What do you think of when you think of God? A lot of people would probable say that God is love, or He is our provider and protector. Some would talk about how He got them through a hard time or provided healing physically or emotionally. And of course, all of these things are true and supported by scripture. Often we think of God as a really nice therapist: there to listen to our problems and offer sound advice on living well.
However, when we only see our Lord in this light, I think we accidentally belittle Him. He becomes this kindly, benevolent old grandpa that wouldn’t hurt a fly. And while you wouldn’t want to disappoint your grandpa, you’re probably not afraid that he can still whoop you if you got out of line.
Scripture shows the nature of God to be loving, forgiving, merciful, compassionate, patient, and many other wonderful qualities. But it also shows us His wrath and intolerance of sin. We see Him bringing down devastating plagues on nations, sending armies of fiery angels to do battle, and destroying every living thing on the planet except for the contents of one boat.
We have a small understanding of the goodness of God, but I don’t think we have an inkling of the power and magnitude of God. Because if we did, we would be a lot more fearful and reverent of Him.
In Mark 4 is the story of Jesus calming the storm. The disciples were afraid because the storm was so strong, they thought the boat was going to be overcome. Then Jesus rebuked the storm and it became completely calm. Then it says that the disciples were terrified. Because as powerful as the storm was, they were in the presence of someone even more powerful.
Remember that our Lord is the Lion of Judah. And as CS Lewis said in his Narnia series when Lucy asked if the Lion was safe “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline (Prov 1:7).