Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it." 17 And he was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." Genesis 28:16-17
Jacob had deceived his father and his brother (at the direction of his
mother), receiving his father’s blessing but bringing his brother’s fury and a
plan to kill him. So his mother had Isaac send him
away to her homeland to find a wife. As he fled, he had a dream in which a ladder
reached from earth to heaven—and angels ascended and descended upon it. The
Lord spoke to him from the top of the ladder, and promised His continued
faithfulness, and that He would indeed bless the world through him.
Jacob had an encounter with God, and it inspired fear in him. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7) and wisdom (Proverbs 9:10) The Hebrew word translated “fear” means to experience terror. The fear of the Lord begins with a sense of dread. Why would anyone fear the Lord in such a way?
When we encounter God, we are reminded of our own sin, and His holiness and power. We are made painfully and fearfully aware of what we deserve. Consider Isaiah’s call, when he encountered God: “And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’" (Isaiah 6:5)
This fear (dread) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. But as we grow in wisdom, we grow more to stand in reverent awe of God. The fear of the Lord is not like respecting the power of a bull, for we can control a powerful bull. It is recognizing that we cannot control or manipulate God to do our bidding.
The only reason we should not dread the presence of God is that He has indeed followed through on his promise to Jacob in Genesis 28:14: “. . . in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” He fulfilled this promise by sending His Son to die for us (Gal. 3). Jesus is, literally, God’s gift to the world. He brings peace to humanity, who otherwise would have no relation to God except one of fearful judgment. We live by faith, which drives out fear. Trusting Jesus gives us courage for judgment day. What a treasure we have!
Written by: Pastor Britt Green
Posted: January 23, 2020