Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
What is the fear of the Lord? Does that mean I run around afraid that the Lord is going to strike me dead? Is the Lord some big horrible person that is just waiting for an opportunity to strike me down and prove He is bigger than me? That is not the case at all. The Bible says in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” Jesus Christ is certainly perfect love, personified in flesh, as He gave His life on Calvary’s cross for all.
The word fear, as used here, means an awesome or terrifying thing, respect, reverence. So to fear the Lord means to have reverential awe and respect for the Lord because His love for me is so great and infinite. If we really had the reverence and respect for the Lord that we claim to have, we would consider our every thought and deed in light of the love Jesus has for us and in light of the awesome redemption He provided for me through His death at Calvary.
The lack of love and respect for one another destroys homes and relationships everyday. If I really respected my partner I would consider how my actions were going to affect them before I did the thing. Likewise, if I really love the Lord and respect Him I will consider how my actions are going to impact Him and how they are going to cause Him to feel before I carry through with the deed, whatever the deed may be.
In Isaiah 29 the Lord is saying, in so many words, you are drawing near me with your mouth and saying the right things with your lips but your reverence and respect for me is because you’ve been told to do that and isn’t really because you love me. It’s outward show and yet the heart is not involved. We aren’t really concerned about how the Lord feels about a thing but rather we are concerned with how it makes us look and feel.
What difference does it make what religion I am dressed up in if reverence, respect and love for Jesus Christ doesn’t fill my heart and isn’t evidenced in my life by the way I treat others? The clothes of religion will only result in the loss of wisdom and understanding if the fear of the Lord is only taught and not lived and experienced.