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Fear and Trembling

Words of Faith Final

Fear and Trembling
Words of Faith 12-27-2022
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2022
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Exodus 20
[18] When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance [19] and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die."
[20] Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."

What was the people's reaction to the giving of the Ten Commandments? They trembled with fear. There was thunder and lightning and a loud trumpet sound amid the smoke. This was no flashy special effects show. This was the real deal. Real thunder. Real lightning. Real smoke. The Creator of the whole universe was rattling this mountain in a big way. The scene was so frightening that the people clarified that they would prefer not to hear from God again. Speaking through Moses would be just fine! Thank you very much.
The answer from Moses is interesting. "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning." It sounds contradictory… "Do not be afraid; God is only trying to scare you"-- but the two words for fear are very different. When Moses says, "Do not be afraid," he uses the word 'yare,' which means dread or terror. When Moses says, "so that the fear of the God will be with you and keep you from sinning," he uses the word 'yirah,' which means a deep moral reverence. Another way to express this would be, "You need not be afraid (in terror) as long as you keep a moral reverence toward God."
As we look at our world today, sadly, there is very little moral reverence toward God or His Law. Western law is built upon honor toward God and these Ten Commandments. Yet, they are increasingly banned from being posted in courtrooms and schools in America. The preambles to the constitutions of all fifty states give reference and reverence to God as Creator and the giver of freedom and rights. Yet, God is virtually banned from public schools and discourse.
What is the result of irreverence? A quick survey of the cultural terrain reveals that all of the Ten Commandments lay shredded either by specific laws or the courts' interpretation. No other gods? They are everywhere. Idolatry? Rampant. Sabbath? Doesn't exist. Dishonor of parents is fashionable, funny, and celebrated. Murder is a personal choice. Adultery is marketed. Truth is for sale. Theft is legitimized in all sorts of ways. And covetousness? Our economy would collapse without it.
And our Christian culture is not much better. In many circles, God is portrayed as a cozy buddy that changes shape with the most recent marketing polls or is formed into our own image like play-doh. Churches are increasingly fashioned as full-service lifestyle centers designed to compete with malls, health clubs, and entertainment centers. Not much fear and trembling. We are certainly not intended to live in dread of God or afraid of His presence. But we are called to live with a deep moral respect toward God. We are to live with a deep reverence for the holiness of God. Yet, unrepentant sinners are "consecrated" to the highest offices of the church. Clergy predators are shuffled quietly from church to church. Unions forbidden by God are blessed in services of "worship."
What is the legacy of this erosion of moral reverence? In 2009, 41% of all births were out-of-wedlock. In 2008, only half of all adults in the United States were married, a decline from 72% in 1960. In a 2010 Time magazine survey, 39% said marriage is obsolete. Since 1970, the number of couples living together outside marriage has increased 1,200%. As of 2008, 40% of all marriages ended in divorce.
According to pollster George Barna, 4 out of 10 Americans believe adultery is morally acceptable. One-third of men and one-quarter of women admit to having had an affair. There are about 1.2 million abortions in America each year. Since Roe v. Wade was enacted, 63 million unborn children have died. Oregon, Montana, and Washington State now allow so-called doctor-assisted suicide.
Since school prayer was banned by the Supreme Court in 1963, various federal courts have held a student-led prayer at sports events, a moment of silent meditation, opening legislative sessions with an invocation of Jesus, Ten Commandment monuments, stand-alone Nativity scenes, and teaching Creationism and intelligent design all to be unconstitutional.
What is the answer? The answer is not to be afraid of God, but we certainly need the fear of the Lord. The answer is a deep moral reverence toward God and His Law.

Father God, forgive me for the ways that I have taken You lightly or treated Your law casually. Build in me the deep reverence for You that is right and deserved. Show me the ways that I need to honor more clearly in my life. In Jesus' name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2022
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2022 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.