The heavens and earth were not created rashly or flippantly. No, they were created with fear and trembling. God had to embrace death and the tearing of his own communion with himself before he ever created anything. David began to peer into this when he exclaimed: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14). How can anybody be fearfully made? These words are puzzling until we see them in light of the beginning. The apostle Peter taught:
“Live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” (1 Peter 1:17-20)
The redemption of the cross was not God’s knee-jerk reaction to man’s fall. Rather, the Father chose the Son and the shedding of his blood before creating the world—he did it long before we ever fell into sin. God’s sacrifice of himself defines the fear of the Lord. The fear of God is much greater than what we experience when we are in his presence. It is God’s very own reverential fear. It is his deep reverence and respect for himself: the awe that the Father has for the Son and the Son has for the Father. It is also the value and respect God has for everything he has made: there is nothing in all of his creation that he does not esteem.
All created reality came out of the gut-wrenching sacrifice of the Father and the Son. It flowed from trembling, not triviality. Before creation, everything was weighed on God’s eternal scales—it was not haphazardly hewed together. At the heart of the fear of God is the Father’s sacrifice of his Son, as well as the Son’s voluntary giving of his life (by the Spirit) for his Father and all things.
This is why the Scriptures teach: “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” We cannot muster up this fear from within ourselves. We cannot scare ourselves into this fear. This fear is not even being afraid of God’s presence. God’s Spirit is the only one who can impart God’s fear: he must give it to us. Just as the love of God is God’s own love—an attribute of God himself—so the fear of God is God’s own fear—again, an attribute of God himself. This is the first and foremost attribute we need to know if we are to understand all the other attributes of God. God’s love is an attribute that is rooted in his reverence for himself and all things. God’s wrath is also grounded in his fear and trembling. Without the fear of the Lord we fall terribly short of our knowledge of God. Notice how Isaiah says that it is God’s very own Spirit that imparts his fear and knowledge to the Messiah:
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—and He will delight in the fear of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11:1-2, NIV)
Prayer: Father, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. The very foundation of your creation of me is the cross. I’ve been created with value and worth, with the most costly gift of all––the blood of your Son. May your very fear, the reverence you have for yourself and all things, be imparted to my spirit today. I want to walk in your fear.