Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire…
This and similar passages address themselves directly to our fears. The term "fear of God" in Scripture, does not always bear the same meaning. Them is a filial fear, and them is a servile fear. Servile fear gives place to filial when God becomes known to us as our reconciled Father in Christ. We begin with the dread of God. The dread drives us to the Cross. Mistakes are often made as to that fear of God which we denominate servile. Christians are afraid of fear, looking with suspicion on any part which fear may have had in moving them to forsake evil ways, as if it were a base and ungenerous agent, which ought not to have had share in the great work of conversion. Whilst so much of the Bible speaks of fear, fear cannot be without its use in religion.
I. WHAT MISAPPREHENSION MAY THERE BE IN REFERENCE TO THE USE OF FEAR? Noah, in preparing the ark, is said to have been "moved with fear." It was dread of impending wrath. Fears may rightly move us to genuine and acceptable repentance. We are so constituted as to be just as accessible through fear as through hope. We feel that with the great mass of men we can make no way without appealing to their fears. Men must commonly be wrought upon by fear through what they are incurring rather than through what they are losing. We must come down upon them with tidings of disaster. Let a man continue his struggles and his endeavours even though he feel actuated only by fear, and in due time other motives shall gain sway in his breast.
II. THE LEGITIMATE USE OF SUCH AWFUL DENUNCIATIONS AS THESE IN THE TEXT. Or the way in which threatenings ought to be employed by the preacher. St. Paul says, "Knowing the terrors of the Lord, we persuade men." Neither should the engine of terror be otherwise used by the present ministers of Christ. Threatenings are to be employed as inducements to the laying hold on the succour provided by Christ,
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.