Have You Ever Wondered What"Fear of the Lord" Means?
Why do people want to see the Grand Canyon, or Niagara Falls, or stand on the banks of a raging river, or walk out on a pier when the tides are rolling in and crashing on the beach?
Because of the beauty, the power…there is something totally majestic about these things!
Another common denominator about these things is fear. If you do not fear them, you are in danger. If you carelessly, and fearlessly walk the edge of either of these it would be very foolish. To fall into the midst of either of these would, most likely, cost you your life and there isn’t anything you could do about it.
The reverence and fear of these things keeps you safe while you enjoy them. The fear doesn’t keep you from being blessed by them, but it does keep you from the danger associated with them.
Although this doesn’t capture the complete meaning of the “fear of the Lord”, it does help. The parallels are similar; there is a danger in not fearing God that surpasses any other fearlessness we could have; and there are blessings beyond anything we could ask or imagine when we do “walk in the fear of the Lord”.
This term has led many people down a wrong path. Many well up with pride and say, “why should I fear God!?”
In a nut shell, God created all things, including you. He spoke the world into existence. He placed the stars where they are, and He knows them by name. He told the seas to go “this far” and go no further. He speaks it, and it is done. He is all powerful, all knowing. Wouldn’t it be logical to have reverence and fear of a God like this; after all, we fear walking on the edge of things He created?
John 1:9 And he said to them, "I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land."
Jeremiah 5:24 They do not say in their hearts, 'Let us fear the LORD our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest.'
Shouldn’t we stand in awe of a God like that?
Psalm 33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
Joshua 4:24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever."
To know the power of God should be fearful and awe inspiring. Many people get “awe struck” when they are in the presence of celebrities, sports stars, or the powerful men and women of this world – how much more should we be awe struck by the Creator of the entire universe. As the Word says, “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God”, as it should be; it should strike fear in us to receive even a glimpse of His nature.
If that is not enough reason, consider this: God, the Creator of all things, has said, “it is appointed to man, once to die, and after that the Judgment”. We all have an appointment and we do not need to put it in our Daytimer to remember, we WILL NOT miss it. We will stand before God and give an account of every word and deed. Everyone throughout history will be there – EVERYONE!
At this point we can pridefully, and foolishly say, “I don’t believe that” OR “who is He to Judge me”? Or we can be wise, and ask, “on what basis will I be Judged by God?”
When we come to understand the power of God, we can’t help but have a fear of God. The reality is, and His Word is clear, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” If you have had your eyes opened to the reality that hell would be right for you, and you understand that God has the power to send you there forever, and that strikes fear in you, that’s good – that is the beginning of wisdom.
Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
Although lacking reverence and fear of God results in the most devastating thing imaginable, it is not like the fear of one who is imprisoned in the most brutal place in the world. A prisoner in Bang Kwang Prison, Bangkok, Thailand is fearful of the one in authority because of the potential for brutal treatment. There is no blessing for the obedient in that place, only punishment for the disobedient. God does not unjustly punish those who do not fear Him, they are getting just as they have earned, “the wages of sin is death”. The fear of the Lord results in a person seeking salvation. It is a complete paradigm shift in thinking, the fear of the Lord is the means by which we obtain God’s blessing. If we do not fear the Lord, we will continue on in our sin; essentially, we are carelessly, and fearlessly walking on the edge of God’s Wrath until one day we fall into an eternity of God’s Wrath.
To a great degree, just as suffering under the Wrath of God forever, although justified, is severe, even more so, the blessings of those who fear the Lord are innumerable; take a look:
The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life.
The fear of the LORD prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short.
In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.
- Proverbs 14:27
Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it.
The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!
You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield.
God’s Word speaks of the fear of the Lord as something “taught”, something “chosen”, “continued in”, “walking in”, something to be “practiced”:
Psalm 34:11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Proverbs 1:29 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD,
Proverbs 23:17 Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day.
Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
We can see in Scripture that there is a comfort and peace that comes to a person who fears the Lord. What else, what does the fear of the Lord produce? What does the life of one who truly fears the Lord look like?
Proverbs 3:7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
Proverbs 16:6 By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil.
Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
One who fears the Lord is humble and turns away from evil
2Kings 17:36 but you shall fear the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm. You shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice.
Psalm 22:23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
Psalm 118:4 Let those who fear the LORD say, "His steadfast love endures forever."
Being brought out of Egypt was a literal event, but it is also symbolic of the believer being brought out of the bondage of sin. For one that the Lord has done this for, the fear of the Lord continues, and they will bow before Him as King, they will present their bodies as a living sacrifice to Him, seeking to serve Him, glorify Him, and exalt His Name
1Samuel 12:14 If you will fear the LORD and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well.
One that has the fear of the Lord will be obedient to His voice and not rebel against His commands
Joshua 24:14 "Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.
One who walks in the fear of the Lord will serve Him sincerely, they will serve Him faithfully, and they will not put anything or anyone before service to their King
Walking in the fear of the Lord is not just “a good idea” – God expects it, in fact, God requires this of His children:
Deuteronomy 10:12 "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
If you have been blessed with the fear of the Lord, and you consider the great things He has done for you, you must use it as fuel to persuade others. We would warn a blind man approaching the edge of the Grand Canyon, how much more should we warn the spiritually blind to fear the Lord. Jesus is Lord, He is the One, the only One that can save us from the Wrath to come. The Wrath to come should be feared, it is certain, it is severe, and it is final.
1Samuel 12:24 Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.
2Corinthians 5:11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.
Romans 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
The term “fear of the Lord” appears 27 times in Scripture, the term “fear the Lord” appears 32 times. Do not shy away from using this term – it is the beginning of Wisdom.