Reverence For God

The Apostle John gives this description of his vision of the Lord God in heaven in Revelation 4:2-11 “Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!’ Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.’”  So great and awesome is the Lord God that the twenty-four elders fell down before Him and worshiped Him and cast their crowns before Him.  In view of that, what should our attitude be towards God almighty?

The writer of Hebrews said in Hebrews 12:28-29 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.”  Our attitude towards God should be reverence and godly fear.  Reverence is deep respect, awe and appropriate fear.  The Greek word translated as “reverence” here is found nowhere else in the Bible.  And yet, the respect, awe, and fear we should have towards God are found in multiple places in the Bible.

God came down upon Mount Sinai and gave the Ten Commandments.  Exodus 20:18-20 “Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, ‘You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.’ And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.’” God didn’t want the Israelites to be terrified of Him, but He wanted them to have reverence for Him to encourage them not to sin.

The prophet Elijah had a contest with the prophets of Baal upon Mount Carmel to prove who was the true God.  First, the prophets of Baal built an altar and called upon Baal to answer and burn up the sacrifice.  But Baal did not answer.  Then Elijah rebuilt the altar of the Lord and prayed to the Lord God to send down fire.  1 Kings 18:38-39 “Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!’”  Upon seeing the consuming fire of God, the people fell on their faces and confessed that the Lord, He is God. They had great awe and respect and fear of Him.  The psalmist wrote in Psalms 89:5-8 “And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints. For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him. O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty like You, O Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You.”

I once had a friend that told me that he prayed to God in a very familiar way like one would use slang with a playmate or close companion.  As Christians, God is indeed our friend, but He is also almighty God, creator of everything.  I think there should be a deep respect, awe and appropriate fear of the God that we depend upon and pray to.  There should be reverence.  He is almighty; He is awesome; He is a consuming fire.

As we seek God and draw closer to Him, we appreciate His love for us and we love Him in return.  The fear that we once may have had for God becomes deep respect rather than tormenting fear.  1 John 4:17-19 “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.”  We grow to love God because of His great love for us.

Jesus loved His Father, but even He had reverence or godly fear for Him.  Hebrews 5:7-9 “Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”

I encourage you to have reverence for God. Psalms 33:8 “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.” 

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