Journal Ps 128-130 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities…O Lord, who could stand?
But, with you there is forgiveness that you may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his Word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning…more than watchmen for the morning…” Ps 130:3-6
Observation: Do I regularly equate forgiveness with fearing God? Not hardly!! But, why not?
Application: This is where going slowly and methodically through the Scriptures are good. I probably would not have stopped to think about judgment, forgiveness, and fearing God in a comparative way.
Now, in all transparency and candor, there is a song that is ringing between my ears that has the refrain, “…more than watchmen in the morning…” in it and it contributed to pausing on this scripture.
I can “get” fearing God concerning that God can (and does) mark iniquities. Judgment/condemnation and fear seem to be hand holding buddies.
But “forgiveness”? Why should that cause a reaction to fearing God?
I think that it comes from not understanding the Gospel well enough.
One of the principles/precepts of the Gospel is: “All have sinned; all fall short of the Glory of God.” (Ro 3:23) Here are other references:
- “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…” (Ro 1:18)
- “…among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were BY NATURE children of wrath (like the rest of mankind). (Ep 2:3)
- “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming.” (Col 3:3-6)
Therefore, the blunt fact is that all men, born of woman, are in a place where the wrath of God (from God’s point of view) is deserved. While my internal reasoning wants to go, “Say it ain’t true. Isn’t God love?”
And that is where I get to fearing God. Because my unholiness cannot survive in the presence of His Holiness and I unequivocally DESERVE God’s wrath, He made a way to bridge the chasm through the Atonement of the Son. I shouldn’t fear that He is that powerful? Of course I should.
How much do I lay at his feet for this? He snatched my deserved wrath, fully deserved, and took it upon his own shoulders!! What manner of God is this? Other gods (little “g”—notice), idols, and religion would DEMAND me to do all sorts of things to atone for my wrongdoing. Not this God, the God of Israel, Jesus the Son—He chose to be the atonement for my sin. This is a major principle of the Gospel.
Of course, I must change my mind about worshiping with fear (heavy duty respect that can result in bone shaking responses). I can be worshipful that He paid the debt for my sin, but I must consider the FACT that he didn’t have to. I must ask, because I am increasingly aware of my indwelling sin,
“Why did you do it for me?”
Prayer: I bow in gratefulness, O God. You are fearsome and deserved to be praised.
This is not the language of evangelicals. I can get wrapped up with “Joy” and “Happy” and “Rejoicing” that I can forget how fearsome You are.
Ricky Two Shoes