The Necessity of the Fear of the Lord
Passage: Malachi 2:1–2:9
Below are some thoughts and questions for personal reflection or group discussion.
- The Problem: Failure to Fear
Read Malachi 2:1-9. The priests in Malachi’s day had no fear of the Lord. They offered Him the least service they could and they did not instruct the people according to His truth, but they led them astray in ways that exploited the people instead of loving them.
Compare this to the way God described the priests of old in Malachi 2:4-7. What was the result of the fact that they feared the Lord and stood in awe of Him?
- The Solution: The Fear of the Lord
Fear of the Lord is not horrified terror, but reverent awe that senses His glory and responds with deep and holy reverence. The “fear of the Lord” recognizes fundamental realities: God is our almighty, all-powerful, all-wise Creator, who is holy and just and glorious. We are His creation and we owe Him honor and worship.
One writer put it this way: “Proverbs 1:7 declares, ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.’ Until we understand who God is and develop a reverential fear of Him, we cannot have true wisdom. True wisdom comes only from understanding who God is and that He is holy, just, and righteous. Deuteronomy 10:12, 20-21 records, ‘And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. He is your praise; He is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.’ The fear of God is the basis for our walking in His ways, serving Him, and, yes, loving Him.”
Knowing God holds our present and our eternity in His hands, “the fear of the Lord” indicates a reverent fear of disobeying and displeasing Him. But rather than driving us away from Him, when we come to understand that God is also forgiving, compassionate, gracious, loving, and full of mercy, “the fear of the Lord” draws us to Him – to seek His tender mercy for our sins and His help through the Holy Spirit to change our hearts.
- The Call of Jesus to Fear
Read Matthew 10:24-39. Why did Jesus tell us “to fear” and also “not to fear” in verses 28 and 31? How will failing to love and fear the Lord above everyone else keep us from truly loving others?
- The Fear of the Lord – A Gift to all Who are in Jesus
In Jeremiah 32, the Lord describes what God does to His people through the New Covenant in Jesus Christ: Behold, I am going to gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath, and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and have them live in safety. They shall be My people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, so that they will fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts, so that they will not turn away from Me. I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and all My soul.
Pray. Ask for forgiveness for any ways you are conscious of not fearing the Lord as you ought. Ask the Lord for help to fear Him in a goldy way and stand in awe of Him. Believe that this is the heritage of all of those who are in Christ Jesus. Ask depending on His free grace, depending on Him to be good to you through the shed blood of His Son.