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Fear not man

Fear of God series from The Godly Man presents Fear of God in Society: An Historical and Cultural Perspective.


An Historical and Cultural Perspective

The fear of God can have a great impact on a society as well as an individual. Numerous places in the scripture (1) and in history (2) depict how a community or culture is influenced by a meeting with God. Some call it a revival; others a refreshing. The point is that God was present and great conviction came upon the people.

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Revivals were times God's presence became very clearly aware to His people. Actually, people all around became convicted and many were saved. We know this was a release of the Holy Spirit upon the land and great changes occurred because of it, many of them long in duration.

Psalm 78 gives us an overview of how a society falls away from the Lord.

The pattern is repeated so often in this Psalm that by the time one has read the whole Psalm, one knows what is going to happen next. Fortunately, there is a great unexpected ending. Here are a few verses. We are clearly taught that the fear of God can dissipate in less than a generation. Judgment is used to bring a hardened people back to Himself.

"When He killed them, then they sought Him, And returned and searched diligently for God." (Psalms 78:34)

Below is a chart that helps map out the difference between the group of people that warmly respond to God because of His grace and the ones who have a short lived fear because no grace had accompanied God's awesome revelation of Himself.

Chart: Depiction of the Decrease of the Fear of the Lord in Society
God reveals Himself


People revere God
and saved

Culture changed
to reflect
God's principles

People comfortable
and forget God

People reject

Culture reflects
When God reveals Himself to a people, they are greatly shaken. This is how the fear of the living God is instilled in our lives.

If God's grace attends His revelation, then the people respond to God by repenting from their sin and, the whole society is positively affected. However, without that grace, the people are hardened. Once the danger is gone, they resort to their old ways (see right). No lasting change takes place.

When man gains a fear of God, however, a faith is instilled in that man's life. This faith enables that person to live as God would want him to. We have seen this pattern expressed again and again in different revivals, both local and worldwide. It is also outlined in numerous scriptural passages.

Without a constant refreshing of God's grace, moral decay starts to take effect. The chart on the left depicts the stepsof this decaying process.

When a culture begins to reject the rules associated with the will of God that were formerly instituted, they will also adopt ways more friendly to their 'life-style.' This is the threshold in which the previously blessed people reject the God who has been so good to them. They are virtually stepping into the pagan culture. Only remnants of God's grace remain scattered about after this.


People tremble and obey

No long lasting change

Return to former ways

Pagan culture

Think of our modern society today. God has been stripped from people's thinking. They might be religious or even evangelical, but rarely is there a real fear of God. God at one point had shaped the people's perspectives. The changed people changed the laws and expectation of society's behavior. Today the culture is less and less affected by God. The people might be religious but not at all affected by God's presence. They are not even aware of Him. God in His grace will meet us in judgment to call us back to Himself. A good fear of God would call us back without judgment, but it seems we have an insufficient amount of that.

Below is a quotation of certain characteristics of revival.

Characteristics of Revivals and Awakenings
Richard M. Riss
12. The Decline of an Awakening

a. A revival will crest to a high point and then decrease.
b. After a revival crests, offenses will come.
c. Many people will feel ill will instead of good will toward
the leaders of a revival.
d. They will begin to disapprove of what they formerly
e. They will fasten upon bad reports, true or false, in order
to justify their changes in attitude.
f. Many of those who were more or less convinced will be afraid or ashamed to acknowledge their conviction of faith.

13. The Long Term Effects

a. A new flood of hymns and scriptures set to music gains
widespread circulation and use.
b. It has lasting, profound effects upon the lives of many of
the people involved.
c. It spawns great ministries which then thrive well past the
time of the revival.
d. There is a tremendous impact on society and many social
reforms are effected.

If the beginning of wisdom begins with the fear of God, any society should ought to tremble when the erosion of the fear of God is first spotted. Unfortunately, many exacerbate the depletion of morals by purposely defying the whole concept of the fear of God. Click here to see how Fathers Shape the Fear of God into the next generation. ext

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

The historical Biblical books, both OT and NT (Acts) are partial pictures of communities and societies that experience the presence of God. Judges for example shows us how God influences many others by revealing Himself to one person (a Judge). In the Chronicles, the kings responses to God greatly influenced the land for good or bad.
(2) There are many good books out describing local and worldwide revivals. They are very refreshing to read. Try to get the books that describe historic revivals to protect oneself from some of the untested happenings in modern day. History has a way of measuring things. Note how fear is used to convert many people and even seize the minds of the unbelieving.