Moses told the children of Israel to love God with all that they had. That was a command. However, a few verses earlier Moses gave them another command: “That you may fear the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 6:2).
Read Deuteronomy 10:12. What does it say in this text about love and fear, and how do we understand it?
In one verse they are told to fear God, in another to love Him, and in this verse they are told to both fear and love Him at the same time. In the common understanding of the word “fear” this might seem like a contradiction, but it’s not. Instead, the fear of God — in the sense of awe and respect for who He is, His authority and power and justice and righteousness, especially in contrast to our sinfulness, weakness, and complete dependence on Him — should be a natural reaction. We are fallen beings, beings who have violated God’s law and who, but for His grace, deserve condemnation and eternal death.
Read Ephesians 2:1-10. How should these verses help us understand how we can both fear and love God at the same time?
Despite the fact that we were “children of wrath” (which is why we should fear Him), Christ died for us and thus gave us a new life in Him, which includes freedom from the sin and condemnation of the past (which is why we should love Him).
And just as this is true for us today, this same principle applied to ancient Israel: they were captives in Egypt, condemned to slavery and oppression, and it was only God’s love for them and graciousness toward them that led to their great redemption. “Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there” (Deuteronomy 5:15). No wonder, then, that they both love and fear God at the same time. And if they were to do that, how much more should we, having the great truth of Jesus’ dying on the cross for us?
|Read Revelation 14.6-7. How are we to understand why the command to “fear God” should be the first command of the Lord’s last-day message to the world? Given what we know about what is coming on the world, why does that command make so much sense?|