I remember the first time I saw mountains. My wife and I were driving with our children to Ridge Haven in the Blue Ridge Mountains for a week of summer camp. And then it happened. The road before us began to wind and suddenly there they were in all their splendor. We actually stopped the car on the side of the road and just gazed at the beauty before us. I love those moments where I’m not conscious of myself but only the awesomeness of creation. The mountains were so huge and I was so small.
Living in South Florida, up to that point my only experience of such grandeur resided in a book. I think the fear of God can sometimes be like this. We read a passage such as Psalm 2:11, “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling,” and come away thinking this was for another time or being confused about the meaning because we live in a culture that would laugh such an idea to scorn. So the idea of fearing God remains in a book just as the mountains did for me until I saw the real thing.
Our children need to see, feel, and live the real thing. Jerry Bridges writes, “It is impossible to be devoted to God if one’s heart is not filled with the fear of God. It is this profound sense of veneration and honor, reverence and awe, that draws forth from our hearts the worship and adoration that characterizes true devotion to God. The reverent, godly Christian sees God first in His transcendent glory, majesty, and holiness before he sees Him in His love, mercy, and grace.” [The Practice of Godliness, Ch. 2, “The God-Fearing Christian”]
So how do you teach children to fear the Lord? There is a great resource for parents as well as Sunday School teachers here. The article includes such things as “Barriers to Learning the Fear of the Lord” and “Encouragements to Learning the Fear of the Lord.” I also appreciate the steps given for growing in dependence on God for adults as well as children.
In the video below, Joel Beeke talks about training your children in the fear of God.