Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.
“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” (Deuteronomy 10:12).
The word, fear, is translated from the Hebrew word yare’ which in context means “to fear, reverence, honor, respect.” The Israelites were admonished to fear the Lord, walk in His ways, to love Him, and to serve Him. The Scripture above was directed to Israel but as born-again believers in Jesus Christ, we are to have the same attitude. Do you stand in awe of God? Do you revere, honor, and respect Him? Do you love Him? Every Christian would do well to heed this verse.
Fearing God is a term that seems to have fallen by the wayside. Somehow we seem to think God is our buddy who just accepts us as we are and isn’t very concerned when we go against His ways. It’s true that Jesus is our friend, but He’s a friend who is worthy of our respect. His ways are never to be taken lightly. He alone is worthy of our worship and our praise. In fearing Him, that is respecting Him and revering Him, we don’t have to be afraid of Him.
There is a difference between fearing Him and being afraid of Him. When I was a boy I had a fear of my father, meaning I respected him and I wanted to please him. I wasn’t afraid of him because I was his child and I knew he loved me. Even when I did things he didn’t like he never stopped loving me. Our heavenly Father loves us even more than our earthly fathers. We who belong to Him need not be afraid of Him, but we do need to fear Him.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
If you do not fear God then perhaps the second part of this verse refers to you. As Solomon plainly states it is foolish to ignore God’s truth. Why is it that so many people refuse to listen to the truth of the scriptures? If we fear God we want to please Him. In order to please Him we need to know what He expects of us. His directions for living a life that honors and respects Him are found in His word.
The Holy Bible is very clear on what His standards are…and the penalty of disobedience. The more we allow ourselves to become His property, the more He will increase our knowledge. God does not want us to be ignorant of Him and we must search the Scriptures to gain knowledge of Him.
“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).
Those who “were more noble” were the Bereans who listened to what was being taught, but searched the Scriptures (Old Testament) to be sure it was correct. By so doing they gained knowledge. We, too, need to search both the Old and New Testaments to be sure things people try to teach us, as well as our own assumptions, line up with Scripture. If we fear God we need to take His word seriously and live our lives accordingly.
Why is it that some people, like the Bereans, understand the need to search Scripture to gain knowledge and understanding, but other people (even some who claim to be Christians) just don’t care what He says? I believe the answer can be found in the very lifestyles of those who refuse to gain knowledge of Him and reject His ways. Plainly stated, there are those who enjoy the sinful lifestyle they live so much that they will not heed or even desire to hear God’s warning.
Having said that, should we who are born-again believers ignore those people because we are afraid they won’t listen to our message? No. You see, we don’t convince the lost of their current condition, that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. We are the messenger of the truth, He does the convicting. It’s not up to us to decide who to witness to, but instead we need to witness every time we know God is telling us to.
Then it’s up to the individual to choose God over Satan. Paul made many missionary journeys to cities where sin raged. He faced many trying times in his life, but his fear (respect) of God drove him on. He lived his life in a way that honored God and was a wonderful Christian example to others. We also need to fear God and live a life that respects Him in order to make our witness believable. We need to “walk in His ways”.
Jesus tells us that there is a time to be afraid of God.
“Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him,” Luke 12:5.
Many times in Scripture we’re told to “fear not”, but here in the Gospel of Luke we’re actually told to be afraid of what God can do. Each of us is free to make a choice of accepting Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as payment in full for our sin, or we can reject His sacrifice.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
The death spoken of in this verse is eternal death. It isn’t a fun place where you will meet up with all the other people who were party hearty and rejected Christ, but a place of eternal damnation. There will be eternal anguish, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. It is an individual choice that will send a person to hell or allow entry into heaven.
God gave us the only way of salvation, and I do mean the only way—through Jesus Christ, and Him alone. If you study Scripture and gain knowledge, you will fear (respect) God, but there should also be the fear (terror) of Him who has “the power to cast into hell.” The only time God will pull His presence away from us is when we’ve condemned ourselves to hell through our unbelief and rejection of Jesus Christ. That should be a terrifying thought.
Fearing the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, a starting point if you will. Diligent study brings forth an abundance of knowledge. There are many God-fearing men who fill the pulpits each Sunday and preach God’s truth. No matter how many Sunday mornings we sit and warm a pew, we will never receive all of the knowledge God wants us to gain if we just sit and listen. When I first became a Christian, I was excited.
Every Sunday I would listen closely to see what the man in the pulpit had to say. On the other hand my wife, who had been a Christian for many years, didn’t accept everything that was being preached. After the Sunday services she would bring up the questions she had and we would search the Scriptures. I learned that what was being preached wasn’t always scriptural. I had a fear of the Lord and respected His word; I studied and gained knowledge. Through this I found a deep love for searching the Scriptures daily. Sunday morning sermons have their place, but studying our Bibles is where knowledge is gained.
God does not want us to be ignorant of His Word. Fear (respect) for God should propel us into diligent study. Prophecy is being fulfilled daily, but there are those who don’t take the time to study and so they become confused. Therefore they believe we aren’t supposed to understand. If we weren’t to understand why do we have so much prophecy in the Bible? God tells us in advance what will happen so we can be prepared.
Then there are those who think that people have changed, so therefore God’s Word needs to be revised to fit today’s lifestyles. They think that abortion should not be seen as murder, but a choice. Homosexuality is now “acceptable” though the Bible speaks strongly against this abomination.
We who fear God and strive “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,” as stated in the first verse above, know that He has not changed His mind on any of this. Every Christian needs to understand that God has not changed and we need to conform to Him. If we love Him we need to walk in His ways and not expect Him to walk in ours.
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
That means that as you study Scripture and gain knowledge, you will come to understand that God gave the Law to Moses, and He hasn’t changed. Sin is still sin even if society says it is a “choice”. If you fear God you will reject the sin in your life and “walk in all His ways.”
No matter how hard we try we will never be able to fully walk in His ways. We all will stumble, but if we fear Him we will ask His forgiveness and learn from our failures. The fear of the Lord will give us knowledge of how to please Him. Life on earth is short and we need to make it a priority to serve the Lord. He does not want anyone to make the choice of rejecting Him and condemning themselves to Hell.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).
There is no love greater than that. There is no other way that a person can spend eternity with God than to believe in Him. Believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and you will not perish, but you will have everlasting life.
From the moment you believe your salvation is secure. From that point on you need to grow in knowledge of His ways. Study the Scriptures and then apply them to your life. Fear (be in awe of) the Lord and walk in all His ways. Turn from the ways of the world which is filled with sin.
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).
Again I say, amen.
God bless you all.