Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you,
so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
As I thought about what I wanted to share today, I kept thinking about 2020. Since this is the beginning of the 2020 calendar year, I wanted to find a spiritual connection. I decided to look for a scripture that was the 20th verse of a 20th chapter. The Holy Spirit led me to Exodus 20:20.
Moses begins by telling the Israelites not to be afraid. Then in the next sentence he mentions the need for the fear of God. Are these contradictory statements? Not at all! The first statement about fear alludes to being scared. Secondly, the fear of the Lord refers to a sacred fear. Two entirely different kinds of fear.
Emotional fear is a feeling everyone encounters. Fear can be manifested as anxiety or worry. Although we want to avoid these feelings, God knows we will experience them. That is why He gives us so many verses telling us not to be fearful. He desires for us to overcome this kind of fear. He longs for us to have a reverential fear for Him. He yearns for our devotion.
First, let’s look at few verses that refer to the apprehensive type of fear.
The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?
For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
Isaiah 43:1 NKJV
For God has not given us a spirit of fear,
but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
II Timothy 1:7 NKJV
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear,
because fear has to do with punishment.
The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
I John 4:18
In contrast, let’s look at a few verses that exemplify reverential fear.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him;
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.
To fear the LORD is to hate evil;
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;
I Peter 1:17 NASB
What can we learn from these verses for 2020?
We know we will encounter fearful and anxious moments during the coming year. We can overcome our fears by facing them. However, this does not mean we will always feel fearless. We need to face our fear and replace it with faith in God. Faith will not eliminate fear, but it will help us confront it. Rev. Robert Reeves has said that we will likely experience fear when we have the opportunity to be faithful.
Being faithful exemplifies Godly fear. To fear God really means to be devoted to God alone and not to fear anyone or anything else. Godly fear creates a reverential awe within us. Instead of being physically afraid, let us spiritually fear the Lord. Let us worship and adore Him. In Jesus Always, Sarah Young has suggested that instead of physically fearing we put our energy into spiritually praying.
As we begin 2020, it seems appropriate to meditate upon Exodus 20:20. It may become a verse to reflect upon numerous times throughout this year.
I close with the promise of Psalm 112:1, “Praise the LORD. Blessed are those who fear the LORD.”
May you have a blessed 2020 New Year!