Daily Devotional: Day 224 |By Stephen Bilson-Ogoe
“And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin’” (Exodus 20:20, NKJV).
Three months into their exodus from Egypt, the Israelites camped at Mount Sinai. There the Lord gave the Ten Commandments, but not without some spectacle. Thunder, flashes of lightning, loud trumpet blasts, thick clouds, fire and smoke were on display, as the Lord manifested His presence. Engulfed by these apocalyptic phenomena, the people feared for their lives. Moses’ response to the people’s cry is captured in today’s opening Scripture. First, Moses calmed them down. Then, he explained to them the reason behind everything that was happening. Here is where we need to pay attention.
According to Moses, “God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” This was a teaching moment. God revealed a bit of His awesome power to test the Israelites. To what end? That His fear would be before them, so that they would not sin. Here, the Word of God reveals to us something important about the connection between fear of God and sin. Fear of God is an antidote against sin. People sin for lack of fear – fear of God. Whoever does not fear God, does not fear to sin, either.
Fear of God is a necessary virtue. It restrains you from sinning against God or neighbor. Fear of God draws you to God and at the same time, it pulls you away from sin. God wanted to teach the Israelites to understand the importance of fearing God. And once the fear of God took hold of their heart, the result is that they would not sin.
Now, think about this: If it is true (and it is) that fear of God prevents us from sinning, what do you think Satan’s strategy would be? You guessed right!
Satan was the first sinner, and the Bible says whoever sins is of the devil (cf. 1 John 3:8). Therefore, satan needs people to join him in his rebellion against God. His strategy is to eliminate the one thing which keeps people from sinning against God: fear of God. Or, at the very least desensitize people to sin. This is his strategy for the proliferation of sin in the world. He started this campaign long ago in the Garden of Eden. God warned Adam and Eve that if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would surely die (Genesis 2:17). This put holy fear in them, and kept them from sin.
When tempted, Eve initially repeated God’s commandment and the consequence for violating it. You can tell from her tone that she feared the consequence of disobeying God. But now, note satan’s reply to Eve: “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). At first, Eve was afraid to die; she wanted to live, so she stayed away from the thing which could kill her – sin. But satan allayed her fears by falsely assuring her, “You will not surely die.” The moment Eve believed satan, the fear of God vanished from her heart. As a result, she became vulnerable, because there was nothing restraining her from going against God’s will. Adam followed his wife. The rest is history . . .
Many people can say they love God, but how many can equally say that they fear God? In the Body of Christ today, the fear of God is seldom mentioned or taught. Some even find the concept incompatible with the grace and love of God. But the truth is, the fear of God did not expire when Jesus died and rose from the dead. The fear of God is so vital that, in fact, God Himself promised, “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me” (Jeremiah 32:40). God shows you His kindness by putting His fear in your heart. In the Bible, love of God and fear of God work in tandem. One cannot exist without the other. Therefore, whoever loves God will fear Him also; and whoever fears God will love Him.
Keep the fear of God alive in your heart. It is good for your soul. Let no one deceive you.
Be blessed today, you and your household! Amen.
For further study: Hebrew 12:18-29