“…Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13 (ESV)
Fear is a feeling we have recently experienced more than we would like. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary gives several definitions for the word fear, but the one we most often focus on is that unpleasant emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.
Fear can also be a good thing. It makes us aware of danger, but it can be harmful, too. It can negatively impact our health. The fear of danger is not the type of fear that is referred to in Ecclesiastes 12:13.
King Solomon, the author of those words, wrote “Fear God.” Here he is not referring to being afraid of God. Instead, he is connecting the word fear to the idea of faith— trusting and respecting God. Another Merriam-Webster’s definition for fear explains it has someone having a “profound reverence and awe toward God.”
Fear in Uncertainty
Living a life without a profound reverence and awe toward God has an influence on how we live every day, especially these days of uncertainty. What we are hearing about the COVID-19 pandemic from an overwhelming number of scientists and does not focus on God, but instead focuses on themselves and their own efforts, importance and expertise. They hope that science will discover a cure or treatment for the COVID-19 virus, but there is no agreement about how and when this may occur.
What we hear from them is uncertainty, which increases that unpleasant emotion of danger and does not promote a profound reverence and awe toward God. Only He can bring peace to our hearts.
(An excellent read on this may be found here.)
What is the purpose of life?
King Solomon wrote the words in Ecclesiastes after searching for answers to life’s challenges and pursuits without faith and trust in God. He concluded that the world itself and life in this world is not the way God created it to be.
Sin has messed up the world and the people who live in it. Because of this, some people use the knowledge that comes from science in the wrong way:
- to tear down instead of buildup
- to promote war instead of peace
- to glorify themselves instead of God
- to abuse their power and positions of authority
- to promote their own agendas
- to commit evil instead of good.
Fearing God — having the highest respect for and trust in God — changes the way we see our world. Science becomes a study of nature that God created. Data that comes from that study comes from God, who enables us to use that data for the good of the world He created.
To fear God is to stand in awe of Him and who He is: the God of creation.
The following words from the Bible should be on the wall of every scientist’s laboratory, politician’s desk, and on the walls of our homes and offices:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
In this life we will have trouble. Every argument, financial struggle, frustration, fear and pandemic reminds of that predictable truth.
Jesus, however, has overcome all of our troubles for us. That is the truth we can count on. He is the God we can trust in, lean on, stand in awe of, and fear.