God’s people are commanded to “fear God” or “fear the Lord” several times throughout the Scripture. The modern-day implications of this mandate for those who follow Christ are crucial to grasp. Godly fear is the only path to freedom from Satan’s damaging and debilitating fears. The temptation to go our own way, reject God, and give in to the allure of immoral action is strong, but by fearing God, we may avoid falling into its clutches.
The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines the word “fear” as “a painful emotion or passion excited by an expectation of evil, or the apprehension of impending danger.” Another definition is “to reverence; to have a holy awe; to venerate.”
Is it reasonable to fear God? For a believer to obey the general command to “fear the Lord,” they must come to terms with many aspects of their faith and God.
- 1 What Does The Fear Of The Lord Mean?
- 2 What Does The Bible Say About Fear?
- 3 Why Is It Important To Have Fear Of The Lord?
- 4 What Are The Eternal Benefits Of The Fear Of The Lord?
- 5 Conclusion
What Does The Fear Of The Lord Mean?
The Hebrew and Greek words most often translated as “fear” contain a range of connotations, but when applied to God’s holiness, they emphasize healthy respect.
Both the Hebrew verb yare and the noun yirah may be translated as “to dread,” “to respect,” and “to revere,” with the latter word typically referring to healthy regard for the Divine Character. Fear like this recognizes God’s goodness (Exodus 20:20)… Fear like this is caused by the Scripture (Psalm 119:38; Proverbs 2:5) and opens one up to understanding and knowledge (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10).
In Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (1985), “Terror, Fearful, Fearfulness,” explains that the Greek word phobos can signify “reverential fear” of God, “not a simple ‘fear’ of His might and rightful vengeance, but a salutary dread of displeasing Him.” Luke portrays this kind of healthy, fruitful dread among the believers.
At that time, the churches in all of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria were united in Christ and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. They multiplied as they feared God and walked in peace with Him (Acts 9:31).
What Does The Bible Say About Fear?
Both the Old and New Testaments mention the importance of fearing all that God is. There are numerous explanations for it. Here’s what the Bible says about fear:
Deuteronomy 10:20 instructs, “Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.”
The “fear of God” or Yahweh, “the fear of the Lord,” is essentially identical to religion in the Old Testament (Proverbs 1:7; Psalms 34:11; Isaiah 11:2,3; Ecclesiastes 12:13, Jeremiah 2:19).
It is more of a feeling of reverent regard for their God, mixed with awe and fear of the punishment for disobedience (1 Samuel 11:7; Exodus 23:27; 2 Chronicles 20:29; Isaiah 2:10, Psalms 119:120; 19,21). However, dread or “fear” in its lower sense is not always absent and is sometimes prominent in the earlier stages. Isaiah 33:14 further says that “fearfulness hath surprised” hypocrites.
This is a mandated and very meaningful way to feel about Yahweh (Exodus 20:20; Joshua 4:24; Deuteronomy 6:13; 1 Samuel 12:24; Psalms 33:8; 34:9; Proverbs 23:17; Job 6:14; Ecclesiastes 5:7, etc.). It is a fundamental part of Yahweh’s devotion and worship; it is a divine need for the Messiah (Isaiah 11:2, 3).
Evidence of this “fear of Yahweh” includes a commitment to following God’s precepts, His will, and other moral imperatives such as abstaining from sin (Exodus 20:20; 2 Samuel 23:3; Deuteronomy 6:13, 14; Proverbs 8:13; 16:6; Psalms 34:4, 9).
It is the genuine wisdom (Job 28:28; Psalms 25:14; Proverbs 1:7; 15:33); it brings life (Proverbs 10:27, etc.), blessedness (Psalms 128:1, 4), Divine friendship (Psalms 25:14), sufficiency (Psalms 34:9), protection (Psalms 34:7), forgiveness (Psalms 130:4), and deliverance (Psalms 85:9), Psalms 90:11 reads “According to thy fear, so is thy wrath.”
The concept of “fear of the Lord” is emphasized throughout the Apocrypha; for example, in Ecclesiasticus 1:11–30. Such fear is linked to love for God in Ecclesiastes 2:15–16.
Sin brings forth “fear” (Genesis 3:10; 4:13,14; Proverbs 28:1) as a penalty, and it is a natural result of sin (Deuteronomy 28:25,28). When we are afraid of God, we can avoid the perils posed by human fear and wickedness (Numbers 14:9; 21:34; Psalms 23:4; 31:14, etc.).
In the New Testament, God is shown to be a loving and forgiving Father who gives men the spirit of sonship (Romans 8:15; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 John 4:18), and we are even invited to come “with boldness unto the throne of grace” with confidence, assurance (parrhesia), which may have its literal meaning of free “utterance” (Hebrews 4:16; 10:19).
Despite this, there is still a healthy respect for authority as well as filial fear and dread due to the magnitude of the problems at hand. In Matthew 10:28 and Luke 12:5, the word “fear” is used to mean “stand in awe of,” which may also apply to Luke 23:40. The phrase “fear God” is sometimes used throughout the New Testament as if it were synonymous with religion.
If Jesus Christ is deliberately rejected, then there is nothing left but “a fearful looking for” (or “expectation” in the Revised Version; British and American) of judgment (Hebrews 10:27); and in verse 31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
Additionally, Romans 8:15 says that slavish fear is a direct result of their guilt, the agonizing anticipation of just retribution. Both of these occurrences of “fearful” mean “terrible,” something to be feared greatly. Many times, the words translated as “fear” are more literally rendered in the Revised Version (British and American).
Why Is It Important To Have Fear Of The Lord?
There is much gain in developing healthy respect and awe for God. It’s the beginning of wisdom and enlightenment (Psalm 111:10). Only fools despise wisdom and self-control (Proverbs 1:7). A knowledge of God’s grace and mercy, however, must never lead us to ignore his holiness, righteousness, or justice.
1. We Become More Like Christ
Like the practical application of the truth of God’s Word, the fear of the Holy One sanctifies God’s people (i.e., purifies, separates from the sins of the world, and encourages spiritual maturation). Therefore, it compels us to despise sin and avoid evil.
As a result, we’re going to have to consider this before we speak from now on. It prevents our moral compass from becoming numb and our capacity to tell right from wrong from deteriorating. A person’s faith in God has the potential to rejuvenate and refresh their spirit in a way that lasts for all of time and space.
2. God Grants Us A Reward
Those who have faith in God will be rewarded. Those who have reverential awe for the Lord and conduct themselves modestly enjoy the consequence of salvation, prosperity, respect, and long life. We are also protected from harm, provided for every day, given a long life, and ensured that we will not perish before our time.
Those who hold God in awe and reverence are unwavering in their belief that “things will go better with God-fearing persons,” regardless of the external circumstances.
3. A Modest Sense Of Confidence Shines Upon Us
Lastly, awe for God brings about calm confidence and tremendous inner ease. It is apparent from the New Testament that the Holy Spirit’s presence brings both fear and consolation from God.
It’s impossible for those who don’t take God seriously to trust in his protection. On the contrary, people who fear God and obey his Word will be anointed (i.e., empowered) and at peace. That God will “save them from death” is something they take for granted.
What Are The Eternal Benefits Of The Fear Of The Lord?
The fear of the Lord that is preached in the Bible, however, is a source of transformation rather than paralyzing fear. It encourages us to grow more like our compassionate Creator and helps us maintain a good understanding of ourselves in relation to God’s greatness. Having reverence for God motivates us to act in certain ways, which have lasting consequences for God-fearing men:
1. Everlasting hope – “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day; for surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off (Proverbs 23:17-18).”
2. Everlasting life – “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death (Proverbs 14:27).”
3. Protection from impending evil – “The fear of the LORD leads to life, and he who has it will abide in satisfaction; he will not be visited with evil (Proverbs 19:23).”
Through God’s love, He persuades us to serve and worship Him. His perfect love protects, and delights in his faithful followers, but also confides in them. To those who fear and love God, such a holy being reveals his thoughts and purposes.
Fearing God is not an impediment to an intimate connection with him, but rather it is the opposite. To fear the Lord is to hate evil, as it says in Proverbs 8:13. It is evil that God despises so much. Aligning oneself with God happens when we decide to abhor evil and obey God’s laws. This way, you allow yourself to receive His glory and blessings.