What Does it Mean to Fear God?

Having grown up in church, I was used to hearing people talk about fearing God. I grew more and more curious about what that meant. I remember the struggle with my Bible study teachers as they tried to explain what it was. They would say things like the fear of God is similar to how you fear your father. You love him, respect him, and yet you fear him. I could understand that bit, but I still didn’t get the practical part of how I could fear someone I loved. The fear of God is an odd concept for many of us to grasp fully. So I rounded up a few Bible verses that describe the fear of God to help us delve deep into trying to comprehend the fear of God (Deuteronomy 6:12-13, 10:12-13).

Fear of God in the Old Testament

The fear of the Lord is more widely spoken of in the Old Testament, and reading these verses will help us understand what it means to fear him. In Joshua 24:14-15, to fear God means to serve and be faithful to him. Joshua emphasizes that people who fear God should put away all idols and worship God alone. 2 Kings 17:35-36 emphasizes not only fearing God but also not fearing other gods or sacrificing to them. Someone who fears God will be obedient to the law of God from their hearts (Deuteronomy 5:29, 8:6). Those who fear God are those who walk in his ways, loving and serving him (Deuteronomy 10:12-13).

Also, those who fear God are loyal to him (Deuteronomy 6:13). Such will not just abandon their faith in God whenever things fail to go their way. People who fear God aren’t necessarily afraid of him, but they worship him in truth and in Spirit and honour his name (Psalm 5:7, 135:20). Leviticus 19:14 talks of how those who fear God are those who care for the disabled. However, we must also note that the fear of God is not just limited to caring for those with disabilities alone. It extends this same care to other people (Leviticus 25:17).

Based on all that we have gathered from the Old Testament, we can safely conclude that a person who rightly fears God can also be called a believer (Genesis 42:18, Jonah 1:9).

Fear of God in the New Testament

Several New Testament verses can help us delve further into the fear of God. First, it is used in reference to those who are reverent and devoted to God (2 Corinthians 5:11). Those who honour the government do so out of fear of God, according to 1 Peter 2:17. It is essential to note that fearing God is mentioned before honouring the government in 1 Peter 2:17. This means that if the government passes laws or pushes for anything that opposes God, then we will respectfully continue in obedience to God. It is not just the Jews who feared the Lord in the Old Testament, but we see even gentiles fearing the Lord in the New Testament (Acts 10:2, 13:16). Luke describes the church in its early days as walking “in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31).

With these Old and New Testament verses in mind, we can say that being a part of a local church means you’re amongst people who fear God because, like we earlier said, being a believer is the same as being one who fears God. This may be something that local churches need to grow in, but people who fear God form the Universal Church, the Bride of Christ. Growing in fear of God is a good thing because you will become a person who cares for those in need (Leviticus 25:17, 19:14). This essentially means that you’re becoming more and more like God, faithful and devoted.

Blessings of Fearing God 

After describing what it means to fear the Lord, I want to expound on the benefits of fearing God. First, consider that scripture tells us that those who fear the Lord have wisdom and knowledge (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10), enjoy a closer relationship with him (Psalm 25:14, 33:18), receive protection and blessing (Psalm 31:19, 85:9, 145:19), and won’t lack (Psalm 34:9). In addition to these blessings, those who fear the Lord have God’s eye on them (Psalm 33:18), understand the Word better (Psalm 25:14), and receive the comfort of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31).

Who would not want such blessings? The only question you have to ask yourself is, do you have a proper fear of God? Ask yourself whether there is anything you love more than God. We often love money more than God because we feel it is the answer to our problems, and we’ll do anything to get it. If you love anything more than God, then you don’t really fear God. If you are in a relationship that you know is sinful at its core and yet still stick with it, then you don’t fear God. I could say many other things, but just ask yourself if you truly fear God. Consider the blessings of fearing God, then repent of your sinful ways, and live in fear of God.

Remember Job of the Old Testament, the one introduced as one who fears God (Job 1:1)? Later, when God discusses Job with Satan, He refers to this same trait (Job 1:8). However, it is Job’s fear of God that Satan questions and attacks (Job 1:9). Satan argues that if God were to take away Job’s wealth, Job would deny God. After this fails, God again acknowledges how much Job fears God (Job 2:3). We learn from Job that everything will not always go well with us just because we fear God. We also see that Satan does not want you to fear God. However, fearing God leads to immense blessings and a wonderful relationship with God (Psalm 25:14, 33:18). Why would you not want to fear God?

How Can We Fear God?

Some of us may struggle with fearing God and are unsure how to strengthen our fear of God. Consider that in scripture, it was through seeing the power of God on display that people feared him (Deuteronomy 2:25, Psalm 90:11). Being around the terrifying displays of God’s power was terrifying to them and made them feel that they never wanted to be on God’s wrong side (Deuteronomy 4:34, 26:8, 34:12, Jeremiah 32:21). God can show you such power to cause you to fear him, but that’s not typically how he does it. We can grow in fear of God through remembering Deuteronomy 10:12-13. It teaches us that those who fear God are those that walk in God’s ways, love him, serve him, and obey his commands. The challenge for you is to pray and ask God for grace and strength to walk in his ways, love him more and serve him wholeheartedly. After praying for such a blessing, trust that God will answer your request. 

If you’ve read this blog and realized that you don’t fear God, kindly click on our “Receive Christ” button and start a relationship with him today. 

References

  1. Lexham Theological Workbook by Douglas Mangum; Derek R. Brown; Rachel Klippenstein; Rebekah Hurst
  2. Lexham Bible Dictionary by John D. Barry; David Bomar; Derek R. Brown; Rachel Klippenstein, and more 

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