01/28/17 Fear

READING: Exodus 19-20, Matthew 18:21-35

“Moses responded to the people, ‘Don’t be afraid . . .’”  Exodus 20:20

I am so glad that God is my friend. I can go to Him through Christ, and He allows me to talk to Him. He carries my burdens, forgives my sin, and loves me so much that He died for me. He is, as the song says, the friend of sinners.  At the same time, though, I fear Him . . . though perhaps not enough.   

The Hebrews knew this fear of God when He made Himself known on Mount Sinai. As God gave them the 10 Commandments, the mountain shook with flashes of lightning and crashes of thunder. The people heard the sound of a trumpet even as they saw the mountain enveloped in smoke. It was as if God were shouting in their ears. So awesome were the sights and the sounds that the people trembled at a distance. It’s no wonder they  sought Moses to be their intercessor between them and God, for they feared they would die if God spoke directly to them.

“Don’t be afraid,” Moses said to them, “for God has come to test you, so that you will fear Him and will not sin” (Exo. 20:20). Moses told them they need not fear the phenomena on the mountain, but they did need to understand what God was doing: He did not come to kill them, but to test them. He wanted them to fear Him so they would turn from sin. It was good for them to have a healthy, holy, reverent, proper fear of God, for that fear would be a fence to keep them away from the sin line. God was inspiring them through His holiness and power to follow Him obediently.

As I read this text and think of our personal sin, I wonder whether we tremble enough at the presence of God. I question if we sometimes allow the image of God as our friend to eclipse the biblical truth of the God of power and holiness. Perhaps we hold so tightly to the promise of God’s being a forgiving God that we forget that God is also the judging God – and grant ourselves permission to cross the line. We read the Word about God’s power, but we fail the test when that fear doesn’t keep us from giving in to temptation.  

God spoke creation into existence, and He moves nature as He wishes to make Himself known. In the book of Exodus thus far, He did everything from turning water into blood to dividing seas. He rained hail, multiplied insects, spread darkness, and swept nations with the angel of death. If He wants to shroud a mountain in smoke and echo the sounds of trumpets off its hills, He can do so.

So, the test is again before us today via the scriptures.  God is powerful and holy. Is that enough to make us say “No” to temptation today? 


  • Review the book of Exodus to this point, and focus on the evident power of God.   
  • When temptation comes to you today, turn your mind to the might and majesty of God to keep you from sinning.

PRAYER: “God, thank You for Your Word that shows me Your power. May these stories fill me with wonder and awe that change the way I live.”

TOMORROW'S READING: Exodus 21-22, Matthew 19

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