“Fear God!”

(1 Peter 2:17)

True worshipers are God-fearing people.

Job “was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1).

God told Abraham, “Now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son” (Genesis 22:12).

Cornelius “feared God with all his household” (Acts 10:2).

What does it mean to fear God?

To be God-fearing is to have an overwhelming feeling of profound respect for God that causes us to be highly conscious of our own inadequacy and dependence. God is so great and we are so small, that it is scary! Ezekiel fell on his face when he saw the glory of the Lord (Ezekiel 1:28). Fear is the reasonable response of mortal man in the presence of almighty God. Fear of God is the sober realization that our eternal destiny depends on His judgment.

The word fear is used in connection with God more than 300 times in the Scriptures.

Fear of God is a healthy fear, like fear of fire or fear of falling. Its effects are positive. Whom do you trust more, a God-fearing person, or someone who does not fear God?

Every person on earth is commanded to fear God.

“Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him” (Psalm 33:8).

“Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth - to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people - saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water’” (Revelation 14:6, 7).

We learn to fear God by reading the Scriptures.

“And Moses commanded them, saying: ‘At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God’” (Deuteronomy 31:10-13).

By reading the Scriptures or by hearing them read aloud, adults and children learn to fear God.

Leaders ought to fear God.

The king of Israel was to read the Scriptures to learn to fear the Lord: “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel” (Deuteronomy 17:18-20).

King David wrote: “The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me: ‘He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God’” (2 Samuel 23:3, 4).

When King Jehoshaphat appointed judges, he charged them: “Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment. Now therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes. ... Thus you shall act in the fear of the LORD, faithfully and with a loyal heart” (2 Chronicles 19:6, 7, 9).

Fear of God is a prerequisite for wisdom.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Psalm 111:10). “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

We fear God because He is our judge.

Jesus said: “My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4, 5).

Although we fear God as our judge, genuine love can dispel fear of punishment. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).

John refers to fear of punishment, not fear of God. People who love God do not fear condemnation because they “serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28).

Those who fear God are comforted: “Fear not, for I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10). When Daniel saw the Son of Man [compare Daniel 10:5, 6 with Revelation 1:12-15] he “stood trembling” but was told, “Do not fear, Daniel. ... O man greatly beloved, fear not!” (Daniel 10:10, 12, 19).

Christians are commanded: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

Although perfect love casts out fear, lack of fear does not prove love! Someone who does not fear God, does not fear judgment. And many who are confident that they are saved will be lost because they did not build on the Rock by obeying Christ (Matthew 7:22, 23). If they had truly loved God and feared Him as judge, they would have obeyed Christ.

A God-fearing person wants to please God.

Of Hezekiah, king of Judah, it is said: “Did he not fear the LORD and seek the LORD’s favor?” (Jeremiah 26:19).

They who fear God want to be faithful and true. Joshua told Israel, “Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth” (Joshua 24:14). Later, Samuel reminded them: “Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24).

God has promised that we can be His sons and daughters if we separate ourselves from the uncleanness of the world (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Paul continues in the next chapter: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

A God-fearing person wants to obey God.

“Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him” (Deuteronomy 8:6). “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul?” (Deuteronomy 10:12). “You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him” (Deuteronomy 13:4).

A God-fearing person wants to avoid evil.

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:7). “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil” (Proverbs 8:13).

God takes care of those who fear Him.

“The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. ... Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him” (Psalm 34:7, 9).

“The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them” (Psalm 145:18, 19).

“Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God” (Ecclesiastes 8:11-13).

“Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name. ‘They shall be Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘on the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him’” (Malachi 3:16, 17).

God extends grace to those who fear Him.

“His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50). “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy” (Psalm 33:18). “The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy” (Psalm 147:11).

“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them” (Psalm 103:10-18).

Let us walk in the fear of the Lord.

“Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied” (Acts 9:31).

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

“You who fear the LORD, praise Him!” (Psalm 22:23).

“Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!” (Revelation 19:5). Fear God! Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc.,
Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive