Do not Forsake the Fear of God
Today’s reading: Job 4-6; Acts 7:20-43
14 “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty. Job 6:14
37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ Acts 7:37
When people lose their reverent fear of God, they are capable of all manner of atrocities toward other human beings made in His image.
Job’s friends sat quietly with him. They listened when he finally broke his silence. Then Eliphaz spoke. He lectured about God’s discipline of His children assuming that Job has deserved to be corrected. He missed the truth and failed to comfort his suffering friend. Job responded with continued lament for his condition but then complained about the lack of support from his friends. He considered that Eliphaz had “[withheld] kindness from a friend.”
How can anyone cold-heartedly turn his back on a loved one in his moment of extreme anguish? Why wouldn’t common decency make a person feel sympathy towards even a complete stranger in dire straits? Job says that it is due to that person having forsaken the fear of the Almighty. One must be arrogant to think that the Omnipotent God of Creation and Providence could never bring him to the same condition. One has to be overly self-assured and proud to feel immune from God’s powerful hand.
The authorities that examined Stephen in Acts 7 seem to have a similar problem. They accuse him falsely and demand an explanation, but they are about to get more than they bargained for. Stephen is giving them a summary of the history of Israel, tracing the theme of their rebellion against Moses, God’s chosen leader. Moses, whom they accuse Stephen of blaspheming, foretold that a prophet like himself would be sent to them. But these leaders continue the policies of their forefathers, rejecting the ones whom God sends to deliver them. They, like Eliphaz, have forsaken the fear of God.
What part does the fear of God play in your life? Does fear of God drive you to confession of sin, to eager obedience, and to love for others? Fear of God is not an outdated, Old Testament concept, but is part of the mindset that has been renewed by God. Peter wrote, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (I Peter 2:16-17). Practice those things and never forsake the fear of the Almighty.