Posted by: jesusmessiah | July 31, 2008

What is the “Fear of the Lord”?

People so often misunderstand what it means to fear the Lord. Upon closer examination of the Scriptures, you’ll find that there are two different words used for fear in the Hebrew language.

The first word in it’s original Hebrew is “pachad”. This is the word used when describing an unrepentant sinner. It describes absolute terror. Isaiah 2:10, 19 and 21 are the first examples of this type of fear. The Revised English Version even translates those passages as “dread of the Lord”. Revelation 6:15-17 holds a parallel in which evildoers try to hide in terror from the Lord and his justice.

This is not the fear we as Christians are to be with. We who are in Christ are not appointed to wrath. We have been redeemed, justified and sanctified by His mercy on the Cross. Scriptures tell us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ and that we can have confidence on the day of judgment.

So then to discover what the fear of the Lord is for Christians, we should begin by taking a look at Psalm 33:8. ” Let all the earth fear the Lord, and let all the inhabitants of the world be in awe of him.” The word used here is “yirah”, which denotes reverence rather than terror. Our God is an awesome God and His attributes certainly inspire awe and reverence. Our fear of the Lord acknowledges that God is deserving of respect and recognition from us.

Proverbs 8:13 says that, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.” Again Proverbs 3:7 tells us to turn away from evil. The book of Job even says that Job feared God and turned from evil.

And finally what I believe to offer a good explanation is Deuteronomy 17:19, “That he may learn to fear the Lord his God by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes.” Now we are no longer under the law but under grace, but that is another discussion in itself. Abraham proved that he feared God by obeying his command to sacrifice his son. Moses told the children of Israel to “Fear the Lord…to walk in all His ways and love Him.” Isaiah 50:10 makes another clear association between the fear of God with obedience and trust in Him, as do Psalm 86:11; 112:1; 128:1 and Ecclesiastes 12:13.

So what we are discovering is that the fear of the Lord which is leading to wisdom…really is revering and respecting God for who He is. It means to trust in Him and what he commands. To act in obedience towards Him. And we learn to do this by reading the Word of God and obeying what God says.

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