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Brother Ed Cole whose two messages I heard on the two previous evenings and enjoyed so much, made a comment right at the close of his message this morning, and he said, “The thing that this nation needs most and the families in this nation need most is the fear of the Lord.” And I’m happy to tell you that that is the title of my message tonight – The Fear of the Lord. And the message was given to me several days before Ed Cole made that comment. So I feel we’re right in line with what God is saying at this time.
Now when I say the fear of the Lord some of you respond to that word fear, you say “I don’t like fear, I don’t want to hear that message, it’s not going to bless me,” and you more or less tune me out. Well you’re free to do that but it’s a big mistake, because you really have no idea of what you’re tuning out when you react against the fear of the Lord.
In Isaiah 33, verse 6 there are eight little words at the end of that verse which say, the fear of the LORD is His treasure. The fear of the LORD is His treasure. So it’s not something to be despised, it’s not something to be afraid of. It’s God’s treasure that He’s sharing with His people. Will you please adopt that attitude from this time onward in this meeting? I’m not threatening you, I’m not confronting you with some grim alternative. I’m telling you about the Lord’s treasure which He shares with His people.
I wonder how many of you know or knew that verse was in the Bible. Eight words – the fear of the LORD is His treasure. They’re eight words that come at the end of a verse in Isaiah chapter 33 and verse 6 – the fear of the LORD is His treasure. And I was asking myself why was that jewel of truth tacked on at the end of a verse in Isaiah and I came to this conclusion because God wants us to search for truth. Jesus said, Search the Scriptures for in them you’ll find the truth about Me. I want to ask you tonight are you one of those people who search the Scriptures? Do you really turn to the Bible with a diligent quest for truth? Do you look to it for the answer to your needs and problems? You see there are many people who are afraid of what God might say to them. But that’s a disaster.
Also, Jesus said, Search the Scriptures, so if you’re not searching the Scriptures you’re disobeying the Lord. I’ve been a Christian more than fifty-eight years if you can believe that, and I think I’ve never read the Bible through less than two times in any given year. So that’s means I’ve read the Bible at least one hundred and sixteen times and there are many, many passages in it I’ve read probably a thousand times or more. I’ve been searching the Scriptures. And I wonder when I meet Christians why some spend so little time in the Bible. If they give God ten or fifteen minutes a day they think it’s a big thing. That’s your misfortune because you’re shutting yourself off from something that is immensely precious, something that will do you tremendous good.
I think many of those people who refuse to give time to the Bible are suffering from a spiritual disease. And I’m going to tell you what the spiritual disease is. I call it spiritual laziness. And I call it that because it’s only in that area that those people are lazy. They can hold down a job, they can be a housewife, they can keep a spotless kitchen, they can cook wonderful meals, they can earn a good living in some honorable profession, they can be industrious in everything except one thing which is reading of the Bible. I suppose there are many of you here tonight. You would sit an hour in front of a television set and think nothing of it. But if you were to give an hour to studying the Bible you would think it a tremendous achievement. You see that’s not natural. If you’re only lazy in one particular area of your life it’s not a natural laziness. It’s a spiritual laziness and it has a spiritual cause. And it’s cause is the enmity of Satan who wants to keep you from the thing that will help you more than anything else in your life.
So I just want to check with you for a moment. I’m not going to ask anybody to raise your hand, but if I’ve been describing you and you have to acknowledge, “It’s true Brother Prince. I’m not a lazy person. I earn a good living, I do a good job, I have a good reputation, but there’s just one thing I’m lazy about, it’s reading the Bible.” If that’s you let me urge you, repent right now before you go a step further in this meeting. Just tell God, “God, I’m sorry. I’ve let the devil trick me. He’s got the better of me. He’s deceived me. He’s persuaded me of something utterly untrue that the Bible is a dull or difficult book.” It’s not. It’s a message of life. It’s a message of love. Only through the Bible can you begin to know the measure of God’s love for you. If you shut yourself off from the Bible, if you give it just a few brief moments or perhaps no time at all in a week, you’re shutting yourself off from the revelation of God’s wonderful love for you. Don’t do it. Don’t be a spiritual pauper. Don’t accept the disease of spiritual laziness.
Just pause and consider that for a moment. You can be industrious and successful in almost every other aspect of your life, but when it comes to reading the Bible you flunk, you’re a dropout. That’s not a natural condition. That is a spiritual condition. And behind it is the spiritual enmity of Satan whose trying to cheat you out of your inheritance in the Lord. So you need to repent. If that describes you, you need to repent.
Now I’m going back to the theme which I announced, The Fear of the Lord. So many Christians have got the idea, “Well that was something from the Old Testament. It was under the Law. We don’t need the fear of the Lord in our lives at all. That’s old fashioned.”
That’s totally unscriptural and uncorrect. I want to give you just a few simple facts from Scripture about the fear of the Lord. Psalm 19 and verse 9 says this.
“The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever...”
So there’s never a time when the fear of the Lord ceases to be relevant. It endures forever. And in Proverbs 23 verse 17, the writer of Proverbs says:
“That you may continue all day long in the fear of the Lord...”
So the fear of the Lord is forever and it’s for all day long. In other words, there is no time in your life when you should not be in the fear of the Lord.
Now many people have a very negative view of what is meant by the fear of the Lord. I want to tell you some things that it is not first of all. First of all it is not natural fear. It’s not the kind of fear you experience in an automobile when you see you’re going to crash. That’s not the fear of the Lord.
Secondly it is not demonic fear. There is a spirit of fear, a demon. I’ve dealt with probably say hundreds of people who needed deliverance from the spirit of fear. But that’s not what we’re talking about. Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:7
“God has not given us a spirit of fear...”
He’s not given us a demon and in 1 John 4:17, John says,
“There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear, for fear has torment...”
That’s not the fear we’re talking about. Tormenting fear is from the devil and it has no place in the life of a Christian, but it has a place in the life of some of you. And really the greatest remedy for the tormenting fear is the true fear of the Lord.
And then the fear of the Lord is not fear of man. It delivers us from the fear of man and it enables us to show respect and honor for the Lord.
So what is the fear of the Lord? Well, I’ll give you just a few English words, none of which fully describe this extraordinary spiritual realm of being. It’s fear of a special kind. Sometimes it is very powerful physical fear. For instance, when Moses was confronted with the glory of the Lord and the voice of the Lord at Mount Sinai he said this so terrifying was the sight that Moses said “I am exceeding afraid and trembling.”
Now Moses lived as close to the Lord as most of us. In fact I would guess much closer. But when he was confronted with a revelation of God’s majesty and glory he said, “I’m exceedingly afraid and I tremble.” If Moses could tremble so can you. That’s not a harmful experience. In fact I think nearly all of us need a much greater, clearer vision of the awe and the majesty and the power of God. I would say one of the best words to describe it is awe, from which we get the word awesome. That has a certain religious connotation. It expresses our reaction to majesty, to power, to holiness. Another word is reverence. But unfortunately reverence has changed its meaning.
I remember as a boy growing up in the Anglican church in this country, when we got inside the church building we changed our behavior. We didn’t speak aloud. We walked very carefully. We stood very stiff and we thought that was reverence. That was bondage. It was not reverence. Reverence is a response to a revelation of God. You cannot have reverence without revelation. When God reveals Himself, I believe the only appropriate response is reverence.
And then with it goes submissiveness. A submissive attitude toward God is an expression of the fear of the Lord in our lives. When we’re high-handed, arrogant, self-sufficient, self-proclaiming as many of us are, that has nothing to do with the fear of the Lord. There is no fear of the Lord in a person who conducts himself like that.
Another very amazing thing revealed in Scripture is that in a certain sense what you fear if your god. In Genesis 31 Jacob is talking to his uncle Laban, or his father-in-law Laban, and he’s saying, “You didn’t treat me right but God looked after me.” And in Genesis 31 and verse 42 he says to Laban,
“Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed...”
So he called God the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac. In other words, what Isaac feared was the true God. It was his God. And then at the end of the same chapter in verse 53, Jacob says,
“‘The God of Abraham, the God of Nahor, and the God of their father judge between us.’ And Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac.”
So what Isaac feared was his God. What you fear is your god. If you fear people’s opinion, that’s your god. If you fear poverty, that’s your god. If you fear disease and sickness, that’s your god. What you fear for you is god. Do you fear the Lord? Is He your God?
Then it’s very informative to study the fear of the Lord in the light of Jesus. Now Jesus was God’s own beloved Son who pleased His Father all His life and all His days. And yet when Isaiah speaks about the anointing of the Holy Spirit that was to mark Jesus out as Messiah, as the Anointed One that Israel was expecting, he described seven distinct aspects of the Holy Spirit that would rest on Jesus. And these are found in Isaiah chapter 11 beginning at the first verse.
“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. [that’s the Messiah, the descendant of David. Now this is the mark of the Messiah, the mark of the Son of God.] The spirit of the LORD Shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom And understanding, The Spirit of counsel and Might, The Spirit of knowledge And of the fear of the LORD.”
That’s the sevenfold manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It speaks in Revelation of the seven Spirits of God which are seven lamps of fire burning before the throne. Here is a list of the seven Spirits of God. The first on is the Spirit of the LORD, that is the Spirit that speaks in the first person as God. And in Acts 13 the Holy Spirit says,
“Send forth Barnabas and Saul to the work which I have called them.”
The Holy Spirit was speaking Himself as God. That’s one of the aspects of the Holy Spirit.
And then we have the spirit of wisdom. And then the spirit of understanding, the spirit of counsel, the spirit of might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. The final manifestation of the Holy Spirit that marked out Jesus as the Messiah and God’s beloved Son was what?... the fear of the Lord. And then the next verse says this.
“His delight is in the fear of the LORD. And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor by the hearing of His ears.”
So Jesus was marked out as Messiah by the seven-fold anointing of the Holy Spirit upon Him. The seventh and final anointing was the fear of the Lord, and then it says,
“His delight is in the fear of the LORD.”
Dear brothers and sisters, surely we cannot improve on Jesus. If Jesus, God’s beloved Son, Messiah and Savior, was marked out by the fear of the Lord and if He delighted in the fear of the Lord, how can you or I ever dare to say we don’t need the fear of the Lord. It’s a terrible thing to say.
Now I want to speak about the conditions that we have to fulfill to have the fear of the Lord. I’ll go through it rather quickly. Psalm 34 verses 11 and 12. God is speaking and He says,
“Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.”
I believe that’s the Holy Spirit speaking. The fear of the Lord has to be taught. Come, you children, listen to me; and if we listen to the Holy Spirit He will teach us. If we don’t listen He won’t teach us... listen to me; and I will teach you the fear of the LORD. And then it describes the kind of person you have to be to experience the fear of the Lord, and it says,
“Who is the man who desires life, And loves many days, that he may see good? Keep you tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking guile.”
What’s the first mark of the person who receives the fear of the Lord? What does it manifest itself in first? In his speech. The way we use our tongues and our lips.
Brothers and sisters, just check on yourself for a moment. Does the way you speak, the way you use your tongue and your lips, does it represent the fear of the Lord? Or are you at times arrogant, self-pleasing, fearful, irritated, impatient, unwilling to receive correction? That’s not the fear of the Lord.
Then something that has impressed me deeply is that we must choose the fear of the Lord. In Proverbs chapter 1 God is speaking to people who have rejected Him and He says some terrible words. I think sometimes we don’t really appreciate how terrible the things that are, are that God says. We have a picture of a nice courteous old gentleman up there in heaven who never says anything difficult or hard or unpleasant. He just cuddles us. That’s not God. Listen, this is what He says in Proverbs 1 verses 25 and following.
“Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, [That’s God speaking.] When your terror comes like a storm, And your destruction comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; [The left it too late.] They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. [Why?] Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD.”
You have to choose the fear of the Lord. And if you do not choose the fear of the Lord, God will not restrain His judgments in your life. Then Proverbs 1 and verse 7 says this.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
We can adopt a contemptuous attitude towards the fear of the Lord and just advertise our own foolishness. And then in Proverbs 3 and verse 7 it says,
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.”
So you cannot associate with evil and have the fear of the Lord. If you’re going to have the fear of the Lord in your life you have to depart from evil.
And then it says also we are not to trust in our own wisdom. If you have self-confidence and arrogance in your life, think you have all the answers, you have no place for the fear of the Lord. And another thing it says, depart from evil. We cannot combine evil and the fear of the Lord. We have to make a choice. Which are we going to make room for in our lives? The fear of the Lord or things that are evil?
And then, this is something I love. I’ve been in love with the fear of the Lord for almost as long as I’ve been a Christian. I cannot read these verses without getting excited. And I’ll just tell you briefly out of Scripture some of the things that the fear of the Lord will do for you. Beginning in Job 28 and verse 28. That’s an easy verse to remember isn’t it? Job 28:28.
“And to man God said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’”
True wisdom is inseparable from the fear of the Lord. We’ve got an idea of wisdom as something intellectual. Cleverness. It’s not cleverness, because cleverness can be compatible with evil. But the fear of the Lord is incompatible with evil. We have to have one or the other but we cannot have both.
And then again, these are so wonderful, Psalm 25 verse 12. Psalm 25:12.
“Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.”
You see, God doesn’t teach everybody, and God doesn’t choose His students on the basis of examinations. He chooses His students on the basis of character. And God does not commit Himself to teach those who have no fear of the Lord. You can go to a Bible School, you can go to the best training center, even here, but without the fear of the Lord you are not a pupil of God. You can be a pupil of human teachers, but not of the Lord.
And then another wonderful thought in the same Psalm, verse 14 of Psalm 25.
“The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him. And he will show them His covenant.”
Isn’t that marvelous that if you fear the Lord He will share His secrets with you? Nobody shares his secrets with an enemy. If you share your secrets with somebody that’s a person who’s intimate with you. It’s a person whom you trust. God says, “The fear of the Lord is in life, I’ll share My secrets with you.” And He says, “I will show you My covenant.”
You know one of the most critical truths of the Bible is the truth of covenant. In fact the whole Bible revolves around covenant. It’s the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Covenant is the theme of Scripture. But only those who fear the Lord understand covenant. That’s why there’s so many covenant breakers in the church. That’s why there’s so many people who break the covenant of marriage, because they have no fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is an essential ingredient in a happy successful marriage. Without it a marriage can never function as it should.
I had an interesting conversation some years ago with a man and his wife. He was a leader in the evangelical movement in the United States. I won't give his name. And they were sharing very frankly about their own problems in their marriage. And the wife was telling us they came to a point in their bedroom one night when they were having a real argument. And he was pointing his finger and saying, “You have to submit.” And she was saying, “I don’t see why I should. You’ve made some pretty silly decision.” And they were getting really angry.
And then they remembered they were Christians and they were not behaving like Christians. And they fell down on opposites of their bed on the knees and began to seek God. And the wife said this. “It was as if a cold wind blew through our bedroom and it said, ‘Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.’ And we realized there was no fear of God in our lives. No fear of God in our marriage.”
I think the fear of God is an essential ingredient in a happy Christian marriage. Praise God they repented and that man went on in his ministry to be successful. But I’ve never forgotten that. I can picture it my mind tonight. There they were kneeling by their bed and this cold wind blew through the bedroom said, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”
I don’t believe you can have a successful Christian marriage without the fear of God. I’ve not always been a successful husband. I’ve failed many times. But I can say one thing my first wife who was Danish and very outspoken, she said “The only thing that’s kept you faithful to me is the fear of God.” And I thought to myself that’s not such a bad statement as it sounds. I mean it did keep me. Brothers and sisters, let’s be realistic. There are temptations in a marriage. There are very few men who don’t experience some temptation to break their marriage vows. What keeps you from doing it? I’ll tell you what kept me from doing it. The fear of God. The fear of God is clean and endures forever. It’s purifying, it’s sanctifying.
Well let’s go on Proverbs 10:27. The further we go the more exciting it gets. I hope at least I’ve done one thing by the time I’ve finished. I’ve given you a desire to know more about the fear of the Lord. Proverbs 10 verse 27 says this,
“The fear of the LORD prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened.”
So listen, if you have the fear of the Lord in your life you will live longer than you would have without it. Doesn’t tell you how long you will live, but you will live longer than you would have lived without the fear of the Lord in your life. And I’ve lived a long life and I need some more years of life because my job on earth is not finished. And I tell you I’m very careful to cultivate the fear of the Lord because it prolongs life. Who would turn that down? The only people who would turn that down are people who are totally unbelieving or totally ignorant. You cannot afford to live without the fear of the Lord.
All right. Then Proverbs 14:26 is one of the most amazing verses in the Bible and you probably didn’t even know it was there. Why? Because you don’t search the Scriptures.
“In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence.”
It doesn’t make you timid. It doesn’t make you weak. It gives you strength. You fear the Lord you don’t have to fear anything else. It’s the remedy for all other ungodly forms of fear. And then I think this is my favorite one and I just want to ask you, how could you turn down a promise like this? Proverbs 19:23.
“The fear of the LORD leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction; He will not be visited with evil.”
Dear brother and sister, how can you turn down an offer like that? I mean you are really out of your mind. The fear of the Lord leads to life. He who has it will abide in satisfaction and will not be visited with evil. I have to tell you as far as I’m concerned, that’s my promise. I want it. I can hardly believe that God would make an offer like that on the basis of thing – the fear of the Lord, verse 27,
“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life to avoid the snares of death.”
And then Proverbs 22 verse 4.
“By humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches and honor and life.”
The fear of the Lord does not go with pride. You cannot mix it with pride. It’s a remedy for all pride. By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life. And I don’t want to be in any way arrogant but I have to say I’ve proved that in my experience. I can say it’s true. It’s true in the life of Derek Prince. Not because I deserve it, but because I’ve met the conditions. I have a record of serving the Lord for fifty-eight years and He’s given me riches - spiritual riches, and some material riches. You know I became a Pentecostal when no Pentecostal ever expected to have any money. When my first wife and I got married we never believed we’d own a car. To be Pentecostal was to be poor. I mean that’s the way it was. It was also to be uneducated.
When I came back from the Middle East to Britain and tried to make myself known to the Pentecostals in Britain, God bless them, when they heard I’ve been a Fellow of Kings College Cambridge they couldn’t believe that I was a Christian. I’m not exaggerating. I’m telling you the truth. I had to sit with them a long while and convince them. I speak in tongues in spite of having been a Fellow of Kings College Cambridge. In spite of having been a Scholar of Eton, I speak in tongues just the same as you do.
Today I think it’s rather the other way around. I think we’re too concerned to be rich today. Some of us. I think not me. Well I mean You’re the one to decide that, Lord. Not me.
All right. Now I want to give you just quickly some pictures of the fear of the Lord in the life of God’s people and we’ll turn to Psalm 2. Psalm 2 verse 11,
“Serve the LORD with fear, And rejoice with trembling.”
That doesn’t make sense to the carnal mind. How can you have fear and rejoicing? How can you be trembling and rejoicing, because you see that’s the spiritual combination. The two go together – the fear of the Lord and trembling. Rejoicing and trembling. And then in the New Testament, in Acts chapter 9 a description of the early church. Acts 9 verse 31.
“Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified [or built up]. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.”
You see the carnal mind can’t understand that – the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. How can they go together? But they do and they should never be separated. And as a result they were edified and they multiplied. In other words, that’s the key to church growth. The fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. But our little natural minds say how can I mix fear and comfort? You can’t, but God can. And He does.
I’ve just written a book called Husbands and Fathers, so I know all about this from experience. And I’ll tell you there are certain things that women object to. And one is being told to submit. I don’t blame them because it’s taken out of context. Listen I want to read two verses in Ephesians chapter 5, and in my Bible these two verses are separated by a sub-heading, put in by the editors so that the two things are totally separated. It says about walking in the Holy Spirit and this is one of the marks of being full of the Holy Spirit incidentally, is submitting to one another in the fear of God. So all Christians should have a submissive attitude to all other Christians. Then it says, Wives, submit to your own husbands. But when we take it out of the context is sounds like wives have to do all the submitting. And that’s the way it’s often been presented to women. But the teachers who present it to women should themselves be submitted, should themselves be walking in the fear of the Lord.
Well, I have no problem with women. I never have had. Well I’ve been married fifty years. Thirty years to my first wife, twenty years to my second wife. And both of them are now with the Lord and I am looking forward to joining them. But I’ve got a little more to do before I do. But I’ve had two happy successful marriages. And I’m the head of a family which now numbers one hundred and fifty plus persons. Some people say, “Well if I have so many children I couldn’t serve the Lord.” Nonsense.
Now, people say, “Well, I’m saved. I don’t need the fear of the Lord.” That’s when you need it most. Let me show you in 1 Peter. 1 Peter chapter 1 verses 15 through 19, and remember this is written to people who’ve been redeemed by the blood of Jesus.
“But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, [all your conduct, not some of it.] because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on the Father who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear.”
Whom was it written to? People redeemed by the blood of Jesus. What did it say? Conduct the time of your sojourning here in fear. And why?
“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
The very fact that God paid our redemption with the blood of Jesus, the most precious thing in the universe, is a reason why we should always walk in fear. Fear that we somehow betray our Redeemer, fear that somehow we lower the price of our redemption to something cheap and insignificant. That’s the mark of a committed Christian. That’s the mark of a Christian who understands what it cost God to redeem him.
Brothers and sisters, I am really anxious not to do anything that would in any way belittle the price of the blood of Jesus. He paid for me with His precious blood. I don’t want to make that cheap. I don’t want to act as if it wasn’t the supreme sacrifice of God. If God was willing to sacrifice that much for me, how can I lead a carnal, self-indulgent, self-pleasing life? How can I be more occupied with what I want than what God wants? The most, in a way – I say this I’ll offend you – but one of the most terrifying things in my life is God paid for me with the blood of Jesus. The most precious thing in the universe. I didn’t deserve it. I was totally unworthy and so were you. But if God paid that much for you how can you act as if you were cheap? How can you act as if your redemption didn’t cost God the most precious thing that He ever had? The very fact of our redemption is a challenge to holiness.
Finally, and when I say finally like Brother Ed Cole, you have to understand in the context. I think it will be finally, but I don’t guarantee it. I want to read just briefly from Proverbs chapter 2. Proverbs 2 verses 1 through 5, and this is how you can receive the fear of the Lord. I don’t want to leave you just with an idea that something tremendously important that you need but you don’t know how to get it because here is the answer. It’s in the first five verses of Proverbs chapter two. And it begins with an if. In other words, there are conditions to be fulfilled.
“My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then [then] you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God.”
So the then comes after the if. What are the conditions? Let me go through them briefly. If you receive my words and treasure my commands within you. - that is receive God’s word with respect, with an attitude of submission and obedience. We receive it as the most valuable thing in life. Treasure it. The Hebrew word means to store something up in the secret place, because it’s the most valuable thing you have. That’s condition number one – receiving God’s word.
Condition number two so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; You know something about the human body, you cannot you ear without bowing your head? Did you know that? There’s no way your ear can move apart from your head. So when you incline your ear, what do you do? You bow down your head. You become submissive and teachable.
When I was a trainer of teachers in Kenya which was a long while ago – it may have changed now – but when a pupil came up to a teacher in an African school he would come with his exercise book like this and he would bow. And you know what that was saying? You’re the teacher, I’m the pupil. And that’s how we should come to God – You’re the Teacher, I’m the pupil. I receive Your words. I do not argue with them, I do not reason them away, I do not explain them as out of date, because the fear of the Lord endures forever. It’s never out of date.
Verse 3 – if you cry out for discernment and lift up your voice for understanding, So that’s prayer. Impassioned prayer. Crying out for discernment, lifting up your voice for understanding.
And then verse 4 – If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; It’s a search. God doesn’t put everything right out in the open. That verse that I quoted from Isaiah 33:6, you have to search to find it. The fear of the Lord is this treasure. You can read that many, many times and not even notice it’s there. God doesn’t put His jewels right out on the pavement for anybody to pick up. He puts them in places where you have to grasp for them and grope for them.
All right. We come now to the end. Then you will understand the fear of the LORD. So it’s not an easy thing. It’s not something cheap. It’s not something too simple. The arrogant mans says, “I don’t need that. I’m clever.”
Let me tell you, when I was at school, Cambridge, we used to make fun of the religious people. And we quoted to them, I think it’s a poem of Longfellow – Be good sweet maid and let who will be clever. And we laughed. We said, “You can be good but we’re clever.” You know what? I’ve met far more clever people in my life than I have met good people. It’s much easier to be clever than it is to be good.
Then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. And I don’t believe those things can ever be separated. The knowledge of God can never be separated from the fear of the Lord. You’ll remember that in Isaiah 11 it said, the fear of the Lord, the Holy Spirit will make him a quick understanding in the fear of the Lord and he will delight in the knowledge of the Lord. You cannot separate the knowledge of the Lord from the fear of the Lord. You don’t have more knowledge of the Lord in your life than you have fear of the Lord. I’m not talking about the ungodly fear. I’m not talking about the tormenting fear. I’m not talking about the religious fear that’s taught by the precept of men. I’m talking about a fear that only the Holy Spirit can teach. Come you children, listen to me. I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Bless His wonderful name. He’s willing to do it. I’m so amazed at the grace of God. I’ve been a Christian fifty-eight years. I tell you I’m much more amazed at the grace of God in my life than I was when I was first saved. I’ve discovered all the things that God had to deal with. I mean, if I’d been God I wouldn’t have taken me on, I’ll tell you that. But He did and He’s taken you on. And if you’d been God you wouldn’t have taken yourself on either.
He’s marvelous. Oh He’s so gracious. Do you know the word grace? We so misinterpret it. It means God’s undeserved favor, His love, His compassion that we’ve done nothing to deserve. In fact we’ve done everything not to deserve it. But you can’t earn it. You cannot earn grace. Anything you can earn is not grace. There’s only one way to receive it – by faith. Stop trying to earn it. You see all religious people have got the idea that they’ve got to earn something. Well there are things we do earn, but not grace. Grace comes free, received by faith.
So, let me read those words again and I commend them to you. I think I can say them by heart. I won’t do it. I don’t want to be arrogant or boastful, but Ruth and I memorized those first five verses of chapter two many times over.
“My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you. [Condition number one] [Condition number two] So that you incline your ear to wisdom. And apply your heart to understanding; [Condition number two] If you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, [passionate prayer – Condition number three] If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; [Conditions number four – a diligent motivated search] Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God.”
How precious, how wonderful.
Now, I’ve come to the end of my message, but it would be unfair to leave you with nothing but a message. I want you to think over for a few moments what I’ve been saying. And then I want you to consider whether you’ll do this. Will you ask God to impart to you the fear of the Lord? He won’t do it against your will and He won’t threaten you. He offers, but you have to receive. And you may be here today and you are a sincere Christian, I’m sure you are. But really there’s very little of the fear of the Lord in your life, and for that reason to say the truth and tell you like it is, there’s very little holiness. Because the fear of the Lord cannot be separated from holiness, nor holiness from the fear of the Lord.
Listen, I have a large family and praise God, almost all of them are walking with the Lord which is wonderful. I mean I thank God day and night for it. But I’ll tell you this, it’s very east to take God for granted. Most, I think all my children have known the Lord from childhood. They’ve walked with the Lord. But there can come a time in any persons life when you take things for granted that you have not right to take for granted.
If you really feel here tonight that God has been awakening you to a need in your life of the fear of the Lord which is clean and endures forever, which prolongs your life, I’m going to suggest that you just do this in a moment. Don’t do anything right now. But just to apply what I’ve been teaching and if you already walking in the fear of the Lord, don’t do it. Praise God for you. But if you have to acknowledge, “Lord, I’ve lived by standards of the church. I go to church and I listen to sermons and I put money in the offering, but this fear of the Lord you’ve been talking about, I’ve really never heard about that in church.” Is that true? It’s true of most churches and I’m not a critic of churches. In fact I believe passionately in being part of a church. I’ve never found a perfect church. And if I did I couldn’t join it because then it wouldn’t be perfect you see. But both my first wife and my second wife - we have always made it a principle to be part of a local congregation. And when we went out on our journeys, they sent us out, and when we came back we reported to them. Imperfect as they were they were better than nothing. Well, anyhow. Listen don’t tell me that you are much better than I am because I don’t believe it.
Now, seriously, you have really heard something tonight that stirred your desire. You have an appetite for something more. How terrible to provide food for people who don’t have an appetite. But tonight you’ve heard something. ”There is something here. This fear of the Lord is something I’ve never really understood. Nobody ever told me about it, but I see it’s in the Bible from beginning to end. From Genesis to Revelation. And whatever it is, Lord, I don’t understand it fully, but I want it.”
Now if that’s the way you feel and I want you to be very careful because it’s easy to respond in an atmosphere like this and go out and forget what you’ve done which will not please God. But if you are here tonight and you say, “Brother Prince, after listening to you I realize I had no understanding of the fear of the Lord. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t appreciate it. But I really want it. I want to ask God to give it to me. I want to ask God here tonight to give it to me.”
If that’s what you want, I’m not going to call people forward to the front, but I just want you if that’s your response, I want you to stand to your feet right where you are right now. But now I want you who are standing to just quietly without making yourself too audible, I just want you to say these words to the Lord.
“Oh, God my Father. I come to you through Jesus Christ, my Savior. And tonight You have put in my heart a desire for the fear of the Lord. And I’m asking You from now on to lead me, to teach me and to impart to me this wonderful treasure of the Lord, the fear of the Lord. In Jesus name. Amen.”
And now take just a little while to shut yourself in with God and commune with Him.
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