The Fear of God Makes Clear the Grace of God
If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name – the Lord your God – the Lord will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. He will bring upon you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you. The Lord will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed.
— Deuteronomy 28:58-61
I have heard people say “God would never inflict His children with sickness or bring disaster to them”. After reading the above verses, we then would have to ask “were these Israelites God’s children?” The answer is of course yes. In a humanistic society we have a hard time believing that the God of grace would make such severe threats to His beloved chosen people. Some people have the picture of Jesus as being the gracious God of the New Testament stepping in to protect us from His mean Father – the God of the Old Testament. What we have to understand is that they are one in the same. God’s severe threats in the Old Testament and abundant grace in the New Testament are two sides of the same coin. When put together, we have a more complete picture of who God is.
When Jesus was preaching grace to the Jews in the New Testament, He was preaching to people who fully understood the fear of the Lord. We must not separate the two. When we understand how seriously God hates disobedience, it makes His grace even that much more glorious and Jesus all the more praiseworthy.
Don’t separate the grace of God from the dread of God. When reading the harsh indictments from God against Israel in the Old Testament, don’t just pass over them as things that are irrelevant to New Testament believers. Rather, take time to reflect on God’s judgments and apply them to yourself as one who deserves them. When the realization of God’s holiness produces the fear of the Lord inside of you, take time to praise Jesus for the grace He has shown you by becoming the curse for you.
Heavenly Father, thank you so much for the mercy that you have given me through the cross. Teach me more clearly your terror so that I would know more clearly your grace. I want to know you more clearly, so I pray that you would help me refrain from the temptation of separating your grace from your judgments. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN!