The word reverence is so familiar to all of us, yet it implies so much that we very seldom contemplate its full meaning. Psalm 33 so beautifully describes for us and exhorts us to Godly fear. A small portion of this Psalm is given to us in one of our well-known Psalter numbers —
“Let all the earth Jehovah fear,
Let all that dwell both far and near
In awe before Him stand;
For, lo, He spake and it was done,
And all with sovereign power begun
Stood fast at His command.”
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. He, the I am that I am, called into being the things that were not as though they were. The triune God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, united in most intimate fellowship and friendship, called forth man, creating him in His image. Not only has He determined and created all, but He also upholds and causes them to fulfill the purpose whereunto He has called them. This is our Father and it is no wonder that we cry unto Him, “Lord, what is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?’’
We, sinful creatures of the dust who of ourselves are so undeserving of His great blessings, by nature rebel against God, hate God, hate our neighbor, serve the devil, and delight in sin and unrighteousness. It is the grace of God alone which has called us out of the world of darkness into His marvelous light and then as children of Him, we worship before Him with fear and adoration. In the life of the Old Testament patriarch, Moses, we have a very clear and true picture of reverence — man realizing his nothingness and unable to fathom the greatness of God. Moses beheld a bush burning but not being consumed. God poke to Moses out of the midst of that bush and commanded him to take his shoes from off his feet for he was standing on holy ground and then we read that Moses “hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.”
God has given unto His people, the elect, His covenant and has established that covenant in the line of continued generations. The center of that covenant, of course, is Christ and through His blood we have been redeemed. He has taken from us the burden of our sins so that now we may appear righteous before Him.
Apart from this redemption, we would be lost and would suffer the torments of sin for all eternity. It is by God’s grace that we have come to know Him. He has revealed Himself to us by His Word and Spirit and has given Himself to be our Lord and Saviour. Oh, truly we have so much to be grateful for. The result of this covenant relationship is that we, the elect children of God, may experience communion and fellowship with Him. Let us think on this — may experience communion— may experience fellowship — yes, indeed it is a privilege, but it also is a calling and not just for certain times and certain occasions but for each moment of every day of all the years of our lives — fellowship with the Most High God, ruler of heaven and earth!
The Christian has communion with God in prayer when he pours out his soul before the Lord confessing all his sins and acknowledging that all good and all righteousness proceeds only from God. Unto Him all praise and adoration is due. Sublime, sacred, and solemn object awaken awe within us, they cause the beholder to stop and consider whether he is worthy to approach them any nearer; they rivet his mind and body to a spot and make him cautious lest by his presence he should contaminate that which is hallowed. Before Him we bow with reverence and awe. When calling upon God, we must remember that we are calling upon Him who is Holy and Just. Unto Him we owe our all. When we commit our way unto him and walk in that way, the fruit necessarily is that we honor Him in all things. We will then experience His nearness and whatever cares and troubles may arise, none will be too great, for He is leading us. When we pray unto God with our whole heart, we will also experience that God hears our prayer for He comforts us in time of trouble and sorrow, He gives grace to suffer in times of illness and He leads us every step of the way.
God has also privileged us to congregate with His people in holy worship. God is the exalted one. Exalted and arrayed in glory He awakens reverence which leads to every outward mark of obeisance and humiliation which is possible for man to express. When the creature places himself in the presence of the Creator — when he contemplates the immeasurable distance which separates himself, a frail and finite mortal, from his infinitely perfect Maker — he approaches with awe; even the sanctuary where he is accustomed to bow before the Almighty acquires the power of awakening the same emotions in his mind. When we enter into the house of the Lord, we must put aside all things of the flesh and pray that the Lord will speak His Word unto our hearts that we may grow up spiritually and increase in wisdom. This requires that each one discipline himself anew for we are so prone to evil that our minds easily wander and we find ourselves busy with unimportant things. Only by the grace of God shall we have the victory.
As God leads us along, we have blessed fellowship with Him not only when we congregate on the Sabbath day but all the time. Whatever our daily work may be, when we perform it diligently and faithfully for Him, we work to His honor and glory. Whomever we may come in contact with, in the school, in the shop, or in the office, when our speech is a witness of the hope which is within us, we have the assurance that He is near us and has given unto us those words to speak.
Reverence for God and communion with him will reflect in our attitude toward our fellow men. To the aged we will show respect and consideration. To those in authority, we will want to be instructed and obey as long as the demands are in accordance with the Word of God. To our neighbor we will be kind and thoughtful. All these things and many more emanate from a true love for God.
May God thus give us grace that we may crucify the old man which dwells within us, always denying ourselves, and put on the new man, striving earnestly for that which is pleasing in His sight.