- Religion and Philosophy
The Fear Of God - What It Means To Me
If you have read the Bible, I am sure that you have come across Scripture verses about the fear of the Lord. One such verse is:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever. Psalm 111:9-10 K.J.V.
Yet another is :
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7 K.J.V.
Often, I hear Christian groups say that to fear the Lord means to have reverence for Him and then in response I hear non-believers say but then how is it that the word used is fear? Why wasn't reverence used? The Hebrew word used for fear in the Bible when it comes to the fear of the Lord is Pachad. After some research I found several meanings for it :- dread, terrible fear, awe, and terror.
Always being a person to take the Bible at face value, I have taken the meaning of fear as to have of the Lord, not only reverence, but fear as in terror.
Hold up! Did I really say that? How could a loving God want people to fear Him? I have heard people's argument against fearing God. They say that they could never love a God who demands respect to the point of fear. Hmm. I get where they are coming from but then again, I think of a father with his children. Not an abusive one. One who loves them and cares for them and takes care of them and warns them not to do certain things. When that father is angry don't his children fear him? Definitely. Does he stop loving them when he is angry? Do they stop loving him when he's angry? The answer to both of those questions is no because the father's anger is a righteous one, and his children, knowing they are wrong, rightly fear him and the consequences they will face - and a good father gives consequences to his children.
So yes, I do think that everyone should fear the Lord - with awe and terror. You see the awe comes because of the terror. John Newton said it well in his hymn Amazing Grace:
"'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fear relieved"
I don't think you can be close to the Lord without feeling a bit afraid of Him. I read my Bible and I see in it all of the biographies of the men and women of God. Haven't you seen the bit where the angels appear and the people fall on their faces in fright? What about the time when God raised up a storm because His prophet, Jonah, disobeyed Him and Jonah was tossed into the sea and swallowed by a large fish? I somehow think, at that time, that Jonah was shaking in his boots from awe and fear. How about when God faced Job and basically asked him who did he think he was, questioning God? When the Egyptians and Hebrews alike saw the hand of death passover the land of Egypt there were screams of terror weren't there? I can't imagine that anyone leaving the house on the morning after the Passover being simply joyful about what happened the night before. Awe, and yes, terror at the power of God must have been mingled with that joy.
When Christ, Himself, died on the cross and the sky became dark and the veil of the temple was rent in half and the earth quaked, both believers and the non- believers were there to see it. I think that, having experienced an earthquake, small though it was, I can safely say I'd be on my knees praying dearly for mercy if I was there. And the Bible said they were afraid:
Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. Matthew 27:54 K.J.V.
John, the disciple that Jesus loved, fell at His feet as dead when He, Jesus, revealed Himself to him:
And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. The Book of Revelations 1:17 K.J.V.
In recent times, I have heard people decree and demand things of the Lord. It is not unusual for me to hear someone declare that this such and such will be done in the name of Jesus. I think that it is a very bold thing to do and very disrespectful. I also think that a person who can do this so often and freely, can't possibly understand what fearing the Lord means. He is all powerful, all mighty and you are going to tell Him what to do? Yes God said to ask and you shall receive but He never said to boss. I don't know any person on earth who likes to be bossed and sometimes they need it. Do you really think, the Boss, the One who is always right, likes someone telling Him He has no choice, He is going to do the things you say? God has said in His word that He is no respecter of persons.
Abraham, who was known as a friend of the Lord's, (and that word can't be taken lightly because only a few are listed like that) who was credited with righteousness by God, Himself, and who talked and walked with the Lord on more than one occasion, asked God questions in the humblest manner. When he found out about the judgment that God was going to rain on Sodom and Gomorrah, he asked and then apologized to the Lord for asking - that is how much he feared/revered God. When asking the Lord if there Sodom would be spared for forty-five righteous men, he acknowledged that he was but dust and ashes. When he asked if there were thirty righteous men, he asked the Lord to first be not angry with him for asking. He then said that he was sorry to speak again but what if there were twenty people found in Sodom who were there. And the Lord answered him. He approached the Lord with complete reverence, and fear and with a humble spirit. (See Genesis 18:13-22)
If Abraham, who is so close to the Lord, spoke to Him in such a reverential, and yes, fearful tone, far be it from me to take a greater stand than he did. So, for me at least, fearing the Lord, in an awesome/fearsome way, doesn't make His love for me any less. As a matter of fact, fearing Him, helps me to better understand His love which is a vast and wonderful thing and it actually helps me to adore Him more.