I’ve been researching fear in my Bible concordance and here is what I have found. First there are many passages in the Old Testament that speak of the fear of God. The Hebrew word used in most of these passages, yare, means two things: to be afraid or frightened and to honor, respect, awe, revere and worship. For instance, In Deuteronomy 6:13, it says “Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.” Here the meaning is the second one, about worshipping God.
A few passages use a different Hebrew word for fear, pahad, like this one in 2 Chronicles 17:10 where some neighbors of the Israelites are terrified of God: “The fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands surrounding Judah, so that they did not go to war against Jehoshaphat(because the Lord was with him).”
In the New Testament the Greek word that we translate fear, phobos, has the same two meanings—of fear and of reverence and worship. And our own word, fear, today has both connotations.
But when we read the word fear, don’t we all think that we should be afraid of God, that we should follow his laws, otherwise he will punish us? Doesn’t it make our very law-abiding cultural norm worry about sticking to the rules so that we won’t be punished? Rarely, do we think of fearing God as worshiping him, as holding him in awe and reverence. We are, quite simply, afraid of him.
But is it fear or love of God that keeps us on the straight and narrow? When do we get to relax and just trust that God is love and that he will always take care of us, he will always be with us no matter what happens?
And in this day when fear grows exponentially every day because of the violent shootings in our country and the terrorist attacks around the world, what are we to do with fear? What do we do when bad things are happening and our country seems to be splintering? Do we just wig out in fear and tremble at every bit of bad news? Or do we trust in the Lord who created us, that he will see us through, that he will strengthen us for the days ahead whatever comes? Do we trust him whether we live or die? What is the bottom line for us when we love and worship God?
Do we, like Abraham, put our son, whatever is most precious to us, on the altar knowing that he is to be killed, trusting God that, no matter what he asks of us, we will do it? And then enjoy the last-minute reprieve with great relief? [Genesis 22:9]
Will we be like Elisha saying “I will not leave you!” when his mentor Elijah was going here and there from Bethel to Jericho to the Jordan And when Elijah was taken up to heaven on a chariot of fire and horses of fire, he picks up Elijah’s cloak, his mantle, and the powers of his mentor and goes on.[2 Kings 2:1-14]
Will we be like Thomas who needed to see proof that Jesus was resurrected? Or will we trust that what was foretold was true? [John 20:24-29]
Will we be like Mary and Martha who blamed Jesus for not saving their brother, Lazarus, who had died? “If only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Said Mary to Jesus when he arrived a few days later. [John 11:32] And yet Jesus told her that Lazarus was just sleeping. So they rolled away the stone and Jesus called out, “Lazarus, come out!”[v. 43] And he walked out.
Will we trust God that he will be there with us, his presence palpable, his love evident while we go through whatever is to come? Will we pray through the hardest times? Will we be willing to suffer like so many Christians before us? Will we take up our cross? Or will we be trembling in fear at what might come?
Fear expresses no confidence, it trembles, not at what is, but at what is imagined to come. Are we Christians to tremble before the unknown or to walk into the future with confidence knowing only that God is at our side and that nothing else matters. He promised that our needs would be met. When will we trust him totally? When will we put him first and follow him wherever he takes us?
No matter the chaos today and the fear for tomorrow, we have the presence of the living, loving God with us at all times, if we will but turn to him and bring all that we are to his side—mind, heart, soul and strength. And he will watch over us like the Good Shepherd that he is. Let us fear the Lord with all the worship, awe and reverence that is within us.
Questions to ponder over the week: Will I tremble in fear at the unknown future or will I walk hand in hand with God, trusting in him? What is the personal issue that always throws me into fear? What do I have to give up to trust in God? My preferences? My expectations? My assumptions? What else?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who walk hand in hand with him. May we trust him in every area of our lives. May we be beacons of light and love in a world shadowed by fear.
News from By the Waters:
All five of the videos about the Exodus story are up on YouTube, plus two more. Here are the url’s to access them:
Part I: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKfouN0PNH0
Part II: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyvRsnqYrdg
Part IIIa: www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZU32Y09UN8
Part IIIb: www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHqKay89kjE
Part IV: www.youtube.com/watch?v=84z7KF_uv7Q
God’s Invitation, www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOkp_-wDKFo
The Heart of the Gospel, www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJJbPKSOACc
My book, “Thy Kingdom Come!”, is up on Amazon in both paperback and kindle versions. Look under Patricia Said Adams.
 Goodrick & Kohlenberger, Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance, 2nd Edition, Strong’s # 3707(yare) p. 1419 and # 7065(pahad) p. 1473