The conventional teaching on “the fear of the Lord” is that it doesn’t mean “fear” or “terror” or any other form of definition where one would actually be “afraid” of our Creator. I believe this teaching to be complete garbage and here’s why.
Let us look at a well-known verse.
The fear [yir’ah – H3374] of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.
Before you go any further, check out the Strong’s definition for the Hebrew word “yir’ah.”
While the Strong’s entry says that “fear” can mean “respect or reverence,” it obviously means a whole lot more than that! Look at the entire definition. There are strong references to “fear and terror;” words that are conveniently overlooked by today’s prophets and pastors.
Let us take a closer look at the fear of the Lord and develop a healthy understanding of this vital, yet misrepresented expression.
“Fear of the Lord” That Causes You to DO
First, I want you to notice that the words “His commandments” are italicized in the KJV, which means that they were not in the original text, but placed there by the translators. While I have no doubt that obeying His commandments is DEFINITELY part of the fear of the Lord, I believe that there is more to consider here.
Let us look at this Scripture with the italicized words removed.
The fear of the LORD the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do: his praise endureth for ever.
Read the first part again.
“The fear of the LORD the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do.”
This immediately takes this concept out of the realm of thought and makes it an active, physical, work-oriented concept. You cannot claim to fear God and just give mental assent to His existence.
Your mental assent means nothing if it isn’t accompanied by you DOING something. I went deeper into this topic in the following article.
This fear of the Lord should spur you on to take action. Why? Because your love for Him is accompanied by an actual “fear!” This is not the same fear that the church is teaching.
“Fear of the Lord” That Causes You to “Fear”
Let’s get our heads out of the politically-correct, user-friendly clouds and face something. God is bigger than we are, smarter than we are, and able to kick our backsides without breaking a sweat. For this reason, my love for God exists side-by-side with a fear of God, and if He tells me to do something, I had better do it because I know there are consequences if I don’t.
Now, in case you think I view God as some whimsical, abusive tyrant, that’s not the case. I know He loves me and would never, so long as I’m His child, hurt me in that way. But I know that latent potential is still there.
Still, it is being taught in our congregations that we don’t have to view God in such a way – that He is just the beloved Santa Claus in the sky who wants to pal around with us and let us do whatever we please with no consequence.
A Lesson from Life
My father was (and is) a good man, but he wasn’t above violence if the situation called for it. He is a Vietnam vet… that should speak volumes.
Even though he had power at his disposal, he never hurt his wife or kids. In my entire life, he only spanked me maybe 4-5 times. But, oh how my mom made up for it!
However, with regards to protecting his family and his household (his kingdom), he was a very aggressive man, and I saw that aggression in action more than once.
I remember one time at the races, a drunk man, larger than my dad, insulted my mother (his bride). I won’t go into the grisly details, but it took my dad less than 30 seconds to take care of that situation with his bare hands. It was fast… efficient… and final.
After the battle was over, my dad turned to me. Stepping over the now unconscious giant, who dared to insult his bride, he put his arm around me and said something that has stuck with me to this day.
He said, “Come on, son… let’s go home.”
Don’t Cross the Line
He loved me, but he had enough strength and power that, if he ever lost his mind, he could wipe out everyone in my family with little to no effort.
I knew that my father would never pound me like the others who threatened his household, but I knew there was a line that should not be crossed. I didn’t know where that line was, exactly, but I knew it was there, somewhere, lying beneath the surface.
So, no matter how much I wanted to, I decided that it would be a good idea not to test him.
This should be the same with our view towards God. If we are His obedient children, we should not fear Him or the wrath of His hand. However, the Bible says something about calling yourself a child and walking in disobedience.
Would God Ever Hurt “Family”?
We have been taught to dismiss the true fear of the Lord and blindly assume that we are sons and daughters of the Kingdom. And this assumption is not entirely incorrect, but there are other elements in our relationship with our Father that need to be considered.
It goes without saying that children should be free to make mistakes, work through them and modify their lives accordingly. They need that “trial period” to grow and mature. But there comes a time when that trial period comes to an end and the young man or woman has to decide, “Am I going to follow the rules of the household, or not?”
If they decide not to, it’s time for them to go. They will no longer be part of that household and can no longer avail themselves of the benefits of living in the house.
If things digress, and they decide to do harm to the members of the household, it is the father’s job to confront the rebellious and defend the honor of the house, physically if need be.
In the same way, the Father will lovingly nurture growing believers, giving them time to “work out their salvation with fear and trembling.” But ideally, a “spiritual babe” should be informed that there is a line, somewhere, that shouldn’t be crossed.
As it stands today, people in the so-called “church” are being trained in the same way most children are being taught in the West. Fear is non-existent. The parents’ warnings (if there are any warnings at all) are dismissed with a laugh. Nonetheless, dinner is expected to be on the table.
Children of Disobedience
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
Notice all of these traits that keep people out of the Kingdom of God:
- foolish talking
Then Paul kind of “summarizes” the sins he just mentioned:
- unclean [G169 – akathartos – look it up & think about it]
- covetous (idolatrous)
- vain words
Paul Wrote This Warning to the Church
I want you to notice a couple things about Ephesians 5: 3-7.
- Paul was writing a warning “to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus” (v1:1), which means they were believers… “children” …and they still had the potential to succumb to these temptations. If the children committed these sins, they would have no place in the Kingdom, therefore they would partake in the Wrath of God.
- Presently, these same sins are rampant in congregations who soften the definition of “the fear of the Lord” into something more palatable for the unconvicted masses. They will have no share in the Kingdom to come.
While we shouldn’t lose sight of the loving-kindness of our Father, let us not forget that He is also an All-Powerful Conquering King. Let the true fear of the Lord come upon you and repent from sin (1 John 3:4). Follow His Ways. Obey the Law of the Kingdom soon to come.
When the End has come and all of our Father’s enemies have been vanquished and lie at His feet, may we all hear the Word, “C’mon son (or daughter), let’s go home.”