For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.
Psalm 96:4 (KJV)
Feared – Could it be said that we have a fear of fearing God? So great is our fear of fearing Him that we construct alternative opinions around the word “fear”. Surely it doesn’t mean that we’re afraid of Him, right? Or does it?
Yaré is the Hebrew word for “fear”. I know it’s difficult to find ourselves in a position where we’re actually afraid of God, but it’s not an uncommon occurrence in the Bible. Nowadays we rarely interact with YHVH. He comes to mind when we need Him… when we’re afraid of something else in our life like cancer, death, or tribulation. But we don’t necessarily turn to God because we fear Him, but rather because we fear something else.
As I mentioned, in Biblical times, it wasn’t quite like this. Imagine being at the foot of Mount Sinai and seeing YHVH descend in a dark cloud of lightening and thunder, and hearing a voice trumpet forth, and actually feeling His power engulf you. I’d imagine there would be legitimate fear. The people were so afraid of this event, that they told Moses to go speak to God on their behalf. It was too much for them to handle. The Israelites knew what fearing God was like.
But today we change the meaning of the word to something much more palatable. We might say that it means to honor Him, or to respect Him. But we’re not quite being honest with ourselves. I understand why. We’ve never quite had that moment when God has shaken our house, filled our room with smoke, and appeared in a pillar of fire. God is pretty far off in relation to our minuscule lives on earth. Not many of us have experienced the true terrifying awesomeness of YHVH – we’ve only read about it.
Since we haven’t experienced what it truly means to fear God, we need to examine our lives to discern if we’re acting is such a way that would exhibit a God-fearing person. That means we need to read the examples of what it means to actually fear God.
- God-fearers do not hinder those with disabilities (Leviticus 19:14)
- God-fearers do not oppress one another (Leviticus 25:17)
- God-fearers keep the commandments and statutes (Deuteronomy 6:2)
- God-fearers serve God and swear by His name (Deuteronomy 10:20)
- God-fearers do all the words of the law (Deuteronomy 31:12)
- God-fearers avoid evil (Job 1:1)
- God-fearers walk in YHVH’s ways (Psalm 128:1)
- God-fearers desire knowledge (Proverbs 2:5)
- God-fearers hate pride, arrogancy, and evil (Proverbs 8:13)
- God-fearers judge righteously (Isaiah 11:3)
There’s more, but let’s start here. Since we haven’t trembled in the presence of God during a physical experience of terror while facing Him, we don’t really know what fearing Him means. So instead, we need to make sure we reflect the actions of a God-fearing person. How many of these describe you? If some don’t, then study them. Learn what they mean and how to apply these actions in your life. Don’t twist the word to fit your paradigm, but rather change yourself to fit in context of the Word.