What does it mean to fear the Lord?
The Fear of the Lord is a fascinating concept. We are told over and over in the scriptures to fear God. There are usually wonderful things attached to that fearing. And while we are to have a reverential awe of God, the word in Hebrew really means exactly what it says, to be afraid. That goes against all we know of a loving God – are we really supposed to be afraid of Him?! Yes – and no.
Actually, it’s not that we are (or are not) supposed to be afraid of our Loving Savior. The fact is, that when we are consciously aware of just a small part of God’s unlimited power, it will create a tremendous fear in us. Think of the natural powers around us. We certainly aren’t afraid that electricity will jump out of the socket and zap us, but stand near a transformer, with the buzzing sound and your hair standing on end – it’s scary. Stand near the edge of a steep precipice and the pull of gravity can make your stomach turn. We know that gravity will not make us slip over the edge, but in that moment of contemplation that power is terrifying.
It is any wonder that almost every time the Lord appears in some fashion to people in the Bible the first thing that has to be said is, “fear not”? Why? Because even a small amount of His supernatural power is so overwhelming that it frightens us to the core. Immediately we are keenly aware of God Almighty and His omnipotence against our smallness, frailty and weakness.
This is important for two reasons: First, we get a clue in Exodus 14:31, “Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses”. Fearing God helps us believe Him. Fearing God is being aware of His amazing power – that He is strong enough to do what He says He will. To help with our giant mess, comfort our huge hurt and defend us against horrible evils. My screw-ups can be pretty big – I need a God big enough to handle them. When we start our day praising God and meditating on the awesomeness and might of the Great I AM the Holy Spirit orients our hearts to believe He is indeed able.
The second reason is that He says, “fear not”. After our initial reaction of awe and trembling and falling face down before Him, God gently, tenderly, lifts up our heads, picks us up, holds us next to Him and tells us not to be afraid. That He loves us. That He is for us and wants only good for us. And the Spirit testifies that He is able to deliver on that good.
Fear the Lord! Remember His awesome might and power! Know that He can and will do anything and everything for us because He loves us. He sent His Son, the fullness of that power, to die just for us. Nothing is impossible with Him.
Copyright Christine Joy
Christine Joy is Midwest raised with a Colorado heart. Her four children have recently emptied the nest and her husband says they are “back where they started”. She is continuing her love of Bible Study while exploring her interest in writing.