Fear and tremble…
“Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.” Psalm 2:11
Despite the kings and rulers plotting and scheming to be free from God, the evangelical call still goes out to God’s enemies to repent of their wicked ways. Remember you too were an enemy of God at one point. Will you now abandon those that are still in the terrible position you were in? “Love your enemies” was not merely a suggestion, but a command from Jesus.
Be wise and be warned
The Bible tells us that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge (Proverbs 1:7, Psalm 110:10). Wisdom and knowledge come when we truly understand our position as sinners compared to a holy and righteous God, when we begin to comprehend the fact that we have been rebels against the God of the universe, and when we discover what the deserved punishment is against this treason. We know what we deserve. As we approach God, there may even be hesitance, since we know that His anger and wrath burn hot against sin. We know that He is a Warrior (Exodus 15:3) and a Lion (Revelation 5:5). And we know that He would be well within His rights to banish us from His presence forever.
The only appropriate response is fear and trembling.
But it is in this moment that something unthinkable happens, something amazing, something that always leaves me in a state of awe…we are welcomed into His kingdom, into His courts…into His arms. We are prodigal sons and daughters returning home after our attempts to live the way we believed would make us happy have failed.
Think about what was going through the prodigal son’s head as he came over that last hill to see the home he had left, the father he had abandoned. The whole way home, he thought about what he would say. He practiced the speech he would give (as have many curfew-breaking teens have over the years). The father, watching the horizon, sees the silhouette of his lost son. He doesn’t wait for him to make it all the way back…he can’t. No, the father sprints towards him, leaving those working around him wondering what would cause such a reaction. Imagine the fear the son must have felt as his father approached him, the unknown of what his father would say or do to him for all the wrong he had done. The son knows what he deserves and stands prepared to take his just punishment.
As the father finally reaches his son (out of breath as it has likely been years since he has run that fast, probably chasing around his son as a young boy), he doesn’t strike him. He doesn’t tell him to leave. He doesn’t give him a big speech about how disappointed his is in him. He doesn’t run down the list of wrongs the son committed. He embraces his son, he kisses him, he clothes him with a fine robe. The son doesn’t even get to give the speech he had been practicing about wanting to be a servant in his father’s house! The father prepares a feast. There’s a celebration, there’s music, there’s dancing! The fear of punishment the son felt on his long, lonely walk home is now replaced by awe, amazement, and love for his father! He is sitting in a seat of honor that shouldn’t be his, he knows this.
But his father has prepared a place of honor for him.
This is the fear and trembling we experience, as believers, when we serve the Lord and rejoice in Him. We are painfully aware that we are in a position that we do not deserve. We deserve death. Christ gives us life. Once rebels, now adopted as sons and daughters of the King. Our Father has embraced us. Jesus has clothed us with his own righteousness, finer than any royal garb. He is leading us into His kingdom to a feast He has prepared. Jesus has done this for us. It is His blood that is righteous, not ours. It is His name that is above all names, not ours. He is our Champion! Serve the Lord with fear! Rejoice with trembling! For we remember what we deserve, but are awestruck by what we have received!