He is the one you are to fear!
James Smith, 1859
"The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy — he is the one you are to fear — he is the one you are to dread!" Isaiah 8:13
Slavish fear is forbidden to the Lord's people. They are required to be hopeful, courageous, and confident. The Lord is on their side. The covenant secures all their best interests. The Lord Jesus as their advocate appears for them above.
Yet they sometimes fear men. They fear great men, or crafty men, or cruel men; but they forget that men and their works are in the hands of the Lord.
They fear suffering, imagining that their strength will fail, or their patience give way; but they forget the promise, "As your days — so shall your strength be." Nor have they learned to reckon aright or they would unite with Paul, whose sufferings were greater than theirs are ever likely to be; yet he said, "I reckon that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us!"
They at times fear death. Now death as a penal evil, is terrible enough — but as taken into the covenant, as deprived of its sting, as changed into a sleep, or transformed into a porter to open the gates of glory to the poor weary pilgrim — there is nothing terrible in death, nothing to fear.
Therefore, our gracious Lord, bids us, "Fear not! Fear not men, for I am with you, and no man shall set on you to hurt you. Fear none of these things which you shall suffer, for I am with you, and will comfort you in all your tribulations. Fear not death, for I am with, you, and will give you the victory."
But we are to fear God — the Lord Almighty, who rules all worlds, and exercises all power. He is, in our minds, to be separated from all creatures, and all idols; as infinitely superior to them, and immeasurably above them. He is the one you are to fear — and he alone. We are only to fear offending him, or grieving his loving heart. If we do so, it will be our daily study, our habitual aim to please him. We shall seek above everything else to honor and glorify his dear name. If with a filial child-like fear, we fear God as he is revealed in Jesus — we need fear no one beside. Indeed it is wrong to do so.
Therefore says the prophet, "He is the one you are to fear!" Others may fear men — you fear God. Others may fear Satan — you have only to fear the Lord. Fear him — for he is able to preserve and deliver you. Fear him — for he has promised to aid you, and is faithful to his Word. Fear him — for he is always attentive to your prayer of faith, and that may ascend to Heaven at any moment, from any place. Fear him, for he is always kind to, and careful of his people — and he will be kind to you. Fear him, for he will guard, and take care of his chosen ones, though they may be considered foolish, base, or contemptible by man. "Fear not them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But fear him, who when he has killed — has power to cast into Hell! Yes, I say unto you, fear him!"
Slavish fear, in a Christian, is sinful; because God prohibits it, and has taken away all real cause for it. Our God would have us calm and peaceful. Hence the sweet words of Jesus, "Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you; let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." We ought therefore, in this respect to differ from others. They have no precious promises to dispel fear. They have no present Savior to impart comfort. They have no sweet assurance that all things work together for their good.
We should keep the eye fixed on God, as our Father; our ear open to God, as a present help in trouble, speaking words of comfort to our souls; and our hearts sacred for God, who made them for himself, and claims them as his own. We should exercise confidence in God . . .
in trouble, who bids us to call on him and be delivered;
in danger, who promises to keep us by his power;
and in need, who engages to supply all our needs.
Beloved, let us fear God . . .
as Joseph did — and it will preserve us from sin;
as Nehemiah did — and it will teach us self-denial; and
as David did — and it will enable us to wait God's time for deliverance. "In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence, and his people have a place of refuge." If we fear God — we are sure of supplies, for "there is no lack to those who fear him." If we fear God we are sure of a friend, for "the eyes of the Lord are upon them that fear him, and his ears are open to their cry." If we fear God, all will be well, for "I know that it shall be well with those who fear God." "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man!"