Genesis 20 Part 2: The Fear of the Lord

In Genesis 20, Abraham’s excuse for pretending that Sarah is his wife is because he thought there was no fear of God in that country.  He modified his actions because he thought there was no appeal to God.  Without appeal to God, he assumed there would be some kind of lawlessness.  The irony is that, by the end of the story, the working of God in the life of Abraham leads to the fear of God spreading through the region.  The fear is based on the potential of judgement and death.  King Abimelech would have entertained the existence of Abraham’s God along with others in his personal panoply.  He would have believed that any god, no matter how supreme, could have threatened his life.  However, God is benevolent because he warns Abimelech and also heals him.  The disease or uncleanness that had visited Abimelech’s household  may have seemed unpleasant, but even that may have been a blessing because it stopped Abimelech from incurring God’s wrath.

God does as he wills and he has the power to do so.  He is not tame, but he is good (cf. Lewis).  It is right to fear him.  It is not a fear of chaos and disorder but it is a fear of good and right.  I fear the police in the USA.  They seek to do what is good and right in most cases.  They uphold the law in their villages and towns.  Because of the power and authority they carry I always speak to them politely, with reverence, when they walk up to the window of my car.  The lack of a fear of God, though, means the lack of ultimate authority.  As God has been marginalised from public life more and more, I am less confident that society has the motivation to police itself.  Recently the police have been questioned about their treatment of different races.  Many movies show the police as crooked and out to make a buck.  This corrodes trust in the authorities.  Paul once wrote of Caesar that Christians should submit to the governing authorities because they have been placed there by God.  However, when God is removed as the ultimate authority, our reasons for submitting become increasingly relative and experiential.

When the fear of the Lord is intact but the police are absent obedience to law and order still occurs.  This is one reason why getting Roe versus Wade or recent Supreme Court decisions reversed is not the primary focus for people of faith.  If we submit to God we will deal with these issues as part of our quest for holiness.  Our values will be communicated by our lives and not our politics.  I am also skeptical of our prioritizing of issues in such a way that neatly lines up with Republican or Democrat.  For my close friends who focus on abortion, is social justice and caring for the poor a secondary issue to abortion?  Perhaps these issues are connected in ways that we deal with by categorization.  Does the environment take second place to same-sex marriage?  Perhaps the destruction of God’s creation needs to be reversed and people will have open hearts to hear the message when we help preserve the planet.

The fear of God disappearing can be connected with an increased fear of man.  As we seek first the Kingdom of God, all other seems seem to fall into their right place.

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Prayer

Teach us today the Fear of the Lord.  Let us bow the knee and proclaim that you are holy.

Questions

  1. How have you cultivated the fear of the Lord?
  2. How does schooling cultivate the fear of the Lord or its opposite?
  3. Why do people today seem to deemphasize the fear of the Lord?
  4. How are children best raised in the fear of the Lord?
  5. What would happen to the USA if the fear of the Lord were increased?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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17 Responses to Genesis 20 Part 2: The Fear of the Lord

  1. Megumi says:

    1. Reading and meditating on scripture. In doing this however, it is important to study all of scripture and not exclude those parts that are uncomfortable. The book of Deuteronomy is a better reminder to fear God than the parable of the Good Shepherd. Neglecting either will yield a lopsided view of God’s wrath and mercy. In Habakkuk 3:2 the prophet begs God to “in wrath remember mercy,” I believe that we who experience his mercy, must also remember his wrath.
    2. Schooling that involves study of the character of God, both his wrath and his mercy and his holiness, should result in the fear of God. When we realize who God is we realize where we stand before him.
    3. People deemphasize the fear of God, because they fear men rather than God.
    4. By parents who teach and model the fear of God.
    5. If the U.S. were characterized by the fear of God, our driving motivation as a society could no longer be ourselves and our own wants; it would have to be God and his standards. This would literally change the way we do everything.

  2. I have cultivated a fear of the Lord through reading stories in Scripture that reveal the full power and majesty of God. I know that I tend to focus more on God’s holiness rather than on His wrath, and to create a more equal balance, I need to revisit passages in Scripture that clearly show His powerfulness. Schooling that properly teaches the true nature of God, both holy and full of wrath, will show students just how big and great He is and how small we truly are. Schooling that is void of God will lead to teaching students to fear man. Because so many people today fear man rather than God, we tend to deemphasize the fear of the Lord. Also, Christians may feel insecure about speaking up about God’s wrath in fear of judgement. Children are best raised in the fear of the Lord through the example set by their parents and other influential people in their lives. If fear of the Lord increased in the US, society would try to please God rather than man.

  3. Michael McCardle says:

    How have you cultivated the fear of the Lord?
    My fear of the Lord comes from the fact that there is nothing that I can do to earn salvation. My life, being and eternity rest in his hands, promises and mercy.

    How does schooling cultivate the fear of the Lord or its opposite?
    I feel as if christian schools tend to focus on God’s love, kindness, mercy and forgiveness. These are good things, but God is also a God or wrath. I fell that as we dig deeper in the classroom to discover more of who God is and how majestic and sovereign he is, that our fear and respect of/towards him will increase in a healthy manner.

    Why do people today seem to deemphasize the fear of the Lord?
    People are self-dependent, think they can live on their own and that they do not fully need God.

    How are children best raised in the fear of the Lord?
    I honestly have no idea. One thing that this class and the foundations class has provoked me to do is to think about how great of a task it truly is to raise a child.

    What would happen to the USA if the fear of the Lord were increased?
    The country would follow the Bible as the word of God and would see God as the ultimate truth

  4. 1. Seeing the powerful way in which God has worked in my life has stated to cultivate that gear which we ought to have as Christians.
    2. Schooling can make children fear authorities (teachers, principals, etc) in such a way that they do not want anything to do with God because they assume God is like people. Or, loving teachers who care about their children’s souls can show children what it means to fear God in their own lives, and that can be inspirational and life changing for the student
    3.people today deemphasize the fear of the Lord because we have all become “seeker friendly”. We are scared that if we show people what it means to fear the Lord they will run for the hills reject Christianity.
    4. I believe that it’s first the parents job to show what it means to fear the Lord in their own lives. Then children will see what it means. It’s important to teach children what it means also, because many times children have a different idea of fear than we do.
    5. I believe many more people would come to know and believe in Jesus. I would think God would continue to bless the Land that fears the Lord.

  5. Jung Kim says:

    1.How have you cultivated the fear of the Lord? I have cultivated the fear of the Lord through the Word of God. Also, I wholeheartedly believe that God desires to speak to me daily through class, people, and pastor to show me the divine work of Christ. God reveals His Sovereignty and grace throughout my life.
    2.How does schooling cultivate the fear of the Lord or its opposite? I think it is significant that schooling cultivates the fear of the Lord in a loving-kind way. In other words, the schooling needs to carefully explain that God is the only person we must fear, not man.
    3.Why do people today seem to deemphasize the fear of the Lord? I think people today are prone to seek people’s approval rather than God’s. Also, we feel hopeless when we think about God who judges whether we are saved or not.
    4.How are children best raised in the fear of the Lord? I think children are best raised when their parents set good examples of what it means to fear the Lord on a daily basis by taking up the cross.
    5.What would happen to the USA if the fear of the Lord were increased? I think the more the fear of the Lord increases, the more people will come to know Christ and be adopted sons and daughters.

  6. Christa says:

    1. How have you cultivated the fear of the Lord? I have cultivated fear of the Lord by valuing and respecting His word.
    2. How does schooling cultivate the fear of the Lord or its opposite? Schooling can provide a more focused attention to the fear of the Lord if it is actually encouraged, or it can give way to the opposite when avoided or taught against.
    3. Why do people today seem to deemphasize the fear of the Lord? People today often view God as their friend or “buddy” and therefore forget His great divine power and majesty- which is truly to be feared and respected. He alone is God.
    4. How are children best raised in the fear of the Lord? Children are best raised in the fear of the Lord if they are taught and exposed to real fear of God from a young age. Parents and teachers should give age appropriate explanations for the fear of the Lord in order for children to understand and appreciate it.
    5. What would happen to the USA if the fear of the Lord were increased? I think people would be far more hesitant to so quickly cross Him with the way they live their lives and more eager to please Him with their lives.

  7. Maelynn says:

    1. I read his word and acknowledge his work in my life.
    2. Schooling can teach us to honor the authorities because they ultimately come feom God. If you have no fear of God, then you may have a harder time reapecting authorities.
    3. They deemphasize the fear of thr Lord because many people today see God as nonexistent or their “budy.”
    4. Their parents should be an example to them in this area. They need to be reading and hearing God’s word so that they can know who he is.
    5. Their would be more respect for authorities and one anothe.

  8. Christina W. says:

    1. I have cultivated a fear of the Lord by reading and studying his word and by acknowledging his presence and work in my life.
    2. School can cultivate a fear of the Lord by showing students how to honor the authority that has been placed over them.
    3. People seem to de-emphasize the fear of the Lord because they don’t want to see God as the authority in their life or because they want to only see God as a loving friend without seeing any of His other attributes.
    4. Children are best raised to fear the Lord when they have parents who are godly examples of what it means to fear the Lord. It is also important that these parents are not only an example but are also teaching their children explicitly who God is and what it means to fear him.
    5. If the fear of the Lord were to increase in the USA the value of life and the respect for authority would increase.

  9. Christina W. says:

    1. I have cultivated a fear of the Lord by reading and studying his word and by acknowledging his presence and work in my life.
    2. School can cultivate a fear of the Lord by showing students how to honor the authority that has been placed over them.
    3. People seem to de-emphasize the fear of the Lord because they don’t want to see God as the authority in their life or because they want to only see God as a loving friend without seeing any of His other attributes.
    4. Children are best raised to fear the Lord when they have parents who are godly examples of what it means to fear the Lord. It is also important that these parents are not only an example but are also teaching their children explicitly who God is and what it means to fear him.
    5. If the fear of the Lord were to increase in the USA the value of life and the respect for authority would increase.

  10. Kimberly W. says:

    1. I have not actively thought about cultivating the fear of the Lord in my life, but as I learn more about the Lord through reading the Bible, Bible classes, and sermons my fear of the Lord has grown.
    2. Public schooling does not cultivate the fear of the Lord; it cultivates the opposite. Christian schooling, if done carefully, can cultivate a healthy fear of the Lord by teaching children about God’s power and love.
    3. I think people today deemphasize the fear of the Lord because of the negative connotations of fear. It’s hard for me to talk about fear of the Lord because my first reaction is distaste–when I think of fear, I do not think of anything good. If it is hard for me, someone who has heard about fearing the Lord for 20+ years, how much harder is it for new believers or people who don’t know God at all?
    4. Carefully! It is important to teach children the difference between fear of God being vindictive and mean and a healthy fear of the Lord. I’m not always sure how to do that.
    5. Our country would change dramatically! Crime would go down, people would love and serve their neighbors, the political climate would change, people would return to church, and people would love God more.

  11. Maria T. says:

    1. How have you cultivated the fear of the Lord? I think the Lord has cultivated a fear of the Lord in my heart. He has been teaching me what it means that He is King and Master and is to be obeyed, and that there are consequences of disobedience (although there is no lack of love).
    2. How does schooling cultivate the fear of the Lord or its opposite? It really depends on the schooling. I think that if God is left out of the curriculum, or is not revered in the study of everything, children will think that the fear of the Lord is irrelevant in certain disciplines. If children are being taught that God has a say in everything, then schooling will be cultivating the fear of the Lord.
    3. Why do people today seem to deemphasize the fear of the Lord? It is something that runs against our sin nature. We do not want to submit. We would rather believe that the Lord blesses us and answers our prayers whenever we ask him for something than believe that he is the one who is in control and that we need to be submitting to and obeying him.
    4. How are children best raised in the fear of the Lord? As the people who are surrounding them constantly express a dependence and reverence on the Lord, they will see him in everything and seek to obey him as well.
    5. What would happen to the USA if the fear of the Lord were increased? More people would take Christians seriously, and if that were to happen, I think we would see more people coming to faith.

  12. Olyn says:

    How have you cultivated the fear of the Lord?
    Read the Old Testament!

    How does schooling cultivate the fear of the Lord or its opposite?
    Teachers give an example to kids as to what authority looks like-whether positive or negative.

    Why do people today seem to deemphasize the fear of the Lord?
    People tend to dislike the idea of having someone in control of them-independence is highly valued in our society.

    How are children best raised in the fear of the Lord?
    To respect their parents and authorities, not in a negative way but in a disciplined, loving way.

    What would happen to the USA if the fear of the Lord were increased?
    It would be revolutionary-schools would change, thought patterns, worldviews, opinions, arguments, polls, politics, logic and reasoning…pretty much everything would change!

  13. 1. Reading through His Word and focusing on who He is.
    2. When we as teachers our sure to incorporate a healthy fear of the Lord into our classroom management, curriculum, our lives, our students understand better that the Lord is involved in everything. He is never not present or involved in our lives. When we model what the fear or the Lord looks like, our students can better grasp the reality of the fact that He is to be feared but He is also perfectly loving.
    3. Fear is negative in our society today. If someone has a fear, it is either considered a weakness or that the person who is feared is automatically bad. First Samuel 12:24 says that we are to fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully. That idea of obedience or respect going along with a healthy fear has been lost on our society.
    4. Children are best taught by seeing parents and others modeling what that fear looks like, as well as being raised with an expected discipline.
    5. It would be so different we would not recognize it. What we do as a whole is so self-focused. We don’t respect others and we chase power and security for ourselves so we do not have to be afraid, but that obviously does not work.

  14. Andrew Moore says:

    1. The best way to cultivate a fear of the Lord is to meditate on scripture.
    2. By properly teaching scripture, we can cultivate a fear of the Lord through education. However, not properly teaching scripture, we will not achieve this goal.
    3, People focus more on God’s love than on his wrath or the idea that we should fear him. However, to do this is to make God one dimensional and not learn about him properly.
    4. Children are best raised to fear God by encouraging them that the fear of God is a good thing and leads to wisdom.
    5. The country would be wiser.

  15. Nate Silvieus says:

    1. Understanding the character and person of God.
    2. Christian schools that teach on the character of God and making sure kids everyday are learning more and more of who God is will create a fear of the Lord among them.
    3. Today it’s more about what a person wants for their life, without giving a second thought as to what God’s will might be. Or they tend to think of God as only love and “the great magician” as CS Lewis put it, and not understand God in all of his attributes.
    4. Through parents and teachers who teach a model what a proper fear of the Lord looks like.
    5. They’re would be a uniting and seeking the will of God, to do obey his commands and love his word.

  16. Molly says:

    1.How have you cultivated the fear of the Lord? I have cultivated a fear of the Lord by realizing that I am nothing without Him. I can’t even take my next breath unless he gives me the air for my lungs and moves his hand up and down upon my chest. Also, through reading the scriptures, spending time with him on my prayer mat, singing psalms and prayers of the saints, responding to him in my dreams, being obedient to Him when he speaks to me and continual fellowship with him throughout the day.
    2.How does schooling cultivate the fear of the Lord or its opposite? Schooling can be beneficial in that it teaches us about those who have gone before us, revealing to us the meaning of the psalms, teaching us how to pray and others leading by example. This is why we need fellowship in the body.
    3.Why do people today seem to deemphasize the fear of the Lord? What I have noticed is often times people have an attitude of “I can do this on my own” and deemphasize their utter dependence on the Lord.
    4.How are children best raised in the fear of the Lord? As said above, teaching them to pray, modeling for them, and teaching them about Scripture.
    5.What would happen to the USA if the fear of the Lord were increased? It would be radical, people would be crying out for the heavens to open up and the spirit to be poured out and it would be glorious. We should press in to Jesus and beg him for a revival of hearts every single day.

  17. Emmy R says:

    1. By spending time alone in reflection and meditation of the Word. I also experience it by being alone out in nature, and just by enjoying the beautiful creation.
    2. Schooling can cultivate the fear of the Lord by using schooling as a means to learn more about the Father, although it also has the danger of taking the joy of studying the Lord out of the form of worship.
    3. Because they are distracted and don’t see the importance of it.
    4. By being mentored and encouraged in the Word consistently.
    5. There would be so much more peace and reverence for the Lord.

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