It is not unusual for Christians to say they dislike the term “Fear of God”. They think it is a very poor translation of the scriptures. That the “Fear of God” is an Old Testament understanding of God. Whereas the New Testament understanding is one of “Love of God”. There is a sense that the concept of “Fear and Love” in the context of God are incompatible.
Should We Scrap “Fear Of God”
But are Fear and Love truly incompatible? Is it not possible to love someone so much that you fear doing the wrong thing to them?
I was able to come up with about 70 or so references throughout the bible. Old and New Testament that torched on the subject of fear of the Lord
Some of them do clearly mean fear as in terror (Exodus 9:20; Exodus 9:30; Deuteronomy 9:19; Deuteronomy 11:25; Joshua 4:24;2 Chronicles 17:10; Isaiah 2:10; Isaiah 2:19; Isaiah 2:21; Isaiah 19:1; Isaiah 59:19; Ezekiel 21:7; Micah 7:17).
But whilst the people of Israel feared God when they saw what God had done to the Egyptians in the Exodus, that fear did not result in a flight response. But rather God was seen as someone they could trust (Exodus 14:31).
A Clear Distinction
There is a clear distinction between the fear of God and fearing God (2 Chronicles 20:29; 2 Chronicles 26:5).
Fear of the Lord is about justice and purity. It is promoted as a way to make sure that people are kind and considerate to others (Leviticus 19:14; Leviticus 25:17; 2 Chronicles 19:7; Psalm 19:9; Proverbs 16:6; Malachi 3:5; Isaiah 11:2-3).
The people of Israel are commanded to fear God and to love Him at the same time. But not just love Him, love Him with all the intensity that it is possible for a person to have (Deuteronomy 10:12).
Fear of the Lord is promoted as a means by which others will respect the people they belong to Him (Deuteronomy 28:10).
It is a way by which others can learn about God (Deuteronomy 31:12; Psalm 34:11; Acts 9:31; 2 Corinthians 5:11).
Fear is seen as going hand in hand with Praise and Reverence. Only those who fear him can truly praise him (1 Chronicles 16:25; Psalm 22:23; Psalm 40:3; Psalm 96:4; Psalm 33:8; Psalm 102:15; Psalm 135:20; Jonah 1:16; Acts 19:17).
Not A Thing To Shrink From
Rather than be a thing to shrink from it is considered to be something we should actively seek. Indeed more than just actively, it is something worth victoriously or wholeheartedly pursuing and doing so is the path to success (2 Chronicles 19:9; Proverbs 23:17).
It is the beginning of wisdom (Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 2:5; Proverbs 9:10; Isaiah 33:6).
Fearing Him means that you are under his protection (Psalm 27:1; Psalm 34:7; Proverbs 29:25; Isaiah 41:13; Isaiah 50:10; Jeremiah 26:19; Jeremiah 39:17).
He loves those who fear him (Psalm 33:18).
Without the fear of God, there is only the sinfulness of the wicked (Psalm 36:1; Proverbs 24:21).
It is life itself (Proverbs 10:27; Proverbs 14:27;) and the path to inner peace (Proverbs 15:16; Proverbs 19:23).
They that fear Him, are destined to become God’s treasured possession and as having a father-son relationship (Malachi 3:15 – 17).
It is defined as Humility and with it, you are blessed (Proverbs 22:4; Psalm 128:1).
I’m Not Convinced We Should Give Away Fearing God
I’m not convinced that we should give away the concept of fearing God. I think that in today’s day and age, we try to be too familiar with the creator of existence itself. I’m not suggesting that He should not be approachable I have a very close relationship with Him. However in the context of “familiarity breeds contempt,” I think that we need to acknowledge His awesomeness.
As a Swim Teacher, I love the water but I am also fully aware of its power and how merciless it is if treated with disrespect. I am not suggesting that God is merciless at all but I think that Mrs Beaver in the CS Lewis Narnia Classic, “Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe” puts it really well when she says that “Aslan is not a tame lion” (for those not familiar with CS Lewis’s Work, Aslan the Lion, is an Allegory for Christ)
We are not talking here about God being a bully. I hate Bullying. I hate it so much that I teach self-defence to people to help keep them safe from it. Yet when I talk to children about self-defence as I am teaching them, Judo, I tell them that fear is a Friend and a Foe. There are many things that fear does for us if it is properly managed and we should not want to dispose of it lightly.
I Love my God and He has always treated me well. I think that I for one am going to continue in the true understanding of fearing God (Joshua 24:15). Just because I Love Him that much.