FEAR OF GOD
The Biblical meaning of the fear of God is respectful reverence to God. It means acknowledging God as our creator, provider, and protector. It involves worshipping the Lord, obeying Him, and submitting to His discipline. Hence, fear of God is a positive quality for the faithful. In a negative sense, it is the sinner’ fear of punishment from God. The method of avoiding “the fear of the Lord” is by keeping all the statutes and commandments of the Lord (Deut 6:2). “Now, therefore, Israel, what does the LORD, your God, ask of you but to fear the LORD, your God, to follow in all his ways, to love and serve the LORD, your God, with your whole heart and with your whole being, to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD that I am commanding you today for your own well-being?” (Deut 10:12-13). Hence, when there is love and faithfulness to God, there is nothing to fear.
The Bible presents people who feared God and remained different from others in their outstanding faith and loyalty to God. The earliest of such God-fearing people are:
Abel: “By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice greater than Cain’s” (Heb 11:4).
Enoch: Since Enoch pleased God, God took him without facing death (Heb 11:5)
Noah: “By faith Noah, warned about what was not yet seen, with reverence built an ark for the salvation of his household” Heb 11:7).
Abraham: When Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, the angel of the Lord prevented it and said, “For now I know that you fear God, since you did not withhold from me your son, your only one” (Gen 22:12).
Joseph: As a God-fearing person, Joseph refused to lie with his master’s wife. When the master put him in jail God favored Joseph. “But the LORD was with Joseph, and showed him kindness by making the chief jailer well-disposed toward him” (Gen 39:21). “The LORD was with him and was bringing success to whatever he was doing” (Gen 30:23). Joseph acknowledged to his brothers: “I am a God-fearing man” (Gen 42:18).
The midwives of Egypt: “The midwives, however, feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt had ordered them, but let the boys live” (Ex 1:17).
Israelites: “The LORD saved Israel on that day from the power of Egypt. When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore and saw the great power that the LORD had shown against Egypt, the people feared the LORD. They believed in the LORD and in Moses his servant” (Ex 14:30-31). “Samuel called upon the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day. Then all the people feared the LORD and Samuel” (1 Sam 12:18).
Job: “In the land of Uz there was a blameless and upright man named Job, who feared God and avoided evil” (Job 1:1). “The LORD said to the Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil. He still holds fast to his innocence although you incited me against him to ruin him for nothing” (Job 2:3).
David: David avoided the opportunity to kill his opponent Saul, saying, “I will not raise a hand against my master, for he is the LORD’s anointed” (1 Sam 24:11).
Jonah: At the shipwreck, he told the sailors: ‘“I am a Hebrew,’ he replied; ‘I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land’” (Jon 1:9).
All the righteous and faithful followers of Jesus were God fearing. They have the benefit of God’s reward in this world and the world to come. “Blessed are all who fear the LORD, and who walk in his ways. What your hands provide you will enjoy” (Ps 128:1-2). Jesus taught, “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven” (Mt 5:10-12).
It is impossible to please God without faith (Heb 11:6). Unfortunately, many turn away from God and the church like the prodigal son. Let us keep up our fidelity and loyalty to God as His children.