Upon completion of the wall, Nehemiah is faced with another daunting project–repopulating Jerusalem. He authorizes two men to head up this project. Two men he can trust, his brother and the governor of the castle who is a “God-fearing” man more than many” (Neh 7:2). Nehemiah puts them both in charge over Jerusalem .
Perhaps you’ve heard, as I have, that to fear God means we’re to be in awe of God and reverence him. Certainly we should be in awe of God and reverence him. But is that what Scripture means when it says to fear him?
Examining the issue, “Should Christians Fear God?,” is not beating the wind – a futile exercise without purpose. Instead, for many it may be a watershed issue in their Christian lives. Because many teachings and doctrines within our churches today portray God only as all loving, many assume there is no reason to fear Him. When this happens we are left with an imbalance of God’s mercy and justice.
Why Should Christians Fear God? Paul gave us a principal reason to fear God:
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men (2 Corinthians 5:10-11).
It is because God is righteous and holy that we should fear God. Jesus emphasized God’s power to punish as the reason to fear God: “Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell” (Luke 12:5). We should fear God because of the punishment that will result from God’s righteous judgment. It is almost impossible for the mind to conceive of the horror of an eternity in hell. That is the judgment that awaits the evildoer.
Note that Paul included himself – “we all must appear.” Again he said, “that each one may receive what is due him.” Are there still professing Christians who think that because of their claim of faith they will be excluded from that judgment seat of Christ?
Scripture says much more about why we should fear God. Many of us are likely familiar with the proverb: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). Isn’t it becoming obvious why fear of a righteous God is the beginning of wisdom? In God’s discourse with Job, God said: “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding” (Job 28:28).
Because doing evil invokes God’s wrath and righteous judgment, consider the purpose of fearing God from the following verses: Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil (Proverbs 16:6). Moses taught the same lesson: “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning” (Exodus 20:20). Paul taught, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
Salvation was also linked to fearing God: The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death (Proverbs 14:27). The fear of the Lord leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil (Proverbs 19:23).
The prophet Isaiah told us the key to receiving blessings from God:
The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness. He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure (Isaiah 33:5-6).
In Ecclesiastes Solomon recited over and over his conclusion that everything is meaningless. He was a man who had the wealth and opportunity to sample everything. His conclusion was:
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).