"And all the people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee."
Deuteronomy 28: 10
King James Version
"Who Are You Afraid Of?"
"Fear the Lord and you will do everything well."
Shepherd of Hermas
What does it mean to me to "fear" the Lord?
"But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings…."
Malachi 4: 2
"Fear God and give Him glory."
Revelation 14: 7
When I was in nurse's training, we had an instructor whom all of the students "feared." When I say "feared" I don't want to give you the impression we disliked him. In fact, just the opposite. He was our favorite instructor. Every student longed for his approval. If he told you that you had performed some skill well or excelled in carrying out a particular medical procedure on a patient, I know for myself, I was elated. Some felt the standards he set were too high, but many of us recognized if we were to become nurses that others admired and respected, the standards by which this instructor guided us were in no way too high or too demanding.
In retrospect, I think the word I would use to describe our relationship with this teacher was that we were in "awe" of him and his professional skills.
Our text in Deuteronomy 28:10, contained in the blessings portion of the Old Testament states that: "And all the people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee."
At first glance this text sounds scary. It appears when people find out God has called us and laid His hand upon us they'll be afraid of us. They'll run from us. And I ask you, "Who wants everyone you meet to head in another direction when they see you coming?" Frankly, I know people like this. At times if someone is mean – you want to run when you see them. But sadly, sometimes when people are "religious," the same reaction may occur for there are those who act as though a "call of God" means you are to tell everyone else what is wrong with them. Quick to point out the errors in everybody else, these holier-than-thou's fixate on the defects in others, believing it is not only their right, but their duty, to lift them up to the standard they've set for all.
Closer study of our text for today is more than enlightening – it is instructional and provides an effective road map as to the behavior those who feel called of God are to have in their relationship with those they meet.
Staretz Silouan wrote that "The Lord bestows such grace on His chosen." Grace, I might interject, is a gift of kindness and compassion. It is gentleness and love given to those who don't deserve it. It is forgiveness given in the face of unkind behavior. Grace, as some have defined is, "unmerited favor." The bottom line is that you and I don't really do anything in our lives to deserve heaven's grace but it is given to us – without any strings attached! But Startez Silouan doesn't stop by saying only "the Lord bestows such grace on His chosen." He continues by saying that since God bestows His "unearned favor" on us – we are able to "embrace the whole earth, the whole world, with (our) love" for as he points out, "Blessed is (she) who loves her brother, for our brother is life."
In other words, when God calls you and me to be His chosen, He calls us to step up to His level of love. We are to pass on to others the undeserved love He has drenched us with like a refreshing summer rain.
With all our faults and failings, our Heavenly Father, whom we hold in awe and respect and reverence tells us, as William Countryman wrote, "The person you are now, the person you have been, the person you will yet be – this person God has chosen as beloved." And then our Heavenly Father asks us to pass on this love as a free flowing fountain to others.
And what does He promise will happen? Deuteronomy 28:10 states, "everyone will be 'afraid' of you." And if you check the word "afraid" with the Hebrew meaning you'll find that "everyone will revere and respect and hold you in awe." Why? Because when we are confronted with the unkindness and ill-will of others, we pass on the blessing of grace and love so generously bestowed upon us by a loving Father. No wonder others will be in awe of us. For instead of attacking with a critical eye and a pointing finger, we will act as we have been treated, embraced in the arms of a loving Father who calls us to live by His standard of grace.
"The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else."
"Lord, make me see your glory in every place."
"'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.' Happy the soul that has been awed by a view of God's majesty; that has had a vision of God's awful greatness. His ineffable holiness, His perfect righteousness, His irresistible power, His sovereign grace."
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
Available May 2009