Fear of the Lord.
Fear comes from the Hebrew word “Yirah”. Yirah has two parts: it can mean to be afraid, to tremble, to be terrified but it can also mean awe, wonder, reverence or respect.
As we see here the fear of the Lord has two aspects. There is the fear of who He is, His power . His majesty, His holiness, and these produces dread. But there is also awe and reverence that makes us to worship, obey Him, and to walk in His commandments.
The fear of the Lord makes us tremble at His sight.
Now when all the people witnessed the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled , and they stood far off and said to Moses , “ You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die. Exodus 20: 18-19
The Israelites experienced the fear of God, the dreadful, terrifying fear of God. God came to them in His glory, power, and majesty and it was terrifying. They saw who God was and the only response was fear and trembling.
Hebrews 12: 21 adds The sight was so terrifying that Moses said,“I am trembling with fear.” Speaking about Exodus 20:18
In the Old covenant, the presence of God produced fear in everyone who experienced him. God was intentionally revealing Himself to the Israelites to inspire them to walk right before Him. They needed to know He is good , gracious and kind but He is also a consuming fire and to be greatly feared.
Why did God reveal Himself this way?
God came to them with trembling sight so that they would depart from evil. When they saw His holiness, His awesomeness, His power, it would lead them away from evil.
The knowledge of the Holy one is understanding.
When they understood who God really was, it would make them hate evil.
This is understanding. This is knowledge. God and evil can not go together. God and sin do not intertwine.
It is by the fear of the lord that a man departs from evil. Proverbs 16:6
To fear the Lord is to hate evil: I hate pride and arrogance,evil behavior and perverse speech. Proverbs 8:13
When we have an understanding of God and how holy He is we will have a right view of sin and evil.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
When we fear Him, we will have the wisdom to know how to live.
The wise fear the Lord and shun evil. Proverbs 14:16
We see here wisdom is attached to the fear of the lord and to departing from evil. When we fear God we get wisdom and we keep away from evil because we know He hates it.
Reverential fear makes us walk in obedience and serve Him. It doesn’t have dread but it comes from a place of great honor.
But we haven’t come to the old covenant that demanded man to serve God with dread and fear. We have come to a different covenant.
And to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speak a better word than the blood of Abel. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe , for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12: 24,28
In the Old Covenant, they served God with fear and trembling. But because of Jesus, we have a new covenant that enables us to serve God not in fear and dread, but with reverence and awe.
Miriam Webster’s defines revere as to show devoted deferential honor to: to regard as worthy of great honor.
This is the second part of the fear of the Lord where we treat Him as worthy of great honor.
And now Israel what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the lord your god with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 10:12
Honor will make a man walk in trusting obedience. It will make a man choose to love God. It will make a man choose to serve the Lord with all of his heart and soul.
Reverential fear makes a man have life.
The fear of the Lord leads to life, that one may rest content, without visitation from harm. Proverbs 19: 23
Contemporary English Version says showing respect to the Lord brings true life – if you do it, you can relax without fear of danger.
When we steer our lives in honor and reverence of God we will have life; a life that is protected from evil.
Reverential fear also has to do with humility.
When we have the fear of the Lord we will walk in humility before Him and it leads to life.
We cannot walk in humility if we don’t have reverential fear of Him.
Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches, honor and life. Proverbs 22: 4 NIV
Some translations say… Humility and the fear of the Lord… but I love how NIV put it.
God leads those who fear him. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble in what is right. Psalm 25:9
Who is the man who fears the lord? Him will he instruct in the way he should choose. Psalm 25:12
Again it’s entwined, the humble and those who fear the Lord these the Lord will instruct, teach and lead.