Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven,
“Here I am,” he replied.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
— Genesis 22:6-12
his weekend our Pastor Matt gave what I felt was a wonderful and much needed sermon on the reverential fear of God. You can hear it here if you are interested. However, it also reminded me of one that I gave over five years ago at another church during a time when we were in between pastors and several of us helped in delivering messages on Sunday. Please bear with me since this was my third or forth public sermon and its intent is more geared to talking points than to be read verbatim. However the essence of the topic still comes through loud and clear. I have not changed it in anyway other than reformatting it to fit this site’s styling. It is presented below, with its warts and all the blemishes of not knowing what I was doing at the time.
Our starting point for this morning can be found in Genesis 22:1-14.
When you read God saying something like, “Now I know that you fear God”, what goes through your mind? Are you comfortable with the concept of fearing God, or is this something that you no longer needed since you have a personal relationship with God?
Perhaps you do not realize it, but the Bible talks about fearing God or the Lord over 300 times. In addition to the passage we already read, some of the passages include:
- Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” [Exodus 20:20]
- He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him. [Psalms 40:3]
- Indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. [Proverbs 2:3-5]
Now I know some of you are thinking, this is old testament stuff and does not apply. Since Jesus was born, suffered and died for our sins, we are no longer held to the the stuff in the Old testament. We are under the New Testament, we are a new creation. After all, didn’t Jesus himself say, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” [John 15:15-16]
For those of you who think this way, think again. Ask yourself one question and try to answer it with some thought. Does God’s nature change over the course of eternity?
One of my major tenants of my faith is that God cannot lie. If He does, how can I trust His promises when I submit to Jesus and make Him my Savior? Also keep in mind that those 300 references to fear in the Bible are not limited to the Old Testament. They are in the new as well.
- Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers. [Acts 9:31]
- Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. [1 Peter 1:14-17]
Did you realize that Jesus had the fear of God as part of His spirit? As you know, the Old Testament foretells the coming of Jesus to earth and the life He would live. The slide shows just a few of the ones you can look up yourself. Below is another passage, one that also foretells the coming of Jesus and His character.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
— Isaiah 11:1-3
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
Now I think most of you know already that we are not really talking about fear as defined by Webster, which states, “An unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. A reason for alarm or danger”. But Webster also includes, “profound reverence and awe especially toward God”. If you look up Fear in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, it outlines three types of fear in the Bible.
- Fear that comes from Terror.
- Fear that comes from Religion.
- Fear that comes from Reverence.
The first form of fear is the one we most often associate with the concept of fear, and since we think God is good, we dismiss it as no longer valid. The truth is God does inspire human beings to be in dread of Him. Otherwise what is the purpose of Hell? But at the same time, God is there at our side to deliver us from fear, how many times have you seen the phrase, “fear not” in the Bible?
The second version may be a strange concept to you, religion or religious fear. In the Old Testament, the root word for fear (Yare) frequently occurs as an expression of fear under the true religion. Often it is used to express God’s ways or laws as opposed to other forms of faith being practiced. For example, Ecclesiastes 12:13 states, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” Now-a-days, we associate it in a negative sense rather than healthy, even referring to it as a Spirit of Religion. It is also often connected to moving away from all things evil. That is the whole concept of Repent, to turn away, to walk away from our sinful previous lives.
The last one, that in reverence we should fear God, is the one I think many of us feel we no longer need. We have gotten so use to the idea that Jesus is loving, forgiving, and our friend, that we forget that He is part of the trinity of God. As Revelations 5:12 puts it so well, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
Jesus’ deeds themselves often inspired awe or reverence (e.g., Matthew. 17:6; Luke 5:26). In Romans 11:20, Paul warned the Roman Christians not to be proud but to stand in awe. Reverence for Christ should also cause believers to be subject to one another (Eph. 5:21). Hebrews 5:7 states that Jesus’ prayers were answered because of His “godly fear”.
The question I have for you this morning is, do you fear God? Do you truly fear God enough to trust Him completely as Abraham did?
Blessings in the name of Jesus Christ,