May 15, 2015

Fearing God

1 Chronicles 2:1–55, 1 Timothy 3:1–7, Psalm 75:1–76:12

No one would play games while sitting in a cage with a lion, or dangle their toes in a pond full of piranhas, but how easily we do whatever we please in the presence of our holy and almighty God. Today’s OT reading reminds me of the folly of carelessly living without any regard to the right of God to do as He pleases.

“These are the sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. The sons of Judah: Er, Onan and Shelah; these three Bath-shua the Canaanite bore to him. Now Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death.” (1 Chronicles 2:1–3)

Because of Christ, my sins are covered and forgiven, but that does not mean there are no consequences for behaving in evil ways. I’ve known Christians who persisted in forbidden behavior and met an early death. Was that God’s way of saying “no” to them? I cannot judge what He was doing in the lives of others, but I do know that the Bible says fearing God is the beginning of wisdom and that Jesus said to fear nothing but the one who holds the power of life and death in His hands.

The NT passage is also about submission to authority, but from the other side of it. This passage isn’t about God’s children and their obedience, but about the father who must manage his family with the same loving care as God manages His family. These words come from a section on how a church selects elders for leadership: “He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:4–5)

Our society isn’t doing this very well. Absentee fathers, preoccupied parents, whatever the reasons, many of those who are raising children fall short when it comes to discipline. Statistics connect criminals to problems with their fathers in childhood. Because fathers are a child’s model that forms their understanding of God, neglected or abused children grow up with a warped idea of God who calls them into a loving, submissive relationship with Him. When a child’s dad is not worthy of trust, then trusting God becomes almost impossible.

I have no such excuse. My father was a good man who loved and disciplined his children. Yet I can disobey God and not give Him the respect and honor that He deserves. This is the power of sin; it makes me ignore the piranhas and play games with the lions, oblivious to or simply ignoring the fact that God has the power to put me to death.

The psalmist says the same thing: “For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another . . . But you (God), you are to be feared! Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused? From the heavens you uttered judgment; the earth feared and was still, when God arose to establish judgment, to save all the humble of the earth. Selah” (Psalm 75:6–7; 76:7–9)

I am humbled by this reminder of His power. This life is not all there it, but it is precious and I’d rather leave it on good terms with God than leave it because He is not happy with the way I’ve been living it.

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