Friday, December 11, 2009

Intimacy and Fear

This topic has been on my mind for quite some time now, as I run through the mundane routines of managing a business, job, family and completing a PhD program, this theme echoes in the back of my mind, as to how am I to live a life of intimacy and fear of the Lord.

Yeshua said “Above all else guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). I have for quite some time explored the concept of holy fear of the Lord, some of my favorite passages here reflect its utmost importance in the life of one who is in an intimate relationship with the Lord. The holy idea of the “fear of the Lord” is mentioned about 27 times in the scriptures and there are dozen more passages that relate to the fearing of God. Some of my favorite ones are right below:

Deuteronomy 6:24
The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today.

Deuteronomy 9:19
I feared the anger and wrath of the LORD, for he was angry enough with you to destroy you. But again the LORD listened to me.

Joshua 24:14
"Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.

Job 28:28
And he said to man, 'The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.' "

Psalm 19:9
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.

Psalm 25:12
Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD ? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.

Psalm 25:14
The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.?
Psalm 27:1[ Of David. ] The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 34:7
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

Psalm 115:13
He will bless those who fear the LORD— small and great alike.

Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Obviously the “fear of the Lord” is not something that is just trembling in the presence of an angry dictator or person in power but it seems to be much more, it is coupled with meanings I just can’t explain but can attribute things likes holy reverence, holy praise, holy devotion, complete surrender and complete trembling(real fear) at the awesomeness and power of being before the most Holy God just because you know who He is and your heart knows deeply that He is worthy for it. Holy Fear from the believers heart to Yehovah brings with it great merits like friendship with God, beginning of knowledge and wisdom, instruction, discipline and way to righteous living. The Scriptures makes it to point that fear is also closely related to intimacy with God and hence my topic. How can you be intimate with God and at the same time be in trembling Holy fear? What is the balance of these attributes and how are we to walk this balance before a awesome, consuming fire God. A intimate relationship is not something that happens instantly, it takes time, spending time and investing time. Fortunately for us God in His mercy took the first step and He remains waiting on His throne and even sometimes knocking on the doors of our hearts for us to respond.

The response is what I am interested in, the invitation of being in a relationship with Him is open to us. For some of us we may be far ahead than others in the or for some we may never have been in a relationship with Him and again for some it has been a lukewarm for some time. Nevertheless wherever we are in whatever stage of that relationship, our response to Him is of paramount importance and I think one of the favorite way He takes pleasure in is for us (be it in the role of children or that of a bride) is coming before Him with a response of “Intimacy and Fear”.

In the journey of Exodus the children of Israel camp at Mt. Sinai, they have seen the wonders of Yahweh and His miraculous deliverance, provision and protection but they haven’t still entered with Him into a relationship of intimacy and fear. When God invites all of them to come up to Mt. Sinai, the congregation encourages only Moses the mediator to go up to God on the top of the mountain but they themselves want to remain in the valley and wait for instructions that God will give to Moses. You can read the account in Exodus, it seems the children of Israel are not in holy fear but a natural fear of “we are sinners” and we should distant ourselves from a Holy God, or perhaps the fear was a fear of distrust that a Holy God will destroy them. I personally think the latter is true as they tend to not accept the invitation and persuade Moses to go up to the mountain. They are afraid of the presence of God on Mt. Sinai. Let’s now contrast that with Moses, he has had a relationship, he is been leading the people with God’s help and his personal longing is to be in the presence of the Lord at all times. From scriptures we gather he long to see the form and face of God, to touch Him, obey Him and trust Him. In the tent of meeting this man’s face becomes radiant, the light and the afterglow is on his face long after he stops talking with God. This is a man growing old enjoying intimacy and fear. This is a man with whom God talks like a man would talk to a friend. In this relationship we see God Himself taking responsibility of in protecting Moses' honor, provision, and protection. God transforms the man to become the meekest and the most humble man on the face of the earth, and at the same time radiant, full of wisdom, a great leader who is a friend of God.

I cannot help but think about the relationship between Queen Esther and the Persian king Artaxerxes. I again suspect this book of history God planted in the Bible is for a reason - for us to understand the concept of “intimacy and fear”.

Queen Esther was brought into the Palace of King Artaxerxes and was to be presented before him. She is taken by the eunuchs and palace maids for beauty preparations, preparations that took almost a year. Finally when the queen is brought before the King she stands trembling in fear, anticipation, and expectation. The scepter extended the King looks upon her with favor, but she requests the only thing that is precious to her is his company, his presence and nothing more even when the King promises up to half of his kingdom. Intimacy and fear in action. Esther caught the attention of the King, she not only got his favor but she became his confidant, friend and a queen. Queen Esther is able to save the fate of her people, she grows into the role for time called such as this. I like it when Mordechai her uncle requests her help to save her people from the evil intentions of Hamman to destroy the Jews, he tells her "If you dont speak up to the King...God will bring salvation to His people from somewhere else but you are called for a time such as this" (Paraphrase mine). Queen Esther becomes not only the queen but the saving force God uses in the fate of a nation.

Hannah the mother of prophet Samuel was barren and was mocked in the society of her time for not bearing children. She goes up to the temple in Jerusalem and is standing in desperation before the Lord praying, asking, yearning and above all the Bible re-tells she stood trembling before the doorposts of the Lord so much so that Eli the high priest mistook her for being a drunk woman. Hannah cries out to the Lord standing before the King of the Universe with her request, a child drawn into intimacy and fear is able to stand boldly before the King of heaven to present her request. She too catches the attention of the King so much so the barren Hannah bears a child the following year. As promised and overwhelmed with the graciousness of God she responds by giveing back that child to God for His service, but later on in the story we see Hannah goes on to become a mother of five children for the Lord of Hosts will not be out given.

Intimacy and fear is rare combination of a unique balance, it is something that is given to us as a gift from the Lord and at the same time I suspect it is something we need to nurture over time and space as we delve into, struggle with, tug along, enjoy in Him by living and being with Him in the journey of our life. It’s a combination of not only respecting, revering, obeying and being in the awesomeness trembling fear but it is also being in love, a love that is exciting, adventuresome and that of great hope is its nature.

I could perhaps go on expressing what this all means, but it is time I stop, trying to distill and digest what the Lord is teaching. I am in waiting, in holy fear and in the intimacy of the Lord.

Love and Blessings,



Peter Daniel said...

Amazing Post! I love it keep writing :)

Stasi said...

This post has very good insight on how to approach God and be in His awesome presence all the time.
Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Very good thoughts. I long to be in the presence of God and understand this concept very well now.

Thank you.