"Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name." Deuteronomy 6:13

"Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him." Deuteronomy 8:5-6

     There is biblical evidence that the book of Deuteronomy was written within the last four to six weeks of Moses's life. Literally, it is his farewell address. This probably explains the earnest, loving tone which pervades every page of the book. It is no unfeeling rehearsal of the ten commandments!

     In each of these verses we find a command to fear God. In the first verse, chapter 6, verse 13, the setting anticipates the Israelites' success in possessing the land of Canaan which God had given them forty years before. Success is a deceptive threat to godliness. In the earlier part of chapter 6 Moses reminded the people that they would soon inhabit the land which God promised to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They would inhabit "great and goodly cities" which they had not built, furnished houses for which they had not labored, wells of faithful water which they had not dug, and productive vineyards and olive trees which they had not planted. But they would enjoy the richness of all these resources. In verse 12 we read "Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage." Notice the danger Moses warns the people of, forgetting the Lord. Prosperity was deceptive the too. It would be easy to settle in to a comfortable land which flowed with milk and honey, all furnished and planted. Every need, more than needs, every wish they had imagined through those hungry years in the wilderness lay before them, the gift of a gracious, caring God.

     When the land of milk and honey is too bountiful to us and we focus on the land instead of the God who gave us the land, we lose our vision of a gracious God and a better world after this one. We rather think, "What's so bad about this world? Sure I want to go to Heaven when I die, but right now, I want more of the pleasures of this world." "Church? Bible reading? Helping the less fortunate? That's for old folks and little children. I'm busy with important things right now." Is God pleased with our investing the best, most productive years of our life on perishing, temporary gain? Will he be pleased with the left-overs of our life? What do you think?

     In Deuteronomy 8:18 we read these words, "But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day." If God blesses us with financial prosperity or success on the job, could it be that he has some special mission for us also, some intention to invest that success for him?

     The second verse our lesson addresses, found in Deuteronomy 8:5-6, is set in the midst of a reminder that even the wilderness journey was accompanied with miraculous blessings, nutritious bread from heaven, clothes which didn't get old, and shoes which didn't wear out for forty long years. However, this lesson sets the stage for the true fear of God, parental chastening. "As a father chasteneth his son" reminds us that the fear of God is not to be a morbid fear of hell and eternal fires. We are God's children, not his criminal wards! Disobedience will provoke him! But this provocation will be of a chastening quality, not punishing, destroying quality. Out of love, a thoughtful child wants to please his parents. He fears that he will do something which the parent will not approve, so he works hard at second guessing the will of the parent and living within that will. God's will needs no second guess, it is clearly contained in scripture! True fear of God carries the quality of a loving child, concerned and dedicated to pleasing his parents with behavior which honors the family name.

     As we begin a new year, let us examine our hearts and motives. Are we using the blessings God has given us for his glory and the help of his people? Consider James 4:15, "If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that." Our next breath is dependent on the Lord's will. Think of the lesson in stages. The first stage is "If the Lord will, we shall live." Even our natural fear of death can be controlled with this attitude. If we live another minute, it is by the will of God! Then we are prepared to move to the next stage of the lesson. "If the Lord will, we shall do this." But what if the "this" of or will is not of the Lord's will? Very simple. "If the Lord will, we shall do that." Whether this or that, we are dependent on the Lord's will! To accept the fact of that dependence and to be reconciled to God and his will are the most important steps we will ever take. And they assure the greatest joy and fulfillment possible in our lives! May our 1987 be characterized by an "If the Lord will" in those important decisions and action of the year.

The Bible is like a telescope. If a man looks through his telescope, then he sees worlds beyond; but if he looks at his telescope, then he does not see anything but that. The Bible is a thing to be looked through, to see that which is beyond; but most people only look at it; and so they see only the dead letter.

                                                                             Phillips Brooks

Elder Joe Holder
Little Zion Primitive Baptist Church
16434 Woodruff
Bellflower, California

Fear: Part 5 - God's Commandment to Fear
Gospel Gleanings
Volume 2, Number 1
January 4, 1987

Submitted by Sister Martha Pitney
Of Friendship PBC in Denver

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