[Adapted from Joy Dawson’s “Intimate Friendship With God“]
It is the kindness of God that brings us to repentance. The fear of God is directly connected to our obedience.
When Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, Isaac, in obedience to the voice of the LORD, the angel said to him, “Now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” (Genesis 22:12)
Many times we hear testimonies that go like this: “After arguing with God for a while I finally gave in.” These testimonies reveal the lack of the fear of God.
When there is a lack of the fear of the LORD it is because people do not know/understand who He is.
When the mariners on board the ship going to Tarshish asked Jonah his occupation, where he had come from, and his nationality, Jonah replied, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” But his lack of the fear of the LORD was vividly evident by his disobedience to God in not going to the city of Nineveh with the word of the LORD, and by his deliberately going another direction!
It was the mariners who manifested genuine fear (they were exceedingly afraid) of the LORD by their reactions to Jonah’s testimony of disobedience, and his subsequent announcement that the terrible storm was an act of God on his account.
Before throwing Jonah overboard, at his suggestion, they cried to the LORD, “O Lord, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.”
Afterward, when the sea returned to calm: “Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.”
Jonah had to learn through a series of horrifying experiences that the consequences of disobedience are always far harder than the act of obedience, no matter how hard. We always have God’s grace given us to enable us to obey. We come under His judgement when we disobey (does God judge our sin?).
After Jonah’s repentance in the middle of the fish’s stomach, God delivered him; and then Jonah manifested the genuine fear of the LORD through obedience in going to Nineveh with God’s message.
Hebrews 5:7-8 “While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.”
Jesus had deep reverence (fear of the LORD) for God because He knew/understood who God is.
The more we study the character of God and experience the mercy (forgiveness) and grace of God (deliverance, healing, salvation), the more He will reveal Himself to us and the more we will know/understand who He is.
The deeper the understanding we have of His justice, knowledge, wisdom, might, faithfulness, and love, the easier it will be for us to obey Him. The fear of the LORD is evidenced in our lives by instant, joyful, and whole obedience to God. That is Biblical obedience. Anything else is disobedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Partial obedience is disobedience. Doing what God has asked with murmuring is disobedience.
Do you know and understand Him? Does this cause you to reverence Him above all things? Above fear of man? Above selfish desires and ambition? Above envy and jealousy? Above ungodly shame? Are you a spiritual orphan or a son in the Beloved?
Jeremiah 9:23-24 “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’”