The Fear of the Lord #2 – The Command

When talking about the fear of the Lord, we often read that we should have it. That is all good and well, but is God actually commanding us to fear Him? Yes, abundantly, for all sorts of different reasons God is commanding us to fear Him.

We Are to Fear God Exclusively
You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name” (Deuteronomy 6:13)

Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.” (1 Samuel 12:24)

We Are to Fear for Our Good and Survival
So the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today” (Deuteronomy 6:24)

But the LORD your God you shall fear; and He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.” (2 Kings 17:39)

Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD’S commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

We Are to Fear to Turn from Evil
Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14)

Now then let the fear of the LORD be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the LORD our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of a bribe.” (2 Chronicles 19:7)

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but live in the fear of the LORD always.” (Proverbs 23:17)

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3:7)

Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him” (Deuteronomy 8:6)

Do you not fear Me? declares the LORD, Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, an eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it. But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and departed. They do not say in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, who gives rain in its season, both the autumn rain and the spring rain, who keeps for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.” (Jeremiah 5:22-24)

We Are to Fear to Praise and Glory
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; for all the nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed” (Revelation 15:4)

Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.” (Colossians 3:22)

The Fear of the Lord #1 – The Definition

The fear of the Lord is one of those topics which most of the time lead to much confusion about what it really means and despair perhaps on how to obtain it. We read in Acts 9:31 that “the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.” And so it seems that a fear of the Lord is next to the comfort of the Holy Spirit an important part of increasing the church, which translates itself into disciples being made. And so the fear of the Lord is an important aspect of discipleship and your own personal walk with God, and that’s why we read, “Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name” (Psalm 86:11). It is a personal application. Let’s start with a definition.

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word “yir’ah” is used for fear. In the New Testament the Greek word “phobos” is used to describe fear. The fear of the Lord is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, as described in Isaiah 11:2-3, “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear“. The Catholic Encyclopedia explains that this gift “fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread, above all things, to offend Him.”

Fear in this context is often misinterpreted as a fear of getting in trouble, when it should be understood as a fear of offending someone whom you love. “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;” (Philippians 2:12). The fear of the Lord should include a place for trembling. Just as one would likely tremble in the presence of the one who could take your life, so Jesus taught us to the fear the Lord when He says in Matthew 10:28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

A proper fear of the Lord should then include reverence and awe, being afraid to offend God in any way, and a trembling if one knows they have offended God and have not obtained forgiveness. Without the fear of the Lord we cannot please God. “Thus says the LORD, Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being, declares the LORD, but to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:1-2). We should tremble at His word to receive His mercy.