Wilhelmus a Brakel On The Fear Of God

Filial fear is engendered by reverence for God. God is the object of this fear. “O fear the LORD, ye His saints” (Psa. 34:9). God is eminent, glorious, and majestic within Himself—also if there were no creatures. “Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty” (1 Chr. 29:11). Hereby God is awe-inspiring in and of Himself. With the advent of intelligent creatures which observe the brilliance of His glory, it cannot but be that they have reverence for Him who is both infinite and majestic. A natural man does not know God. Therefore he may be fearful of His judgments, for calamities, and sometimes may acknowledge God to be terrible (although he generally does not progress this far), but he cannot have reverence for Him. That is the privilege and blessedness of believers. A sinful person cannot tolerate God’s majesty. He would flee in terror from God, for He is to him a consuming fire. However, in Christ God is a reconciled Father to His children, and therefore they simultaneously love and revere Him. “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling” (Psa. 2:11).

Reverence requires, first of all, a knowledge of and beholding of God’s majesty. “For we … were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Pet. 1:16).

Secondly, there must be a delightful acknowledgement and a wholehearted approbation that God is so majestic. “Who would not fear Thee, O King of nations? for to Thee doth it appertain” (Jer. 10:7).

Thirdly, there must be a reverent bowing before the Lord and a worshiping of Him. “… in Thy fear will I worship toward Thy holy temple” (Psa. 5:7); “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our Maker” (Psa. 95:6).

Fourthly, there must be a covering of the countenance, not daring to behold the brilliance of His glory. Thus the angels covered their faces (Isa. 6:2), and of Moses it is written, “Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God” (Exo. 3:6).

Fifthly, there must be a trembling as a result of not being able to endure the Lord’s majesty. “Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at My presence?” (Jer. 5:22); “And when He had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling” (Dan. 10:11).

Sixthly, reverence for God engenders in God’s children a careful guarding against displeasing God by disobedience and the commission of sins, and a being active to please Him in all things. Solomon frequently presents these manifestations of the fear of God in his proverbs. “Fear the LORD, and depart from evil” (Prov. 3:7); “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil” (Prov. 8:13); “By the fear of the LORD men depart from evil” (Prov. 16:6). We also read this in Jeremiah 32:40, “I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me.” We read furthermore, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7); “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” (Prov. 14:27). This is the nature of the fear of God.*

*à Brakel, W. (1994). Vol. 3: The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Volume 3 (J. R. Beeke, Ed.) (B. Elshout, Trans.) (294–295). Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books.


About lalvin1517

I'm married with two children and pastor McCall Baptist Church in McCall, Idaho.
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