Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. (Psalms 33:8)
In the past few Sunday night services, we have discussed worship and how God has mandated His whole creation to worship Him. Worship is the natural response of a heart cleansed by the blood of Christ. In salvation our minds are renewed so that we see more clearly the majesty of God. A heart compliant to God’s will always craves worship for worship is the top priority of God’s will. The Westminster Catechism states this wisely in its first question, “What is the chief end of man?” In other words, “Why was man created? Why did God make man?” The answer is, “To glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.”
In the 33rd Psalm, the psalmist reflects upon the creation God has made with the understanding that such power is to be greatly feared. It seems Old Testament reflection upon the power of God always evoked this type of response. The rest of the psalm issues a warning to nations that no counsel against God shall stand. Faith in any other power is empty because logically and experientially nothing overcomes the power of the one who created all. In this psalm, fear equates to reverence and reverence is an equivalent expression of worship.
However, we were careful to point out in our study of worship that fear is too often not our response to the power of God. Though we may sing in the words of the psalmist, “Our God is an awesome God,” there is very little understanding of what the psalmist meant by “Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.” This means to back up and back down and understand your place. Know where you stand in relationship to God. Though we strive to be like Him in kindness, benevolence, justice, and even in righteousness, we will never be like Him in the breadth of His power. Though one day we shall see God and be made in His likeness and will reflect His holiness, yet we shall never cease to be awed by His power. Eternity will be bliss for believers, but never will we be equal to God.
When I say we no longer fear God, I think the reason is because of weak-kneed preaching that constantly harps such themes as “God loves you.” No matter what you have done or will do God still loves you. He accepts you just the way you are and you need not fear Him because He is a kindly, gentlemanly old codger who is all but toothless and would never hurt a fly. In other words, God is happy with anything and anybody. It sounds good for the selfish unrepentant who must have his way, but unfortunately for them, this is not the God of the Bible.
The God of the Bible has one way—His way. He is not tolerant of nor sensitive to your desires and your way. God cares little for what you think because sinful minds think sinfully. God is not happy with our ways and is only happy when we fulfill our chief end which is to glorify Him. Absolute obedience glorifies Him and anything less brings a response of wrath. You had better well learn to respect God’s wrath.
You might expect that living in fear of God would be unpleasant, but it is not. In the same psalm in which we find fear, we also read these words in verse 5: “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” Fear does not mean that it and kindness cannot go hand in hand. After all, it was in our rebellion and disobedience that God sent His Son to die for us. So, let us see if we can learn to respect Him. Let us stand back and marvel at His wonderful works—but let us not mistake who we are and who He is.
Pastor V. Mark Smith