THE ‘FEAR OF THE LORD’ OUR GREATEST TREASURE

THE ‘FEAR OF THE LORD’ OUR GREATEST TREASURE

Compiled by Michael Jeshurun

“The fear of the LORD is his treasure.” [Isaiah 33:6]

WHOSE treasure? God’s or the believer’s?

Good and reliable men have attributed this to both God and man. John Gill writes, “the fear of the Lord [is] his treasure; i.e. either Hezekiah’s, as someone who esteemed the fear of the Lord above all his treasure; and was more zealous in settling and establishing the true worship of God than in amassing treasures to himself: or rather the Lord’s treasure, from which He receives a tribute of honour, of more value than the greatest treasure: or, best of all, the Church’s treasure, and every true believer’s; this being the beginning of wisdom, or true grace, the best of riches, and which secures the saints’ final perseverance to glory, the better and more enduring substance.”

John Bunyan writes, “Christian, let God’s distinguishing love to you be a motive to you to fear Him greatly. He has put His fear in your heart, and may not have given that blessing to your neighbor, perhaps not to your husband, your wife, your child, or your parent. Oh, what an obligation should this thought lay upon your heart to greatly fear the Lord! Remember also that THIS FEAR OF THE LORD IS HIS TREASURE, a choice jewel, given only to favorites, and to those who are greatly beloved.”

“We are convinced that ‘the fear of the Lord’ like ‘Faith’ is a grace that belongs to the Lord Jesus as man which He bestows on His people.

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by THE FAITH OF CHRIST, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” [Gal. 2:16].

We believe that the King James Version of the Scriptures best conveys the sense of the original language. The modern versions change the phrase “faith of Christ” to “faith in Christ” throughout, which overwhelms the passage with redundancy. Paul never intended the emphasis to be upon what man has achieved, but instead what the Savior has accomplished on his behalf. The apostle here is clearly contrasting these two phrases.

We are not justified by keeping the law, rather we are declared eternally righteous by the faith of Christ. It was Christ’s faithfulness that is the basis of our justification. He faithfully carried out the will of the Father to provide redemption through His finished work at Calvary (Heb. 10:5-10).

This phrase “the faith of Jesus Christ” or its equivalent the apostle uses in eight instances in his letters. [Rom 3:22; Gal 2:16; Phil 3:9; Gal 2:20; Eph 4:13; Rom 3:26; Eph 3:12]

The Bible teaches that “all men have not faith” [II Thess 3:2]. It speaks of a time when even the elect of God were without faith—”before faith came” Gal. 3:23. But through the preaching of the Word, God willed to give His elect ones “a measure of faith” [Rom. 12:3]. The apostle said, that we have “OBTAINED like precious faith” [II Pet. 1:1]. Now this faith is not our own. It should be borne in mind that before we are saved by ‘faith IN Jesus’, we are saved by ‘the faith OF Jesus’. It is HIS faith in Jehovah as the ‘Son of man’.

The Lord commended the Church of Pergamos saying, “Thou holdest fast My name, and hast not denied MY faith. [Rev. 2:13]. “Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith OF Jesus. [Rev. 14:12]. Yes, beloved, our salvation is completely of Him. “He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith.” [Heb. 12:2] It is OUR faith only because HE GAVE IT TO US. “What hast thou that thou didst not RECEIVE“? [I Cor. 4:7]

In like manner ‘the fear of the Lord’ is a grace which is originally Christ’s.

When Christ came from heaven as ‘the God man’ Isaiah speaks about the anointing of the Holy Spirit that was to mark Jesus out as Messiah—the ‘Anointed One’ that Israel was expecting—he described seven distinct aspects of the Holy Spirit that would rest on Jesus. Isaiah 11:1–2 lists them:

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And 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.” [Isaiah 11:1,2]

Here we see the sevenfold manifestation of the Holy Spirit—a list of the seven Spirits of God. The first one is the Spirit of the Lord, that is, the Spirit that speaks in the first person as God. In Acts 13:2 the Holy Spirit says, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them”. The Holy Spirit was Himself speaking as God.

The list continues with the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of understanding, the Spirit of counsel, the Spirit of might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. It’s extremely significant that the final manifestation of the Holy Spirit that marked out Jesus as the Messiah and God’s beloved Son was the fear of the Lord. We see this in Isaiah 11:3 where the prophet says:
“His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears…”

So Jesus was marked out as Messiah by the sevenfold anointing of the Holy Spirit upon Him. The seventh and final anointing WAS THE FEAR OF THE LORD. And the very next words are, “His delight is in the fear of the LORD.”

The apostle Paul after declaring that “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one, etc” concludes by saying “There is NO FEAR OF GOD before their eyes!” [Rom 3:18]

And THIS is one of the first grace God implants in the heart at regeneration! “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I WILL PUT MY FEAR IN THEIR HEARTS, that they shall not depart from Me.” [Jer 32:40]

We cannot do better here than to conclude with the words of the beloved Puritan Thomas Watson –

“Fear of God is a leading grace: it is the first seed God sows in the heart. When a Christian can say little of faith, and perhaps nothing of assurance, yet he dares not deny, but he fears God. God is so great that he is afraid of displeasing him, and so good that he is afraid of losing him. “Fear thou God.” [Ecc 5:7]

The fear of the Christian is not servile, but filial. There is a great difference between fearing God, and being afraid of God. The godly fear God, as a dutiful and loving son fears his father; but the wicked are afraid of him, as a prisoner is of his judge.

Fear and love are best in conjunction. Love is the sails to speed the soul’s motion; and fear is the ballast to keep it steady in religion.

The fear of God is mingled with faith—“By faith Noah moved with fear.” [Heb 11:7] Faith keepeth the heart cheerful: fear keepeth the heart serene. Faith keepeth the heart from despair; fear keepeth it from presumption.

The fear of God is mingled with prudence. He who fears God hath the serpent’s eye in the dove’s head: he foresees and avoids the rocks which others are lost upon. Although Divine fear doth not make a Christian cowardly, it makes him cautious. “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself.” [Prov 22:3; 27:12]

The fear of God is a Christian’s safety; nothing can in reality hurt him. Plunder him of his money, he carries about him a treasure of which he cannot be despoiled. “The fear of the Lord is his treasure.” Cast him into bonds, yet he is free; kill his body, he shall rise again. He who hath on the breastplate of God’s fear, may be shot at, but cannot be shot through.

The fear of God is mingled with hope. “The eyes of the Lord are upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy.” [Psalm 33:18] Fear is to hope, as oil is to the lamp: it keeps it burning. The more we fear God’s justice, the more we may hope in His mercy.

Faith stands sentinel in the soul, and is ever on the watch-tower; fear causeth circumspection. He who walks in fear, treads warily. Faith induces prayer, and prayer engageth the help of Heaven.

The fear of God is a great purifier—“The fear of the Lord is clean.” [Psalm 19:9] In its own nature it is pure; in its operation it is effective. The heart is the “temple of God;” and holy fear sweeps and purifies this temple, that it be not defiled.

The fear of God promotes spiritual joy; it is the morning star which ushers in the sunlight of comfort. Walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost (Act 9:31), God mingles joy with fear, that fear may not be slavish.

The fear of God is an antidote against apostasy—“I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me:” (Jer 32:40) — I will so love them that I will not depart from them, and they shall so fear Me that they will not depart from Me.

The fear of God induces obedience. Luther said, “I would rather obey God than work miracles.” A heathen, exercising much cruelty to a Christian, asked him, in scorn, what great miracle his Master, Jesus Christ, ever did. The Christian replied, “This miracle—that, although you use me thus, I can forgive you.”

The fear of God makes a little to be sweet:—“Better is a little with the fear of the Lord.” [Prov 15:16] It is because that little is sweetened with God’s love,— that little is a pledge of more:— that little oil in the cruse is but an earnest of that joy and bliss which the soul shall have in heaven. The crumbs which fell to the lot of Lazarus were sweeter than the banquet was to the rich man. The handful of meal, with God’s benediction, is better than all unsanctified riches.

Sincere love and holy fear go hand in hand; fear springs from love lest God’s favour should be lost by sin.”

Is the ‘Fear of the Lord’ YOUR treasure?!

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