THE FEAR OF GOD

Norman J Henry

Hebrews 12: 28-29

1 John 3: 19-20

1 Samuel 1: 9-11, 24-28

2 Samuel 7: 1-7, 12-15, 18-19

Exodus 33: 10-11

Acts 27: 18-24

         I want to speak of the fear of God.  It is something that there is not much of in the world now.  In my lifetime there used to be a measure of godliness, and that is disappearing.  I believe that God would raise the matter with us, at the end of this day.  I think there is a need for the fear of God in every one of our hearts.  I speak for myself; in what we say, what we think, what we do we need to be governed by respectful fear of God.  We have been speaking about the Spirit; “he will bring demonstration to the world” (John 16: 8), and in 1 Timothy 4  the Spirit of God is speaking distinctly and clearly, and is expressive towards the saints as to the appalling conditions that exist in the world which we must be apart from.  I think the fear of God will keep us on a separate path.  You will remember that when the nations were brought in with Cornelius, the testimony of his pious servants was that he was God-fearing, Acts 10: 22.  Peter comes to it that those that fear God and work righteousness are acceptable to God, v 35; that is how those of the nations came in.  They came in on the basis that they were God-fearing.  Do you not think that is a real challenge to our hearts as to whether we are respectfully fearing God?  We are having to do with God; He is supreme.  We love the family relations that we have with God, and we are His sons, we are in the family of God; but most of our time we are moving amongst men, we are in the kingdom in that sense, and are we God-fearing persons?  We need to be here suitable and acceptable to God.

         Now when you come to Hebrews, it says, “Wherefore let us, receiving a kingdom not to be shaken”.  The writer has already said that everything created is going to be shaken!  He says that God is going to shake the heavens and the earth, and then in verse 27, “But this, Yet once, signifies the removing of what is shaken, as being made, that what is not shaken may remain”.  Well, I want to tell you, dear brother and sister, we have touched on things that God is working in your soul that cannot be shaken: is that not wonderful!  There is something given of God in the soul of a believer that will never be shaken!  In other words, new creation cannot be changed, it cannot be shaken; it stands inviolate in a changing world, a corrupting world, because you have a nature given of God that cannot sin.  But we are still in conditions where we know the first order of man.  God has operated through redemption, and what is new is formed by the Spirit of God.  You cannot link the Spirit of God with what I am after the flesh; He is working according to the principle of redemption that God has worked out through Christ.  So it says here, “Wherefore let us, receiving a kingdom not to be shaken”, that is that you will stand, dear brother and dear sister, in an evil world.  You will not be overcome by it, that is the great point of the kingdom, and it says, “have grace, by which let us serve God acceptably with reverence and fear”.  I think every one of us should be searched in our personal relations with God.

         So we come to John’s epistle.  It says, “that if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things”.  Fear of God is normal in persons in relationship with God.  So when matters come up we must remember that God is greater than our hearts.  You work out everything with God.  I think that is beautiful: how assuring!  I have read about these four persons, and these persons feared God.  They were God-fearing.  We have Hannah, David, Joshua and Paul; persons that met difficult circumstances in their lives.  We have to meet difficult circumstances in our lives.  God knows all things; “if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart”, that is wonderful!  And He is dealing with us, and He is dealing with these persons, and I just wanted to bring out what they stand for.

         If we come to 1 Samuel, Hannah is going through very grave experience.  She is barren, she has no child, and Peninnah provoked her.  It was rather remarkable that it was when they went up to serve, to sacrifice, that she provoked her and Hannah got no pleasure there.  She was being pushed down by it.  And then it says that Elkanah her husband says, “Am not I better to thee than ten sons?”.  That is a poor remark, is it not?  The woman was barren; she wanted a child; she did not request from God that Peninnah would be removed, or that the provocation would be less.   The position was that she had God’s thoughts, thoughts put in her soul by God.  She not only had God’s thoughts, but she adhered to them; and I want to tell you, dear young brother and sister, if you get something in your soul from God, adhere to it!  It is something pure and solid in your life that you can rely on.  She did not get any sympathy from Eli the priest: he says, ’You have been drinking’.  She was praying, there was movement of her lips, it was not audible, but God heard it, and God answered that prayer.  I think it is lovely to see that, and when she brings the boy up to the temple, Eli “worshipped Jehovah there”.  There was an influence in this woman by her adherence to what God had put in her heart, and that is a very great thing.   While she did not have the sympathy of Eli she certainly found strength in her link with God and her request is met.  That is blessed!

         Now when you come to David you might say you have got a man whose heart condemned him.  He had disappointment.  You might have disappointments in your life, certain things you cannot do.  He wanted to build a house for God. and God says, ‘I have never asked for it’.  God put it into David’s soul because David supplied the material for it, but he was not the man to build the house; he had shed blood.  It is the son who builds God’s house and the son is a man of peace.  Is that not beautiful!  And what happens; does David say, ’Well, I am giving up’?  Persons say that, ‘I am disappointed, I am going to walk off’, but I do not know where they are going, because the best thing is to come into the presence of God.  David goes in, and he sits down restful there; I think he accepts it and he gets an impression of Christ.  He says, “And is this the manner of man, Lord Jehovah?”: he gets something of Christ in his soul.  Each one of these persons gets something in their soul.  Hannah got something in her soul, and David got it.  There is something very special when you accept the will of God and respect Him.  You find something gets into your soul that can never be got anywhere else.

         When you come to Exodus 33, here is the young man Joshua.  I have been thinking of this young man; he remained in the tent.  The pillar of cloud is introduced in Exodus 13, and God is leading the people out by it, and when it comes to the Red Sea the pillar of cloud and fire stands between the army of the Egyptians and the Israelites and it lights up the night, chap 14: 19, 20.  Is that not beautiful, the night is lit up?  God is protecting His people.  No person went between the army of the Egyptians and the people of Israel, no one, because the pillar of cloud and fire stood as a protector.  Remember that, friend: the first thing to come into your soul and your spiritual history is that there is a Protector there.  You are not left to your own devices, but there is a Protector there; He stands there.  The Spirit in type stands as Protector.  Is that not blessed!  And then the cloud appeared in Exodus 16: 10.  But where we read it says that the pillar of cloud stood at the entrance of the tent.  It is the evidence of the presence of God known here.  You hear persons saying, ’Well, I will try and find a suitable church to go to’.  If the rights of God and the love of God are expressed in the company, and the word of God is there, and the judgment of evil there, that is where God is.  We want to provide conditions to experience His presence.  And when we go out to the meeting we want to know the Lord’s presence.  The Lord has rights; He spoke to all the assemblies at the beginning of Revelation.  Moses goes back into the camp; what does Joshua do?  Does he do the same?  No, Joshua remained in the tent.  Now that is a big lesson book for us.  He would have to pass the pillar of cloud if he went out of the tent because that was at the entrance; that will hold you.  I want to tell you something that struck me this past week.  The enemy will always attack the service of God; that is what I believe.  The very fundamental intention and motive of the enemy is to spoil the service of God, and the scripture that came to me was that of Judah.  His name means ’praise’ and Judah is the law giver, Ps 60: 7.  I think the service of God is protected by divine rights, and I just say the enemy wants to spoil what is in the company of the Lord’s people.  I look at the potential here; our hearts just love to see potential.  Two weeks ago, in the service to God, three young brothers gave out hymns to God and one was on his feet and I thanked God for that.  We want to hold all the young brothers and sisters; we know what the world is like.  We once were young, you may never be old; the Lord may come and you might not reach old age; but one thing is that we know what the world is like and its intent and the world wants the young.  Pharaoh proposed that the little ones should remain in Egypt – “go now, ye that are men, and serve Jehovah”, Exod 10: 10.  Moses says, “We will go with our young and with our old” (v 9): everyone is going to come with us.  And I say to you, the desire of Christ is to hold every one here for the testimony; that is what He wants.

         Now when you come to the Acts of the Apostles; what a dark day that was, what an exercise for Paul.  God supported Paul in going to Rome to witness before Cæsar and here he is, and it looks hopeless.  Was his link with God broken?  Oh no!  There will be tests that come up in your life, and you say, ’Am I going to keep near to God in this matter?’.  Young brethren, there will be exercises that arise; are you going to be with God about it?  How could Paul stand up in a boat that was wallowing about in the ocean ready to sink?  He stands up and he addresses them; this is not an easy matter.  He did that because an angel of God had stood by Him.  “For an angel of the God, whose I am and whom I serve, stood by me this night”; that is how you meet that difficulty.  You will come to some difficulty and you will find how you are going to overcome; the blessed Spirit of God will support you.  Paul could stand up in that company and say, “partake of food”!  Think of that.  He gave thanks for it.  Those poor bewildered mariners!  They went for days and despite all their training and expertise in maritime life they were helpless, defenceless, aimless; that is what the world is like!  The world is going on aimlessly.  It does not know where it are going; it is going on to judgment and that is why we need to be separate from it.  Here it says that he stood up and he says, “Wherefore be of good courage”.  What a word!  Who gave him the word? God gave him the word -  “God is greater than our heart”.  He gave him it and in such a circumstance he says, “partake of food, for this has to do with your safety”.  Do we not find that in these two days there has been food for our safety?  The blessed privileges are tomorrow, the Lord’s day, and then we may have to go back next week to school or work or retirement.  You have always got to overcome as long as you are here, and you have to prove God in it, and that is why we need the element of the fear of God; you have to be respectful to God.  Thank God He has opened His heart to us and we are with Christ before the Father; that is glorious.  What a wonderful privilege!  But we are still here.  The thief on the cross died on the day he was converted but Saul of Tarsus did not; he was meant to live a life of committal to Christ, and that is what we are called to do.  And I just say to keep that thought before you, that with reverence and fear we are to serve God.  It is acceptable to God for that spirit to mark us, because the god of this world makes his claim on us.  Finally the devil will be cast out, but at the moment we are going through this world and I trust we will be marked soberly as we are amongst men with the fear and respect of the blessed God.

         May the Lord bless the word.

Aberdeen ID

5th July 2014