it needs to be alive and I will therefore die.

    Therefore, it is sin I need to fear with the kind of fear the lesson is implying - not God.

    So why does the Bible call me to fear God - or rather what kind of fear does the Bible call me to have towards God? When we fear something, we give it our complete attention. In the moment you fear something, nothing else matters. Your full focus is on the thing you fear. That is what I believe the Bible is referring to - giving our full and undivided attention to God and the ways of His Kingdom to the point that nothing else matters. This means that nothing else other than ‘loving God and loving our neighbour as ourselves’ matters (Matthew 22:37-40).

    It is sin/lawlessness we need to fear because it destroys. And it is God and the ways of His Kingdom we need to give our undivided attention to (so that nothing else matters) because that is the only way that leads to Life.

    Amen!(33)
    • Thank you for illustrating it is sin's inherent nature that destroys. Also fear being positive, helps us focus.
      Destruction of flood illustrates, God will destroy sin and sinners.
      Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah illustrates sin and sinners will be consumed.
      God is not dececeptive.

      Amen!(19)
      • Hi Newbegin

        I offer the following for potential consideration...

        If sin is inherently destructive and man and nature fell under the power of sin in Genesis 3, could it be that The Flood, Sodom & Gomorrah, Egyptian Plagues, etc are what happens when God releases the 'temporary' restraining power He has/is exerting against sin’s (and Satan’s) inherent destructiveness (as per 2 Thessalonians 2:6)?

        God informed Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:17 that they would die in the day they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But they didn’t. Could it be that they should have died that day, except that by grace, God temporarily restrained their inherent death/destruction in order to enable (a) self-evident evidence of the true nature of the Kingdom of Darkness, (b) time for repentance (2 Peter 3:9) and (c) the avenue of Messiah for humanity’s second chance/salvation (Romans 3:21-26)?

        Therefore, could it be that since Genesis 3, God has in fact been restraining the inherent destruction impacts of sin in order to provide time for salvation and that sometimes, when that restraint is unfortunately exploited by humans to cause too much destruction (eg as per Genesis 6:5), God then partially releases that restraint and sin’s inherent destructiveness is unleashed to a certain extent? And could it be that there is a time coming when God will completely release restraint and the full force of sin's destructiveness will take place (2 Peter 3:10)?

        If sin is inherently destructive, why would God need to add to that destruction? Therefore, is destruction part of God’s nature and character - or is destruction reflective of the nature and character of another (John 10:10)? And might that other have worked deceptively to (mis)portray God as the author of destruction in order to misrepresent the nature and character of God?

        Amen!(18)
    • Hi Phil,

      Thanks for your thoughts, perhaps Ecclesiastes 12:13 better expresses what fearing God means.

      Blessings to you

      Amen!(12)
      • Hi Annette

        Thanks for your input. Yes, that verse does contain the essence of fearing God rather well. This is how I understand/interpret/read that verse...

        Give full attention to God (ie 'fear' God) because He knows what He is talking about when He outlines the only way to salvation/abundant life (ie His 'commandments' are not authoritarian orders but rather authoritative prescriptions that outline the only way that it is possible to get from point A to point B).

        Amen!(8)
  3. Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 1 Cor 13:1-11

    To Love and to Fear.
    Is it possible to love and fear the Lord? Yes. Jesus never asked us to do anything that is impossible.

    Solution to Fear and Love- we must develop a relationship with Jesus. Speak to him, asked him for strength to do what he ask us to do, trust him and believe his words.

    What I have done- Friday I worked and went home tired. My spouse was doing something at home which prevented him from preparing sabbath meals. I love the Lord and fear him so without asking anything I went straight to the kitchen to put things together before the sunset. I love my spouse also and knew he was hungry so the meal was just in time. Do we love and fear the Lord in totality? I try. The Bible never asked us to fear man but the Godhead.

    Amen!(9)
  4. The lesson of today is very interest

    The love and fear of God,when we talk about love of God let us see in the book of john; and by this we know that we know him if we keep his commandment. 1john 2:3.kjv) let us also talk about fear; let us see in the book of proverb. To fear the is to hate evil, i hate pride and arrogance, evil ways and false words. Kjv. If we follow way we become God his children that he was love.
    That how iam understand way that we love God and fear .

    Amen!(10)
  5. "What does it mean to love and fear God at the same time?" Did Jesus Christ love God and fear Him at the same time? We do not have any record of Jesus Christ fearing God; we know He honored Him - He might have feared, was concerned to fail carrying out the mission set before Him, but He did not fear God, His Father - He loved, revered and honored Him with all His being.

    I suggest to regard the word ‘fear’ in the context of the times during which it was used when man feared many gods who needed to be appeased with 'peace' offerings, even demanding the lives of their children. God dealt with people having this mindset and needed to set Himself apart, admonishing them, ‘I am your God, the only God; if you love and honor(fear) me then you do not need to be afraid of any other powers’. God told them to honor/respect/fear and to love HIM; that this would set them free from the life-destroying fear of gods who demanded their obedience through instilling fear.
    Even during the times of Jesus, Jesus Christ admonished His disciples not to fear unseen powers or man who could cause them physical harm, but rather keep in mind the consequences should they give up their faith under this pressure and give in to the fear of what man and their ‘gods’ could do to them.

    1John4:7-21 –
    (8)”He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is Love.’
    (11) “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”
    (12) “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”
    (13)”Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given of his Spirit.”
    (14)”And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.”
    (17)”Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgement: because as he is, so are we in this world.”
    (18)”There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
    (19)”We love him, because he first loved us.”
    (21)”And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”

    I rather focus my relationship with all my might on increasing my love for my heavenly Father. With this, I fulfill His first commandment and am assured that He will watch over me, directing my Way and provide the Light of Truth for me to better understand His Love which guides me every day. I am deeply grateful to be His Child and desire to honor Him in all circumstances - I know He loves me and cares for me always!

    Amen!(1)
  6. In the city of Los Angeles, California, there are one way streets. On one occasion, while doing some business in said city, due to my lack of familiarity with the location, I turned to one of those streets and noticed that all the cars were moving the "wrong way."

    Of course it took a mere instant for me to realize that I was the one moving the wrong way. Fear gripped my mind and I was lucky to be able to turn right and avoid an accident. Law and order requires that we follow the rules God designed for our safety and well being. Fear of moving in the wrong direction is a great blessing.

    Amen!(11)
  7. The scripture says in Proverbs 9:10
    “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”
    Fear in the context of this lesson does not mean to be afraid of. It means to be wise in the way we relate to God. With wisdom comes understanding. So from the knowledge of God's word we understand that God is Creator.
    We understand that Goda is loving, compassionate, longsuffering, gracious and so much more. So with a God as this, what could "fear" mean. It follow logically therefore that fear here means to:
    Honour
    Obey
    Respect
    Worship
    Glorify
    Magnify
    Rejoice
    Praise
    Trust

    David in Psalm 100:2 writes
    Serve the Lord with gladness. Come before His presence with singing.
    To fear the Lord therefore is to be happy and joyful in this our awesome God.

    Amen!(12)
    • Thank you, Redva - this is a perfect summary of the true meaning of fear on which to base our relationship with our loving, heavenly Father.

      Amen!(4)
    • Redva, thank you for your use of Prov 9:10 in response to the lesson author's attempt to define the meaning of the word "fear" as used in Dt 31:12-13.
      I believe that as we look at this quarter's theme of "education", that we do not lose sight of precisely what is central to human education--an unrivaled organ called the brain, but most often referred to as "the heart" in Scripture (Mt 9:4; 12:34; 1 Kings 11:9-10, 1-2).
      I believe an accurate analysis of the text under consideration (Dt 31:9-13) should reveal the following facts:
      1) The passage involves three parties; God--the communicator (Dt 29:1), Moses--the messenger (Dt 30:2), and Israel--the recipients of God's communication (Dt 31:11).
      2) Assuming that God and Moses are without fault in their actions, an assessment of Israel's role in Dt 31:12 (NKJV) should benefit readers.
      3) According to that text, Israel's stated role by God, as conveyed via Moses, was to INTAKE ("hear"), PROCESS ("learn"), and USE ("observe") CAREFULLY ALL THE WORDS OF THIS LAW.
      4) Obviously, because Israel doesn't have ears and a brain, this was therefore a statement of each individual Israelite's responsibility to "learn" something from God.
      Redva, this is where I found your use of Prov 9:10 helpful to further clarify my understanding of just what Scripture means to "fear" God. The process of human learning is always the same; the brain receives some external stimulus, processes and stores the now processed stimulus for present or later use. Was it God's intention for each individual Israelite to "learn" and continuously relate to Him with the trepidation depicted in the image of Adam and Eve in the portrait accompanying today's lesson or in the content of its fourth paragraph? I believe the answer is no, based on the setting of Deuteronomy 31 when compared to Jer 24:9. The "fear" (Gen 3:9-10) or trepidation recorded of Adam and Eve, that drove them to run and hide from God, so long as that kind of "fear" exists in one party, would continuously undermine God's desire for them to be together. Therefore, I don't believe that the word "fear" used in Prov 9:10 that ushers in, or is "the beginning of wisdom" is consistent with the "fear" in Gen 3:9-10. If in Deuteronomy 31, Israel ran away and hid in fear, like Adam and Eve, from God/Moses, could they have heard the "law" from God (Dt 31:12 NKJV)? Could they then have "carefully observe[d]" them (Jn 14:21)?
      God's stated intention for Israel (Dt 30:20 NKJV)--that they "LOVE...[and] CLING to HIM"--is also true of the world (Jn 3:16; 1 Jn 4:19). The trepidation generated inside our brain is therefore an obstacle to a harmonious relationship with our Creator and Teacher. The time has come for us, by a careful examination of the life of Christ--God's ultimate Messenger (Heb 1:2-3)--to decide whether trepidation, which engenders distrust and alienation, ought to be promoted as an appropriate response to our God ( 1 Jn 4:18; Rm 5:5 compare Eph 3:16-19; Jn 14:23).

      Amen!(1)
  8. The children's rhyme "first comes love, then comes marriage..." is one way coupling works.

    I think fear and love could happen in a rather sequential way too for some believers.... "first comes fear, then comes love...." (Or perhaps, "first comes fear, then comes hear, then comes love and wanting Him near".)

    To flush this out...

    First, one might become sick of sin and of its effects in their own life and in the world around them. Often reaching a really low point in life, sickness, loss, pain, aging is when God's light begins to shine through these broken cracks. In response to sin, sin-filled creatures begin to build higher walls (depression, addictions, paranoia, judgements, withdrawal from community, increased anxieties, chronic diseases) and in the isolation and loneliness of sickness God sends His Word to gently start tearing those walls down. Think of all the miracles in the gospels - men with demons self-harming living alone in the cemetery, a bleeding woman and lepers who haven't been touched or in society for a long time, prostitutes, tax collectors, people who felt used and rejected by others and weighed down by sin. Then Jesus spoke. The Holy Spirit drew them to go to Him for healing. They started to hear about others who had been healed (testimonies).

    I love how this lesson references that "the process of fearing God must be learned....knowledge and fear are a process, not an immediate cause-and-effect relationship."

    Again, looking to the gospels and Jesus' miracles, we note several of them that are recorded as a multi-step process. Jesus can only heal and help us in relation to our faith in Him (Matt 9:29). This often takes time. In Mark 8:22-26, Jesus heals a blind man in 2 steps. When Jesus first spat on the man's eyes and laid His hands on them, the man could see a little but it was still blurry. Then, in vs. 25, Jesus places His hands over the man's eyes AGAIN and the man "stares intently" (The Living Bible) at Jesus and this time he is fully healed. Another example of healing being a process is in Mark 5:6-13. Jesus argued with a legion of demons possessing a man, enough demons to drown 2,000 pigs! It may be we have to let Jesus dialogue for a while with the Evil infecting us before we are free of it.

    For me, "fearing God" is in response to a shift I feel in my own self. A healing that has begun. I want to adore Jesus/God, to prize Him, to value Him, to worship Him, to be in awe of Him, to focus fully on Him, which could all be said I want to fear living without Him. To be as afraid of losing Him as his earthly mother and father were when they left Him behind at the Temple .... "Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere" (Luke 2:48 TLB). This kind of fear is based on experiencing a love that noticeably flourishes in having Him near. A freedom in letting Him lead. Though God is by definition everywhere, this fear of God wants to let Him in to the invitation-only space He has made in my heart, so that like the blind man at Bethsaida I can stare intently at Him. This is a fear in me that has experienced the exhaustion of shutting Him out of my rational thought because the story of salvation doesn't make any rational sense to my mind. Humbly I say that the gospel is a crazy story. I know what it feels like to live not believing it, and I am more afraid of the sadness I feel in living for myself and saying positive affirmations about myself apart from Him than of needing to understand it fully. We have eternity to study and try to understand it!

    Amen!(7)
  9. In my country just as it is in all countries of the world, there are a myriad of laws promulgated all the time. These laws are supposed to be for our good, we are often told. There's nothing exotic about the law. Unfortunately when it comes to God's law people tend to think it's no longer relevant or necessary. Satan has succeeded to a certain extent to obscure God's law among the people. He has succeeded to make it look as something restrictive, unnecessary and obsolete - something not necessary to be kept. Jesus told us that He had come to this world not to destroy God's law but to magnify the law and make it applicable to us. Well adjusted Christians should therefore not have an aversion to the law of God despite satan's strenuous efforts. Followers of Christ understand its relevance and purpose. Ps 119:97 David wrote: "Oh how I love Your law. I meditate on it all day long."(Psalm 119:97). Clearly, King David did not have an aversion to the law of God. We too should not have an aversion. The law of God is designed to teach us some things.

    Deut 31:9 - 13. Moses us sharing his last instructions with a new generation to enter the Promised Land. All the instructions he'd received from the Lord he gave to the Levi's. He gave all these to the elders and priests because they were the teachers of the people. When we read the Word of God we find that it has a stabilizing effect. The Psalmist says the Word of God is a light in our pathway. God's law is quite comprehensive. It includes the story of Adam and Eve, the story of Creation, the fall of mankind, the story of the flood, the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob etc. All of these things were written as teachers for us.

    The Bible calls us to hear and fear God. To hear God's word is to listen attentively to it in order to gain understanding - not to take a whimsical approach to hearing the things God is telling us about. We are called to listen and hear. Our willingness to hear is related directly to doing something we want to do or not doing something we don't want to do.

    To fear is something that we learn and grow into. For me reverential fear is to recognise God in His grandeur, in His Holiness to reverence Him and obey Him, to do His pleasure. God is teaching us to fear Him. The more time we spend with God the more we come to love and fear Him. He is an awesome God. To fear God means to love Him and not want to disappoint Him. Love is the empowering principle of God. We are to serve the Almighty God with gladness."

    Amen!(7)
  10. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen John 21:25

    To Love and To Fear the Lord with all that I am, have or possesses is not just a word of mouth thing. Both call for action, both depends on our/my action to God with what is written in his word, as well as my action to my fellow human being. How was this possible in Jesus life, Enoch, Elijah, Moses, John the Baptist, Mary, Martha, the disciples except Judas? Paul mentioned all the people in Hebrew 11:1-40 who had faith. Faith and believe to me are the pillars that hold up love and fear for God. We cant love and fear God if we do not have faith and believe in him. Eccles 12:13-14 is the sum total/conclusion/whole matter of all that is said in the bible. Some people do not have faith and believe in Jesus so how can they love and fear him? Paul asked- who shall separate us from the love of God? Rom 8:35-39. When we love and fear the Lord we will not be afraid of the coming judgment.

    Amen!(1)
  11. I think comparing fearing God to fearing an earthly father because he can punish is a troubling analogy. Even the best human parents are faulty. They can punish impulsively and out of anger. They bring their own issues to their parenting. And many of us experienced parenting that was far from God. So to encourage us to relate to God that way troubles me, and probably actually brings bad feelings to a lot of people's hearts. It seems to suggest we should actually be afraid of God. And yet when I think of the people in the Bible who were close to God - Abraham, Moses, Daniel, David, Elijah and so on, I never sense a fear of God in that way. They trusted God and developed a close friendship with Him. Some of them messed up at times, but I don't see God coming down to destroy them but to teach them and restore them to the right paths. Am I off base? Just reading this lesson made me feel very sad. I have a tendency to feel God is angry and disappointed in me, often for God reason. It's hard for me to love Him when I feel like that.

    Amen!(2)
    • Hi Christina

      No, you are not off base at all - you are spot on. Your observations about Abraham, Moses, Daniel, David etc are very accurate. You are on the right track - keep going...

      Amen!(3)
    • To fear and love-
      Christina, many christians/church and nonchristians/unchurch people when they hear the term 'fear' and 'judgment' used, they think about something negative, bad, terrible, unwanted etc because they associate fear and judgment from a negative point of view. For example, the bible says-Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. ....Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it...Eph 5:21-33. If a wife is in an abusive relationship with her husband she sees this passage a being negative. How can one submit to an abusive spouse.
      The positive side is-if one love and fear the Lord, judgment is a good thing. You are happy for the judgment and can stand before a Holy God as in Eccles 12:13-14. Are we glad our works can stand in the judgment? If we are in a loving relationship with our spouse, as wives we are so happy to submit because we know our husband loves us and will give himself for us, even as Christ gave himself for his church.

      If we have terrible parents we see punishment as a bad thing. But is all punishment bad? No. Do we see Jesus as a tyrant because when we pray we do not get relieve from our situation?

      Amen!(7)
    • Christina

      I think you are right on. I was told by my college professor, an expert in linguistics, that the Biblical word for “Fear”, would be better translated as RESPECT or REVERENCE. I always inject respect whenever I see the word fear.

      Amen!(1)
    • I've heard "fear of God" compared to cholesterol. There is a good kind and a bad kind. You want more of the good kind and less of the bad kind. Love removes bad fear and love brings good fear.

      Bad kind of fear: Keeps me hiding from God. This is like Adam and Eve hiding in the Garden of Eden after they had sinned (Gen 3:10) and in the parable of the talents, the servant who is afraid of his master being a "hard man" hides his talent in the ground (Matt 25:24-25). If we know we are loved we don't bury our talents. This unhealthy kind of fear keeps us from serving God, keeps us "in a hole". This fear is afraid of punishment (1 John 4:18).

      Good kind of fear: Makes me want to run toward God. In Psalm 130:4 David runs to God for forgiveness and says "therefore You are feared". Jesus says to his disciples in Matt 10:28 to be afraid of the One who can destroy the soul. And then in vs. 29-31 He reminds them that nothing happens apart from the will of the Father so to not be afraid. We run to God for protection of our soul. Hebrews 12:28 "since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and worship God with reverence and awe for our God is a consuming fire". Hebrews 10:26-31 also tells how for anyone who rejects mercy "it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God". The good kind of fear fears God's wrath against sin, and trusts that that wrath won't ever be directed against us who live with the Spirit of Grace.

      God is not an indulgent heavenly friend. We don't have a lightweight God. In Ex 20:20 Moses tells the people that the fear of God will keep them from sinning. And he also says "do not be afraid". Do not be afraid of the God who loves you, be afraid of His judgement against sin. Sinai was a glimpse of the day of judgement. The Israelites were to walk away from that saying, "We were in God's presence and we lived! Look what God saved us from!"

      Amen!(1)
  12. I believe this is part of the mystery of the LORD, we acknowledge Him as the Almighty, All Powerful Ruler of the Universe, respond to Him with reverence, respect, awe and obedience, while at the same time worshiping Him as our loving Saviour who cares for our well being.

    Deu 10:12 KJV  And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul

    Amen!(7)
  13. Another discussion on "fear God". I think we might find a clear understanding if we follow the counsel of Prov 2:1-5. Also, the incident with Joseph in Genesis 39:9.

    Amen!(1)
  14. Perhaps our understanding of "fear" (Heb - yare: frightened) changes as our knowledge of God increases? Those who don't know Him personally are afraid, while those who know Him well have great reverence and trust. Notice the different responses of the servants in the parable of the talents in Matt 25:14-30.

    Amen!(0)

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