Pastor Joe Miller IV
I was about twelve years old when I went hunting with my dad and his two friends in Allegheny National Forest above Tionesta. It was the evening before the hunt started, so we were scouting for turkeys, and he dropped me off at a spot I had never been before. It had an old logging trail to follow so I wouldn’t get lost, and this is where I would get picked up after dark. I followed the trail for a mile or so looking for a sign when I heard something running through the woods on the other side of a clearing. I quickly ran across and then onto a log pile to get a better look. As I was standing there looking down into the thicket, I could hear some sounds that I knew weren’t coming from turkeys. Soon I could make out a large black figure. I knew it wasn’t a deer as it was coming towards me. It was becoming quite clear what it was. It came to the edge of the log pile, looked up at me, and started to growl. The hair on its back stood up letting me know that it did not want me there. It was a bear - probably protecting cubs. At that point, if you could have seen me, you could not have known whether I was afraid or not - only by what I did after I recognized it would you have known the fear and respect I had for that bear. You see, true fear and respect are two-fold. It’s not good enough just to recognize something and say, ‘I fear that.’ Fear is truly shown in your actions toward the subject.
Many times the Bible uses the phrase ‘the fear of the Lord.’ Fear, by definition, means to be afraid and have reverence toward - in this case - God. If you ask any Christians, "Do you fear God?" their response would be, "Of course I do!" But if we really looked into a spiritual mirror, we would all fall a little short of reflecting that reverence for God in our lives. Example: Job 1:1, There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. Job, who had the reputation of a God-fearing man, became distracted by the trials of life and needed to be rebuked and reminded of who is in control. Job 38: 2-7, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
I don’t think it was an accident that God started out His thoughts and revelations with mankind by stating, ‘In the beginning [I] God created the heaven and earth.’ And to remind us of the purpose of that act in Revelations 4:11 - that God created all things and for ‘His’ pleasure they were created. When God adjusted Job’s perception of life and gave him a better, more clear understanding from God’s point of view, Job did not just recognize God, but wisely reflected it in his words and actions. Job 40:1-4, Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said, Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. Then Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Job humbly accepted the rebuke. Job 42:5-6, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. I think we regularly need to stop and humbly remind ourselves that God is in control and He cares for us in every situation we find ourselves in. 1 Peter 5:6-7, Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. The Bible says that ‘the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.’ It is only through recognizing God for who He is: Creator, Sustainer, loving, heavenly Father - and reflecting that in our lives, discerning our words and actions, bringing glory and pleasure to God.
Let us also be thankful for this. I don’t ‘have’ to live life. I ‘get’ to be a child of the Creator. So let us wisely live our lives in the fear of the Lord, loving others, for this is the whole duty of man.