Fear of the Lord

So I was reading a story in the Bible the other day.  You know the story from Genesis.  Joseph’s brothers sold him to some merchants in a caravan and the merchants took Joseph to Egypt.  Joseph prospers in the Pharaoh’s household.  When there is famine in Canaan the brothers go to Egypt and Joseph provides for them.  Of course, there is a lot of drama and plot twists underlying the story.  You should read it again sometime.  Long story short, after a few generations the descendants of Jacob in Egypt are becoming quite numerous and the Pharaoh fears their growing numbers so he tries to impose a unique method of birth control.

“15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. (Exodus 1(NIV))

“17 The midwives, however, feared God”. A Google search turns up 32 bible verses about fear of God.  We have all heard good, upstanding Christians referred to as “God-fearing.”  But are we really supposed to fear God?  Isaiah refers to the Messiah as one who fears the Lord but I can’t find any verses where Jesus tells us to fear the Lord. 

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV))

Another Google search shows 372 verses about loving God.  Ten times more verses about loving God than fearing God.  Why?

Because “18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.“ (1 John 4:18 (NIV)

See, it's simple but not easy.  Lord, teach me to love.

Mark Autterson

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