Monday, March 26, 2018

March 26: Deuteronomy 5:24-29, 6:24; Fear of God or Is Jesus Your Friend

Oh that they had such a mind as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever! (Deut 5:29)

            When God appeared to Israel at Mount Sinai, he showed them just a little bit of his great glory. When God, who is spirit (John 4:24), come in contact with this small part of his creation, the result was a tremendous display of fire, thunder, lightning, trumpet sounds, and the earth quaking. Did they fear God? You bet they did. They were so much afraid that they thought they would die. They believed, and rightly so, that normally no one could see God and live. Their response was to ask Moses to talk with God and then relay the message on to them so they would not be in danger of dying. They swore that they would obey whatever God commanded them. God looked upon their request as a good thing.
            This fear was for their own good, to keep them alive and so that it would go well with them and their descendants forever (Deut 5:29, 6:24). They knew that disobedience would be punished and obedience would be rewarded. They saw that in the physical realm as God took care of the nation from generation to generation while they obeyed the laws and punishment came through oppressors and when they disobeyed.
            What about today? Is it any different? Should we be in fear of God in the same way that Israel did at the mountain? What would make that change in our attitude toward God? Jesus makes the difference. Hebrews 1:1 says that in the past God spoke to us in various ways but now, it is Jesus who has had the last word. Jesus said a few things to us that should change the way we “fear” God. The first is that he calls us his friends (John 15:13-15). How amazing is that? The God who stood on the mountain and made it look like a volcano is now incarnate in a human body and says he is our friends. Ah, but don’t get too hasty and think that means we don’t have to obey God. Jesus made our obedience to him a condition of being his friend (John 15:14). God doesn’t change. Even though God reconciled us to himself through the blood of Jesus (Rom 5:10), he still expects us to obey him. The motivation is different because we are doing it as his friends and not out of fear of physical death. The laws are different because Jesus fulfilled the Law and now we obey the spirit of the Law which is in our hearts. And his commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).
            Those who know Jesus should still fear God (1 Peter 2:17), but it is not the same as at Mount Sinai. However, those who do not know Jesus still have reason to fear God and it is because of judgment (Matt 10:28; Rev 14:7). Is Jesus your friend? I hope so. If not, then repent and turn from your disobedience and sin to Jesus and trust him for your salvation. He will be your friend and relieve those fears of judgment. It is for your good.

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