Into Thy Word -
Matthew 10: 27-33
D. The Fear and Awe of God
General Idea: After Jesus gives the disciples their training and their project of being sent out for the first time, He further encourages and warns them. Just as Proverbs states that the fear of God is the foundation of learning and growing, so Jesus confirms and makes clear this precept. Our personal fears of rejection and assumptions sometimes dig in like an anchor, and keep us from experiencing and proclaiming our love for Christ, as we should. Yet, the solution to fear is fear! It is to grow away from our personal fears into the embrace of His wonder. Then we have a fear that is respectful, one of wonder and awe for God, and there is nothing that can hold us back from proclaiming His Word. Fear of how others may respond will be nullified; the only hold on us will be what we drag with us. When we understand that we are precious in His sight, and that His deep love for us is true and real, we will have no need to drag along our anchors of fear. We can let go and allow Him to reign and be Lord over us as our loving Father. We have to learn how much He indeed cares for us so we can trust Him even more to take us beyond what holds us back in life. In this way we can go deeper with Him, be able to use the gifts He brings, and take advantage of the opportunities that come. This fear of God will so infuse us with love that we will passionately desire to proclaim Him from the roof and mountaintops!
1. Tell you in the dark refers to His truth. This truth must emerge in the workings of our life and in the uttering that we proclaim in lifestyles, convictions, and proclamations.
a. We are to learn, grow, and pass on to others what we have learned. Whether we are a pastor or a pew-sitter, we all have the responsibility to proclaim Christ by whatever means, opportunities, or manner in which we have been called and gifted.
b. Jesus taught His disciples the truth--most of which they did not fully understand yet, so it stayed in darkness until after the Light of the resurrection.
c. Dark also refers to night the time of day in which secrets were passed on (Luke 12:3). In the context of Luke, this passage is also a warning that ones confession as well as ones denial of Christ can be reported on these rooftops and is subject to the Judgment of God (Luke 12:1-10).
i. The judgment will bring the deeds of darkness to the Light (Isa. 29:15; 45:16-17).
ii. If you think you can be an undercover Christian, your faith or lack of it will soon be opened up. You cannot stay hidden forever; the truth will emerge. So, there is no point of concealing yourself or the Truth. You may as well declare your faith with passion and conviction and not keep it hidden, since a betrayer or even a slip of the tongue could proclaim it.
d. Flat rooftop is the open upper part of a first century house that is still the preferred architectural style in the Middle East. It is like having a deck on your roof. During the hot summers people would live on top of the home where it is cool. This rooftop acts as an amphitheatre to echo what you say to others around you over the crowed streets. People would use this to present and spread messages to their neighbors, such as the local gossip. It was an excellent platform to give a message and have a public ministry.
2. Fear is how we are to come before God. It is a term of endearment and respect that is supercharged with more meaning and power.
a. This type of fear is not that of being afraid, other than being fearful of Gods wrath (Romans 3). It is intense respect, reverence, and awe towards God.
i. Our word for respect is a frail comparison to its Hebrew and Greek equivalent. Thus, fear is used instead of respect or reverence in most English translations.
ii. In Proverbs and other Jewish wisdom literature, the fear of God is a foundational theme.
b. Proverbs tells us that fear of God is the theme of the whole book (1:7; 3:5; 9:10; 31:30; Psalm 111:10).
i. The fear of the LORD is the loving reverence for God that contains our love for Him, embraces our submission to His Lordship of our lives, and causes us to keep His precepts and Word (Ecc. 12: 13).
ii. Fear also means that God is God. He is our King (Mal. 1:14); therefore, we should see Him as our friend (John 14). We also should see Him as Who He is in total character, not just as a friend, but His position and power in the universe, so we will stand in awe of Him and worship Him (Psalm 2:11; Isa. 12:6).
iii. Proverbs tells us the opposite of the fear of God is to be a fool! These are the reprobates in Romans, chapter one, who trust in themselves and not God, who hate knowledge and correction. They seek distortion and destruction of others and themselves. They stir others to strife and contention, the opposite of what we are to do on this earth (Prov. 1:22; 1:31-23; 5:12; 12:1; 14:1; 11; 20:3; 28:26; 29:11)!
c. To fear God is also to be fulfilled and content by being in Him (Job 28:28)!
d. Isaiah develops the theme that the acts of the wicked person will be made clear before God and others (Isa. 8:12-13). A person may kill you physically, but they cannot take your life. Only God has that power, as well as the power over our destiny and eternal state of either punishment or reward.
e. Kill the body is a prelude to an echo of the persecution to come. It is also the mindset that what is most important is not our lives here, but what is waiting in eternity for us.
i. Some Jews, such as the Sadducees, believed that the body and soul were destroyed at death, that this life is all we have.
ii. Some Jewish wisdom literature proclaims that martyrdom is a way of life and there is no fear in it, as we can have self-control and divine reason (4 Maccabees 13:14-15).
iii. Most Jews believed that the body and soul were separated at death. The soul either goes to Sheol, the place of the dead, to be tormented and separated from God (hell), or to Abrahams bosom (heaven.) The Greeks had similar beliefs at this time.
iv. Hell (Gehenna) refers to everlasting torment, whereas Hades refers to the general place of the dead (Matt. 5:22; Mark 9:43-48).
3. Sparrows, refers to the cheapest item sold at the Temple for people to present as a sacrifice. They were even used as food for the poorest of the poor. Two were purchased for an assarion, a small copper coin equivalent to our penny today, smaller than a mite, denarius or a shekel. It was the pay for less than one hour of work. (Luke 12:6).
a. How much more, is a popular Jewish argument in logic--if God cares for these cheap birds, then
If He cares for the cheap, then He cares for what is worth far more--you!
b. Christ tells us that we are valuable, acceptable, and worthy, a tremendous boost to our self-esteem--or better said, Christ-esteem. A lot of Christian mystics and teachers have proclaimed the worthlessness of man, and that we are of no value or worth. Only Christ is worthy. In a way that is true; only Christ is of true worth. However, that does not mean we are totally worthless. If so, there would have been no reason for Christ to come as a man, and go to the cross on our behalf. We are of value, deeply loved, and acceptable before the Father because of what Christ has done for us!
i. You are a person who is deeply loved by the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. What more do you need to feel good and accepted? No money, fame, or power could ever mach this!
ii. Numbers of hair is the most minimal issue of our lives (regardless of how those of us who are going bald feel!), yet God knows the number. This is further testimony of how God cares for and loves us! This means nothing happens to us without God allowing it and His being in control (1 Sam. 14:45; 2 Sam. 14:11; 1 Kings 1:52).
iii. God is sovereign, and orders everything in the universe, from a sparrow to a king. Therefore, He is worthy to be trusted and feared.
4. Confess me: Even though we were deeply loved, even before the cross or our faith in Him, we will be accountable for our actions and where our trust, faith, and heart have been placed. Will it be in Christ, or in the world?
a. In Jewish traditions, the Day of Judgment will be the testimony of those who were righteous, and those who will bear witness against those who were against God.
b. The mercy of God was a common theme amongst rabbis who taught that angels would plead ones case before God.
c. Jesus is our ultimate Advocate; He will proclaim your case with power, conviction, and in truth. He will either know you or He will not. Jesus influence before the Father holds more sway than anything else in the universe!
d. Jesus is both the prosecutor and the defense attorney, depending on with whom we sign up--our ways or His (Luke 12:8-9).
The goal of the Christian life is our wondrous fear/friendship with Christ! We start with Him, and we end well with Him. We are to receive His election, to know and pursue Him. He is the One we are to follow, not the ways of distraction and destruction. This is the Wonder of simplicity that is to fulfill and sustain us. Our value and worth is real and depends on who we are in Christ. You are wonderfully made, and made to proclaim Him. You are to embrace His love and let it flow to others from your rooftop. This is whom we are, our identity that will keep us firm in Him. We will be able to grow in times of suffering, waiting, and confusion. It is when we experience darkness and confusion in our lives that is the time to listen to our Lord, and to learn and to grow from the darkness. Then when the Light comes and takes us out of the darkness, we can proclaim what we have learned (Psalm 112).
1. Have you ever ventured out to do something you knew could harm you, such as confronting a possible violent situation to protect a family member or friend, or traveling to a dangerous place?
2. What is the first thing that pops in your mind when you hear about the Fear of God? Do you feel you understand this term?
3. Why is the Fear of God so important? Consider its eminence in the OT and Jesus use of this phrase.
4. How have you seen your personal fears of rejection and assumptions dig in like anchors, and keep you from experiencing and proclaiming your love for Christ, as you should?
5. When does His truth (character, example, sharing
) emerge in the workings of your daily life? What blocks this from happening? What do you need to do to allow the Spirit and Word to direct your path so you are naturally emulating what you have leaned from the Word?
6. We all have the responsibility to proclaim Christ with whatever means, opportunities, and manner by which we have been called and gifted. So, why do so few Christians do this?
7. What are you comfortable doing: street evangelism, sharing your faith with a stranger, acquaintance, friend, or a family member? What holds you back? How do your gifts mix with your responsibility and call? For example, some people are good at street evangelism; others are comfortable sharing with a friend. Some can bring in hundreds. Others, maybe only one.
8. Why do you suppose the disciples did not fully understand until after the Light of the resurrection?
9. How do you come before God (attitude, reverence)? How should you?
10. Why do you think Christians should never be undercover (unless you are in a closed country and it is against the law, then you need to find more subtle ways to proclaim the faith)? Do you believe that it will soon be opened up, that you cannot stay hidden forever, and the truth will emerge?
11. What are you afraid of with the Christian faith? Why?
12. How can you express real fear, as in reverence and awe to God? How can you allow yourself to feel more passion during worship?
13. Does your understanding of the fear of God include a loving reverence for God that contains your love for Him, embraces your submission to His Lordship of your life, and to the keeping of His precepts and Word? What prevents you? How can you grow in this area?
14. If God cares for Sparrows (cheap birds), then do you fully realize how much He cares for you? How can this increase your self worth, goals, aspirations, spiritual gifts, and your call?
15. What would happen if everyone in your church fully realized and applied the fact that they are of real value, deeply loved and acceptable before the Father, because of what Christ has done for them? We may say it, sing it, and preach it, but why does it not seem to sink into most Christians?
16. Nothing happens to us without God allowing it and being in control. So, how can you develop a deeper faith and trust in Him? How can this help motivate you to take acceptable risks in witnessing and ministry? What about your relationships? How would they improve?
17. Will your faith and trust be in Christ, or in the world?
18. How can you develop more maturity in the faith by balancing that wondrous fear and friendship in Christ (Prov. 1:7; 3:5; 9:10; John 14)?
19. What can you do to reverse your fear of life and of what might happen, with the fear of God? How will your life and outlook improve with this new mindset?
20. To fear God is also to be fulfilled and content being in Him. Is this so in your life? Why, or why not? What are the steps you need to take to implement this (See our study on The Character of Contentment)?
© 2003 R. J. Krejcir Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.com