Perhaps one of the most powerful verses in the Word of God that relates to building a Godly Home is found in Deuteronomy 5:29 when God states to Moses, “Oh that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them and their children forever!” God was stating that the essential need of the children of Israel is to have a heart that feared God! The children of Israel had faced many hardships in their past that had revealed the condition of their hearts. That is, they would obey God as long as there was some immediate benefit to them, but if they were suffering because of their obedience, they complained and wanted nothing to do with God! Proverbs 16:6 states, “…by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.” Their fear of God was a fear only of what God might do to them if they entered His presence without a clean heart, not the fear of God that would constrain them to reverence Him and obey Him! It was not a filial fear but rather a slavish fear! Therefore, God exclaims in Deuteronomy verse 29 “Oh” is his hearts cry to His people that they would have such a heart that it would result in a people that would obey Him and it would be well with them and their children forever! What a promise! The fear of God is the hinge upon which the door to building a forever family swings. God’s hearts cry to us today is still that we would have such a heart that we would fear him!
Not long ago a nationally syndicated paper had a cartoon on the editorial page which had in it a picture of a freshly dug grave. The soil in front of the tombstone was freshly turned over and had many weeds growing out of it. These weeds were labeled with many different titles. Some were labeled drug abuse, some divorce, others were labeled immorality, pornography, juvenile delinquency and many other social illnesses. Each clump of weeds was finding its growth in the freshly turned soil. Underneath the grave read the caption from Shakespeare, “all the idle weeds that grow.” On the tombstone etched in granite were the words “IN THE MEMORY OF THE FAMILY UNIT.” The reason that these weeds are growing in America is that the soil in which they are rooted is ungodliness. This ungodliness is the result of a lack of the fear of God in our homes and in our Nation! We might say that the fear of God is the Holy soil which produces a Godly life, a Godly forever family or Godly Nation. But the absence of the fear of God is the unholy soil, which produces an ungodly life, family and Nation! Just what is the fear of God? What will having the fear of God do for my family? How do I frame my home with the fear of God? These are critical questions, which we must turn to scripture for a clear Biblical understanding!
If someone were to come up to you and ask the question, “What is the fear of God,” how would you answer? The truth is that most Christians have a very shallow view and understanding of the concept of the fear of God. In the Bible there are over 150 specific references to the fear of God and hundreds of other references where the fear of God is illustrated though not directly stated. It is an imortant doctrine in the Word of God, but one that is rarely taught on or preached about. The fear of God in us is the self-disclosure of God that points us to the vast difference between God and us. Jerry Bridges states that “there is an infinite gap in worth and dignity between God the creator and man the creature, even though man has been created in the image of God. The fear of God is the heartfelt recognition of this gap. Not a put down of man but an exaltation of God!”
In scripture we see this illustrated in two distinct ways. The first is that of a terror or dread of God. This type of fear is based upon what the object of that fear or dread can do. We see the first illustration of this type of fear of God in Genesis chapter three when God calls unto Adam and says, “where art thou?” Adam’s response is that he hid himself because he was afraid. Just what was Adam afraid of? He was afraid that God would punish him for his disobedience. God had told Adam in Genesis 2:17 that the penalty of eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be death. Adam therefore had a terror or dread of God because of disobedience to Him. To the person who is lost without Christ, this fear is that of eternal separation from God in a place of torment called Hell forever! We live in a society today that tries to extinguish this fear by saying that God is too loving to send someone to Hell, or people will try to keep so busy that they suppress this fear out of their mind. Perhaps this is why many people today hate to be alone or they must have the TV or music playing. They must have some activity to keep their mind from thinking of the impending judgment of God for their unrepentant condition. Should the saved person have this type of fear? In Philippians 2:12 the Bible shares with us that we should work out our salvation in fear and trembling (talking to the born again saint). God wants us to remember that even as a child of God, that he will chastise His children for disobedience (Hebrews 12). Therefore as a child of God this type of the fear of God is a recognition that God will chastise us for continued sin in our life, hence we are to work out our salvation in fear and trembling!
The second and most familiar understanding of the fear of God is that of an awe, reverence or veneration for God. A person who has this comprehension of the fear of God sees God as majestic, holy, and is so fascinated by God that they are humbled and bow before God as king. Therefore, a person who truly fears God has a heart that is compelled to obey God because it sees the loveliness and beauty of God. This is the kind of heart that God desired that the Israelite s have before him (Deut. 5:29) and the heart that God desires that we for Him today! To have a heart that fears God we must expunge it of the love of the world and replace it with the love of God. Thomas Chalmers in his message “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection” states:
The love of the world cannot be expunged by a mere determonstration of the world’s worthlessness. But may it not be supplanted by the love of that which is more worthy than itself?…….and the only way to dispossess the heart of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one.”
May God help us to see the loveliness and beauty of Jesus Christ and may our children see our passion for Jesus manifested in our lives before them so that we might build forever families for the glory of God.