ELEPHANTS IN THE CHURCH
THE FEAR OF GOD
By Jeannette Haley
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Perhaps by now you are growing weary with reading about the “elephants in the church. The truth is, I didn’t realize there were so many of them until I launched into this subject myself. But let’s face it, what is often missing can be just as destructive to our spiritual life as what is currently in operation, and the fear of God is one such topic, even though it is mentioned over 300 times in the Bible.
While none of us enjoys being fearful, there are, nevertheless, any number of things that can cause natural fear, and Satan knows it. That is why he can work so effectively in this world to bring about his evil devices, and the workers of iniquity who serve him know just how to use it as a powerful tool. The COVID-19 “planned” pandemic is one example of how fear can immediately cause people to panic and submit, without question, to whoever is in authority. While this type of fear can render masses of people into a state of weakness, the corresponding feeling of helplessness follows which ushers them into compliance and submission to whatever edicts those “over them” purpose, even if it’s unconstitutional. How easily the fearful relinquish their freedoms to potentially cruel taskmasters! Perhaps the American slogan “Better dead than red” needs a rebirth in this perilous time, as well as facts and figures given to the clueless cringing cowards who are desperately in need of both a history lesson, and a class on virology.
When this type of frightening scenario takes place, those in positions of authority who lack moral character suddenly find themselves energized by the collective fear of the people. Once they breathe in the massive “electrical charge” of collective fear, a type of delusional euphoria overrides any respectable judgment they may have had, which feeds the animal of sheer pride within them while fueling the burgeoning sense of power and infallibility. Hence the door is flung wide open to the deceiver of all mankind who gains entrance by means of that ancient password phrase: “you shall be as gods.” As the one who comes as an angel of light takes possession of the craven soul in its lust for power, a little Hitler is “born.”
We see them every day on TV, in the news, on the Internet, etc. If you are a Christian, your discernment should alert you to those who are working for their master, the father of lies. Politicians, professors, reporters, the news media, scientists, doctors, dictators, leaders of nations, along with a whole host of religious leaders, false prophets and wolves in sheep’s clothing, and so forth—all fools proclaiming to be “experts” because they lack the fear of God. There is no place in their frenzied minds for God and His truth.
This is why Christians need to know the difference between the right kind of fear which is the fear of God mentioned so often in the Bible, and the other kinds of fear that are part of the world in which we live. There is also, literally, a “spirit of fear” which can overcome a person with sheer terror and I experienced this once many years ago right in the middle of a Bible school class, and a couple of other times in dreams. This was an experience I hope never repeats itself in my life again. Concerning the fears shared by humanity in general there is natural fear, fear of consequences, fear of failure, and the fear of God.
Someone may ask, “What exactly is the fear of God?” My favorite response to that question is the late Pastor David Wilkerson’s response. He said, “The fear of God is exactly that—fear!” Oswald Chambers said, “The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.” A. W. Tozer said, “When men no longer fear God, they transgress His laws without hesitation. The fear of consequences is no deterrent when the fear of God is gone.” And, I just have to ask, who, in their right mind wouldn’t fear their own Maker, Creator of heaven and earth, and all that is therein? The Bible says such a person is a fool. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” Proverbs 1:7.
As Christians, we need to understand that being a “fearful person” is not the same as fearing God, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” 2 Timothy 1:7. People who live in a perpetual state of anxiety and fear actually lack faith because they do not possess the proper fear of the Lord, and by “proper” I mean the fear that comes by Spirit and truth. The fear of God is a reasoning fear that serves to ground and establish a person on the solid Rock of Christ, wherein the reality of the Person, Presence, and Power of God Almighty permeates the entire person, body, soul and spirit. The fear of God is the “essence” of an established believer’s life (such as Job, Daniel and Noah). Job’s fear of God firmly anchored him within his own integrity which was evidenced by the fact that he remained faithful and refused to foolishly accuse God falsely. Daniel’s fear of God was the source of his excellent spirit, and earned him the honor of hearing these words from Michael the archangel, “O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me” Daniel 10:19. As for Noah, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” Hebrews 11:7.
Praise the Lord that “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge” Proverbs 14:26. What a wonderful promise this is! Therefore, not only is the fear of the Lord wisdom, which helps us to depart from evil so that we gain understanding, but it is also strong confidence and a place of refuge. Concerning these end times, Daniel 11:32 states, “And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” [Emphasis added.] The fear of the Lord is essential if we are to truly know our God—who He is, how to properly worship Him, obey Him, serve Him, and love Him.
“America’s prophet,” A. W. Tozer wrote: “A truth fully taught in the Scriptures and verified in personal experience by countless numbers of holy men and women through the centuries might be condensed thus into a religious axiom: No one can know the true grace of God who has not first known the fear of God.
“The first announcement of God’s redemptive intention toward mankind was made to a man and a woman hiding in mortal fear from the presence of the Lord. The Law of God was given to a man trembling in terror amid fire and smoke, and quaking at the voice of thunder and the sound of the divine trumpet. When Zacharias’ tongue was loosened by the mysterious operation of God, ‘fear came on all that dwelt round about’ (Luke 1:65). Even the famous annunciation, ‘on earth peace, good will toward men’ (2:14), was given to shepherds who were ‘sore afraid’ (2:9) by reason of the sudden overwhelming presence of the heavenly host (see Luke 2:9-14).
“We have but to read the Scriptures with our eyes open and we can see this truth running like a strong cable from Genesis to Revelation. The presence of the divine always brought fear to the hearts of sinful men. Always there was about any manifestation of God something that dismayed the onlookers, that daunted and overawed them, that struck them with a terror more than natural. This terror had no relation to mere fear of bodily harm. It was a dread consternation experienced far in toward the center and core of the nature, much farther in than that fear experienced as a normal result of the instinct for physical self-preservation.
“I do not believe that any lasting good can come from religious activities that do not root in this quality of creature-fear. The animal in us is very strong and altogether self-confident. Until it has been defeated God will not show Himself to the eyes of our faith. Until we have been gripped by that nameless terror which results when an unholy creature is suddenly confronted by that One who is the holiest of all, we are not likely to be much affected by the doctrine of love and grace as it is declared by the New Testament evangel. The love of God affects a carnal heart not at all; or if at all, then adversely, for the knowledge that God loves us may simply confirm us in our self-righteousness.”
All too often church leaders who fear man more than God try to soften such subjects as the fear of the Lord by teaching that all it really means is awe and reverence for God, but awe and reverence are not the sum total of the fear of the Lord although they are essential components of that fear. The fear of the Lord, like a finely cut gemstone, is evidenced by the “facets” of the life of God’s servant, Job. “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” Job 1:8? I believe the key to Job’s perfection, uprightness, and hatred for evil was the result of his fear of God. Consider that Job, without the written Word or the written Law, knew His God, the character of God, the attributes of God, and the Spirit of God just as Enoch, Noah and Abraham did before him. If we are to truly know God as did these great men of faith, then we need to begin where they did, at the place of fear before Him—the very place of humility that the enemy of our souls does not want us to be because fear is worship. Jesus said to Satan in Matthew 4:10, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Therefore, if fear of anything other than God comes between you and God, that is what you will find yourself focused on, consumed by, and bowing down to. Jesus also said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” Matthew 10:28. In other words, fear God.
In Job 28:28 we read what he said, concerning God, “And, unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” How many Christian pastors and leaders can you think of who are warning their congregations, or TV audiences, to fear God? Why is there so little sound biblical instruction and preaching on the subject of the fear of the Lord? Is it because we are all so soft and wimpy, cozy and sleepy that we can’t be awakened to the seriousness and lateness of the hour? Are our souls so dulled down by “positive” and “politically correct” nonsensical, vain philosophies of men that we can no longer bear the fiery lightning of truth, while we stop our ears at the sound of thunder across our nation? God is trying to get our attention, but the truth is only those who fear the Lord recognize the signs. Ray Comfort put it well,
“This society in which we live is radically changing. What previous generations saw as evil is now embraced as being good. It is a dangerous and slippery slope upon which we stand when we reject what Solomon called the beginning of wisdom – the fear of God.”
Someone may protest, “But sister, you just don’t understand! We are in the ‘age of grace’ and it’s all about God’s love!” Yes, “God is love” but He is also holy, and because He is holy nothing less than holiness can stand in His presence. The fear of the Lord is an awareness that you are in the presence of a holy, just, and almighty God and that He will hold you accountable for your motives, thoughts, words, and actions. Psalm 130:3, 4 says, “If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” From this verse we learn that the right fear of God comes after we receive forgiveness by God’s grace, as we begin to realize that “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” Hebrews 10:31. Proverbs 28:14, “Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.”
As I write this, the world is gripped by fear and uncertainty. Concerning fear, Jesus said, “But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by” Luke 21:9. We become terrified when horrific things happen that we have no control over. Suddenly we realize how very puny, incapable, weak and helpless we really are in the scheme of things. As mortal human beings, we’re just downright vulnerable. But, remember what the Apostle Paul told us in Colossians 3:3, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” This is where we, as believers, need to be if we are to continue to stand for truth, live for Christ, follow where He leads, and live by faith. “Being already dead” was the secret to the persecuted Christians in the U.S.S.R. and other communist countries. Their persecutors asked, “How can we kill somebody who is already dead?”
I think we are all very acutely aware by now that the tyrannical globalists are making their move this year to gain control over the whole world and, according to Bill Gates, every person on earth will be forced to take the toxic vaccine with an ID chip in it. It remains to be seen just how this will play out, but what we do know for sure is certain governors, mayors, sheriffs and others across America are wielding an iron fist of oppressive, communistic and unconstitutional rule. All of this came about suddenly, catching many by surprise, and producing a great deal of panic, fear and anger. Sadly, many of these confused and fearful people have sat in churches for years without ever having heard a sermon on the end times and how to prepare for it. The fear of God, which is what anchors the soul deeply into the Rock enabling us to stand in tribulation and persecution is a hushed “elephant in the church” that most modern preachers and teachers tip toe around, and try to ignore. Instead, they continue the same old drumbeat of “God loves you” so pay your tithes and go back to sleep. (Tithing, by the way, is only for the Levitical priesthood. Is your leader a Levitical priest?)
Instead of “arming” people with biblical truth concerning the end days, and preparing them to stand in spite of all the “fear” and propaganda Satan and his demons are spewing out around the world, hireling shepherds and wolves in sheep’s clothing have cleverly collected “feathers” from every foul bird they could find in order to “tickle” the “itching ears” of multitudes of people who cannot “endure sound doctrine,” who do not love the truth, who love themselves and not others, who “want to eat their cake and have it too,” and who no longer believe God’s Word, but have turned to the “god” of “science falsely so-called,” fables, psychobabble, “philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (See Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 6:20, 21; Colossians 2:8.)
Charles G. Finney, in speaking of 2 King 17:33 which says, “They feared the Lord, and served their own gods,” said, “When the ten tribes of Israel were carried away by the king of Assyria, their land was repopulated with strangers of different idolatrous nations who knew nothing of the religion of the Jews. Very soon, the wild beasts increased in the country, and the lions destroyed multitudes of the people. They thought it was because they did not know the god of that country and had therefore ignorantly transgressed and offended him.
“So they applied to the king, who told them to get one of the priests of the Israelites to teach them the manner of the god of the land. They took this advice and obtained one of the priests to come to Bethel and teach them the religious ceremonies and modes of worship that had been practiced there. And he taught them to fear Jehovah as the god of that country. But still, they did not receive Him as the only God. They feared Him, that is, they feared His anger and His judgments; and to avert these they performed the prescribed rites.
“But they served their own gods. They kept up their idolatrous worship, and this was what they loved and preferred, although they felt obliged to pay some reverence to Jehovah as a god of that country. Multitudes of persons still profess a certain kind of fear of the Lord who nevertheless serve their own gods–other things to which their hearts are supremely devoted and in which they mainly put their trust.
“There are two kinds of fear. There is the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom and is founded in love. There is also a slavish fear, which is a mere dread of evil and is purely selfish. This is the kind of fear that was possessed by those people spoken of in the text. They were afraid Jehovah would send His judgments upon them if they did not perform certain rites, and this was the motive they had for worshipping Him. Those who have this fear are supremely selfish and, while they profess to reverence Jehovah, have other gods whom they love and serve.
“To serve a person is to be obedient to the will and devoted to the interests of that individual. To serve God is to make Christianity the main business of life and to devote one’s self, heart, life, powers, time, influence and all to build up the Kingdom of God and advance His glory. Who are they who profess to fear the Lord but serve their own gods? Anyone who has not heartily and practically renounced the ownership of his possessions and given them up to the Lord.”
Finney also nailed it when he said, “People who are most readily moved to action by appeals to their own selfish interests show that they are serving their own gods.” Many people, instead of fearing and serving God out of love for Him and a desire to glorify Him, play at religion for outward show, self-glorification and any self-serving benefits that may be offered. These are the people who are building their house (life) on sinking sand, and when the storm comes, and come it will, their lives will be shattered and destroyed.
Is the love of God and the fear of God compatible? Of course, it is! We learn of God’s gracious attitude, love and compassion toward those who fear Him in Psalm 103:11, 13, 17, 18, “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.” And, Psalm 118:4-6 “Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever. I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” These are just a few examples of fearing God recorded in the Bible out of the 490 times “the fear of God” or “fear God” or “fear of the Lord” is recorded. No doubt you are very disappointed that I haven’t typed them all out for you to read in this article, so let me encourage you to get out your Concordance and do a topical study on fear of God.
The proper fear of God is what establishes our spiritual foundation upon the Rock of ages, our mighty fortress, bulwark, and place of safety upon which our eternal destiny rests. It is the framework or structure within which the process of spiritual growth takes place, reinforcing the eternal truths of the attributes, character and power of God. Thus, the sixty-three times in the Bible that people were told to “fear not” is based upon the sure and established foundation of the very nature of God who changes not, and in whom the redeemed soul “lives, and moves, and has his being.” The fear of God that a saint possesses is a sanctified fear, unlike the sheer terror the lost soul experiences when confronted by the holiness and glory of God. The fear of God belongs to the righteous, for the state of being continually fearful is displeasing to the Lord because it lacks faith, and Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Romans 14:23b states, “for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” As we look around us at the perilous times in which we live, we can see the fulfillment of Jesus’ words in Luke 21:26, “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” Perhaps this is why the fearful are listed in Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” The proper fear of God is indeed a stronghold of security and strength for the saints, from which overcoming authority and power flows.
I have learned that the greater my fear of God is, the more I likewise fear sinning against Him, failing Him, denying Him, or being ashamed of Jesus in my life. The fear of God opens the way to highest praise and glorious worship in Spirit and Truth. The more I encounter His amazing grace and love which I don’t deserve in any way, the more I long to be caught up by His love and ushered into the holy place where no evil, sin, perversion, profaneness, debauchery, iniquity or ungodliness can dwell. The fear of God compels the soul to enter in through the Door (Christ) to the straight and narrow way where there is no turning back, no more longing of the heart for the world or its ways. The fear of God brings with it visions of glory that man’s best can never duplicate, understand or produce. The fear of God causes wonder to rise up within the heart anchored in Christ so that truth, righteousness and sobriety overflow one’s entire being, bathing the soul in liquid love of purest light and finest gold. The fear of God is the inner pathway upon which the transforming power of Christ flows within the secret chambers of the heart by the inflowing of the Holy Spirit, which will on “that day” quicken that which is mortal into glorious immortality. The fear of God clears the inner eyes of the spirit, enabling the soul to look up and gaze unhindered into eternity, and the fiery, holy presence of God, our Creator, Almighty God, Maker of heaven and earth, the LORD of all things, visible and invisible, the high and lofty and holy One, the Majesty in the heavens.
Let us, therefore, embrace the fear of the Lord so that we may enter into the place of wisdom, knowledge and life, and begin the incredible journey into the secret place of God.