John the Baptist came as a for-runner of Jesus. His mission was to prepare the people for the first advent of Christ. He is called a “voice crying in the wilderness.” Of him Christ said, “And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.” Matthew 11:14. As a messenger, he was fearless; he came in the spirit and power of Elijah. (Luke 1:17). He laid the axe at the root of the trees. All those who later on became followers of Christ, were men and women whose hearts were softened by the message of repentance which he preached. So is the work that is to be accomplished by those represented by the three angels of Revelation 14:6-12. They are those who receive the truth, and with power open the gospel to the world. Their message is to prepare the world for the second coming of Jesus Christ.
The first angel’s message is a solemn message, announcing the judgment hour; “Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Revelation 14:7. The message is said to be given with a loud voice for it is meant to attract the attention of all. All who have ever lived upon this earth - great and small, rich and poor, free and bond - must give an account before God for the life they’ve lived. In the light of what Jesus has done for us on the cross, there’s a call for us to fear God, to give Him glory and to worship Him. In this article we will examine several texts from the Bible showing, what it means to fear God.
The Foundation of Wisdom
The Bible asserts that the foundation of wisdom and knowledge is the fear of God; “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 9:10; 1:7). Speaking of wisdom, it is written: “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom… For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.” Proverbs 3:13, 14. The man who has wisdom, which begins with the fear of God, possesses length of days, riches and honor. (Proverbs 3:16). For a wicked man shortens his days by excesses; a righteous man prolongs his by temperance. “Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.” Ecclesiastes 8:12, 13.
Wisdom is the principal thing. All her paths are peace, and “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Psalm 119:165. Thus they that fear not God are called fools, and are likened to a troubled sea. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.” Psalm 53:1, Isaiah 57:20. There’s no rest for the wicked! Rest is promised to all those who will yoke up with Christ and learn of Him.
Revealed through Obedience
The fear of the Lord leads us to eschew evil. “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Job 1:9. Obedience to God and keeping of His commandments is the highest form of worship. A righteous life shows that one fears God for, “He that walketh in his uprightness feareth the LORD: but he that is perverse in his ways despiseth him.” Proverbs 14:2. The fear of the Lord is an indication that one possesses respect and reverence for God. Thus we reveal to the world that we have understanding; when we depart from evil; “and to depart from evil is understanding.” “a good understanding have all they that do his commandments.” (Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10).
We cannot truly fear God without keeping His commandments. Abraham showed that he feared God by showing willing obedience. “for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” Genesis 22:12. Concerning His statues and judgments, God said “Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” Deuteronomy 4:6. What does the LORD require of us, but to fear Him, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve Him with all our heart and with all our soul, and to keep His commandments? To fear God, and to keep his commandments; this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Leads to Humility
The fear of God leads us to have a true understanding of the greatness and holiness of God, and to approach Him with great reverence and humility of heart. When God gave Israel the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, He chose to give them amidst awful grandeur. This was in keeping with the exalted character of God’s law. Thus, the minds of the people were impressed that everything connected with the service of God must be regarded with the greatest reverence. Daniel remained with no strength after seeing a vision of an angel, “Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.” Daniel 10:8. John fell down to worship the angel before him, but the angel forbade him saying, “See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant.” (Revelation 19:10). How much more then when men stood in vision before the Lord in His majesty?
Prophet Isaiah felt undone and sinful after beholding the LORD in vision sitting upon His throne, high and lifted up, with Seraphim crying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5). After hearing the voice of God on Mount Sinai, the children of Israel moved and stood far from the mount and asked Moses to speak with them, instead of God because they were afraid that they will die. (Exodus 20:20). In another instance the Bible records, “And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.”Judges 13:22. All these and many others in scripture were filled with awe and had a true sense of their sinfulness. Right well they feared, because the word of the Lord says, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” Exodus 33:20. So is the attitude of man when he fears God. He becomes very mindful of the fact that he is dust, the work of God’s hand and is in need of a Saviour.
At this stage we may ask, why God chooses to send such a message now. Is there anything in the world that shows that man has forgotten his Creator and thus needs a reminder? Well, as it was in the days of Lot and before the flood, the increase of wickedness in the earth is an indication that the fear of God has departed from men. “The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Psalm 36:1; Romans 3:8. “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man … And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:3, 5.
The twin cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, were destroyed by fire and brimstone because of the wickedness and sin that prevailed in them. Speaking of the prevailing evils the Bible records: “I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.” Jeremiah 23:14.
Strikingly, our world has verily reproduced the conditions that pre-existed the destruction of the antediluvians and the inhabitants of the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. But shall He destroy the world without a warning call? Nay, that would be against His character. A question is then set before all mankind: “Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? For to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.” Jeremiah 10:6. What shall your answer be?
In a nutshell, our daily lives should be lives of continual sanctification, motivated by love that springs forth from a heart that understands the sacrifice Christ has made for us. The need for a call to fear God, that is to say, a call to keep His commandments and to depart from evil, is to prepare men to stand before the Creator, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”