In the old testament the people of God were often commanded to fear the Lord, but what does this mean? Fear of the Lord is not a dread that God is someone to be scared of, but it is an appreciation for his awesomeness that allows us to look upon him with reverence and admiration. It is only when we know the fear of the Lord that we will walk in complete obedience to his words.
The fear of the Lord is unconditional love and holy reverence for God
God is a loving and kind father and wants only the best for his children. His love and mercy are unconditional and will last forever. This righteous and holy God is compassionate and his children must know him and give him total and complete reverence. We should honor him with our lives and everything that we have.
“Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.” “For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.”Psalms 33:8-9 KJV
Holy fear is taking God at his words and relying on his never failing promises
All the promises of God are “Yes and Amen.” Our God always keeps his words and honors them above everything else. He is not a man that he should lie nor the son of man that he should repent (see Numbers 23:19).
“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”Numbers 23:19 KJV
When we fear the Lord, we strive to live right with him and put our hope and confidence in him, rather than in our own strength and abilities. We run to him because we know he alone has the answers to the difficult problems and challenges that we face daily. We come to the reality that we were created to trust and depend on him for everything that we need.
All should come to the knowledge that God is the judge and he is coming back to judge the people of the whole earth for all their deeds whether it be good or evil. In the end, we will all be held accountable for our actions.
Fear breeds obedience
Remember Jonah who God called to go to Nineveh to warn the people to repent and turn from their wicked ways. But instead of going to Nineveh as God commanded he tried to flee the presence of God and boarded a ship to Tarshish instead. Jonah wanted God to destroy Nineveh because the people were evil and he thought they deserved to be punished.
Jonah knew in his heart that God wanted to show Nineveh mercy and spare them from destruction if they repented. But in Jonah’s mind, they did not deserve God’s kindness. This is a grand lesson that God does not want any to perish but that all should come to repentance.
The story of Jonah is a lesson in obedience. We cannot run from the presence of God. He is everywhere and his judgment is inescapable. Jonah realized that God was with him everywhere even in the stomach of the whale. We should always run to God and not from him. He is willing and ready to wrap us in his arms of love.
“And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.”Jonah 4:2 KJV
When we truly fear the Lord, we seek to do his will and obey his commandments. We become more conscious of sin and its consequences and will do our best to stay away from sin.
The fear of the Lord is an awareness that God is ever present and sees our every action
God is everywhere, we cannot hide from him. Where can we go that his eyes cannot see us? Nowhere. We should strive to develop a healthy and holy fear in God. This can only happen if we know who God is. He is the waymaker and the creator of the ends of the earth. Demons tremble and flee at his name. Mountains quake and shake in his presence. A fire goes before him and burns up his enemies.
Yet he is the kind, loving, God, who sent his only son to die on the cross for the sins of mankind. He loves us so much. He causes his rain to fall on the just and the unjust. God does not hold our sins against us but his mercies and faithfulness are new every morning.
We fear him because we know that he has the power to destroy, build, forgive and set free. We stand in awe of his might and give him our reverence and devotion. God is pleased with the righteous but angry with the wicked. It’s best to be on God’s good side where the righteous dwell and not in the tent of the wicked.
David, a man after God’s own heart, knew and feared the Lord. He saw his wonderous works and his destruction of the enemies that came up against him. Holy fear also allows us to leave all vengeance to God because we know that he is the Judge and will execute punishment for the wicked.
“God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.”Psalms 7:11 KJV
The revelation of God from the Bible shows two sides to God’s character. On one side God is a loving, gracious, compassionate and merciful father. And the other is a God of vengeance, wrath, judgment, and anger. God is holy and cannot look upon sin, and it is the sins of mankind that causes us to see the second nature of the God of wrath.
God has already commanded us to live a life that is holy and pleasing in his sight. A life that is far from sin and immorality. The Bible says in Romans 6:23 KJV, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
We should teach our children to fear the Lord
Our children are the future. We should teach them well and show them how to fear and revere the Lord. God gave the instruction for families to teach their children to fear him. It is our primary responsibility to train up our children and help them to grow in their faith. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and wisdom is a virtue that all should have.
It is also possible for parents to teach their children the fear of the Lord by simply living an honest and ethical life at home. This is living right and not according to worldly standards. We should live an honest and just life that sets the standard for our children to follow. This does not mean that we will not miss up or sin but that we are willing to repent, confess, and reconcile so that our children see us as being open and honest.
We should never hide our faith from our children but include them as well in the family worship time. They need to see us engaging in fasting, prayer, and worship. This shows that we are committed and resolute in our devotion to God.
Scriptures on fearing the Lord
“The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.”(Proverbs 19:23 KJV)
“O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.” (Psalms 34:9 KJV)
“Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.”(Proverbs 3:7 KJV)
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7 KJV)
“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28 KJV)
We fear God because of who he is. He is the God of power and majesty and the God of wrath and vengeance. We cannot separate the two because there is a divine connection.
Prayer to fear the Lord
Father, I come to you in Jesus’ name. Lord, please help me to have a reverence for you that I look upon you with holy fear. Father, I know you are the mighty God and the loving savior. Help me to stand in awe of you and tremble in your divine presence. Lord, please grant me the grace to seek to please you in everything I do. Let me never turn and run from you but always run into your loving arms. Lord, please let me hate sin the way you hate it, and flee from it daily. Father let me fear you as a loving father who cares and will discipline for my own good but will show me mercy like none other. Father by your grace help me to walk in obedience and keep me from sin. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.