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This concept has a funny ring to our ears. Fear God? What does that really mean?

Fear the Lord

Postby Tom » Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:14 pm

I need help better explaining "God fearing people" and we should "Fear the Lord"!
Just as my earthly father loved me and I him, I respected him and when I disobeyed him I had a lot to fear, mostly how soon I would be able to sit down again from the punishment that was delievered for disobeying. When we disobey (sin against) the Lord, we are not immediately punished. Please explain why we should fear someone that loves us.
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Re: Fear the Lord

Postby jimwalton » Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:50 pm

Tom, to answer your question about the fear of the Lord, I’m going to go to Deuteronomy 6. There are lots of texts that talk about it, but this one I think will be helpful to you, and at least get us started. And then we can talk further if you have more questions or want more clarification.

The chapter heading, so to speak, of Dt. 6, says that here are commands you are to obey so that everyone may fear the Lord BY KEEPING THEM. I’ll be making a list as we go through this chapter, but right off the top we find out that fearing God is their way of saying: “Respond appropriately to Him.” In that sense it’s like their equivalent to what we call Christian faith.

What does the “Fear of God” mean, according to this chapter?

1. Verse 2 tells us that a person fears the Lord by doing what He told you to do from the heart (v. 6, 17-18, 24; see also John 14.15 for the same thought). You recognize His authority over you. Obeying him shows that you both care about what pleases him (that’s love) and that you trust what he is saying (v. 16) enough to do it (that’s faith).
2. Verse 4 continues the thought that a person fears the Lord by recognizing who He is and what He is like. We try to grasp as much of Him as we can.
3. In verse 5 we fear the Lord by loving him with all our hearts, soul, and strength, filling our homes and our lives with him (5-9).
4. We fear God by teaching our children the ways of the Lord (7).
5. We fear God by remember what He has done for us (12, 19, 21-23).
6. We fear God by serving Him, and Him alone (13-14).

So you can see that the point of fearing the Lord isn’t to live in terror of him, but to live in respectful relationship with him, loving Him, knowing who He is, what He has done for us, and teaching others to follow Him as well. He isn’t asking us to cower; his pleasure is that we prosper and live life to the full (v. 24). And if we are careful to live in vibrant relationship with him, showing our love by our obedience, that will be our righteousness (v. 25). Sweet.

I’ll take this one step further, and then give you a chance to respond. Prov. 1.7 lets us know that seeing God this way and governing our lives accordingly is the first step toward “doing things right and well.” If you get this part right, you’ll get a lot of other things right also, and you’ll be moving in the right direction.

So “fear” is really, for our contemporary American mindset, an unfortunate term for this relationship, because to us it means like, "Oh no! A snake! RUN!!" Despite that God can be dangerous (2 Sam. 6.7; Lev. 10.1-2) and is not to be treated in a casual way, the point of fearing God is to that you run TOWARDS Him, not away from him. He doesn’t want us to hide, but to engage. The ancients probably used the word “fear” to describe that they understand their place in the universe. In most places in Scripture (unlike Heb. 10.31, for example), fear of God is not to be a response of terror, and it probably means more than just “respect.” It’s when you REALLY understand who God REALLY is and what He does, your response of “fear” is that you love Him, trust Him, worship Him obey Him, and make Him the basis of your whole life.

Feel free to ask me to explain something better, or to explain it more if you want that.
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