Tag Archive | holy fear

Holy Fear: The Great Earthquake, part 3/3

This series first appeared on The End Time in March 2011. Today’s essay has been edited & updated.

Part 1 here
Part 2 here

“The earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because He was wroth.” (Psalm 18:7).

The USGS essay regarding the historical New England earthquake of 1727 and its aftermath continues

“The people of New England were affected by this earthquake as they had never been before, being fearful of divine judgments for their sins and lax responsiveness to the call to religious duties. The clergy taught them that it was “a loud call to the whole land to repent and fear and give glory to God.” The next morning great numbers of the inhabitants of Boston gathered at the old North church for prayer and other religious services. The fear of further immediate danger was somewhat dispelled in the pleasant sunlight, but as soon as the sun had set their fright returned, and in greater numbers than in the morning the people crowded to the old Brick church, which could not hold them. The old South was then opened, and those who failed of admission to the Brick church flocked thither, and that was also filled. Rev. Thomas Paine of Weymouth, Mass., and some other ministers, tried to prove to their congregations that the earthquake had not a natural cause, but was a supernatural token of God’s anger to the sinful world.”

“The selectmen of Medford, Mass., appointed the next Wednesday as a day to be observed by fasting and prayer on account of the earthquake; and Lieutenant-governor Dummer recommended that Thursday should be kept in the same way for the same purpose throughout the province. Many sermons delivered on the latter and other days were printed and are still extant. In Salem, Mass., a meeting was held on Saturday at the upper meeting-house (then so called) which was attended by the largest congregation that was ever in that edifice.”

They repented, the fasted, they prayed, and they entreated. The people fell down before a mighty God and supplicated in proper Holy Fear.

In his sermon “A Holy Fear of God and His Judgments” John Cotton defined Holy Fear:

–Trembling for fear of God implies our solemn an awful apprehensions of the great God, who brings such judgments upon us

–Trembling for fear of God means that we are sensibly touched and affected with the consideration of the judgments that are or may yet be brought upon us.

–Trembling for fear of God means our humbling ourselves exceedingly before Him who is thus visiting and threatening us.

Do we tremble? Rarely. We strut, we dismiss, we forget the power He wields, and holds back. Holy Fear, repentance, and awe of His majesty are not popular topics today. Prosperity, ecstatic experiences, all paths leading to heaven are the topics of today, when the bible is even referred to at all.

I remember the bright fall day of September 11, 2001. I was in my newspaper office happily writing the last of the articles for upcoming publication, and then my world shattered. Planes smashed into the Twin Towers in NYC, the Pentagon in Washington DC (where we lost a home town boy) and into the Pennsylvania ground. Our complacency was gone and the world never looked the same after that day.

More to the point, the event shook all of us in America. The next Sunday, churches were full. People wanted – needed – answers. Intuitively we knew any answers that came from ourselves would be inadequate. We sought them from ‘somewhere or something else.’

The rush to church was short-lived, as it inevitably must be in a pagan nation.

After 9/11, a short-lived rush to church: Mark Chaves on how church business boomed briefly after 9/11

Church Attendance Back to Normal

Repenting. Falling down on our faces. These are proper responses when disaster strikes. It’s intuitive that people do these things because as Romans 1:18-20 shows us, we all know, saved or not, that God exists and is in control-

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Do we weep day and night for our own sins, faults, and failures? Do we weep for neglecting to give glory to God? We do not react thus: “When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself.” (Habakkuk 3:16).

We shake our heads at the poor folks way over there experiencing natural disaster, such as the Hawaiians losing their homes to the volcano, and we move on. We do not do the first and proper thing: repent. I am talking to believers who may have forgotten what it means to be a sinner falling into the hands of an angry God.

Why are not the churches in America full today? Why are not people weeping at altars, seeking forgiveness? Do we evidence a Holy Fear? No, we talk of prosperity with a flashy smile.

Rev Cotton finishes, “Oh, what need we have then to cry mightily unto God that He will make the impressions lasting on the souls of parents, children, young, old, rich, poor, bond and free! We have done it already. We will continue to do it, and we hope the Lord will not turn away our prayers nor His mercy from us.”

Will the dreadful impressions of God after 9/11-Japan quake-Indian Ocean Tsunami-Joplin tornado swarm-Hawaiian volcano- etc last in you? In me? It is an awesome thing to see His power in creation. It’s even more powerful to see His work in a human soul.

Give glory to God for His power. Give glory to Jesus by repenting, and living an obedient, honorable, and moral life in Him.

Why fearing the Lord is a good thing; cultivate it

How would you react if you were suddenly face-to-face with God?

That is the question John MacArthur asked in his blog series adapted from his book Worship: The Ultimate Priority. If one relied solely on the anecdotes of the many false teachers who claim to have personally been in in His presence, one would think that coming face-to-face with God was either as normal an occurrence as running into your neighbor at the grocery store, or as casual as a backyard BBQ.

Whatever happened to the fear of God? is the title of MacArthur’s blog essay and it is a great question. In the Bible, even those men who were in right standing with God were terrified, cowed, and humbled at meeting Him in person. For example, MacArthur wrote,

in Genesis 18 Abraham confessed in the presence of God that he was dust and ashes. Similarly, Job said after his pilgrimage, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5–6). Ezra 9 records the high priest’s profound sense of shame as he came before the Lord to worship. Habakkuk had a vision of God’s power and majesty, and his knees began to knock: “I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me” (Habakkuk 3:16 ESV).

Isaiah said he was “undone”, or “I am ruined”. The Hebrew word in that verse is damah and it means to cease, cause to cease, cut off, destroy. The flesh of sinful man, even a justified man declared righteous, is immediately reduced to a metaphorical pile of ashes when contrasted in person to the august glory of the Ancient of Days. The Fear of God article gives many more examples of this contrast between man and God, and expands the verses to illustrate the spiritual importance of the fear of God.

Yet in our day, according to so many false teachers who claim direct revelation, we have the sweet and sensitive voice coming out of the celestial realms to envelop women with a warm, misty romance. Moore says He calls her “honey” and “babe”, and they go on a play date together to the zoo. They “have a blast”. Joanna Gaines said she talked with Jesus in a garden, and she recalls, “I remember hearing God say, ‘Joanna, there’s going to come a time when I’m going to say for you to go, and I’m going to need for you to step out and go.'” Jesus has needs? In the Bible He commanded. Gaines’ 21st century language is a giveaway the entity she walked and talked in a garden with was not the Jesus of the Bible. According to Kim Walker-Smith, she was personally visited by a Jesus that flailed His arms and ran yelling Woo-hoo! because He is so happy to be in HER presence. Smith said she fell into His lap, and she was so self-absorbed her two questions she asked the LORD OF THE UNIVERSE that were about herself.

Whatever happened to the fear of God? Let MacArthur’s question echo in your ears, mind, and heart.

The book by Jerry Bridges called The Joy of Fearing God is a good one for people to read today. The book’s synopsis says,

For most of us, fear is something we try to avoid. And fearing God hardly sounds like an occasion for joy. But Jerry Bridges shows how the fear of the Lord is actually the key that opens the door to a life of true knowledge, wisdom, blessing, and joy.

None of the visions of God presented in His own Word present a relaxed disciple sipping lattes at the zoo together or El Elyon running around yelling woo-hoo. Those visions and claims are irreverent in the extreme. The true visions in His word show the majesty, holiness, and power of a God who chooses to love us despite our depraved state. Bridges says,

There are more than 150 references to the fear of God in the Bible. While the majority of these occur in the Old Testament, there are a sufficient number in the New Testament to convince us that fearing God is indeed an attitude of heart we should cultivate today.” ― Jerry Bridges, The Joy of Fearing God

That worshipful cultivation is urged in MacArthur’s essay as well. He ended his essay by saying,

Peter “fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, ‘Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!'” (Luke 5:8). All he could see was his own sinfulness when confronted with the power and presence of our holy God. We need to cultivate that same attitude, remembering that we not only live our lives before the eyes of a holy God, but that His Holy Spirit dwells within us. Being ever mindful of God’s presence is vital if we’re going to live worshipful lives that glorify Him.

The life of the true disciple who worships in reverent fear is one that is drenched with joy. The irreverent false teachers’ attitudes of being relaxed and unconcerned in His ‘presence’ is a dead giveaway that the personage they are ‘meeting’ is not our Holy God. MacArthur tells the story of a man who told him that Jesus comes into the bathroom while he is shaving and puts His arm around him, which helps the man’s bursitis.

I thought, “Do you keep shaving? If you can keep shaving, then it isn’t Jesus. If holy God came into the bathroom while you were shaving, you would fall to the floor so hard that you would kill yourself!” It is an awesome thing to confront an infinitely holy God!

It is an awesome thing to be confronted by an infinitely holy God, even though we believers are His children! Live worshipful lives that glorify Him, and it begins with a reverential fear of who He is.