Do You Fear God For Nothing?
By Minister Raymond D. Sopp
Job 1:8-9: "And the Lord said to Satan, 'have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God -- turning away from evil.' Then Satan answered the Lord, 'does Job fear God for nothing?'"
What a statement Satan made, "Does Job fear God for nothing?" What did Satan mean by this? The definition of the word "fear" used in this Scripture is reverence, respect, or honor. Satan was accusing Job of having a reverence toward God based solely on the fact that God had placed a hedge around him, i.e., Job had a good life. Satan went on accusing Job before God saying, "If You take Your hedge away -- Job will turn against You! If You would allow me to take Job's happiness and well-being away, You will see Job's fear and respect for You evaporate into thin air." According to Satan, Job's reverence and love for God was directly related to his happiness and well-being.
I may surprise you here, but Satan had good cause to suspect Job's reverence toward God. No, Job had no history of betrayal toward God, but mankind in general does; and Satan was depending on that history of weakness and betrayal. Job was just a man, and history is full of men and women betraying God when circumstances in their life would turn bad. For example, in the Book of Exodus, when Israel was in the wilderness, Israel time and time again would betray God. Every time their "needs" were not fulfilled, it was God's fault. The people would turn against God saying all kinds of evil about Him. Numbers 21:5: "And the people spoke against God and Moses, 'why have you brought us up out of Egypt -- to die in the wilderness? For there is no food, no water, and we loathe this miserable food.'"
Having permission from God, Satan went on to destroy Job's wealth, family, and health; yet in all of this Job would not curse, or denounce God. Yes, Job questioned what was going on in his life, but Job did not relinquish his fear of God -- his respect for God. In the end Job very humbly said, "Therefore I retract and repent in the dust and ashes" (Job 42:6). If you read the chapters just before that verse, you will find that God did not explain Himself at all to Job, nor did God promise Job anything in return for his respect. Nevertheless, Job did repent in fear and respect for God without understanding what had happened to him. Job did not receive anything back until he accepted God's dealings without question. Therefore, Job's fear (respect) for God was proven to be genuine and Satan's accusation against Job -- that Job's fear (respect) of God was for nothing -- was proven false.
I would like to tell you a very personal story that allowed me to understand this a little better. I knew all the Scriptures about the fear of God and how angry God would be at us when our fear and respect toward Him would be like the morning dew, i.e., as soon as the heat of the sun would come up -- the morning dew would quickly disappear. Again, like a plant on stony ground without depth of root that would spring up quickly; but when the heat came, it quickly withered because it had no root.
The personal story I would like to tell you about is the story of a failed marriage in my distant past. You may ask, "What does your marriage have to do with our relationship toward God?" In Ephesians 5:32, the relationship between Christ (the Husband) and the Church (His Bride), was compared directly to our relationship as husband and wife here on earth. Wives were to be subject (fear) to their husbands and husbands were to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. In the Book of Hosea, the picture of God was that of a loving husband who yearns desperately to have a faithful wife. However, Israel (the wife) will have none of it. Throughout the Holy Scriptures everyday personal experiences were used to help explain the spiritual.
Hosea was never portrayed as the perfect husband because that was not the point of the story. The story was used to paint a picture from everyday life with the hope of bringing spiritual understanding. Never -- and I mean never -- was the Book of Hosea meant to disparage Gomer and exalt Hosea, nor do I wish for my story to disparage or exalt anyone. The Scriptures are clear: no one is perfect -- not Hosea nor I.
I fell in love with a beautiful young lady and she loved me. We just could not get enough of each other. Her mother would tell me how much her daughter loved me and of the way she would light up as soon as I would walk into the room. Soon thereafter we got married.
Not long after we were married, she began to get very upset with me -- I was no longer fulfilling all of her wants and desires. I would come home exhausted from work and she could not understand why she was no longer the center of attention. She exclaimed, "If you loved me -- you would be concerned about fulfilling my needs!" Day after day I would try to tell her how much I loved her, but she could not understand. All she could understand was that I was not fulfilling her wants and desires, therefore, I did not love her. Within six months of our marriage -- she was in the arms of another lover.
Never had I ever felt so rejected. Not only could I not convince her that I loved her -- I could not hold her love and respect (fear) for more than six months. I thought to myself, "What a wretched husband I must be!" Then God began to show me that I should not take it so personally by showing me again in the Scriptures, that although He was perfect, the same thing happened to Him all the time.
Whenever His Bride (the Church) was fulfilled and everything was going well, God's Bride (the Church) would praise Him, fear (respect) Him, and say wonderful things about Him. Jesus would have very large crowds when the people were being fed; but when Jesus had hard things to say, the crowds would disappear like the morning dew. Jesus' bride only wanted to hear what He could do for her. "Take up my cross and deny myself" -- NEVER! The Bride (the Church) would think to herself, "It's time for me to find another lover, one who will tell me what I want to hear -- a lover who will fulfill my desires."
God then showed me His mercy. When Jesus was no longer perceived as being desirable to His Bride (the Church), even His twelve close disciples left Him. Jesus was now completely rejected, yet He still laid down His life for His Bride -- His Church. At that moment Jesus looked down from the cross at His beautiful Bride and prayed, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." I could no longer hold on to my pain; I also had to pray for God to forgive my Bride. To this day, I have no regrets.
Although my bride never came back, I rejoice that through my sorrow, my understanding of God was now a little clearer. My reverence and love for God would now never be based on my circumstances or well-being. My God will always be worthy of my reverence, praise, and love -- in the darkest valley, as well as when I'm on the mountain top. I would never again measure God's love for me by my circumstances. Instead of cursing God when things do not go the way I think they should, or questioning God's love for me if He does not fulfill my every desire, I'll use it as an opportunity to prove my reverence (fear) for God is genuine by fulfilling His desire instead -- "By doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly before my God" (Micah 6:8).
I have a real concern today when I see churches that preach "God will fulfill your desires" filled to capacity and churches preaching self-denial are empty (2 Timothy 4:3). I'm concerned when people say they feel like a hypocrite if they give God praise when everything is going wrong, instead of realizing it as an opportunity to prove your reverence (fear) and love for God to be genuine. I'm concerned when marriages breakup in the Church, because he or she doesn't "feel" fulfilled or loved any more -- instead of seeing it as an opportunity to prove their love genuine for the other. Did God send His Son to suffer the cross to show us how to become a sponge, always taking in -- never giving? No; Jesus gave us an example of how we are to empty ourselves and take the form of a bond-servant (Philippians 2:1-8).
It is written that in the last days there will be a great falling away (apostasy) from the faith just before our Lord returns (2 Thessalonians 2:3). Are we being setup for this falling away today by the preaching and teaching of self-gratification instead of self-denial and to have a faith in God that costs us nothing? Are we being taught to have shallow roots -- to be like the morning dew, because preachers are afraid of losing their congregation? Matthew 13:20-21: "And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away."
Luke 22:31-34: "'Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.' And he said to Him, 'Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!' and He said, 'I say to you, Peter, the cock will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.'" Let us pray that our faith will not fail when we find that we must take up our cross and deny ourselves -- that our fear (respect) and love of God would not just evaporate in the heat of our trials.
Luke 14:26-35: "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, 'this man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace. So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
Even King David knew that to give to God something that cost us nothing -- was worth nothing. 2 Samuel 24:23-24: "'Everything, O king, Araunah gives to the king.' And Araunah said to the king, 'may the Lord your God accept you.' However, the king said to Araunah, 'no, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing.'"
Do you fear God for nothing? Now is the time to count the cost before you find yourself in the arms of another lover -- who in reality is no lover at all (Proverbs 7:1-27)!
From my heart to yours,
Raymond D. Sopp
All above Bible references are from The New American Standard Bible, (La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation) 1977.
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