An Urgent Word
The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy? (Amos 3:7-8)
Suddenly, He Roars!
I was enjoying an ordinary day with my family in Texas. I had much to do to prepare for an upcoming ministry trip to Europe, so I excused myself to retreat to my study. As I arranged some papers on my desk, I heard a slight sound behind me. Thinking it was my wife or perhaps one of my grandchildren, I casually turned around to see who was in the room.
Without warning, I found myself in a spiritual realm. There suddenly appeared—just inches in front of my face—a living, incandescent wall of translucent light, suspended within brilliant, blue-green waters. The waters were glowing and luminous—and also alive. A soft, swishing sound came from the moving mass of living, liquid light, much like the sound of wind through trees.
This glorious wall was a divine veil reflecting the most stunning, alluring rays of brilliant light I had ever seen. They were refreshing beyond words. Astonished, I wanted to absorb everything I could from within that veil. Its purpose seemed to be to enlighten and refresh.
All of my senses were extremely alert as I admired this breathtaking veil and wondered what was about to transpire. I reflected on how peaceful, tranquil and good I felt, when suddenly, without warning, a magnificent LION exploded from the wall of living light. This was an enormous, fearsome creature, a gigantic lion of golden-amber color whose mane radiated a halo of golden light. He was tall enough to look me straight in the eye. In fact, he locked his eyes on mine, gazing into my eyes with such intensity that I knew he was looking into my very soul. As I returned his steadfast gaze, I felt I was peering into eternity.
I wanted to flee from sheer terror, but also wanted to embrace this wonderful being from another realm. This lion had an extraordinary fierceness, but from within this indescribable strength and power an overwhelming gentleness also radiated. I was amazed at the warmth and love pulsing within him, and the peace and sense of protection that exuded from his presence.
Our eyes were locked in a gaze for what seemed to be a very long time, when suddenly the lion opened wide his mouth and began to roar. The roar was unlike any sound I had ever experienced—ear-piercing, overwhelming, indescribable. Mere words simply cannot convey the force and beauty of that blast of breath from another world. This massive roar lasted for quite some time and released a vibration and reverberation that shook the heavens and earth—and felt as though it could be heard and felt throughout the entire universe.
Standing within that divine current of the lion’s roar, I felt a divine invincibility. Before I had time to ask, I understand the nature of the roar: within my spirit, I heard the words, “the breath of God.”
As suddenly as the Lion’s roar began, it stopped—so swiftly that its absence created a vacuum that sucked the air and sound from the room. Out of that deep, sublime silence, a booming voice from heaven rang out with a holy declaration that shook my entire being. The voice surged with supernatural power and authority:
“Prepare My people to embrace the awe of Almighty God!”
And then the beautiful liquid light disappeared also, as swiftly as it came. I stood trembling in my office, my heart pounding hard and fast, my spirit ablaze with the fire from heaven’s altar.
At this point, in a quiet, comforting and convincing tone of voice, the Holy Spirit said,“Yes, prepare the people of God to embrace the Awe of God!”
The Spirit then explained that much revelation would be released concerning the Lion of the Tribe of Judah—a revelation that would produce the holy, wholesome fear of the LORD.
The Fear of God, the Awe of God
Indeed, the Lord spoke a very stern warning to me, saying, “Warn the people that I am not as easy to get along with as some preachers have made Me out to be!”
What does this mean, dear brothers and sisters in Christ? We must never forget the truth that “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God” (Hebrews 10:31). The writer of Hebrews further admonishes us, entreating us to fear the Lord:
Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 12:28)
This Greek word translated fear is eulabeia, which means reverence, piety and veneration. Veneration and piety are not mere religious formalities. Yes, we can “act” pious and not feel true reverence in our heart—but the Lord will see through our whitewashed gestures.
Although some Christians have feigned reverence through the centuries, we cannot dismiss the authentic and vital experience of holy fear and trembling before the Lord as just “the form of godliness” or man’s empty religion. The fear of the Lord is more than ritual—and has not been replaced by the New Covenant of grace. To be sure, when a revelation of God’s grace grips our soul, the deep reality of our heart will become holy circumspection and discretion before the King of the Universe! We will not approach God casually, nor with a religious spirit, but with “godly fear.”
This same word translated fear, the Greek eulabeia, is only used one other time in the New Testament—to describe the holy reverence, piety and veneration of Jesus Christ Himself for His Father God:
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared
If Christ Himself feared the Father “with strong crying and tears,” how much more shall we offer up holy prayers and supplications in the fear of the Lord? Indeed, we are instructed to not only serve God with fear, but with awe. We’ve all but forgotten this most precious and vital disposition of the heart.
The fear of God and the awe of God are inseparable. If you fear God with a holy fear, you will standamazed and reverent; if you feel the awe of His majesty and omnipotence, you will most certainly experience a godly fear of His power and sovereignty. In truth, you cannot be in awe of the Lord without a holy fear.
The Greek word translated reverence or awe in the above verse of Hebrews 12:28 is aidōs, which suggests not just modesty but actual bashfulness—a healthy shame for one’s own lowly status. Thisawe is a holy reverence whose essence is a profound, unspeakable wonder, the deepest honor and respect imaginable, reserved for the King of Kings. This is an awe that cannot humble itself enough, cannot bow low enough and cannot be thankful and worshipful enough before the One who gave His life for us.
Beloved, we must rekindle a holy awe, reverence, honor and respect for the glorious Lamb of God and Lion of Judah, Creator of the universe! Let’s consider another translation of Hebrews 12:28-29:
Let us therefore, receiving a kingdom that is firm and stable and cannot be shaken, offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship, with modesty and pious care and godly fear and awe; For our God [is indeed] a consuming fire.
How do we offer the Lord “pleasing service and acceptable worship”? With nothing less than “modesty and pious care and godly fear and awe.” And why do we offer the Lord this piety, fear and awe? Because God is a consuming fire!
This Greek word translated fire is none other that pyr, from which we derive our English words relating to actual fire, such as pyrotechnics. To be sure, this pyr of God described in Scripture is real—uncontrolled, scorching, dangerous and wild. This pyr isn’t referring to a fancy metaphor or analogy, like a “fiery” personality or a “fire” of passion in the belly. On the contrary, the word pyroccurs 74 times in the New Testament and most often refers to a quite literal substance that burns, scorches, and imparts power: hell fire; everlasting fire; raining fire (as Lot and his wife experienced);tongues of fire; blood, fire and smoke; the fire of the burning bush; and flames of fire—the eyes of the Lord Himself—and more.
This fire of God is described in a very specific way: God is a consuming fire. This word translatedconsuming is from a Greek root that means to use up entirely and to destroy. From this Scripture, we learn a most important lesson: God is not a cozy campfire providing warmth and a comfortable circle of fellowship. Neither is He a fire we can control by turning a burner dial. His fire is of an entirely different substance and purpose than any fire on earth. It is not for our personal use and enjoyment. We cannot control it. We can’t understand it. We can’t compare it to anything or anyone we’ve ever encountered—or will encounter.
Just as C.S. Lewis wrote of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, “He is not a tame Lion,” we must say of God that He is not a controlled burn. He is not a torch we can carry casually. He is neither a match head we can strike at will, nor a lamplight we can turn on and off.
No, His fire consumes. His fire destroys or gives power and life. His fire is Resurrection. His fire creates universes. In truth, His fire commands our fear and awe.
Are we prepared to become intimate with this consuming fire? The first step is learning how to approach God with fear and awe! And great rewards are in store for those who do. If we truly fear and reverence the Lord, great promises are ours:
O fear the Lord, you His saints [revere and worship Him]! For there is no want to those who truly revere and worship Him with godly fear.
But if we learn to abide in the fear and awe of God, the even greater reward is the manifest Presence of Christ Himself!
Intimacy vs. Familiarity
Unfortunately, this Godly fear and holy awe have been replaced by a yawn of familiarity in our modern church. The consuming fire of God has been reduced to a mere candle flame on the pulpit or in our prayer closet, or—at best—a handy “pillar of fire” that guides us along the way.
We wrongly assume that we can approach the Lord casually and blithely according to our own timetable and needs. We use Him like a flashlight when we desire guidance or revelation. We sit beside him as a warm stove when we are cold. We crank up our reliable and familiar “God fire” to meet the need of the moment.
May it never be! The modern church must learn the vast difference between mere familiarity and trueintimacy. True intimacy speaks of love and affection. With true intimacy, we experience deep, sincere and abiding appreciation. Intimate friends are consistent in their kindness and care for each other. They bond deeply and continue to grow together in honesty, transparency, togetherness, trust and mutual sharing. They know each other’s secrets. They share each other’s burdens. They love spending much time in each other’s company.
Ask yourself: am I intimate with the Lord or just a casual, familiar acquaintance? We must ask the hard questions. Do we fear the Lord or just “use” Him to fill the lack in our lives? Do we have the vaguest idea of the type of power we so casually invoke?
The condition of the modern church is, at best, sad and extremely troubling. Many sincere believers have accepted a distorted concept of the God of the Bible by whittling Him down to a manageable person. They refashion God to fit their own expectations and to serve their own selfish desires.
Beloved, we have exchanged the magnificent glory of the incorruptible God for heathen gods suited to a sin-soaked nation, gods compatible to a self-serving culture. The result? Biblical awe is lost! The holy fear of the Lord is lost! We have reduced our worship to programs and performances. We have heaped praise upon ourselves instead of heaping reverence, piety and unbridled worship upon His Majesty! We have appropriated His anointing and giftings for personal use, building ministries, careers, publishing ventures and reputations instead of His Kingdom.
It is sad but true: visit almost any worship service on Sunday morning and you will likely find a wonderful, well meaning congregation comfortably relating to a deity who fits nicely within their particular doctrinal positions. We have constructed our own so-called god to back our own plans, visions and social concerns, molded into our comfort zone. This is a “god” that can be explained and controlled by the carnal minds of mere men and women—the minds of Christians with personal agendas, who have not died to themselves and the world.
God’s plan is to make man in His own image; however, Christians are attempting to make God into their image. The seeker-friendly, non-confrontational, Cross-removing church will not prepare the Body of Christ for the days we are facing!
In a church like this, no wonder we find an absence of holy awe and the fear of the Lord! We havedared to approach the Almighty God with our many desires and needs, yet feel no awe, no trembling heart, no bated breath, no sweaty palms, no shaky knees—no reverence. The atmosphere of most churches today—and even the prayer closet of most believers—is diametrically opposed to what we find in the Scriptures, where the glory of God filled the temple and no one could stand, where worshippers prostrated themselves before the living God.
The Lion Will Roar!
But do not despair, dear believer. There is mercy, deliverance and hope for His church! Rest assured that the casual, carnal attitudes of the modern church are about to abruptly change!
We are about to be introduced to Almighty God as the roaring Lion of Judah. God is restoring holyawe and fear to His people—and as this righteous and wholesome fear of the Lord returns to the people of God, the manifest Presence of the Lord will also return. Expect to see God reveal Himself in such magnitude and glory that the mouths of the people will open wide. Expect no less than jaw-dropping experiences.
Let us ponder the response of John the Beloved, the disciple who was of all men most intimate with Christ Jesus. Notice that when John encounters the risen, ruling Redeemer on the isle of Patmos, he falls to the ground with no breath left within himself. John did not casually or nonchalantly give Jesus a “high five” and go merrily on his way:
When I saw HIM, I fell at His feet as if dead, But He laid His right hand on me and said, Do not be afraid! I am the First and the Last. (Revelation 1:17)
How will we learn to rightly fear and reverence the King of Kings like John the Beloved? The Holy Spirit is our Teacher!
Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you to revere and worshipfully fear the Lord. (Psalms 34:11)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, fall on your face and cry out to be changed! Ask the Lord to soften your hard heart and impart a living revelation of God as a consuming fire. With your whole being, implore Him to teach you “to revere and worshipfully fear the Lord.”
Ask, seek and knock until true awe and fear are branded upon your spirit and soul, until you no longer approach the Lord casually but as a trusted, reverential friend. Seek to become an intimate of God—not just an acquaintance who assumes too much.
Beloved, “Draw nigh to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8)! This is His promise—He willdraw near to us in turn—but understand that we must only draw near in the holy fear and awe of the Lord. Herein lies the secret of true intimacy with the King of Kings!
Prepare to hear the Lion’s roar—and embrace the awe of Almighty God!