I have heard countless times in my evangelical upbringing that fearing the Lord means that I should have a reverential awe of God and that actually being fearful of afraid of Him is not what the phrase “fear of the Lord” means.
But when I look at what the Hebrew word for fear means in these verses, I read both reverence and terror, both awe and fear in the definition.
My mom has always provided balance for me when it comes to these sorts of extreme stances that so many evangelicals take. Growing up, she attended a church in the summers with her grandmother that did not preach a “once saved always saved” message. Every one needed to get right with God every Sunday (better yet every day), but when she was back home, she heard the “once saved always saved” message. Her exposure to these two conflicting messages caused her to consider carefully each side’s stance through searching the Scriptures and prayer.
She has always been one to consider each side’s stance, so the fear of God debate is one she readily discussed with me. Through the years, I have heard plenty of analogies for what the fear of the Lord means:
- It’s like the fear you have of your parents when they discipline, only bigger. You love your parents, but you fear their discipline.
- It’s like 19th century miners who used nitroglycerin to blow up mountainsides. They loved the power of it, but they treated it with reverence and respect out of the fear of it blowing them up.
- It’s not fearing God like you’re afraid of Him. It’s just respecting Him, because He is God.
None of those have ever cut it for me, because, while I deeply love God and feel secure in His love of me, I am also scared of Him. Yes, honestly scared of God.
Because of 6 words He spoke a very long time ago to satan : “Have you considered My servant Job?”
satan hadn’t asked God about Job. satan hadn’t even asked God if he could screw with anyone. All satan did was drop by to present himself before Yahweh, and Yahweh asked, “Have you considered My servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
God put the biggest spotlight ever in the history of the world on this unsuspecting, righteous man who feared God and shunned evil. satan, of course, wanted to prove that Job wasn’t as great as God said he was.
That scares me. It terrifies me to think that God intentionally pointed Job out to satan. I cannot express how much I do not want God to do that to me! I absolutely, unequivocally do not want to experience the extreme devastation and loss that Job experienced.
Yet, I love my Abba, and I trust Him, and I know that even if He does point me out like He pointed out Job, He’s got my back. He’s going to be there in ways that will make all of the devastation and the loss meaningful and transforming and freaking amazing.
And I know this, because He had Job’s back. He was faithful to Job and even restored back to Job more than what he had initially.
Sometimes, Abba has to let horrid occurrences to wreak havoc in our lives, because He loves us too much to stop them. He knows that when we get to the other side of this misery on earth, we will be more like Jesus.
It makes no sense when you’re not in love with Him. I know that. For corn’s sake, it’s hard enough to wrap your brain around the concept when you are in love with Him! But this I know without a shadow of a doubt: Abba is worth going though anything.
Because Abba went through Hell first so we don’t have to.