The Fear of God - Lost and Found

Bible Book: Isaiah  8 : 13
Subject: Fear of God; America; Independence Day

Thomas Herbert Darlow (1858-1927), Congregationalist theologian and Bible scholar, writes, “THE gravest concern of Dr. [Robert W.] Dale [1829-1895] in the last years of his life, was expressed with characteristic directness in a remark of his to Dr. [Charles A.] Berry [1852-1899], which the latter often repeated. ‘Berry,’ he said, with impressive emphasis, ‘nobody is afraid of God now.’ To both men it means that a true vision of the living God is fading out of sight.”1 Dr. Robert Duncan Culver (1916-2015) explains, “The generation of the last quarter of the twentieth century may have been the one in which absence of reverential fear of God has been most fully absent from Western civilization. Some called it secularism. In our own country all the vices of thought, word and deed described in these passages have inevitably followed. Whether there has been a formal human conspiracy of the university elite, the masters and servants of information and disinformation in news reporting and entertainment, the philosophy of courts and schools of law and public education is doubtful. Yet there is no doubt the devil and his minions are behind it. They have conspired. This world is indeed a Kosmos (cosmos), an arrangement. . . . Cultivation of the fear of God is a precondition to the obedience of children, to the moral life, to sound social relationships. No wonder then that societies founded and developed on the ground of such fear of God are falling apart before our very eyes, not that the God of their Fathers has been renounced.”2 Mary declares in Luke 1:50, “And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation.”  

Isaiah 8:11-22 reads, “For the LORD spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying: ‘Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’ Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, And let Him be your dread. He will be as a sanctuary, But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense To both the houses of Israel, As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble; They shall fall and be broken, Be snared and taken.’ Bind up the testimony, Seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait on the LORD, Who hides His face from the house of Jacob; And I will hope in Him. Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me! We are for signs and wonders in Israel From the LORD of hosts, Who dwells in Mount Zion. And when they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. They will pass through it hard-pressed and hungry; and it shall happen, when they are hungry, that they will be enraged and curse their king and their God, and look upward. Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness.” Isaiah is accused of conspiring against his country as a traitor because he cautioned them about seeking help from man instead of God. The founding fathers of America sought God’s help to begin this great nation. I understand America is not a theocracy as was Israel. Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859) shared, “I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers—and it was not there … in her fertile fields and boundless forests—and it was not there … in her rich mines and her vast world commerce—and it was not there … in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution—and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”3 Psalm 115:13, “He will bless those who fear the LORD, Both small and great.”

Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005) writes, “Do you know what's wrong in America today? We have a generation of people who don't fear God. . . Friend, I want to tell you when a generation, a world ceases to fear God, that generation, that world, that nation, that community is on its last legs. Somebody says, Well I don't believe in a religion built on fear. I don't believe in using fear as a motive. I do. And I'll tell you I’m not the only one who does. The medical profession does. They say, Watch your cholesterol, you’ll die of a heart attack. The safety engineer does, he says, Wear goggles, you'll put your eyes out when you're working on heavy machinery if you don't. The traffic expert says, Slow down, you’ll have a traffic fatality. Everybody believes in using fear as a motive—except when a preacher stands up and warns people not to go to hell. They say, I don't believe in a religion built on fear. Jesus said, ‘Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body and hell.’ I had rather frighten you into heaven than lull you into hell.”4

Isaiah 8:13 reads, “The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, And let Him be your dread.” The fear of God positively effects your life in at least three ways.

I. The fear of God provides a biblical foundation for life.

From the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery we read, “The fear of God is a fundamental quality of people who know and obey God.”5 Thomas Herbert Darlow explains, the fear of God is the “. . . awe and dread of the unseen Power whom they felt to be their Owner and King. The religion of the Bible begins here. . . God spoke to [the Patriarchs] in warnings and promises. They trembled and obeyed Him, and He called them and claimed them to be His own. The revelations given at the bush that burned and the mount that shook were such that Moses himself said, I do exceedingly fear and quake [Hebrews 12:21]. And the whole purport of the Hebrew Law is summed up in Deuteronomy [28:58]: All these words are written that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, the Lord thy God. A pious man in the Old Testament meant a man who feared God. That was the dominant note of his temper, the ruling motive in his life. . . . Now the close of the Bible does not contradict its commencement. The angel of the Apocalypse, flying in mid-heaven with the everlasting Gospel to proclaim to them that dwell on the earth, cried with a loud voice, Fear God and give Him glory [Revelation 14:7]. Yet multitudes of modern Christians forget or deny that the fear of God has any place in the everlasting Gospel. They describe it as the mere shadow of ignorance, the survival of early superstition, they tell us that in advance of spiritual experience we must leave it far behind.”6

Job 1:1, 6-12 reads, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. . . . Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’ Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’ So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’ And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.’ So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.” Job 42:1-10 reads, “Then Job answered the LORD and said: ‘I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ ‘I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.’ And so it was, after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.’ So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the LORD commanded them; for the LORD had accepted Job. And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” (Emphasis mine) Now there is a man who fears God!

Are you living a life founded on the fear of God?

II. The fear of God promotes a spiritual formation of life.  

Beware of any “spiritual formation” that is not solidly based upon the fear of God. Psalm 19:9 reads, “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever. . .” Of course, the Psalmist refers to the Word of God in this verse. We refer to spiritual formation in a qualified sense, for example, when I refer to mediation I do not promote all forms of meditation. Therefore, when I refer to spiritual formation, I do not promote all expressions of it. I refer only to disciplines taught in Scripture as channels for spiritual growth and discipleship. There is the subtle tendency to seek extra-biblical practices to promote spiritual growth and development. Discipleship must be based on biblical truth not experience. Experiences must be tested by the Scriptures not the other way around. Dr. Gary E. Gilley, author of Out of Formation: Spiritual Disciplines of God and Men, explains, “One of the problems facing the evangelical church today is that too many men and women are setting themselves up as the final authority on the Christian life. We need to remember that no matter how famous, successful or popular Christian leaders may become, their authority rests solely on the revealed Word of God, not their own personality or intellect.”7

Thomas Herbert Darlow explains, “Paul exhorts us to perfect holiness in the fear of God, he expresses the very genius of Christianity, which is nowhere so manifest as in the Person and words of Christ Himself.”8 2 Corinthians 7:1 reads, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Darlow further explains, “This character is perfected in holiness—because it bore about with it ‘a certain hidden, isolating, constraining, ennobling fear. Christians who are tender and generous and winning fail conspicuously in dignity and simplicity, in courage and detachment, because they have lost that fear of God without which we cannot be made perfect. Like no other motive, it can make us shrink and shiver at the thought of sin. It can redeem us from common ambition and frivolity, from insincerity and timeserving and respect of persons. It can cast out and conquer all meaner fears. And it alone can keep us continually humble, under a sense of the divine mystery of God’s will.

The living mystery of His will—to realize this would be to have God’s pure and holy fear revived in the church once more, and restored to the world. And such a revival may in His mercy be drawing nearer than we sometimes dream. . . [A] new reformation. . . will be born out of the recovery of that same fear of the Lord which has thrilled and nerved every true prophet and protestant since reformations began. . .”9

Learn to fear the Lord your God by receiving the truth.

Receive the truth by reading. Deuteronomy 17:19-20 reads, “And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.”

Receive the truth by hearing. Deuteronomy 31:12-13 reads, “Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.” (Emphasis mine)

Learn to fear the Lord your God by giving the tithe. Deuteronomy 14:22-23 reads, “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.” (Emphasis mine) This is a way to remember what the Bible teaches about tithing:

Abraham commenced it (Genesis 14)

Jacob continued it (Genesis 28:22)

Moses commanded it (Leviticus 27)

Malachi confirmed it (Malachi 3:7-11)

Jesus commended it (Matthew 23:23)

Who am I to cancel it?

   Psalm 119:63 reads, “I am a companion of all who fear You, And of those who keep Your precepts.”

Are you living a life formed by the fear of God?

III. The fear of God produces a theological focalization in life.

The term “theology” means, “the field of study and analysis that treats God and of God’s attributes and relations to the universe; study of divine things or religious truth.”10 Simply put, theology is “the study of God.” The term “focalize” means, “To bring to a focus or become focused.”11 The fear of God gives us a God focused life. Someone said, “Those who leave everything in God’s hand will eventually see God’s hand in everything.” In a similar way we could say, “Those who fear God will eventually find God at work in everything.”

Thomas Herbert Darlow explains, “It was the Son of Man who says to His own friends, ‘I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear. Fear Him who after He hath killed hath power to destroy both soul and body in hell.’”12 Remember Matthew was written to the Jewish mindset and Luke was written to the Greek mindset. Matthew 10:27-31 reads, “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Emphasis mine) Luke 12:4-7 reads, “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.’” Paul writes in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Romans 3:18 reads, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Revelation 3:14-22 reads, “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: ‘I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” (Emphasis mine) Many are out of focus like those in Laodicea, who were “blind. . . [to whom the Lord says] anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” After the church is caught away (Revelation 4:1) we read in Revelation 14:6-7 reads, “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’”

Are you living a life focused with the fear of God?


Are you living a life founded on the fear of God?

Are you living a life formed by the fear of God?

Are you living a life focused with the fear of God?

   2 Corinthians 5:9-11 reads, “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.” If you had it at one time but do not currently have it, may the story of your life demonstrate the fear of God lost and found.

1T. H. Darlow, The Print of the Nails (New York, NY: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1899), 117-134. Accessed: 05/20/16;view=1up;seq=129 .

2Robert Duncan Culver, Systematic Theology Biblical & Historical (Geanies House, Fearn, Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publication, Ltd., 2006), 410-411.

3Alexis de Tocqueville, “Greatness” Accessed: 05/25/16 .  

4Adrian Rogers, “The Theology of a Thief” Sermon Notes (Luke 23:32).

5Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, eds. Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 278.

6Darlow, Nails, 118-119, 121.

7Gary E. Gilley, “Spiritual Formation” (Springfield, IL: Think on These Things, February/March 2012 - Volume 18, Issue 1). Accessed: 05/20/16 .  

8Darlow, Nails, 121.

9Darlow, Nails, 130-134. “Theology” Accessed: 05/25/16 .

11The Free Dictionary by Farlex “Focalize” Accessed: .

12Darlow, Nails, 124.


Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on in hardcover, paperback and eBook] & /  / (251) 626-6210

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