I love people watching. Whether it be an airport, shopping mall, or my personal favorite, Wal-Mart, I will undoubtedly find an assortment of people in each shape, size, race, background, and even religion. Striving to become increasingly cognizant of my surroundings, regardless of environment, I have witnessed a
characteristic of our society that has grasped my attention.
In the recent month, I have been reading in the Old Testament and have come to recognize a trait which the characters of old bore – they knew how to fear. When you hear the word ‘fear’ you more than likely think of a movie, the old clothing line brand, or maybe even something that has happened to or around you in times past. Erase those thoughts momentarily. In order to grasp the reality and revelation spoken to us through God’s Word, we must take off our American glasses and read the Word through Kingdom-minded lenses.
In the book of Genesis chapter 20, Abraham is speaking to Abimelech. Abimelech, King of Gerar, was inquiring of Abraham why he gave Sarah, his wife, to him and lied to him saying that she was his sister. Abraham, a man whom in chapters 17 & 18 was promised to be the father of many nations (Gen. 17:5) and was given a covenant promise by God to bear a son (Gen. 17:16), had changed. In chapter 20, we meet this different man who has just witnessed the destruction of two cities which he interceded and prayed for (19:27-28.) He then suffered the emotional turmoil of his nephew, Lot’s, wife becoming a pillar of salt because she disobeyed God (19:17) and turned back (19:26) to view the brimstone and fire destroying the vile city in which they lived. Abraham was not feeling much like the prophet and patriarch whom God had previously spoken to and given a miraculous covenant to.
Now, back to chapter 20. In verse 11, Abraham says to Abimelech in response to his inquiry stated earlier and verses 9-10,
“I just assumed that there was no fear of God in this place and that they’d kill me to get my wife.”
Did you catch the call-sign of culture? No fear. Fear (Hebrew – יִרְאָה – yirah) directs to a moral reverence and regard for higher authority. This soul characteristic seems to be on the verge of extinction. Today’s world is reliving the culture of Sodom & Gomorrah – a society hell-bent on fulfilling personal lust, greed and operating in seemingly organized rebellion against their Creator. Abraham, a man who had received a promise from Yahweh, and was promised to become a great father and leader of nations, was operating in a state of displaced fear. Instead of fearing, cherishing, trusting and revering the word of the Lord, he feared his surroundings (19:11) and allowed it to control his actions, speech and, had it not been for the grace of God, his future.
I believe that God’s grace is ready to deliver us from our mindsets of displaced fear. Even through the muck of miry culture, there is a remnant of God’s people displacing darkness and resisting the culture of Sodom & Gomorrah.
Abraham became the patriarch of obedience and faith he was called to be (Gen. 22:12) and witnessed the tangible disclosing of God’s promise (Gen. 21:2.) In Genesis chapters 18-22 it is inexplicably clear that God’s grace abounds and his will remains unchanged. From the promise, through the trial, to the revealing of promise…His grace never left. God is not a politician, he will not run for office of your heart and then renege on His word to you once “elected.” He is a loving Father, one who’s words need be revered / feared. Jesus is a King, who’s promises and commands are not polite suggestions. Hebrews 13:8 says, that
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament and is still God today. His abhorrent sentiment toward sin remains the same. However, the “better covenant” (Heb. 8:6) in which God has given his children is active and, when cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, God sees us as we were created to be – pure sons and daughters of God, free from sin.
A culture that begins to fear the Lord and the word of the Lord is one who can find it’s way back to prosperity, hope and fulfillment. A culture that is washed under and lives in the pure sacrifice of God’s son can become fruitful, dynamic and powerful once again.
A person who fears the lord, finds safety, confidence and life.
“In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and his children will have refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death.”