Luke 1:46-56 The fear of God is the primary foundation to a blessed life
46 And Mary said:
“My soul exalts the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
50 “And His mercy is upon generation after generation
Toward those who fear Him.
51 “He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
53 “HE has filled the hungry with good things;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
54 “He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever.”
56 And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home.
Mary’s recital prophesied of Jesus’s role in the world: to establish God’s righteous rule and blessing for humanity. Today’s devotion teaches us that the fear of God is the primary foundation to a blessed life.
And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him.
Mary turns her focus towards God’s rule over humanity. Those who submit themselves to God’s rule (those who fear Him) enter His kingdom to live abundantly. In describing God’s righteous rule, she alludes to Jesus who is the head over all rule and authority (Colossians 2:10). Jesus said concerning His dominion,
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. John 5:21-23
Jesus disarmed the powers of darkness after receiving authority from the Father. With this authority He empowered His followers to destroy the works of the devil and establish His rule. The Son’s righteous rule comprise the following characteristics:
- The Son shows steadfast mercy to those who fear Him (v50). To show mercy is to grant divine favour. However, the fear of God is to be distinguished from the fear of retribution. Those who fear God obey His directives and trust Him unreservedly. For such, there is no divine wrath or retribution.
- The Son is righteous and decisive in executing judgment over those who are haughty and rebellious (v51-52). He scatters and topples the proud from lofty places while exalting the humble.
- The Son is not given to human biases but is righteous in judging the motives of the heart. In this world, the poor are often disdained and trampled upon while the rich enjoy ubiquitous favour. When the Son rules, He fills and sends away empty regardless of one’s social status (v53).
He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy
In conclusion, Mary sings of God’s covenantal faithfulness towards Israel and the patriarchs. This divine providence of mercy is directed to those who possess the faith of Abraham. It is through the righteous rule of Jesus that all the families of the earth will be blessed.
The fear of God is the primary foundation to a blessed life
The reign of Jesus over all creation brings eternal blessing and salvation to humanity. Just as any immigrant, in order to enjoy the rights of citizens in a new country, he must first submit to their laws and be made a citizen,… likewise, God’s kingdom blessing is granted to those who fear God, who submit to divine rule. That said, the fear of God must be distinguished from the fear of retribution. Fear of God comprise love and reverence towards the sovereign Creator who cared enough to be shamed on man’s behalf. Without the fear of God, man can never experience the blessings of the kingdom.
While the fear of God is manifested through love and reverence, the opposite of which is self-centredness or self-rule. Many churchgoers practice selective obedience, instead of wholehearted repentance towards the ways of Jesus. The usual objection or justification for their lukewarmness is: the untenability of God’s expectation towards man. They supposed Jesus’s sacrifice has waived man’s obligation towards perfection. For this, Jesus vehemently refuted the Jews who despised sinners, who sought vengeance against their “enemies”. Jesus said, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. Where does that leave the love of God? For the repentant, the love of God spurs greater love and reverence towards Him. But for the impenitent, God’s love turns toxic, justifying and reinforcing their evil intent and lawlessness.
All that said, what does the fear of God bring? The bible lists the blessings associated with the fear of God:
God gives them families of their own – And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own. Exodus 1:21
God grants wisdom for unsolvable problems – Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. Psalm 25:12
God separates them from the rest and gives them special treatment – The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. Psalm 25:14
God sets them apart from the rest and gives them a special portion – How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you. Psalm 31:19
God gives them greater authority over the angels – The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Psalm 34:7
They never experience a moment of lack, for God sees to their abundance – Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. Psalm 34:9
God fulfills their desires – He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:19
God grants them divine wisdom – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10
God grants longevity in health and enduring prosperity – The fear of the Lord adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short. Proverbs 10:27
God secures their children for safety and prosperity – Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge. Proverbs 14:26
They will avoid sudden downfall because of sin – Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided. Proverbs 16:6
Their lives will be untouched by trouble – The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble. Proverbs 29:23
God grants riches, honour and life – Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life. Proverbs 22:4
Are there false beliefs in your life that sustains your lukewarm attitude towards God? Are there grey areas and idols that keep you from living the abundant life? God calls you this Christmas season to love Him and fear Him wholeheartedly. And because the love and fear of God is expressed in the believer’s hunger for His word: Renew your commitment towards reading the meditating on the word.
Dear Lord, forgive me for not loving and fearing you wholeheartedly. I am committed to deal with the sins and distractions that have kept me from experiencing your covenantal blessings. Regenerate my attitudes and I will enter the new year assured of greater miracles and breakthroughs for my church, family and career. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.