Psalm 89: 7;11;14… GOD is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, And to be held in reverence by all those around Him… The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all its fullness, You have founded them… Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face.
John 1:1-5;14… In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with GOD, and the Word was GOD. He was in the beginning with GOD. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
I have already been rebuked and corrected by some who may not have fully read the first post on this weighty subject. People can easily get confused as I was (and still am to some extent) about the nature of GOD. The most recognizable verse of Scripture is John 3:16… For GOD so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him- shall not perish but have everlasting life. And yet we all know that the wrath of GOD was poured out on His son, our Lord Jesus Christ- when from the Garden of Gethsemane to His last breath on the cross, Jesus took upon Himself the full punishment for our fallen nature and individual history of sin and rebellion. Love, Grace, and Mercy… Truth , Righteousness, and Justice… all Holy attributes of our Perfect Sovereign GOD!
1 John 4:7-11… Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of GOD, and everyone who loves is born of GOD and knows GOD. He who does not love does not know GOD, for GOD is Love… In this is love, not that we loved GOD, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if GOD so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Therefore as I expounded in the preceding essay, we who are blood-bought children of GOD should not fear eternal judgment (perdition), but out of love, reverence, and a preeminent desire to not offend our Holy Father- we should all seek to understand the positive aspects of the Holy Fear of the LORD. In Part I- I describes by way of the Scripture how critically important this reality is; what are the consequences of not fearing the LORD; and presented an operating definition of the Holy Fear of the LORD. Let’s clarify the differences between healthy and unwholesome fears.
How is the Holy Fear of GOD different from the destructive fear of man and of the forces of darkness?
To complicate matters somewhat it is significant that we understand that the same Hebrew and Greeks words are used for both wholesome fear and destructive fear. What we must discern is that the difference between what is good and bad fear is not to be found in the words. We must go deeper into the nature of that source of ‘fear’. The fear of man or of satan brings a snare, but the fear of the LORD brings a blessing.
The Hebrew root for fear is yahrah whose primary meaning is “to frighten, be made of afraid, to dread.” It is used in each of the following verses:
Psalm 119:120… My flesh trembles for fear of Thee; and I am afraid of Thy judgments.
II Kings 17:38-39… And the covenant that I have made with you you shall not forget; neither shall you fear other gods. But the Lord your God you shall fear, and He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.
The Greek word for fear is fawboss. Originally this word had the meaning of “flight” or “that which causes a person to flee in dread and terror.” When our Lord Jesus taught His disciples about what to fear and what not to fear, He used the same Greek word for both.
Luke 12:4-5… And I say to you My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!
To fear the Lord therefore goes far beyond the idea of reverential trust. It must include an awe of His power which constrains and controls our actions. We continually recognize His righteous retribution and therefore have a wholesome dread of ever displeasing Him. Even though the same word is used for different references to fear, there are very important distinctions:
Destructive fear is fearing the thunder instead of the one who made the thunder.
The Lord is a God of cause-and-effect. This is why He can demand obedience to His Law. He better than anyone knows the outcome if we violate His principles. He is attempting at all times to save us the grief of wayward actions than bring misery, suffering, loss, and lack of peace- all of which are the inevitable results of disobeying His loving restrictions.
When the storm on the Sea of Galilee overtook the disciples, they all feared the wind and waves. The Lord Jesus commanded them not to fear these things; then He demonstrated His power over the elements by immediately calming the storm (Mark4:35-41).
Destructive Fear is Overcome by Dynamic Faith
For the biblical Christian faith is of paramount importance. We are to walk by faith and not by sight. We have been instructed in the Scriptures that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And also that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:1;6). When the Lord Jesus calmed the sea with a command, He said to them: “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”
When God tells us to fear Him, He is requiring us to acknowledge an aspect of His character such as His justice, His holiness, or His awesome power. For each of these attributes, God has a counterbalancing attribute. For His justice, He shows mercy. For His holiness, He gives grace. For His power, He displays lovingkindness. The more we understand, acknowledge, and rightfully fear the first set of attributes, the more faith, hope, and confidence we will have in the balancing set of qualities.
How Does Godly Fear Produce Faith?
Fear of God’s power, holiness, and justice when balanced with lack of faith-results in our lives will being out of balance. Great fear of God’s holy power, intrinsic holiness, and divine justice should and will result in great faith in God’s lovingkindness, grace, and unfathomable mercy. Therefore in order to have a proper fear of the Lord, a person must increase his faith in the attributes which balance the ones that he fears.
This balance of fear and faith is illustrated throughout the Scriptures. Paul relates his walk of faith and witness to his fear of God’s justice and righteousness and the following verses of Scripture:
2 Corinthians 5:7; 10-11… For we walk by faith, not by sight… For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest on to God…
When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, Moses did not fear the fire… but was very afraid to look upon God (Exodus 3:6). The complete account to Moses of the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4:23), provides us a rich and detailed study of how the faith of Moses was strengthened in certain attributes of God when his fear of other divine attributes increased.
God’s attributes which caused Moses to fear the Lord
- God’s indestructibility (the burning bush was not consumed).
- God’s holiness (Moses stood on holy ground).
- God’s eternal nature (He is the I AM, not the I was).
- God’s justice (He would bring judgment to Pharaoh).
- God’s wrath (He would destroy the wicked Canaanites).
God’s attributes which caused Moses to grow in faith
- God’s attentiveness (He heard the cry of His people).
- God’s compassion (He understood the sorrow of his people).
- God’s faithfulness (His relationship continued with Abraham through His covenant promise).
- God’s lovingkindness (He purposed to deliver Israel from bondage).
- God’s provision (He would give His people a land of milk and honey).
How Does A Person Learn To Fear The Lord?
All human beings, both Christians and unbelievers must learn to fear the Lord. To the degree that we fear the Lord we will have His blessings, and to the degree that we do not fear the Lord we will experience His judgments. The Scriptures give us clear instruction of what certain things we can do to cause us to learn to fear the Lord.
I- Learn the Words Which God uses to Describe the Fear which We Should Have For Him
Definition: Terror describes the most extreme degree of fear. It is totally disabling to the one who experiences it, leaving that individual with neither physical strength nor mental ability. The root word for terror in the Hebrew language is pronounced ghaytahth which means “to prostrate by confusion and fear.” The Greek root again is fawboss which means to “terrify with exceeding alarm.”
This terror is precisely the experience which the apostle John had when he looked upon the reality of God. This is the same disciple who laid his head on Jesus’ breast often before the cross. When this faithful follower beheld the risen Lord on the island of Patmos, it was quite traumatic:
Revelation 1:12-18… Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me… And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of death and hell.
How does Terror relate to the Fear of the Lord?
The judgments of God are called terrors in Scripture.
Psalm 88:15,16… I suffer Your terrors; I am distraught. Your fierce wrath has gone over me; Your terrors have cut me off.
This serious teaching is very lacking in the church today, which is why it is so critical at this point in human history. In order for the manifest presence of God to abide with His people, we must all learn and accept the reality and requirement of the Holy Fear of the Lord. There is no doubt that God’s judgment upon sin does bring terror to those who experience it. It is time for these judgments to be spoken of and described in detail… especially among God’s people- so that even entertaining the thought of sin would strike terror in every human heart!
2 Corinthians 5:11… Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…
Definition: The Greek word for fright is pronounced ekthahmBEHoh which literally means “to shrink or shiver with fear.” It is a sudden violent fear caused by the appearance of danger and is distinguished from fear and dread by its sudden invasion and temporary existence. Again when Jesus still the storm, and His disciples experienced fright.
Mark 4:41… And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?
How does Fright relate to the Fear of God?
Fright often comes when we encounter a power which is far bigger than we are and which we do not understand. This is consistently demonstrated in Scripture as people witnessed Christ’s supernatural power. When Jesus delivered and healed the demoniac, the people were greatly frightened.
Luke 8:37… Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear.
When Jesus appear to His disciples after His resurrection, they experienced fright.
Luke 24:36-37… Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them Peace to you. But they were terrified and frightened and suppose they had seen a spirit.
Definition: Whereas terror and fright immediately affect the physical strength, dismay removes the mental ability of a person. The Hebrew word which is translated dismay describes a condition of being drained of confidence and courage to the point where a person literally faints. Our English word dismay originated from the Teutonic language word des which is a negative, and magen which means to be strong or able. Therefore to dismay is to “remove the strength or firmness of mind which constitutes courage.”
Faced with the tangible sense of God’s mighty power, His Majesty, and His resplendent presence, any person would naturally be dismayed. Even when a warrior angel of God appeared to His servant Daniel in a vision, Daniel testified that there remained no strength in him and he was prostrate before the Lord’s messenger. Daniel had spent 21 days in prayer with fasting,and as he experienced the angelic presence he was greatly dismayed.
Daniel 10:8-11… Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound… I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground. Then suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palm of my hands. And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.
How does Dismay relate to the Fear of the Lord?
Unfortunately there is a serious tendency among God’s people to be dismayed at the strength of the wicked. Even the Scriptures give the command repeatedly, “… be not afraid, neither be dismayed…” (Joshua 1:9).
When we do see the judgments of God on a fallen world of disobedience, we should be dismayed and have no strength like Daniel. However, when we hear the voice of God or of His emissary giving assurance and direction, we should be revived.
Daniel 10:18-19… Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me. And He said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, the strong!” So he spoke to me and I was strengthened and said, “Let my Lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”
Definition: Astonishment deals with the inability to speak in the face of an awesome or overwhelming situation. The Greek word for astonish means “to stupefy” and is pronounced thahmBEHoh. Our English word comes from the French estoner. This word is derived from the Latin ex meaning “out” and tonare meaning “to thunder.” It literally means to be thunderstruck, to be struck dumb. One who is truly astonished is stunned with sudden fear, wonder, and amazement.
When Paul was on the road to Damascus, he was astonished at the appearance of Christ and His message to him.
Acts 9:3-6… And as he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting… So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” And the Lord said to him,”Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
How does Astonishment relate to the Holy Fear of the Lord?
In the presence of the omnipotent (all-powerful) and omniscient (all knowing) God, we will be found speechless in astonishment. God tells us to be still and know that he is God (Psalm 46:10). We are also warned in Ecclesiastes 5:2 to hold our tongues when we go into the presence of God, and to always be more ready to listen then to speak.
Definition: Trembling is the physical result of overpowering fear. The English word comes from the Latin tremo which means “to shake involuntarily, to quiver, and to quake.” A graphic illustration of trembling occurred in the life of Belshazzar. King Belshazzar experience trembling when he saw a floating hand writing on the wall.
Daniel 5:5-9… In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lamp stand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other… Then King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, his lords were astonished.
The above phrase of ‘loosened hips’ is a polite way of saying that he became incontinent. Another example of trembling and trepidation is given in the account of the guarding of the tomb of Christ.
Matthew 28:3-4… His countenance was like the lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the guard shook, and became like dead men. And this reaction was at the appearance of an angel who rolled away the stone before the tomb of our risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Definition: The word dread connotes much more than fear but less than terror and fright. It refers to an intense uneasiness or alarm which is accompanied by anticipated pain, loss, or other form of harm. Also unlike the word terror, it is less sudden but sustained over a longer period of time. Daniel ascribed the quality of dread to God in his prayer:
Daniel 9:4… And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant in mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His commandments. The word ‘dreadful’ here is often translated ‘awesome’, although we in the original language- ‘dreadful’ is more accurate.
How does Dread relate to the Fear of the Lord?
We should always have such an awe at the power and authority of God that sinning against Him produces a fearful dread of impending judgment. Yet, the dread of God should not make us afraid if we are justified by the finished atoning work of Christ on the cross-and maintain our purity before the Lord. It is critical in our Christian walk that we always maintain our focus on the purifying blood of Jesus, that He willingly shed on our behalf. We should therefore always anticipate the correction of our faithful Father because of His unfathomable love for us as His children.
Hebrews 12:1-11… Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is there whom of father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons… Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
This is one of the most critical understandings that each Biblical Christian must strive to live out on a daily basis. Without the Holy Fear of the Lord we will not be ready for the coming Visitation of His Presence seeking to make His habitation in His church body. The final post will clarify how each of us can fully enter into Kingdom Blessings between this day and our Lord’s Glorious Appearing… ~Santos
For deeper insight into how GOD the Father sees His children; to better understand the elementary principles of Christ (Hebrews 6:1-3); the ‘mysteries’ of Christ’s Kingdom; and our individual and corporate calling, commission, and empowerment- please review my first published book and the Table of Contents on the Amazon website linked here via Book Title: “Thy Kingdom Come- Here and Now!”
Hillsong- (Savior King) In The Mystery