Fear. The word evokes strong feelings. Terror. Horror.
I recall as a young man going through a haunted house. As we were going through the house I had 2 youngsters I didn’t even know wrapped tightly around my waist. They were terrified. I was too!
I was recently involved in a discussion about fear in the Bible. It is very easy to see that our English word for phobia comes from the Greek word translated fear (phobeo).
Fear can sometimes mean respect or reverence. In the Old Testament, Solomon concluded that man should fear GOD and keep His commandments (Eccl 12:13). I usually think of this fear as reverence for GOD.
Sometimes, like the word phobia, the meaning is to be afraid. This is the meaning we most often attach to fear. It is this second meaning to which I would like to give attention.
I remember as a child the one thing for which I was most terrified was the second coming of Christ. Just from hearing some adults talk about it, I was greatly afraid.
I serve a loving GOD who does not want me to be afraid of this event. He loves me according to John 3:16. He wants me to be saved according to 1 Timothy 2:4. His grace is sufficient to do just that according to Ephesians 2:8. But having said of all that, there are some verses in the Bible that generate a trembling fear within me. I have listed a few.
Matt 7:23 I never knew you. These are those it seems have done good things. They seem to be surprised at the verdict from GOD. But it also seems they like the Pharisee in Luke 10 are reminding the LORD (what gall!) of their goodness. It is interesting the LORD said I never knew you; not at any time. No matter how pious they considered themselves to be, they were never pleasing to GOD.
Matt 25:41 depart from Me. Truly the most terrifying words spoken in the Bible. For the short time in which Jesus shouldered the sins of mankind on the cross, the Father turned away from Him, causing the LORD to cry out “My GOD, why have You forsaken Me?” It is a terrifying thought to consider being cast from His presence for all of eternity.
John 12:39 they could not believe. Notice it is not “would not believe”; they “could not” believe. We can allow our hearts to become so hardened and callous that the gospel message no longer can penetrate. Could this be the sin for which there is no forgiveness?
Eph 4:19 being past feeling. Paul refers to the hardened heart condition as one being past feeling. He also calls the condition a blindness of the heart.
Heb 2:1 take heed lest we drift away. The Greek word used in this text is found nowhere else in Scripture. The idea reminds me of being in slow moving current and gradually over time, without realizing there is movement, we have drifted far away. It is frightening to think of this happening slowly and gradually. Later in Hebrews 4:1, the ASV renders “let us fear lest haply any of you come short of it”. The idea of “haply” indicates inadvertence. I think most Christians who are lost in the final judgment, will be lost not for turning their backs on the truth. Rather it will be from neglect, from allowing the cares of the world to crowd out the really important matters (Matt 13:22).
Heb 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living GOD.
As I contemplate the judgment scene, I can only imagine standing before the GOD of the Universe, Who will pronounce my eternal destiny. As I stand there, I realize I have no chance standing alone. I can only hope that He looks not on me and my pitiful life but rather on the One Who stands by me. 1 John 2:1 says that I have an Advocate Who will stand by me. My only chance is to know that GOD will not be looking on the pitiful Glenn but on the Glenn washed clean by the precious blood of my Savior. My hope is for the LORD to say to the Father, “He is one of Mine.” That is grace. For that I will be eternally grateful.