Our air conditioner stopped working about half way up.
At that point, our drive had been full of hearty laughter, proper hydration, and beautiful pine trees. We were on our way to the top of Pike’s Peak, one of the tallest mountains in continental America. My good friend Caleb, a Colorado native, was confidently driving; his wife and my fiancee were chatting behind us, and two other friends laughed behind them.
I was in the passenger seat and I was excited to see what Pike’s Peak was all about. So far our road trip across America had led us from the colorful land of Northern California to the bareness of Nevada, a solitary sand dune, colorful arches in Utah, and cold, fast water flowing down the Rockies. Everywhere I looked something new and beautiful forcefully grabbed my attention. The topography of mountains, rivers, and giant rock colonnades never got boring.
But today I was going to get something far more important than just pretty pictures and memorable selfies; today, I was going to learn about the fear of the Lord.
I wonder how many of you have stumbled across this intimidating phrase–“the fear of the Lord”? If you haven’t read about it, you probably haven’t read much of your Bible. It’s all over the Old Testament. But right now, I want to focus on just one passage of Scripture, a passage that changed my perspective on this concept more than any other. And then I will tell you how Pike’s Peak helped me understand it even better.
“And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:2,3a ESV
So many time I’ve wrestled with the idea of “fearing God”. Why? Well, fear leads to distance and if there’s anything that I’ve learned about God it’s that he hates distance. His very name is Emmanuel, which literally means “God with us.” But when we are afraid of something, we will always choose to avoid it or be apart from it. Example: If you have a fear of spiders, you not likely to get a tarantula as a pet for your kid. Obviously.
I get that the word could be better translated as “awe” or “reverence”, too. Often when I read about the fear of the Lord, I subconsciously substitute those words in. But perhaps, I don’t actually need to do that anymore.
As we drove up the switch back highway, I started to feel the pit of my stomach. Mind you, I’ve always been shaky when I get a feet above the ground. When I was kid, I would rather have stepped on a nail than have jumped off a twenty foot cliff. I disliked roller-coasters, diving boards, rope swings, and rooftops. Well, I did at first. Though I hated being called a scaredy-cat or a chicken or any one one of those humbling animal monikers, I hated having my skin crawl into my stomach even more. Until I started to wonder: what would happen if decided to like “that” feeling?
And I actually did. I started to like jumping off rooftops in swimming pools. The higher the roller-coaster, the better the roller-coaster. Before too long, I became known for being a dare-devil and people started having to “watch out for me”. I laugh thinking about it because I have to be honest with you: I’m still terrified of heights! When I scream, I’m not just passively letting out some steam for the fun of it. My blood becomes a thunderous explosion and I can’t keep it in. I get scared all the time. And I actually have convinced myself to like it.
The trees began to get smaller. Caleb’s hands gripped the steering wheel a bit more tightly. I looked out the rolled down window and my toes instinctively curled. There were no guard rails and hardly any bit of a shoulder. My brain felt fuzzy and I wasn’t sure if it was because of the low-level of oxygen or because I was forgetting to breathe. Up and up we drove. The landscape fell away in sharp increments.
They say you can see four different states from the top of Pike’s Peak.
The higher we got, the more beautiful it became and the more terrified I felt. But all in the most inexplicably delightful way possible.
I think the beauty of Pike’s Peak is like the beauty of the Lord. He is shockingly wonderful. The closer you get to him, the more wildly attractive he becomes. You do weird things up there. You start to hate sin. Your stomach starts to crawl when you imagine “falling off”. The dim memories of the past life of complacency and comfort seem smaller than little ants. Sometimes you feel light headed. Sometimes you feel dizzy. Sometimes you can’t breathe it all in. But the entire time, you wish that you would never ever have to leave.
The verses that I shared from Isaiah are incredible because they describe Jesus. The entire chapter is a prophetic passage about the “Root of Jesse”–Yeshua, the Messiah. A little about Jesus: He was never created. He existed before all. He is seated at the right hand of the Father. He has never sinned and from the three times the Father spoke to him while he was on earth, we can tell that he is beloved, delighted in, and trusted. There is nothing in between him and his Father–no secrets, no shame, and definitely no sin.
And yet, he delights in the fear of the Lord. Guys, if the fear of the Lord is simply about being afraid to sin because God will punish us if we do, why would Jesus “delight” in it? If it was about hiding from him so that he wouldn’t see our nakedness, why didn’t Adam and Eve get a badge for hiding in the bushes?
I think the fear of the Lord is more about how beautiful, holy, and mighty God is then it is about how pitiful, sinful, and dirty we are. I think we all need to take a drive up the mountain of God. Yes, the closer we get to him the more terrifying leaving him will become. Yes, we will be given extra clarity on what he hates when we look out over the vast expanse of humanity. But yes, we will delight in being up there. We won’t ever want to leave.
Psalm 25:4 says that, “The Lord is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant.” If friendship is the fruit of the fear of the Lord, you can bet it has nothing in common with arachnophobia. Or any other kind of phobia. Rather, the fear of the Lord revolves around knowing him. Truly, knowing him. The way Jesus did. The way Moses, Abraham, David, and John did. They were the friends of God and they delighted in the fear of the Lord.
Driving up Pike’s Peak filled me with awe. Sure, there was some awe of how big the mountain was, how beautiful the forests and plains looked from up there. It was wonderful, it was memorable, and it was a bit fearful. However, when I turn my thoughts towards the One who made it with a simple phrase, I have to get on my face. This God is the One who rescued me. He is the One who bled for me. Why? Because he wanted me to get close.
I love God more than ever before. I also fear him in a new way. He is so mighty, so holy. Even though it can be scary to imagine him riding a white horse with a double edged sword coming out of his mouth, white hair streaming behind him like the rays of morning sun, I have decided to delight in it. Instead of ignoring the verses in the Bible that talk about his justice and judgement forcefully removing all that is evil, I rejoice! God, the God, is coming to reign. And you and I, through no work of our own, are a part of his advance team. We get to ride on the backs of heaven’s steeds and proclaim the coming of our King.
Make no mistake. Ascending the hill of the Lord isn’t for the faint of heart. Remember how the Israelites panicked in Exodus when they heard that God wanted to speak to them? They were so afraid of him that they sent Moses up all by himself. And while he was up there, they made a golden calf. How crazy is that? Truly, they had no grasp of what the fear of the Lord truly is. Instead of delighting in it, they rejected it. And they were severely judged. If only they had all gone up the mountain…
Friends, I think you should ask God to reveal the fear of the Lord to you. It’s very difficult to explain spiritual realities; it’s much more effective to experience them. Do you know the spirit of the fear of the Lord rested on Jesus? It’s says so in the verse I mentioned at the beginning! So you must invite it to rest on you, not only confess that it is true.
Abba, would you fill me again with the fear of the Lord? What I don’t understand, please reveal. What I haven’t experienced, please send. I delight in you. Teach me the fear of the Lord. Let me ascend your holy mountain. In Jesus name.
Thank you for reading! My desire is to inspire you to live as a child of God in a world of orphans longing for true family. As you discover his goodness, you will find your purpose. You can read my most recent blog articles below. You can also follow me on social media using the icons. Much love,