At the end of every year it seems almost compulsory we examine the last 12 months and look forward to the next 12, making plans, goals and aspirations. Gyms, colleges, yoga studios and organic groceries all traditionally see upticks in interest in the first few weeks of January. But by February or march, after our daily routines grind us back down into our usually patterns, our newfound zest for novel changes to our lives begins to wane.
Partly this is due to lack of discipline, certainly, but also do to a lack of satisfaction. We want to believe these things will add a new level of peace or satisfaction to our lives, and they do, in the short term. Sometimes, we genuinely do find something that sticks and it becomes a part of our lives on a more regular basis, but the New Year rolls around and we still have this twinge that we need a change, a fresh start, something… more.
Our proverb for today tells us that the fear of the Lord leads to peace and satisfaction. This is an interesting idea, because we don’t often associate fear with rest and contentment. It seems like from this proverb, and many others that the “fear of the Lord” is a good, rather than a negative thing.
The key to understanding this concept is to know that like many words, “fear” has a broader sense in Hebrew, encompassing very positive things like honor, respect, reverence, and worshipful awe. In fact, every time we read the words “revere” or “reverence” in our English translations, it is from the Hebrew verb yareh.
In ancient Israel, the “fear of the LORD” was considered one of the greatest goals of life. It means to always be reminded that God is watching, and yes, to realize the importance of living according to his will. But it was also to be reassured of his constant care. It does mean to realize that God will discipline those whom he loves (Revelation 3:19). But, the emphasis is on a positive, reverential relationship with God, not in terms of being terrified by him. If having a reverential awe of the Lord causes us to live with integrity and obedience to God, it will ultimately transform us.
One of the ways we can have this biblical fear of God is to realize just how POWERFUL he is. Everything we see, things we don’t and things we still have to discover were all created by him by merely speaking the words and making it so. From the wind, to whales to Wisconsin. All of it, just by saying so.
It can bring us great peace on contentment to know that a God that powerful is behind everything, and behind every word we read in scripture. It does not mean there will never be any hardship or struggle in our lives. But for those who are God’s children, they never have to worry that God is going to be moved to rain down lightning bolts on us. Yes, he may allow us to face the natural consequences of our own mistakes, or remove his hand of protection from us to correct us, but the great arsenal of the wrath of God will not be poured out on us.
It was already poured out on Christ, and only those who reject God’s offer of grace will ever have to contend with that.
When our desire is to seek God, to live more and more for him, we will always be satisfied. No harm ever came to anyone, in a spiritual sense, from having a deep reverence for God. And this brings the idea of godly fear back full circle as we hear Jesus teach in Matthew 10:28 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
We are all looking for purpose, peace, even long term investments that can help secure our future. God offers all these things in abundance, when we align ourselves with him.
So today, let’s examine our lives, not based on what we want, hope for or desire, but in fear and reverence of the Lord, humbly ask him to show us his will for our lives.
Prayer for Today
Lord, thank you so much that I can come to you and address you as Father. You are mighty beyond all human understanding and I am truly blessed that you hear my prayers and take note of the desires of my heart. Jesus, show me how to live my life in respect of the great majesty that is your Father. By your Holy Spirit let me see the vastness of his glory, power, mercy and love. Help me to do your will today Lord, and give me the strength to continue to follow you as a new year dawns. Amen