And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”
Joshua 4:21–24, ESV
“Fear the LORD your God forever.” These words may sound strange in our ears today. We often focus on teaching our children to love God, but not often do the words fear come out of the mouths of many unless we are reading or teaching the Small Catechism. When teaching youth Catechism, particularly the Ten Commandments, I point this out purposely in the explanation. Yes, we are to love God, but we should have a healthy fear of God, also. A healthy fear creates respect for someone or something. When we have a healthy fear of God, it need not diminish our love of Him but helps us to understand His power and might. It is understanding that our God is not to be crossed, and He most certainly is not safe to approach as we wish. In our prayers, we are to come to Him with respect and are to act with dignity. When we read His Word, we are meant to do so, understanding that each sentence, each dot, and each tittle are there not by accident but with purpose. Translators of the Word are to do so with great care and caution. A great example is when we see a police officer. We are meant to treat them with great respect because of the authority they carry. When we lose the fear of those that have the authority of the Law, it can create very dangerous situations for us and others. Unlike our police, God does not fail and does not misuse or abuse His authority, but every good officer understands that his authority comes not through himself but from God. God wanted the people of Israel to understand His power for generations and to respect His Laws, so He gave Joshua these words for the people of Israel. These words we can take with us, too as we seek to not only love God but to fear Him, honor Him, and respect Him as we raise up generations who will follow Him all the days of their lives.
Let us pray. I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, that you have kept me this night from all harm and danger, and I ask you to protect me this day also from sin and every evil, that in all I do today, I may please you. For into your hands, I commend myself, my body and soul, and all that is mine. Let your holy angel watch over me, that the wicked foe have no power over me. Amen.