Sun, Apr 27, 2008

THE FEAR OF GOD? EXODUS 5:1-21

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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THE FEAR OF GOD?
EXODUS 5:1-21

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Exodus chapter 5 as we look at the topic:THE FEAR OF GOD?  Here is the problem I am seeing that really is not new, but it still is troubling.  There truly is a lack of the fear of God and folks; it is not only among unbelievers I am sad to say.  Now we will deal more with this as we move on this morning but I believe it is vital that we understand the fear of God and the consequences for not fearing God!

            Let me give you an example of this lack of fear of God before we get to our text this morning showing you the bold lack of fear of God among people today. A few weeks back my wife and I were on vacation in Florida and we were sitting by the pool relaxing. At the pool they had Sirius satellite radio playing, and I believe it was on channel 31.  It was called Radio Margaritaville and you guessed it, Jimmy Buffett is the main artist being played.

            And as I was relaxing, I am not sure what music artist was playing at the time, but this is how part of the song went. He was singing, “I’m going to party at the end of the world. I don’t care about the rapture because there’s native girls to capture.” The first time I heard that play through I thought, “No, he didn’t say that, did he?”  Yes he did and when I heard it play through again I yelled to Julie, “Julie, I need a pen and paper, quick!”  Well, she thought I was crazy, going through study withdrawal or something but I explained to her what I heard and that I needed to remember that for a study I am going to be working on.  Thus, she remembered one part of the song and I remembered the other part of that song since she didn’t have a pen or paper.

            Talk about an in your face song.  There is absolutely no fear of God seen in this man and his song and there should be! The idea is, party hardy even at the so-called end of the world! Folks, if you reject Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life, I pray that by the time we are done with this study you will receive Him as your Lord and Savior and have a reverential fear of Him. For those of you who are believers in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, maybe your walk is not right and if it isn’t, it too shows you don’t fear God. I pray that as we are done you will get right with God. With that said, let’s begin reading in Exodus chapter 5, starting in verse 1 and see what the Lord has for us as we look at: THE FEAR OF GOD!

EXODUS 5:1-21

            The Lord sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh to let God’s people go, let them return to the land of Canaan. They were in Egypt for 430 years and of that, 400 of those years were as slaves, under hard bondage. And notice the response of Pharaoh to this request, “ . . . ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.  Exodus 5:2.

            You see, the Egyptians worshiped many gods. They were polytheistic. In fact, the Pharaoh’s were even worshiped as god. Thus, here comes these two Jewish slaves, whose people have been in bondage under the Egyptians for 400 years and they are telling Pharaoh that the God of Israel, YAHWEH, wants him to let these people go free. Give me a break!

            Thus, Pharaoh increases the workload upon these slaves and he refuses to let God’s people go!  Even when the so-called “union people” showed up complaining of the unfair treatment, Pharaoh refused to listen. You see, they now had to make bricks by gathering their own straw to make them and they were still to make the same quota as when the Egyptians were supplying it for them.  But for Pharaoh, in his mind, he was in control of his own destiny. He was the master of his future and no one was going to tell him what to do!

           On Monday, June 11, 2001 Timothy McVeigh, before being executed for blowing up the Federal Building, quoted Invictus by William Ernest Henley, a poem published in 1875, for his last words.  The poem was duplicated exactly in his handwriting and given to the warden at the federal death house in Terre Haute, IN. These are those words he left behind:

Invictus
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

- William Ernest Henley, 1875

            You see, no remorse, no repentance but an arrogance and defiance that show’s he had no fear of God although he was soon to stand before Him in his sin! That was Pharaoh and that is like many today. They deny the judgment, they are in control and they will do as they please because, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” And I guess, in a sense, that is very true!

            They have not feared God, they rejected the Lord and God does not send them to Hell, they go there by their own choice, by rejecting the free gift of life that is found in Jesus! But I will guarantee you this, 1 second after they pass from this life and stand before the Lord awaiting His judgment, they will fear God and regret the decision they have made!

            With the remainder of our time this morning I want to look at the unsaved and the saved in regards to the fear of God.  Again, I believe this is very important for both groups of people to hear, learn and apply to their lives!

1.  THE NATURAL MAN – NO FEAR OF GOD

            You may believe this or reject it but in either case, the evidence is all around us that the natural man, the unsaved person does not fear God.  Think about the song I shared with you this morning, “I’m going to party at the end of the world. I don’t care about the rapture because there’s native girls to capture.” There is no fear of God at all in that song and like I said, it is a slam against God, an in your face response to what God has said in His Word. And folks, the more I listened to that station; I herd another song downplaying God and the Scriptures.  Why?  Because the natural man has no fear of God!

            In a response to the question about fearing God, one person wrote on an internet sight the following words and you will see the arrogance and the lack of fear this person has towards a holy and righteous God, downplaying God’s Word and God, even God’s people! He wrote:

As a non-believer:

I save time from no praying...
I save money from no tithing...
I have wonderfully lazy Sunday mornings or just sleep in . . . 
(I live in the Bible belt, Oklahoma)
I fear prosecution from believers so I feel mad that I lie and tell everyone I'm a Baptist (lie about myself almost daily)...
I still am moral and righteous in my behaviors, I treat others as I would like to be treated . . .  etc . . . But do it for personal piece of mind not for fear of god . . . 
I certainly don't have any issues with my Christmas Tree! I love its Celtic pagan symbolism!
I get to do fun things like read texts from all religions . . . and learn about other cultures with out being prejudice against them (they will all burn in hell etc . . .) or trying to change them.
I use ration and logic to solve my problems, opposed to praying or just believing what one book says . . . that definitely makes life, day-to-day or as a whole, much easier!

I get to teach my kids to learn objectively and make sure to understand both sides of an issue before making any judgment on it. And also not to just believe everything you hear or see on TV, that helps them be so much smarter than their peers!
I get to teach my kids about the most popular scientific theories when they say "why" opposed to dumbing them down by answering saying "cause that’s what it says in the bible . . . "

- Chosen by Asker

            Now, that is pretty bold and it is not true.  I don’t have to pray, tithe, go to church and-so-on, but I want to, I get to and that is a big difference. But what does the Scriptures tells us of the natural man and his lack of fearing God?  In Psalm 36:1-4 David wrote, An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes, When he finds out his iniquity and when he hates. The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit; He has ceased to be wise and to do good. He devises wickedness on his bed; He sets himself in a way that is not good; He does not abhor evil.

            Did you see that? When a person does not fear God they are self-centered, it is all about them and what makes them happy and not about what is right, what is pleasing to God! He exalts his sinful lifestyle. He thinks he is wise in his own eyes. He does all kinds of evil because his heart is wicked and apart from God, this is what will flow from it! Look at the television shows, the news shows, the news magazines or most magazines, the radio, the movie industry, the music industry and-so-on and you will see that they don’t care what they say or what they show about God. In fact, they teach explicitly against the things of God because there is no fear of God in their lives!

            Let me give you this example. On our cruise a few weeks ago, the ship had an outdoor movie screen and as I sat on the deck I would often watch bits and pieces of movies to see what was going on, if it was interesting while I was reading.  The one movie that caught my eye was Bridge to Terabithia. Now before I tell you the slams against God and Christianity, let me say this.  I went to the Internet to check out what some of the Christian sites were saying about this movie and I could not find one that came against it’s content. Some, if you looked hard enough, you might see something about it not being right but it was so watered down, it was difficult to tell if they were for it or against it. But for the most part, they thought it was great!

            Here’s the problem.  The Christian message, which was praised by some of these web sites, showed this man with a fowl mouth and bad temper and this was the Christian. The other family, not Christian, were wonderful, fun, energetic.  In one of the scenes a brother and sister with his girl friend, they were around 12 years old and the younger sister maybe was around 5, were traveling in the back seat of their car after church and the little girl said that if you don’t believe God and His Word you will go to Hell. Well, this girlfriend couldn’t believe that, she felt that God would in no way send anyone to Hell for not believing that. The older brother was not sure what he believed. Folks, that is the mentality of many today because there is no fear of God or His coming judgment! It is as Paul said in Romans 3:18,There is no fear of God before their eyes.  The Amplified Bible puts it like this, There is no [reverential] fear of God before their eyes. [Ps 36:1.]

            In regards to the coming judgment of those that reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior, Jesus, in Matthew chapter 13, starting in verse 37 tells us, “ . . . ‘He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’  Matthew 13:37-43.

            Now I do realize that many don’t believe in the judgment of God, they don’t have a fear of God!  Folks, that does not change the reality of God’s coming judgment!  Just because you don’t believe it doesn’t negate it! God’s Word has been looked at for years and yet it has not been proven to be false and thus, it is true, it still stands strong today.  Thus, in regards to the coming judgment, it will take place.

            During the 7-year Tribulation Period the unbeliever will face the wrath of God and in Revelation 6:12-17 we are told, I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?  Only those who are saved will be able to stand!

            Also, if you still think it won’t be that bad, in Luke 21:25-26 we are told, And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  It is so bad that the hearts of men will fail them!

            Right now, when an unbeliever dies he will go to Hell, the center of the earth, waiting for the final judgment of God upon their lives. This is a temporary holding area, where they will feel pain, they will suffer, but then there is the Lake of Fire or the final resting place for the unsaved that will take place after the Millennial reign of Christ and in Revelation 20:10-15 we are told, The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

            Thus, don’t miss the opportunity. If you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, ask Him in. All you need to do is admit that you are a sinner, repent of your sins and ask Jesus to be Lord and Savior of your life and it is done, you are a child of God and instead of rebelling against God, you will have a reverential fear God.  But, before you can do that you need to fear God because apart from that fear, there is no repentance!

2.  THE SPIRITUAL MAN – FEAR OF GOD

            For those of us who know Christ, we should also fear Him. Now we don’t need to fear Him in judgment unless we are living in rebellion against Him, but we are to have a reverential fear of God. We are to respect the Lord and what He is telling us by walking accordingly. In Jeremiah 10:6-7 we are told, Inasmuch as there is none like You, O Lord (You are great, and Your name is great in might), Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? For this is Your rightful due. For among all the wise men of the nations, And in all their kingdoms, There is none like You.

            You see, the fear of God is a necessary part of our growing, of our maturing in our faith with the Lord.  In Proverbs 9:10 we are told, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.  We also see this in Psalm 111:10, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever. You see, the fear of the Lord is only the beginning of wisdom; it is the starting point, the middle point, the end point, it is the main point!

            Also, in Proverbs 1:7 we are told, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. So we also see that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge as well as wisdom! The idea is this.  Knowledge is the things that you learn, the information you gain.  While wisdom is applying what you learn to your life. You see, if you don’t apply what you learn to your life, that is just foolishness.

            Thus, God wants us to learn of Him, learn how we are to live and then take that and apply it to our lives. In doing so we understand the fear of the Lord, at least we are beginning to learn the fear of the Lord. We understand the fear of the Lord in His judgment and we understand the fear of the Lord in His position.  It truly is just taking what we have learned and applying it to our lives day-by-day as we grow in the Lord!

            But even as Christians we can know what God wants and yet not apply it to our lives and that is foolishness. In Proverbs 1:28-33, which I believe can speak not only of unbelievers but also of rebellious believers!  Solomon warns us, Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the Lord, They would have none of my counsel And despised my every rebuke. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies. For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them; But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.  If that is where you are at, then you don’t fear the Lord in His judgment and you don’t fear the Lord in His position!

            One of the most popular spokesmen for liberal Christianity in its heyday was Harry Emerson Fosdick, pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City. Fosdick, while remaining strongly committed to liberal theology, nevertheless acknowledged that the new theology was undermining the concept of a holy God. Contrasting his age with that of Jonathan Edwards, Fosdick wrote the following:

Jonathan Edwards' Enfield sermon ["Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"] pictured sinners held over the blazing abyss of hell in the hands of a wrathful deity who at any moment was likely to let go, and so terrific was that discourse in its delivery that women fainted and strong men clung in agony to the pillars of the church. Obviously, we do not believe in that kind of God any more, and as always in reaction we swing to the opposite extreme, so in the theology of these recent years we have taught a very mild, benignant [benevolent in feeling] sort of deity . . . Indeed, the god of the new theology has not seemed to care acutely, about sin; certainly he has not been warranted to punish heavily; he has been an indulgent parent and when we have sinned, a polite "Excuse me" has seemed more than adequate to make amends.

Fosdick was never so right. He correctly saw that liberalism had led to a warped and imbalanced concept of God. He could even see far enough ahead to realize that liberalism was taking society into a dangerous wasteland of amorality, where "man's sin, his greed, his selfishness, his rapacity [greediness] roll up across the years an accumulating mass of consequence until at last in a mad collapse the whole earth crashes into ruin."  Writing in the wake of World War I, Fosdick suggested that "the moral order of the world has been dipping us in hell."

Despite all that, Fosdick ultimately would not acknowledge the literal reality of God's wrath toward impenitent sinners. To him, "the wrath of God" was nothing more than a metaphor for the natural consequences of wrongdoing. His theology would not tolerate a personal God whose righteous anger burns against sin. To Fosdick, the threat of hell fire was only a relic of a barbaric age. "Obviously, we do not believe in that kind of God any more."

Fosdick wrote those words almost ninety years ago. Sadly, what was true ofliberalism then is all too true in the so-called "evangelical movement" today. "Evangelicals" have to a very large degree rejected the reality of God's wrath. They have disregarded His hatred for sin. The god most evangelicals now describe is completely benevolent and not the least bit angry.

            Not you, you’re a Christian. You would never do that! Folks, what Fosdick wrote some 90 years ago is being played out today and it is a lack of the fear of God and many times it is because they don’t see the wrath of God. Case in point.  One of the pastors on our radio station was talking to his pastor friend who was divorcing his wife for another woman. And this pastor told him that he needed to repent and return to his wife, heal the marriage, but he refused saying, and I am paraphrasing, “It is all under grace!”  Here is the problem. With that kind of thinking, sin all you want it doesn’t matter. If that is your theology, you better check your heart.  You see, if you are saved, God is not going to let you get away with that. He will do whatever it takes to break you of your sin so you get right with Him. You need to have a fear of God and the judgment of sin!

            Now before you are too harsh on this man, where are you at this morning? What is your talk like? What is your behavior like?  How do you treat your spouse? How do you treat your children? How do you treat your co-workers? How do you treat your friends?  How do you treat your enemies?  Do you yell, scream, throw a temper tantrum, fight, have to get your own way? When things don’t go the way you want do you explode? Now, if you are living in rebellion to God, you will justify your behavior. Believe me, I have seen and heard this over and over again, justifying sin and I won’t approve of it but more importantly neither will God!

            In your marriage, in your home, in your workplace, if things are out of control, if people can’t see Christ in you then it is because you are getting in the way!  You need to die to self and let them see Christ in you.  And think about it, would you act like that if Jesus were standing right next to you? Of course you wouldn’t! I will let you in on a little secret, He is standing right by you, He is always with you!  Thus, you are to be a representative of Him, a reflection of Him to others, to your spouse, your boss, your co-workers, your friends, your children and-so-on!

            If you are in sin, or when it does happen, don’t justify it but listen to what Solomon says you need to do. In Proverbs 15:33 we are told, The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.  Solomon tells us that you must fear the Lord in that you apply what God has said in His Word to your life. But you will never do that until you first humble yourself before the Lord!  Only when you humble yourself before Him will your surrender your will to His will! It truly is a battle of the wills!  The “I will” and God’s will!

            Paul lays it out for us in the New Testament as he tells us in Ephesians 5:15-21, See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.

            Paul is saying that we need to walk carefully, we need to be alert as we go because the days we are living in are evil and it is easy to fall prey to their ways. Be wise, apply these things to your life, the things of God, what He has said in His Word and you will know what God’s will is for your life!

            He goes no to say that we should not be continually controlled by alcohol or anything else that will alter our mind, but we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit! And as you do then the joy of the Lord will flow from your life, you will have a heart of thankfulness. You see, what you have allowed God to do in you will then flow from you in words that are beautiful and actions that are just!

            And it truly all boils down to this, what Paul said in Ephesians 5:21, submitting to one another in the fear of God. If you don’t fear God you will not submit to anyone. I do realize that some may disagree but if your walk with the Lord is not right, if you are living in rebellion against Him then your walk with your fellow man will be wrong, it will be off, it will just be ugly! Several years back there was this person in the church who had a problem with authority and would not listen to correction. They thought their walk with God was great and it was always someone else’s fault. No, it was that this person was not willing to humble themselves before God, submit to God in the fear of the Lord and the result, they struggled with others, how they treated people. In fact, it was truly all about this person.

            Now what I find interesting is that as Paul finishes up here with submitting to the Holy Spirit, walking in His will, he then deals with relationships. How a wife is to treat her husband. How a husband is to treat his wife. How children are to be obedient to their parents. How parents are to treat their children. How the boss is to treat his employees and how the employees are to treat their boss.  And as you read through that you will never find, “If they are nice to you then you are to treat them nice.”  In fact, in spite of how they treat you, you are to be obedient to the Lord!

            As you continue on in Ephesians chapter 6, Paul then goes to spiritual warfare, which seems out of place, but I don’t believe it is, I don’t believe it really is a new subject by Paul but it is flowing from what he was just speaking of. You see, as you walk with the Lord, as you are obedient to Him, the enemy will try to bring you down, destroy your witness. Thus, Paul says in Ephesians 6:10-13, Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Be prepared for the battle as you fear the Lord!

            Let me close by saying this. The simple fact is that we cannot appreciate God's love until we have learned to fear Him. We cannot know His love apart from some knowledge of His wrath. We cannot study the kindness of God without also encountering His severity. And if the church of our generation does not regain a healthy balance soon, the rich biblical truth of divine love is likely to be obscured behind what is essentially a liberal, humanistic concept. We must fear the Lord in judgment and postion!.

Don’t be like Pharaoh and harden your heart to God, refusing to fear Him.  But know God and be wise or study His Word and apply it to your life. James said, But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  The Amplified Bible puts it like this, But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth]. And the New Living Translation says, But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.  James 1:22.

And lastly, in Job 28:28 we are told, And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’  May we learn and apply that to our lives and if we do, we will shine brightly for Jesus because we have a correct fear of the Lord, both in His judgment and His position!

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