What is the "Fear of God"? Part 1
The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge;
The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
These are not idle words, nor merely a good idea, but instead a promise. If we fear our Creator, we will begin to gain knowledge and wisdom, and then comes understanding of who He is and of His Word; but, what does it mean to “fear Yahweh”? What is the “fear of Yahweh”? Why is it important to fear the Creator? In this two part blog post we will discuss the application of the word “fear” and how it plays an important role in our lives as we pursue our Creator and His ways.
In Hebrew, the word for “fear” is “yare’ ” (H3373) which is the adjective form of the root word of the verb “yare ‘ “ (H3372) which means “to fear, revere, be afraid”. The word can mean different things depending upon the context in which it is being used. Fear is not always a bad, or negative thing; if it was, then Yahweh would not have commanded us to “fear” Him.
“And now, Israel, what does Yahweh your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
We need to have such a fear of God that we are afraid of the consequences of our actions, He is the judge of our souls; He determines our eternity. Yahweh gave us instructions to live by, the Torah, there are consequences for obeying or disobeying, blessings and curses. We should be afraid of receiving a curse, shouldn’t we? We need to fear God so that we live the way He wants us to live. A couple of verses illustrate this:
By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of Yahweh one turns away from evil.
The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Fearing the wrath of our God helps us to stay obedient to the letter of the law just as fearing the wrath of our parents helped motivate us as children to keep their rules. Without this “fear”, if we are viewing our Elohim as just some deity that only lives to bless us and love on us, then we are missing His heart. It is so easy to go our own way, do things as we want to do them if we have no fear of any real repercussion. What is there to keep us from sinning if we are not afraid of the consequences, not only in this world, but in eternity? Having a healthy fear of the Creator is good for us and helps keep us on the narrow path once we find it. It can even help lead us to the narrow path if we have strayed away. It is vitally important to how we live with one another and how we walk with our Creator; but is this the only way Scriptures mentions for us to fear God?