THE FEAR OF THE LORD
We can praise the Lord for some good thing that happens, and still not be redeemed by the blood of Jesus. We can pray and ask God for all sorts of things, for the world in the midst of all their sins, do that, when crisis appears. But, we cannot worship the Lord, unless we have come into His throne room, redeemed by the blood, sinless due to His taking away all our guilt and sin. There, we can worship. It is an act that none but the saved of the Lord, the redeemed by the blood, the children of God, can do.
The fear of God is an awesome reverence recognizing not only His greatness, but our lack of anything that would justify us before His holiness. Totally destitute of righteousness of our own, we reverence the holiness and perfection of our God.
We could have a sense of ethics, and strive to obey those rules of living we deem good. Even if we did, and never failed one of them, the Lord still says our ‘righteousness is as filthy rags.’ God has found that ‘all have sinned, and come short’ of His requirements. Therefore, in salvation we come to realize our shortcomings, and His awesome perfection. This is the ‘fear’, reverent awe, of the Lord.
We think we know what ‘fear’ is. We fear criminals hurting us, we fear the other political party getting elected, we fear rabid dogs, we fear a sunburn, we fear being fired, we fear old age and sickness. Those are minor bumps in the road of real ‘fear’. Those are panic attacks to a minor degree, and they plague all of us, until we come into worship, which is only entered by a FEAR OF THE LORD. Then we understand ‘fear’ in a far different way.
Over and over, the Bible tells us to ‘fear’ the Lord. The word does not mean ‘fear’ as in to fear a rabid dog, or to fear a fire. Rather, it means to revere and to worship with holy awe of His power and of His nature.
Psalm 31:19 (KJV)
Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!
Goodness is ‘laid up’ for us, if we ‘fear’ our God. That sounds like something good, very good.
So, why do we ‘fear’ to ‘fear’?
The Hebrew word used for ‘fear’ is the Hebrew Strong's number: 3372, and the phonetic pronunciation is yaw-ray'.
It is used in the KJV and translated as:
fear, 188 times;
afraid, 78 times;
terrible, 23 times;
terrible thing, 6 times;
dreadful, 5 times;
reverence, 3 times;
fearful, 2 times;
terrible acts, 1 time,
and miscellaneous translations, 8 times.
The total count is 314 times in the Old Testament.
The word literally means:
to fear; moral to revere; causative to frighten, affright, make afraid, dread, fear, be had in reverence.
If you notice from the meanings, that this word could represent both ‘reverence’ or ‘dread’, and ‘terror’.
In dread, one sees the power of the threat, whether a beast or a calamitous event.
The difference from that and reverence fear, is that one is horrible, the other is awesome and wonderful, but the greatness of both is immense.
God’s loving nature, His holy power and justice are formidable and unconquerable. Yet, we have no need to feel terror with God, for we are His children. So, the awesome respect for His Person is ‘fear’ but in the extreme reverence. We come ‘boldly’ to God’s throne, we sit comfortably on His footstool, and we greatly esteem His power.
Psalm 34:6-11 (KJV)
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing. O Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
The Lord “encamps” around those that fear Him, and there is ‘no want’ to to those who fear and reverence Him. So, respectful worship sounds like wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 (KJV)
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
It is our ‘duty’ and obligation to reverence God in holy respect for Him, and for His commandments.
Proverbs 28:14 (KJV)
Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.
To live in constant reverence fear of the Lord is the way to have happiness.
So many think they can be happy if they have high regard for themselves, or if they have money aplenty, or they have perfect health. Yet, even if we don’t have any of those things, if we reverence God, sit at His footstool and worship, we have happiness.
1 Peter 1:17 (KJV)
And if ye call on the Father, Who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
There is a ‘fear’ implanted in all of mankind. That fear is given by God, and therefore we see even the ungodly fear. The ungodly of every continent, on every island, worship something. That inner ‘fear’ of judgment, ‘fear’ of their own weaknesses, makes them worship someone, something, to try to calm their fear.
Jesus said of a certain people, ‘they worship what they know not.’ Many do. Their fears build, their panic attacks grow, for the thing or person they fear, has no power to assure them of salvation. We fear God, and He assures us that our sins are forgiven, our home will be with Him, we will be eternally save in His arms, if we fear Him.
Since God is a powerful God, and we respect that power, and know that He will someday soon judge our works and motives, we, therefore, are to ‘pass the time’ in reverent worship of Him.
The passage of I Peter, above, is in the New Testament. It was written in Greek and the word there for ‘fear’ is the Greek Strong's number, 5401, which is phobos. It comes from the root word, phebomai (to be put in fear).
In the KJV, it is translated:
fear, 41 times;
terror, 3 times;
miscellaneous translations, 3 times.
It is used 47 times in the New Testament.
Therefore, its meaning is to be put in fear; alarm or fright; be afraid; exceedingly fearful or in great terror. Yet, this same awe of greatness of the object of fear, is converted to awesome reverence due to the fact of the loving nature of the One to be respected for great power. With this Greek word, we again see that the Person being feared, is of no threat if He loves and cares for us. We reverence Him tremendously.
Do you fear the Lord? For there is ‘goodness’,’no want’, ‘happiness’ for those who reverence Him at His footstool. It is our ‘whole duty’ and the way we are supposed to ‘pass our time”.
Therefore, God encourages us to always ‘fear’ Him.
1 Chronicles 16:29-30 (KJV)
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His name: bring an offering, and come before Him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. Fear before Him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.
The psalmist noticed birds fly into and from the Temple. He realized that some birds had made their nest, their home, within the Temple where God’s presence dwelt. He envied that ‘sparrows’ and ‘swallows’ that had that great blessing, i.e. to be dwelling in the same house as God.
Psalm 84:3-4 (KJV)
Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.
We shall soon dwell in the New Jerusalem, in the same building as God. And even now, God has made us His Temple, and dwells within us. What an honor, what a privilege. No matter where we are, we are still indwelt by God. If we suffer poor health and lay in a hospital bed, or are taken to the surgical room, God is still indwelling us. We do not need to envy birds around the stone Temple of old, we are today blessed in an even greater way. In the Temple of God, inside our own person, we can sit on His footstool, and worship Him.
Psalm 100:4-5 (KJV)
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
We can arrive at the footstool with ‘thanksgiving’, with ‘praise’, and be ‘thankful’ and ‘bless’ His name, for we have an awesome God.
John 4:23-24 (KJV)
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.
God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.