The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in and puts his confidence in the Lord will be exalted and safe. Proverbs 29:25 AMP
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, so that one may avoid the snares of death. Proverbs 14:27 ESV
We see from Pentecost onwards that Revival almost inevitably brings about tremendous controversy and change, which is disturbing and confusing to many. Revivals often look much better when viewed from a significant distance or when read about in history books; up-close they look, sound, feel and become very messy. However, human beings are by nature and instinct overwhelmingly creatures of habit, who consequently view those things which disrupt their daily routine as an unwanted irritant at best but often as a threat to their peace and harmony, something to be feared.
Now a phobia is an uncontrollable, irrational, and persistent fear or hatred of a specific object, situation, or activity. It is overwhelming and debilitating. It has synonyms such as horror, terror, obsession, dislike, dread, hatred, loathing, distaste, revulsion, aversion to, repulsion, detestation or overwhelming anxiety about.
The word phobia comes from Greek phóbos, meaning “fear” or “panic.” The Latin translation is timor, “fear,” which is the source of words like timid and timorous. Wikipedia currently lists over 165 phobias including phobophobia or pantophobia – ‘the fear of fear’. In this and some forthcoming devotionals we will reflect on how certain fears or phobias can delay, hinder, disrupt, and even derail revival.
Whilst the unfounded fears of revival are many but repeatedly recurring, surely the greatest fear should be that individually and corporately, nationally, and globally we remain stuck in a “revival-free” zone?
The sin of the fear of man
Many phobias adversely impact revival. The sin of the fear of man has been and is a major trap, hamstringing more Christians from serving God than any other. In short, a man-fearing spirit is a trap that short-circuits the Holy Spirit’s power. We do well to remember that what “so and so” thinks, must always be a very remote secondary to what God commands.
Are we steered, constrained, or held captive by the opinions, views, and preferences of other people? Could we be afraid to offend, or confront others because of what they might think? Are we scared to witness or pray openly? Franklin D. Roosevelt in his inaugural presidential address in 1933 stated that, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” As Christians, we are called to go through unconditionally with God. In so doing we will discover that “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18 AMP).
Surely a major reason why revival has been delayed (or cut short) is due to there being more fear of man in the church than fear of God. So, when we allow human considerations and horizontal calculations to carry more force or weight than obeying God – there will be no revival!
Clearing something up
The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of wisdom [its starting point and its essence], And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding and spiritual insight. Proverbs 9:10 AMP
Like many Hebrew words, “fear” (Yir’ah) has a broader meaning, encompassing very positive feelings – honour, respect, reverence, and wonderful awe. “Fear of the Lord” is a reverence for God allowing us to grow in intimate knowledge of Him, reassuring us of His power and control over the world and giving us respect for His law which keeps us from sins which destroy our relationships. To fear the Lord is the supreme expression of knowing that we stand in the presence of a Holy God who is always watching over us and to be reassured of His awesome power over the whole of creation. It is basic to the whole of life before the Holy One.
‘Fear of the Lord’ may mean we should dread His disapproval of our sin. However, the emphasis is very much on a positive, reverential relationship with God, our Heavenly Father, and not being terrified by Him. It is an unconditional reverence for and submission to God’s authority, majesty, and goodness. It is simply the appropriate response to who the Holy One is and will be marked by our humility, obedience, hatred of evil and exclusive loyalty to Him.
If we possess such awe of the Lord, we will enjoy the very desirable fruits of greater joy, wisdom, and justice. It will cause us to repent, seek revival and live with integrity and obedience to Him, which will ultimately transform us and our land.
In the [reverent] fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, And His children will [always] have a place of refuge. The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that leads to obedience and worship] is a fountain of life, So that one may avoid the snares of death. Proverbs 14:26 -27 AMP
Lord, we stand in awe of You! We thank You for doing such awesome things; for working beyond our highest expectations. You continue to do such things for those who wait for You. Almighty and merciful God, grant us a return in our time to the fear of Your mighty, sovereign, and gracious name. Enable us to have an unconditional reverence for and submission to Your authority, majesty, and goodness that we will not cherish anything above You. Amen