Another selection from ‘Whole Bible Christianity’
Our one God has a scary side that we don’t talk much about anymore.
20Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” (Exodus 20:20 NASB95)
The Scriptures have many admonitions for His people (actually people everywhere) to “fear” Him. The Law was written down so that His people would learn fear of Him (Deuteronomy 4:10, 14:23, 17:19, 31:13). “Don’t be afraid” here means believers don’t have to fear destruction at His approach, but we should keep a little of it so “that the fear of Him remain(s) with you” (basically the same Hebrew word). Fear motivates even the most reluctant.
Jesus is not a pacifist. He was meek at His incarnation because that was what the Father wanted from Him at that time. When He comes back, it will not be with roses and chocolates. He will bring a sharp sword and a rod of iron (Revelation 19:14-16, 21). The Word will come back with His army, speaking God’s Word (the sword) and crushing resistance (rod of iron – Psalm 2:9). His rod and staff (the Word of God) will comfort His people (Psalm 23:4) and He will destroy iniquity (lawlessness). The Law will again go forth from Zion.
Lots of teachers try to soft-soap this concept. They tone down the terror part of fear and play up the ‘reverence’ and ‘respect’ aspects. All of these are part of the fear of God, but especially the terror part. Not a blind, unreasoning terror that overwhelms us. Just a healthy terror of knowing exactly what God can and will do to evildoers. “Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
There is nothing wrong with being a little terrified of God. Usually it’s only people with faith who are capable of being terrified anyway. People with seared consciences aren’t generally afraid enough. A part of His being can and does terrify creation. If you’ve ever been in a fierce thunderstorm or an earthquake, the kind where you have to change your shorts afterwards, you know what I mean. It would behoove us to pay more attention to that part, in addition to expressing the reverence and respect He deserves.